Farewell, 2016... it was a trip, to say the least. Now that the new year is upon us, I figured it was time to get back on the old horse & start writing again. Since I gave everyone the month of December off, it's only right I kick things off in 2017.
There are any number of topics that I could choose to address in regards to 2016, but I want to focus on #FGCalendar. Innocuous though it may seem, that simple hashtag forced me to really look back & analyze my connection with gaming. If you were following me over on the team's FB page or on Twitter, you would've seen my choices during most of December. However, my day job grants me vacation time during the entire last week of the year, which is why I went quiet over the holiday break. That being said, I'd like to take this opportunity to wrap up a few of my picks before getting started with 2017 proper.
Favorite Player: Ice Genie
I don't know if you're all aware of this, but something I consider spectacular happened at TFC this year. I am, in part, referring to the inclement weather situation that threatened to derail everyone's plans. While we ALL got bodied by the hurricane on Saturday evening, Sunday was an entirely different situation. The power came back on & remained steady long enough for us to start broadcasting again. The problem was that we had roughly 8 hours to get through what more or less amounted to 12+ hours of streaming. You see, we didn't get to finish pools because of the blackout, so when the power came back on, there was still a decent amount of gaming to be done before all the brackets could be whittled down to their Top 8. One the games we were on the hook to stream was Tekken Tag Tournament 2. When we arrived at Top 8, Ice Genie (a player who was still in it on the Losers side) voluntarily disqualified himself in order to make sure that the rest of the tournament ran smoothly. While there's no telling how far he might have gone & I'm sure there were other stories from the event that garnered more attention, I feel the need to make special mention of somebody who chose to serve his respective community without hesitation.
Favorite Comeback: LP vs Thermidor, NEC17 SoulCalibur V pools
I know good & well how recent this match was and/or how low-tier it might be to some people, but I'm choosing it because this was one of the few matches we streamed where I wasn't on the mic. (If you follow our stream, you'll know how rare that actually is.) Even though I wasn't calling this match, I was watching it from behind the rig while being close enough to the commentators that I could really appreciate being so utterly enveloped in that moment. Commentary to left, projector screen in front of me & the crowd's roar to my right. This match reminded me of everything I love about being a part of the FGC.
Favorite Tournament Organizer: KPB|Rodimus Prime
Label this as a cop-out or sucking up or whatever you like, but there's a damn good reason why I chose this team's founder. For the better part of two years now, I've been working with Prime on the stream. I may be the "Voice", but Rage is the "Brains" & Prime is the "Heart". Whether it's at a local or a major, I've seen this guy transition from commentary to production & bracketeering almost all within the same breath. He does this because the concepts of organization & production value take priority with him. He wants to give the audience the best show possible and sometimes the only way to do that is to be as involved on so many levels at one time. Our broadcasts & events regularly benefit from his stewardship and without that, I couldn't do my job at the level it deserves to be done.
Favorite Tournament: Rumble in the Tundra 6
This is going to sound ridiculous, but yours truly has flown to Europe (twice) before ever stepping foot in Buffalo. No matter how I look back at it, that fact is easily one of the strangest things about me. I bring this up because my reason to go to Buffalo was Rumble in the Tundra 6. That by itself, however, is not why I chose this tournament over all the others I've attended this year. Rumble was my favorite partly because the TO, Brian "Cha Cha" Stone, opened his home to us so that we wouldn't have to burn finances on a hotel. Not only us, but some VERY notable players from the international KOF community, as well. For a weekend, we weren't streamers or competitors... we were just a bunch of guys hanging out at a friend's place. Video games & alcohol were involved, sure, but it was the sense of fellowship among all of us that made the weekend so memorable. I got share a smoke with El Animal, Luis Cha & Romance... went on a late night food run Bifuteki... downed a fresh-from-the-fridge cold one with a TO in their own house. That's the type of thing you write home about from summer camp. Just good times.
Favorite Fighting Game: TIE - BlazBlue Central Fiction & King of Fighters XIV
I can already the gnashing of teeth & keyboard strokes of furious comments over this choice, but hear me out. In terms of sheer volume, 2016 was a tremendous year for the FGC. New releases, huge expansions & massive updates kept all of us busy these last few months. For my money, however, no two games embodied that sentiment more than BBCF & KOF. Before you say anything, GGXrd-R was originally my pick, but something important changed between then and now. With the exception of one major title, every new game that got released this year offered the players a full experience upon purchase. The only reason why I gave the nod to Central Fiction over REVELATOR was because of the former's finality. If you didn't know prior to reading this, BlazBlue is officially done. The story, convoluted & verbose though it may have been, has finally reached its conclusion. The journey we took in order to get to that point is what pushes it just a little further ahead than Guilty Gear in this instance. As for KOF, watching SNK take such a risk by redesigning the game the way they did & seeing it pay off is nothing short of awesome to me. On top of that, they are going above & beyond in terms of community outreach and maintenance. Regardless of what you thought of it at release, the game is only going to get better. I, for one, cannot wait to see where 2017 takes it.
As fun as all that was, I want to wrap up this Special Edition by flipping a proverbial coin. On one side is what I love about the FGC and, on the other, something that actually wasn't addressed in the original photo: my fears & concerns regarding the FGC. First things first, what always brings me back is the sense of family that we all have through gaming. The fact that I can go months without seeing some people, but can immediately strike up a conversation (and maybe even have a few drinks) with them whenever we cross paths at a major will always put a smile on my face. I admittedly have better relationships with members of the FGC than I do with some of my own family. What's even better is that those connections only get stronger as time goes on.
Unfortunately, the sweet cannot exist without the sour. One of my deepest concerns regarding the FGC in 2017 is that the concept of "spectacle" may overtake/eclipse our core understanding of purpose. I just got finished saying how much I love that we all come together at these events, but let's not forget that there are actually tournaments happening at these gatherings. Part of why we come out is to compete. I fear that there might be some of us out there losing sight of that. Another thing that worries me is the rampant escalation I've seen across the board. There's nothing wrong with having a robust schedule, but keep in mind that not every player who attends is receiving some form of financial assistance. That pendulum swings both ways, too. Just because your event isn't in some grand ballroom or sports arena, that doesn't mean it's any less serviceable. Please don't let the allure and/or appearance of big money cloud your judgment & make you forget why we're all here in the first place. Once we cross that line, I'm afraid there's no turning back. That's just me, though... there are any number things that can happen over the next 12 months.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends. Oh, and Happy New Year!