Hmm... and just like that, I've returned. Hello again, my FGC brothers & sisters. My time in Chicago has ended and although it has taken me longer than usual, I'm finally capable of sharing my thoughts on the experience with you. Frankly, I am a changed man...
A little over a year ago, I wrote my first Dynamek Perspective regarding my thoughts towards Decapre. I painted the picture of a guy breaking up with his on/off girlfriend in order to describe where my feelings resided regarding Capcom. Suffice it to say, it wasn't pretty. However, my next entry the DP series (heheheh) would make something about me very clear: I do not compete. When I was first approached by Rodimus Prime to join Kick-Punch-Block!, I made it known that I simply wasn't going to be of any use in terms of the team's competitive edge. He assured me that it wouldn't be a problem. All he asked of me was dedication. Before long, I was given the opportunity to write for this website and the rest, as they are wont to say, is history.
Regarding that second entry, though, its title ("The Joys of Being a Spectator") has stuck with me ever since. Not too long after it was published, I slowly & surely began to take on more responsibility: editor-in-chief, FB manager, community representative, occasional financier and primary commentator. Suffice it to say, all that keeps me very busy. What it ultimately means is that I'm partially responsible for how the team as a whole is perceived outside the context of competition. For those of you reading this that know me on any level, then you also know I take my responsibilities seriously. However, despite the power that has been granted to me over the last year, I am still only part of a whole. My actions -- no matter how small or mundane -- reflect on my team & that simple fact is not to be taken lightly.
As such, our presence at any event, be it local or major, calls upon any number of these responsibilities. Since I handle commentary for our stream, I'm usually confined (which is an uglier word than I care to use) to one spot. Sure, I'll make a run for some food or a drink, maybe hit up the bathroom or something along those lines. For the most part, though, I'm on the mic for the duration of our stream's broadcast. I get the best seat in the house for the show the players put on & it allows me the opportunity to talk with the viewers. It's a unique experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. For however long that period of time is, I'm Bob Uecker... I'm Jim Lampley... I'm Howard friggin' Cosell. I love every minute of it!
Now that you're slightly more aware of my role within the ranks of KPB, allow me to share my out-of-region experience with you. In case you didn't know, I was in attendance at this year's Combo Breaker in Chicago. Since 2015 rolled over, KPB has been building a very functional & mutually beneficial working relationship with the Skullgirls community. I've made it my business to make sure the game gets the onstream exposure that I feel it deserves. Because of these efforts, I actually had a small level of celebrity that preceded me. People knew who I was before I even got there. It honestly felt like I shook more hands than the President. It was admittedly weird, though. Not due to any social anxieties I have, but because all my work is done behind the scenes. Be that as it may, the SG crowd opened it arms & welcomed into their fold with jubilation.
They didn't waste any time, either. As an East Coast native, the expectation I've to which I've grown accustomed is that all the events proper begin on Saturday. Not the case with Combo Breaker. They got right into it on Friday night. Sure, Skullgirls may have been relegated to a secondary stage, but you'd never know that being there. Imagine that scene from Trading Places where they visited the Stock Exchange... that's what it was like. Didn't matter that they had a lesser known game or that their high-tier players weren't as recognizable as other FGC elite, this crowd was the loudest, livest, hypest group in that main hall. It wasn't a money match, it wasn't a team exhibition, wasn't even a Top qualifier match. All this hype & excitement was simply for Day One pool play. They were just getting started.
Saturday at Combo Breaker was a completely different animal to me. Remember, during the same time at an East Coast event, my duties would just be starting up that morning & wouldn't finish until the end of our broadcast. There in Chicago, I was free to roam. I had become a spectator again. Suddenly, I felt this sense of levity. A weight that I hadn't come to recognize beforehand disappeared. In doing so, I could actually absorb the event. I saw the Aria demonstration for Killer Instinct. I was able to play some of my FAVORITE oldschool arcade games because they actually had the cabinets there! I had the freedom to hang out & catch up with people I've come to know in the FGC. Even had the opportunity to cross paths with guys like Ed Boon & Mike Z. Stuff like that just doesn't happen for me at other majors because, to kick a dead horse at this point, I'm always working. Truth be told, I actually did have a one job at Combo Breaker... but more on that later.
TO BE CONTINUED...