Fighting game tournament season was in full swing in the UK this year. For the first time in, I think, ever, there was a second big event to go to in one year for fighting game fans. This event was organised by Electronic Dojo in Birmingham in the centre of England – the fantastically named Vs Fighting. You’ll notice that this event was over a month ago, but sadly it coincided with me being especially busy right after it (NFL football, work, and Halo Reach!), so I didn’t have time to do a proper write up, until now.
As you can see they ran four games in a one day event. Obviously I was going there for the Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, although since I’d be there for the whole event anyway, and they weren’t supposed to clash on the times, I agonised with the decision to enter Super Street Fighter IV as well, just for a laugh. In the end I decided not to bother – since I was taking along an XBox 360 for HDR casuals as well, I knew I’d enjoy playing that more than SSFIV anyway, and also, I wanted to be able to look after the XBox and joysticks if needed and not have my attention split unnecessarily.
After picking up Mike “Zero1” on the way there from Chesterfield, it was off to Birmingham. As expected, we got lost in Brum, just like last time. Whilst this was a new venue, I did thankfully recognise a lot more of the roads around the city though, and we thought we’d navigated a new course to the actual venue… then bam – “Road Closed”. With things so stacked against us and Jason “DNA” texting me asking me where I was, I called for help and Lom was there to deliver as he did an amazing job of giving me turn by turn “voice nav” all the way from central Brum to the tournament, and I made it there just in time with a great feeling of relief. I can’t thank Lom enough for getting me out of another Birmingham road-based pickle, and I’m also seriously impressed with your ability to do that – I am not sure I’d even know any part Sheffield well enough to be able to direct someone so precisely.
As soon as I got to sign into the event though, I could see it seemed rather, oversubscribed. Because they’d allowed on-the-day signups, about 50 more people had turned up than they’d expected… and it looked like things were going to be understaffed and under-equipped… so when DNA asked me if I would help out running HDR I wasn’t completely surprised. However I knew exactly what it would entail and I really didn’t want to run the game I was playing in, but on the other hand, I really wanted to help out the great guys I know at Electronic Dojo… so I bit the bullet and said I’d help. I knew exactly what I was in for though, and of course, it happened – I really lost my focus on actually playing the game once I was submerged in the chaos of trying to run a 16 man double elimination (The tournament had 32 entrants but was split into two groups of 16 to go through to a final four). The reason for the amount of chaos was that, predictably, due to all the extra players the SSFIV tournament was over-running massively, and because many players were playing in multiple games, it was a nightmare to even get two players together to play a match. 😦 So even though I tried to run my HDR bracket as smoothly as possible, it took way longer than it should do. We also had a HUGE problem with very poor kit, and massive problems being brought about because we were supposed to be playing on Play-FUCKIN’-Station 3. Now, I’m going to admit here that my hatred for everything Playstation branded has been fading greatly in recent years… I’m already an old man by videogaming standards and perhaps it’s my youthful fervour fading, but in truth, even I can’t stay bitter forever, and the reasons why I got so pissed off with my PS1 and the PS2 so much really don’t exist any more. I’ve really thought seriously about getting a PS3 lately… but there is one area where I really still detest the PS3 – and that’s for fighting games. With system input lag, splitting the community, non-compatible sticks and consensus worse online play on PSN than XBox Live, I can’t see any reason for fighting games and fighting game tournaments to ever run anything on PS3 when there are better options. But for some reason, they were trying it here, and the PS3 was giving us huge problems. On one TV it wouldn’t output any sound, on another it insisted on outputting in widescreen (on a 4:3 CRT!). Despite numerous attempts to change game and system options, nothing was working. And yet through all this mess there’s Zero1’s 360 sitting there running HDR perfectly fine (albeit on an LCD that some claimed was lagging) with both our TE sticks hooked up & available…. So after the first few rounds of problems we ended up giving players the choice to either play on a decent 360 setup or the diabolically bad setup that was the PS3 – of course the majority went for the 360, but as it was announced as a PS3 tournament it had to be done that way if either player insisted on the PS3.
