With every fifth Sunday, there comes a Special Edition... such is life. Last week, I began talking about my experience on the road with back-to-back events. Today, I want to talk about TFC.
Right off the bat, TFC is currently the farthest I've ever traveled to work an event. Yes, I've gone to Combo Breaker two years in a row now, but both times were more for pleasure than business. I always have fun at larger events, don't get me wrong, but the key difference is that I've only ever been a spectator when I head out to Chicago. Gearing up with the team of Rodimus Prime, Heavenly Flower and Rage & hitting the road for Raleigh, NC was an entirely new experience. If I could give anyone road trip advice, I'd say "don't be tall". Since I'm a tried & true pedestrian, I was riding in the back on the driver's side the whole way down. Neither here nor there, but if you happen to be vertically advanced... do yourself a favor and stretch your legs at every pit stop. Your knees will thank you.
The finer details of our trek notwithstanding, I spent a majority of the ride contemplating the fact that I was about call a whole weekend's worth of action in an entirely new region. If you've been following me at all over the last few months, you'll know that I carry the hashtag "#TheVoiceShallBeHeard" online. For lack of any other way to designate it, that's become my catchphrase. People are aware of it up here in NY, sure, but I was heading down south... what difference would it make? (More on this in a bit.) By the time we showed up to the venue, it was the in the neighborhood of about 3:00a. This dictated a lot because we had to be ready bright & early to set up the rig. I'm a little ashamed to admit this, but I leave that task to Prime & Rage because putting all of that together to establish a working stream is like watching surgery to me: I'm sure of what the end result is going to be, but hell if I know what they're actually doing. So, while they were setting up, I ventured off throughout the venue to get a lay of the land. It was at this point where the concerns about my presence were put to rest. While I was wandering, I saw Bifuteki setting up and, since we were hanging out at Rumble, I figured I go say wassup. Wouldn't you know it? He recognized me by my voice before seeing me. When I commented on how weird that was steadily becoming for me, Bifu told me that it was a good thing. Recognition at that level is something to strive for. Hearing that from him put me at ease.
It's at this point that I need to admit how horribly, horribly wrong I was about something very particular regarding this weekend. You see, I was under the impression that being farther inland would spare us the wrath of Hurricane Matthew. Little did I know that Matthew didn't care about my assumption. Not. One. Bit. Before long, the first of the blackouts struck. As fate would have it, our stream has been hit by that at other events before. Bad circuits, shoddy wiring, etc... a quick power loss only ever slowed us down for a few minutes, never stopped us. However, inconvenient energy situations are as nothing compared to a friggin' Category IV hurricane. Before long, the blackouts became more repetitive until about 6:00, 6:30 or so when the floodlights came on and the alarms started sounding. It was at this point that we realized Matthew had put the kibosh on everyone's plans that evening.
In all honesty, I've been in power outages resulting from inclement weather before. (I am a New Yorker, after all.) However, I've never been at an FGC event during a full-scale blackout. So you know, we would be without power for roughly 15 hours. To put that into perspective, that's about two whole days of work in a 40-hour work week. In was in this moment that I got see what leadership in the face of adversity really looks like. For any of you who are unaware, TFC is headed up by Shin Blanka & Big E. We've worked with E before, but this was our first time dealing with SB. After conferencing with the hotel staff & talking with all the of the streamers, it was decided that we would pick up where we left off in the morning once the power was back & stable. Thankfully, we were through a vast majority of pools by the time the final blackout hit. Instead of panicking, those two stood their ground & resolved to give the people the show/event they promised. This might sound cheesy (and I frankly don't care if it does or not), but being witness to that was inspiring. Understand something vital about the Dynamek One: I am tragically human. I face paralyzing doubts & insecurities on a daily basis and, yes, there are times where I don't always win that fight. Being able to see Larry & Eric overcome that moment of peril gave me another reason to keep pushing forward. A borderline act of God all but derailed TFC, but they knuckled down & powered through. Like I said, inspiring.
The next day, around the time we had been seated for breakfast at Denny's, Big E gave us the word that the power was back & holding steady. Once the meal was downed (I had a Grand Slamwich, before you ask), we made our way back to the venue and fired up the rig. Because everything was cut short the night before, we had our work cut out for us. In the course of a single broadcast day, we streamed UMVC3, TTT2, KI & GGXrd-R. Mind you, everyone scattered after the lights went out, so there was a LOT of legwork that went into reassembling all of the competitors. While there were some disqualifications, mostly everybody showed up and all the brackets/Top 8s went off without much of a hitch. I even got to help someone get a little invaluable experience on the mic. (Keep at it, Quambo... you'll get there soon enough.)
Now, do you remember how I was talking about my catchphrase? In case you haven't caught on yet, I've been making a concerted effort to become a more recognizable commentator. More to the point, I want to be synonymous with KOF XIV. Aside from our monthly Chinatown Beatdown events, I have called KOF's Top 8 at Summer Jam & Rumble in the Tundra. Even popped up at the Mashfest release party for it. During the blackout, Prime & myself were able to talk to Funky P about getting on the mic. He saw no issue, so I was good to go for calling those wonderful matches. The only setback was not being able to stay in the conversation with the stream chat. What can I say... I like keeping in touch during a show. Be that as it may, Funky P (and Twitter, for that matter) notified me that people enjoyed my being on the mic. To sweeten the deal, Rage & Prime (respectively) joined me on commentary. Rage ducked out early because he was actually in the Top 8. Having the chance to watch my buddy perform on the main stage was special. The fact that "Soy Sauce for Geese" played during his matches made it that much better.
After all was said & done, we met up with the TOs and discussed the future. You're just going to have to guess about the minutes of that conversation because that's for Prime, Rage & myself to know and for everyone else to find out. Once all the hands were shaken, we loaded up the car, plotted our course back to NY and got on the road. As I bring this little diatribe to a close, I'm a few days away from attending GUTS4 and you know what... I'm ready to put a few more miles on my résumé.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.