With summer on the horizon, tournament season is about to heat up considerably (pun only marginally intended). Sure, it'll keep the FGC busy for the rest of the year, but there's something to be said about the people who dedicate themselves to running these events. While most of the larger scale stuff gets its due credit, there's still a lot that needs to be said about those who do what they can to run smaller events for the sake of sustaining the community in the gaps between events. It's an entirely different world on the "other side of the screen" than most are generally aware of... through no fault of their own, mind you, it just rarely comes up in common conversation.
That got me to thinking. We enjoy all these games which are set in various different timelines & realities, but do we ever stop to think about how some of these gatherings come together? On one hand, you have the "fate/coincidence" factor working to have so many unique personalities cross paths... and, on the other, you have the "official/open invitational" setup which draws in those who fit certain criteria in order to participate. For the record, I'm for ALL OF IT... I love that fighting games come together for some of the most absurd reasons imaginable. It makes things so much fun! After that initial buzz wears off, though, I can't help but wonder what most assuredly has to go into coordinating the scheduling & placement of the latter. Which is why this month, we'll seek to determine who would be the Best TO!
Don't worry, I am plenty aware that there are a plethora of other individuals who could have easily been chosen to square off here, but I chose these two because of their connection to the FGC. Outside of the context of their respective games, they are some of the most memorable bosses in fighting game history. One is the favorite of his long running game's staff & the other is a reward of sorts for a player who went the extra mile. A considerable amount of personality has been devoted to these two and it really shines through in nearly every aspect their character. For that, I thank Capcom & SNK.
First off, a man who needs no introduction (but I'm going to give him one, anyway), KOF's Rugal Bernstein. While being a very powerful figure to both the political & criminal worlds, Rugal crossed paths with Leopold Geonitz and Heidern in their younger days. (Weirdly enough, both of those encounters cost somebody an eye... huh, curiouser and curiouser.) Eventually growing what I could only imagine as anxious for combat, he organized the 1994 King of Fighters tournament. When all the dust settled, he was bested by Team Japan, but wasn't willing to accept defeat. As per what I'm guessing must be an Official Villain's Handbook, he chose to go the classic "self destruct" route. However, this was part rouse/part screwing-around-with-powers-beyond-his-understanding, because he mysteriously came right back the next year to host the tournament again. If nothing else, you have to give this guy credit for seeing things through to the end. 1995 was his last canonical appearance, however -- as was stated earlier -- Rugal is a favorite among the people working at SNK, so he made repeat appearances in KOF '98 & KOF 2002. You just can't keep a good (at resurrection & being a megalomanical) man down.
On the other side of our spectrum, we have Seth from Street Fighter IV. As the default final match for all the characters, everyone had business with him. Seth wasn't just a typical end boss, though. He was the CEO of S.I.N., Shadaloo's weapons division. (If I'm allowed to speculate, I get the feeling that his being a weapon himself had to have granted him a unique level of insight on the matter.) To his credit, barring an occasional spat of arrogance, Seth doesn't carry himself with the usual superiority complex most other bosses do. He's even been known to have a philosophical side. Unfortunately, all this unique traits are rendered moot due to Seth's actual purpose of being a replacement body for Shadaloo's master, M. Bison. Go figure that with all the eccentricities a villain can chose from, Bison has this thing about collecting dolls. To each his own, right?
So, gleaming from my years of tournament experience, who do I feel would make the better TO? Well, that's kind of a tough call... what with both of them being murderous sociopaths and all. However, villainy notwithstanding, I would have to give the nod to Rugal. Think about it. This is a guy who, through wildly unnatural means, came back from the dead to host an internationally recognized tournament because he was a holding a grudge against a then high school student. As if that wasn't enough, his estranged children even picked up the family tradition just under a decade after his death. That's a legacy right there. Seth, for all his personality & clout, is ultimately nothing more than a flash in the pan. Unfortunate, but true.
WINNER: RUGAL BERNSTEIN
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.