Anyway, despite all of this, I think I did an ok job running it as best as I could in the circumstances. There was a lot I couldn’t do anything about, but as you read above, I didn’t even know I’d be running things until a few minutes before it started up. We even noticed a screw-up in the tournament bracket – where someone in losers would’ve been paired to play someone twice before a final match – and got it corrected before it occurred. However there is one mistake that I may have been partially to blame for that I do have to call myself out on: the losers final match between AlanDaMan vs Ashman NW. They did button checks ok, but one of them (I forget which) wanted to be sat on the same side as his character on the screen – as this was a reasonable request and one I would’ve made myself had I been sat on the wrong side – I told them to restart the game and just flip the profiles to retain their button settings. I’ve done this many times before myself at home, and also earlier in the tournament, and it had worked fine. However this time, somehow, Ashman NW’s button config got reset and unfortunately he didn’t notice it until mid-round in a fight (as his stick is very close to the defaults) so we couldn’t re-start the match, and he had to take a round forfeit and re-configure. Understandably he was quite upset about it, and I was too for my part in advising the players to do it like that – as it seemed to have caused the problem. Although Ashman was a real class gent about it and told me not to worry, this kind of thing really gets to me, so I’m still annoyed about it, especially as their match was incredibly close and down to the wire. All I can say is I’ve never seen that bug before and if I am running a tournament again I will do some tests to see if I can figure out what causes it. Ashman, as far as I am concerned I still owe you one mate.
As for my performance, well, as I say, I really lost focus at the start, and was a bit distracted throughout. No sour grapes as it always happens to me when I run a tournament, even online ones; I can never play my best. I lost my first match with one of the ‘Twin Dragons’ (sorry guys due to how my visual psychology works I am almost incapable of correctly identifying twins!) and I was so unaware of what was going on I honestly didn’t even realise I had lost and I wondered why my opponent was shaking hands with me for a few moments. Ok, so I clearly didn’t have much in the way of tournament nerves, but talk about playing on auto-pilot! Once things I’d got things running a bit better later on I did manage to concentrate more, and I ended up with more wins than losses on the day. I was knocked out by fellow DeeJay player and 4th place finisher AlanDaMan so I couldn’t ask for a better guy to lose to. He played really well against me in the mirror and read a bunch of my tendencies really well. GGs to the Dragons, Alan and everyone else 🙂
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix Results:
1. Orf (Ryu)
2. Prodigal Son (Ryu)
3. Kaos Flare (Guile)
4. Alan the Man (Deejay)
So it was all players who’ve finished highly at the last couple of years of SVB and Prodigal Son (Ryan Hart) also placing well at a big HDR tournament for the first time I’ve seen. Congrats to everyone, especially Orf – good to see an XBox Live player winning again! Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch the finals as I was off home to watch the Miami Dolphins win their season opener that night – I wish Street Fighter tournaments wouldn’t clash with the NFL season!
I myself have to say a special thanks to Lom (again) and Justin Xavier and of course Jason (DNA) for all the effort they put into this. As is obvious though, and as Justin’s already put in his report linked above, they know they want to do better next year. From my perspective in terms of controllable stuff, bad planning on numbers and allowing on-the-day signups was the root of many of the problems. As I am also sure they are aware, they definitely need to get access to more and better kit, and also to do better testing and allocation of kit on the day, as there seemed to be numerous times when machines were running casuals when really they were desperately needed to help run tournaments. I’m looking forward to next year though, and assuming I can make it, I’ll volunteer to help out in future, but not at HDR please guys! I’d quite happily help run a SSFIV pool though 🙂 (& maybe play in it too, since I wouldn’t expect to win any at that game anyway).
SVB follow up:
It was really great at this event to be able to chat to the Dragon twins – two of the main organisers from Neo Empire. I was pleased to note they’d read my article about this years SVB, and I was ready and expecting to take a bit of flak from writing it, but actually, they were really great about it – well, apart from perhaps wishing I’d written a TL;DR summary 😉 Whilst it’s clear I’ve gained some notoriety for being a bit vocal, they seemed to realise I was attempting constructive criticism and they weren’t happy with the way some things happened at this years SVB and they want to and know they can do better. So that’s an excellent response and all anyone can ask for a positive future. The immediate future of SF2 looks brighter than ever as far as I can see in the UK. HDR seems to be getting something of a ‘revival‘ as it’s clear there’s still a lot of interest in this game at the tournament level. Two 30+ man tournaments in a year with some of the top players in UK and Europe showing up is hardly a bad thing for the UK.