Hmm... I owe you an apology. Seems like only yesterday since I posted my last article, but two months have passed since we've spoken & there are some things you need to know moving forward.
For those of you who cared to notice, I've been uncharacteristically quiet for an extended period of time. Granted, people say I'm a quiet person in general, but this is/was... different. You see, when it comes to the team & this website, I've always prided myself having something to say at all times. In part, that's how I became the "Voice of KPB". However, the closing weeks of 2016 found me staring down the barrels of crippling uncertainty. An intense mental & spiritual fatigue had taken hold of me. Just like that -- without any warning or precursor -- the Voice went quiet. This came as a shock to some people, but something was very wrong and I needed to fix it.
I imagine that opening myself up to you like this might seem peculiar, but I take the writer-reader relationship very seriously. All of you who have read and/or shared my work deserve to know what's going on when I don't keep up my end of the bargain in this arrangement of ours. That being said, I feel that I owe you an explanation. Let's start at the beginning... NEC 16.
Winding back the clock by about a year or so, you'd find me at the Valley Forge Casino. It was a Sunday afternoon & we were getting ready to stream the Top 8 for Skullgirls. This was capping off what had been a whirlwind of a year for me in terms of supporting the game. I had set up monthlies, fought to get the game included at events we were on the hook to stream for, added pot bonuses almost everywhere I went, traveled out of state to lend whatever credibility I could & even helped organize a fundraising campaign to bring a foreign player Stateside to compete. Like I said, a whirlwind of a year. So when it came time to introduce the game, I made an announcement: I was retiring from 'field duty'. I had simply reached a point where I needed to step back and attend to certain matters in my personal life. While this news was initially met with a few groans & sighs, everyone's gratitude for my service was overwhelming. I couldn't have asked for a greater gift.
By the time I got back my civilian life, the writing was on the wall & I knew what needed to be done. I reached out to a few members of the FGC to bolster our editorial ranks, which allowed me to extend the same honor that KPB|Rodimus Prime granted me way back when. With more voices having an opportunity to speak, more opinions & discussions could be had. I nominated bringing DaPurpleSharpie in order to help restructure the team. In case you forgot, she's the reason this place has been looking so damn fancy as of late. I had helped Prime write up some documentation to help further legitimize us as a team. To put it as frankly as possible, it looked like KPB had reached the point that it didn't actively need me anymore, so I figured that would be the best time to go out on top. Which brings us to Winter Brawl 10...
I'm not sure if this would be something any of you would need to know, but my birthday happens to be February 28 and WBX ended up being on the weekend right before my birthday, so the guys talked me into coming out as a present to myself. However, I didn't tell anyone... wanted the attention to go to the event, the games & the players. I had a good time, too. It reminded why I enjoyed being in this scene so much. Came back to NY with no regrets, though, and resumed living my "normal" life. For the most part, nothing rocked the boat for me: I was still in touch with the team, I still enjoyed gaming, I was maintaining the website's editorial schedule on a regular basis & all was well. That pattern would have continued unabated if a handful of unrelated occurrences hadn't taken place. For the sake of brevity, I'll focus on the two most important: the sudden & mysterious arrival of Avyd and the unveiling of King of Fighters XIV.
My parents always raised me to speak up when I knew things were wrong, even if it meant I'd be making someone uncomfortable. That was the feeling I had about Avyd. I didn't trust them at all. However, since baseless conjecture isn't my style, this meant I had to get back into action. For those of you who remember, my stance against them lead to some better-than-expected content. I made my case & stood my ground, but knew when to stop fighting. In the words of Malcolm Reynolds: "I may have been on the losing side, still not convinced it was the wrong one." The other side of this coin was the impending release of KOF 14. Kick-Punch-Block's origins are tied very closely to the KOF series. So, naturally, we sought to rekindle our relationship with the franchise. This all came together at Summer Jam, where we were on the hook to stream pools. However, something had reignited in me with this game & I ended up doing something I'd never dreamed of... I called a Top 8 on Spooky's stream. (Yes, THAT Spooky!) In doing so, I had discovered new purpose. I was going to do everything in my power to become the game's East coast personality.
As fate would have it, this ended up proving to be a little easier than originally expected since this was the beginning of KPB's road tour. We had ended up getting booked to stream at events all throughout the Northeastern territory. For the rest of 2016, we were streaming at a different major event every month and everywhere we went, yours truly was calling those matches for KOF. All of this was leading to NEC 17, but the penultimate stop on the tour was GUTS 4. I ended up riding there & back alone and here's where you could say the cracks started to show. It's time for a confession: I always catch myself thinking about the closing monologue from "the 25th Hour" whenever I'm coming back from a tournament. Since I wasn't on a MegaBus, the ride made a number of stops and I'd be lying to you if I said that the thought of just straight up disappearing never crossed my mind whenever we pulled into another depot. There are a lot of things about me that no one in the FGC knows and they sometimes take grip of me in the form of depression. This was the case when I got back from GUTS.
I spent those next weeks before NEC pretty much bottling up all of the doubt & anxiety because I knew that giving into any of it wouldn't help the team any. When NEC finally arrived, I was ready to make the absolute most of it... or so I thought. I did my job of commentating when it was time for KOF, but those moments in between found me at a weird loss. Something was missing... something was... gone. Yet again, I folded up that nervous breakdown, stuffed it in my back pocket & went about my business. When I got back to NY, all the stuff I had brushed off for the sake of being on the team was waiting for me during the holiday break. On top of all my own personal madness, things on the outside seemed as if they were starting to go off the rails.
There were internal matters that needed settling within KPB, but a number of various circumstances kept them from being resolved in a timely manner. The general cattiness that all too often imbrues the FGC felt like it was taking even deeper root than usual. The influx of outside money had opened us up to idea of monopolization (and it seemed as if people were actually celebrating that). When you stare at the big picture for too long, it's very easy to lose sight of your place in it. That's what happened to yours truly, brothers & sisters: I hit a wall. I could no longer see or feel whatever difference/impact I was making... if I even ever had any to begin with. In hindsight, that's obviously ludicrous, but I couldn't see that while under the weight of my depression. It was abrupt, but I turned away. After explaining myself to a select few, I hung it up. That's why you didn't really hear from me during January. As fate would have it, though, my departure set a lot of things in motion... but that's a story Prime himself will tell (very soon).
The good news is that, during my absence, I rediscovered what it is that makes all of this a part of who I am. I'm back, baby! Now none of this is to say that the day isn't steadily approaching where I'll step down for good & watch with pride as the next generation leads us into the future. That day isn't today, though, and it's not for a good while. Until then, you're going to be experiencing me on a whole new level. 2017 is going to be a landmark year and I am just getting started. Hope you're ready...
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.