I've admittedly been sitting on my hands regarding this topic, but it's time I got this out of my system. No point in beating around the bush, folks. I'm going to be talking about Final Round 19 today. If you might take issue with that, you're welcome to leave now. Everyone else, let's get into it...
First & foremost, I have to be completely honest with you. This was originally going to be a real old style, parent-teacher meeting, southern Evangelical 'fire & brimstone' type of article. Suffice it to say, I was very perturbed by the news of what transpired at FR19. I'm reminded of the HBO show, The Newsroom, in regards to describing how I interpreted the veritable deluge of information that came from that one weekend. On the second season of the show, a decision was made that ultimately compromised both the integrity & validity of an intensely controversial story. On both sides of the spectrum (a lapse in fact checking at the beginning & some rather dubious editing towards the end), this story wasn't handled properly due to the desire of the entire staff to be the ones who broke the news on an alleged scandal. The entire second season of the show focused on that one story and from one of the episodes, I learned a phrase that I haven't had any reason to use until right now: institutional failure.
Claim the butterfly effect, ripples on a lake, Murphy's Law, chaos theory or what have you, there is no denying that things weren't handled to the most efficient or optimal levels. An inadequate floorplan, tardy scheduling, non-updated equipment... an uncomfortably high number of things simply didn't happen the way they were supposed to. To make matters even more stressful, there were outcries of disapproval even before the tournament concluded properly. Regardless of any ulterior motives, moments like this can permanently mar the experience for everyone involved. Now, right here is where I was going to start "scorching the earth" in regards to the event and its handling... however, a great deal of information has come to light between then & now. Furthermore, a few things (personal & professional) have gone down in recent weeks that have not only divided my attention, but also managed to soothe my editorial bloodlust. So instead of condemning any & everyone who was involved with FR19, I would like to take a few moments to simply address a few different parties.
Capcom... look, guys, if you're going to be commandeering events of this size in order to better promote your new game, then you need to start dedicating a bit more manpower to the proceedings. If memory serves me correct, over a thousand people signed up for SF5 at Final Round. That's an unprecedented number, plain & simple. One would think that with all of your involvement with the FGC over the years, you'd be aware of how some events are simply undermanned in terms of staff. There's a reason the call for volunteers goes up at majors. Imagine how much smoother everything could go if you were to contribute a few able bodies to help run the brackets of just your game. It wouldn't even have to be all the time, either... should the number of entrants reach a certain capacity (for the sake of argument, let's say over 500), then you bring in your own official bracket runners. More than four, but possibly less than ten people that know how to manage a double elimination bracket. Simple, right?
The apologists... I understand that there's a time & place for damage control in just about everything. However, trying your best to spin or make lite of a situation while it is in the process of going off the proverbial rails doesn't help anyone. Think of that scene with Leslie Nielsen in Airplane where he was trying to calm the passengers down while they were very much in mid-crisis. For those who can't remember, the sight gag was that his nose was growing like Pinocchio during all of this. Trying to make things look better than they really are when they're still in the process of getting worse can make you look oblivious to what's really going on or implicate you by making it seem that you know what's wrong, but would rather placate people instead doing something to fix what's wrong. It basically makes you the argumentative equivalent of Febreze: pleasantly masking the smell without actually cleaning/getting rid of what's causing it.
The deserters... I'm going to be very blunt with this group because this needs to be said. When you prioritize your departure from an event over responsibly bringing your grievances to the attention of someone who might possibly be able to help and/or fix the situation, you're just as much a part of the problem as anything else. If you do nothing to help make an unfavorable situation favorable, then you have no right whatsoever to complain about it. Imagine all those people you know or someone you know knows that complain ad nauseum about a movie they didn't see or a musician they never listen to, but could go on for hours about how terrible it is & whatnot. Congratulations, that's you now. Ultimately, you make things worse by not speaking up about how bad it is. If you want to have a foot to stand on in this type of situation, then -- as Gandhi once said -- be the change you want to see in the world.
To the organizers themselves... I imagine you've had a lot on your mind in the recent weeks. You have been lambasted, ridiculed & vilified to an extent that I honestly didn't think existed in our community. While it is unprecedented, it should not be viewed as unexpected. The reason for the backlash is because you're held to a much different standard than everyone else. Think about the number for a minute: 19 years. If memory serves correct, that makes Final Round one of, if not the longest running event the FGC has. As such, you have to understand that, regardless of the size & scope of any mishap, you're accountable for it. The community expects nothing less. With hindsight being 20/20, there are a number of things that could have been done to prevent all the madness. What's done is done, however, and I'll be the first to admit that I respect the stance you're taking in regards to Final Round 20. In doing so, you've answered one of my favorite riddles. Should push come to shove and it gets to that point, you would have no reason whatsoever to hang your head in shame because you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that your everything went into holding a great event.
Finally, I'm going to paraphrase an excerpt from the only bit of sense that anyone made after the titanic fallout from FR19. I won't name names, but I'm sure this person knows who they are and, if you recognize it, you'll also know. Either way, here is the most poignant truth to be taken away from all this: "One thing last weekend has shown us is that we are growing at a rapid pace and the spotlight is on us now more than ever." I believe I've been saying this for quite some time now, but we must all understand & appreciate not only the level of attention that's being paid to us this year... but also how fragile it can be. At the end of the day, remember what was said in Dante's Inferno: "The more a thing is perfect, the more it feels pleasure and pain". Commit that to memory & don't forget it over the next few months because those ancient words are far more relevant to the FGC as we are now than some members of our community can even fathom.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.