Previously, on the Perspective, I was sharing my experience at Combo Breaker. I didn't want to come off as long winded, so I opted to make use of this month's fifth Sunday & split it in two articles. Remember, though: What goes up must come down...
As I was saying, even though I had regained some freedom of movement, I still had a job to do. You see, a few months prior, we here at KPB had decided to up the ante a bit & raise the stakes for our region. We wanted to give the SGNation damn good reason to make the Northeast a priority locale during tournament season. So, bearing all our combined experience & knowledge of the current state of the FGC, we came to an agreement: a $500 pot bonus for Skullgirls at Big E's Summer Jam 9 in Philadelphia. As someone who enjoys the vantage point of being on the outside looking in, I've been able to gauge certain things regarding the -administrative- FGC experience.
If I may quote an MCU character, Dr. Abraham Erskine: "A weak man knows the value of strength." Now, before anyone takes offense, I am in no way calling the Skullgirls community weak by any stretch of the imagination. On the contrary, they are easily one of, if not the most loyal & devoted legion I've ever seen. The problem, though, is that not enough people are aware of their ferocity. Over the last few months, I've been able to witness its intensity firsthand & I can appreciate their dedication. That's why we're aiming to reward it this August. Even better, our actions have inspired some considerably heavier hitters than ourselves to follow suit. What this translates to is Big E himself offering another $500 bonus if there are enough entrants at both Summer Jam -AND- North East Championship. Furthermore, Shin Blanka is offering a $500 bonus & FREE ENTRY at The Fall Classic. Pretty sweet, huh?
So there I am on Saturday night. All the brackets are done for the day & a special after hours event is soon to start. Here is where my duties as a representative kick in. During Saturday Night Salt LIVE, I get to break the news about everything they can come to expect from the East Coast in the coming months. Important as that might sound, I was actually relieved. I could see my comfort zone from my seat. Being on the mic is where I feel the most relaxed. On top of that I was going to be calling matches with Kai Kennedy -- Beowulf himself -- during all this. I'll admit, I was a little starstruck. Now, for those who don't know, handling commentary is like being a birdcage: You can interact with everyone, but only to a certain degree. You can have fun with whoever's in the chat & maybe get a rise out of the crowd, but you can only be so involved. SNS Live was different. I got to hear my voice coming out of the sound system... I got to see my words drastically change the mood of the crowd. That, my FGC brothers & sisters, is a high that may never be matched and it was the perfect note to end my night on.
On Sunday morning, I felt... exhausted. My purpose for the event had been served, but there was still a whole day in front of me. On top of that, the game I had flown out to support wrapped up on Saturday. I was officially aimless. For a guy who has grown used to always being busy at these kind of events, that type of freedom on such a level is admittedly a little unnerving. Frankly, I did not know what to do with myself. However, I remembered something... something very important. Something I haven't had to dig down & take hold of in a very long time. I remembered to relax. I know how retroactively dumb that might sound to you, but you have to remember that I've grown into a results-oriented individual. I'm used to almost always being on the proverbial clock. So to just be able to drift like I did on Sunday was beyond description.
However, towards the middle of the event's final day, something registered with me. Do me a favor: Try to remember being a little kid and you're having or going to your very first weekend sleepover at a friend's house. Can you remember how you felt on that Sunday, when you knew beyond the shadow of any doubt -- even at that young age -- that whatever fun you had was coming to an end? You got to step away from your usual routine & lose yourself in the bliss of new experiences. The almost grim realization that reality, as it applies specifically to you, was just around the corner. Be it school, family or work, you knew it was waiting for you on the other side of Sunday. THAT was what hit me a little after lunchtime on Sunday. I realized that I was going to have say some goodbyes to a group of people that not only accepted me with no reservations, but actually appreciate the fact that I care about the same game they do. I didn't show it, but I was a little broken up about it.
One thing happened on Sunday, though, that changed my mindset for the better. I got to have an actual conversation with Mike Z, the creator of Skullgirls. We didn't talk long, but it was an eventful talk, nonetheless. I learned that he's VERY active in his game's competitive community. (Seriously, he had a "creator VS everybody" session that lasted at least three hours, if not longer.) He still gets a little salty after losing, too... didn't see that coming, He also has a great deal of empathy for the Marvel community, which surprised me like you can't imagine. And then, well... it happened. Mike Z said that he enjoyed it whenever I was on commentary for his game. Folks, this was my "Mean Joe Green towel" moment. It's one thing when players appreciate your work... but for a game's creator to give out that praise to me, an admittedly mediocre casual player that's a huge fan of his work, Cloud 9 doesn't even come close. Simply put, the event ended with a bang for me.
On Monday morning, all that faded away. I would still retain everything that happened, but I wasn't a spectator anymore. I was just a guy that had an early flight back home to catch. It's going to be a very long time before Combo Breaker's impact on me vanishes. If anything, it's inspired me to work that much harder & aim higher for not just the Skullgirls community, but for the FGC as a whole. We can be so much more... and if Kick-Punch-Block! and myself have to lead the way, regardless of whatever resistance, then so be it.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.