Before we get started with this Special Edition, there are some things I want to say outright: 1) History doesn't necessarily repeat itself verbatim, 2) family doesn't always mean blood, 3) perfection is an illusion and 4) I hate rhetorical questions... let's begin.
First things first, we need to establish that I thoroughly enjoyed myself at CB2016. Being able to see so many of my FGC brothers & sisters again for any reason always lifts my spirits. I made a few new friends while I was there, too, and that's always awesome. I loved all the incredible matches & wonderful exhibitions that were on full display in SO many different games. I even had fun unsuccessfully trying my hand at KOF XIV. (FYI, if you love either KOF '98, KOF 2002UM and/or KOF XIII, you are going to have a blast with this new one!) I was taken right back to my childhood with the arcade section & I got to play some titles that I had never even heard of before then... I'm looking at you, Martial Masters & Fallen Angels. And, of course, deep dish pizza. What's not to love? It was a wonderful experience, don't get me wrong, but my position within Kick-Punch-Block prohibits me from looking at anything in the FGC with the proverbial rose-tinted glasses. Every coin has two sides.
It's bordering on ironic that KPB's next scheduled major appearance will be at APEX 2016. I say that because, upon entering the venue at the Pheasant Run Resort, I was immediately drawn straight back to what happened at APEX last year. Not talking about all the sordid controversy, mind you, I am talking about the end result of Twitch swooping in at the last minute and relocating the whole thing into the Garden State Exhibition Center in Somerset. I can only speak for myself when I say that it felt like being in that particular venue lit a fire up under the FGC. Being there, having everything out in the open in a singular (albeit gigantic) space set a lot of wheels in motion. Suddenly, we knew that we could do better given the right motivation & proper planning. Call it being reminiscent, call it coming full circle or call it déjà vu... regardless of how you approach it, there's no denying that APEX 2015 had an impact on CB2016. It seems the entangled ballet between the Smash crowd & the FGC continues to roll on into this new era.
As fate would have it, I was also there on business. Aside from chatting up the representatives from Atlus (the wonderful people bringing KOF XIV to the States), this event was to be a "chaining day" of sorts. It was both my privilege & pleasure to officially welcome some new teammates into our fold by giving them their personalized KPB shirts. Although they've all been on the team for varying tenures before CB2016, we weren't yet united under the banner... under the noble purple & black of Kick-Punch-Block! Goes without saying (because I'm fairly sure I've said it before which is not going to stop me from potentially repeating myself here), but welcome aboard Zidiane, McPeanuts, Broken Loose, Dhoppler & FuLLBLeeD! Being the guy who facilitated all that really, really made me happy to be alive over the weekend. I also got to put some disproportionately huge smiles on my little sister-in-arm's face when I was able to introduce DaPurpleSharpie to not only Spooky himself, but Lupe Fiasco & Skisonic, too. For all the things I've done in my life -- good, bad or otherwise -- nothing feels better than leading someone you care about to even a little bit of happiness.
Of course, nothing tangible can ever truly be perfect. To my knowledge, there were only two real snafus that caused any hiccups. The first of which was the Internet connection going down during Saturday night. As fate would have it, the primary reason I know that is because I happened to be sitting behind the commentary booth next to Kai Kennedy (Beowulf's VA, for those who don't know) and we were admittedly clowning around on camera. When we tried to check how the stream was reacting to our highly visible shenanigans, the broadcast was nowhere to be found. Indeed, quite the bummer, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the show from the best seats in the house. The other problem, which only came to light recently, was the Noel Brown situation. Here's the thing: I wasn't there, I wasn't within earshot, nor was anybody I regularly associate with... all I know is that it apparently happened. Do I care? Sadly, no. Not because I'm on the fence about Noel's character -- can't form an opinion of someone that I've never had a conversation with -- or because I'm in the mood to bang the "no discrimination/zero tolerance" war drum. I don't care simply because I have no interest in nursing this particular headache again. Seriously, this type of thing rears its ugly head far too often. It's gotten to the point where I'm not even disappointed, I'm just frustrated over hearing about it again & again. Sorry, but I no longer have the energy for it.
Not to further kill the mood by continuing down this unfavorable path, but I need to reiterate what was said earlier: I hate rhetorical questions. There's something about them that feels... condescending. It's the laziest, most passive-aggressive form of operant conditioning I've come across in my life. One question in particular was prevalent in every aspect of CB2016 and it's one I'm none too keen on answering: "Are you an Avyd gamer?" Anyone who has been following my writing for the last few weeks already knows how uneasy their increasing involvement with the FGC makes me. I have not been coy about that one bit. Maybe decades & decades of people buttering me up with ulterior motives behind their pleasantries has made me paranoid? Maybe I know better than to just accept whatever situation or circumstance is placed in front of me as dogma or the status quo? Maybe I'm just delusional and have finally started to crack under all the pressure? Whatever the case may be, I can't shake the discomfort Avyd instills me. Can't guarantee I ever will, either.
That's the only drawback that I take away from CB2016. I'll level with you, my fear is that their involvement will lead to an irreparable schism within the FGC. Understand that there were a LOT of people who chose CB2016 as their first tournament experience. With all the bells & whistles that went into the production, it's going to be pretty damn hard to follow that act. Sure, there are going to be plenty of people & groups that are going to try to emulate what they experienced, but how many of them have money long enough to pull something like that off? I'm scared that a day is going to come where the choice isn't going to be what games are being played tournament, but whether or not said tournament is backed by Avyd. Money talks, ladies & gentlemen, and who is going to bother listening when the perceived right amount isn't involved? That's a dangerous precedent to set, but you know what? I'm done. The fight is officially out of this dog. You already know how I feel & there's really no point in repeating myself because it will make no difference whatsoever in the long run. Before you react, understand that this isn't some existential or journalistic crisis on my behalf, just an acknowledgement of the world I live in & the culture I love. The FGC is collectively a creature of convenience, so it'll seek out the path of least resistance & that is exactly what Avyd is offering them. Am I an Avyd gamer? Why ask if there's not going to be any choice? I hate rhetorical questions.
All in all, CB2016 was a great event. Nothing is going to take away from that truth. On general principle, I recommend attending next year's festivities. I doubt you'll regret it. As for the negatives... understand that those are personal issues I have, not sweeping indictments of anybody. In the same boat as I am in terms of Avyd? Hold the L & try to focus on what makes YOU happy at these kind of events. Up in arms about the Noel Brown situation? Unless you plan on boycotting Capcom, the Pro Tour, Twitch and/or Street Fighter V itself or standing in righteous indignation alongside Noel by not attending events he's banned from, nothing you say or do is going to make one single iota of difference. People need to understand that the FGC is changing around them. We live in the Age of the Golden Rule: "He who has the gold, makes the rules." No fervor or outrage is going to change anything unless you hit the supposed guilty parties in the pockets. This is the New Community Order, but I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, so I'll digress & bring this Dynamek Perspective to a close.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.