Oh, dear... it would seem that I've fallen behind schedule again. Well, if I'm being honest, that was by design. Partially because I had to bring on some new writers, but mainly due to the fact that I needed some dust to settle first.
First & foremost, please help me in welcoming our newest recruits, EXWildWolf and Ultra Quambo. They'll be contributing on a regular basis from here on out. You've already gotten acquainted with Wolf through his introduction to KOF XIV. The kid's got talent. Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let's talk about that dust...
If you're involved with the FGC at any level, then I'm sure you're aware of the ELEAGUE Street Fighter 5 Invitational. Thirty-two players from around the world have been brought together to duke it out in a double elimination, round robin style tournament. With an overall purse of $250,000 up for grabs & primetime airing on TBS, it's safe to say that this constitutes as a "big deal". There's just one problem... it means absolutely bupkis in the grand scheme of things. As far as I can tell, this has no impact whatsoever on the Capcom Pro Tour. Even worse, there's a certain sentiment that has started making the rounds that I flat out disagree with. On top of that, the wrong side of the spectacle took the spotlight.
Moments like this are troublesome for me because, more than anything, I want the FGC to grow & prosper. However, there's a clear right & wrong way to go about it. Raising the bar in terms of venue space, production value and general inclusion. Bringing people together through video games is what we're (supposed to be) all about. So when I hear about an invite only tournament, I'm less the enthusiastic. There are thousands upon thousands of us in any given state, never mind the world. We're an international community, so the idea of a "members only" kind of event is admittedly a turn-off for me. That's not to say such events don't have a place on the spectrum of what we do. In all honesty, it boils down to the timing of the event in reference to the highlighted game's release.
Allow me to elaborate, SF5 having an invite only tournament a year and change after the initial release does pretty much nothing to elevate the game itself. A better example is what was done with Mortal Kombat X & the Fatal Eight Invitational. By bringing in players who were proficient in the previous installment to showcase their (relatively unpolished, but slightly advanced) talents before the game went public allowed interest to be harnessed. We got a wonderful preview as to what could be expected from a new game. THAT is how you go about garnering attention. Trotting out a (current) bunch of tournament regulars & community figures to compete in a tournament that has no real stakes -- outside of the prize purse -- just to try & grab some TV ratings falls flat to me.
Furthermore, and this is the crazy thing, some of the participants have even expressed an interest in phasing out open bracket events in favor of the invite only stuff. I would like to think that my next point doesn't need to be stressed, but here we are: NO ONE who claims to be/is labeled as FGC Hollywood (or whatever euphemism you feel is apropos) would be where they are today without the open bracket format. That's not even something you can joke about. The audacity of it notwithstanding, the level of hypocrisy behind that sentiment betrays damn near everything the FGC is built upon. Turning our backs on that fundamental principle would be tantamount to erasing every accomplishment & victory we've fought for over the years. The idea that such a mindset is coming from people who claim to celebrated personalities within our community is not only aggravating... it's saddening.
Then you come to the subject of spectacle. Having an event without an audience onsite is not just poor showmanship, but it's wholly counterintuitive. Would you book a music festival and not allow any fans to see the show? Hell no! Nobody benefits in that scenario. That would be like SNL clearing out the audience before the musical guest got a chance to do their thing. Commentator response isn't necessarily bad, but it can never be viewed as a valid substitute for crowd reaction (and that's coming from the Voice of KPB, mind you). That energy is what makes competitive gaming such a thrill... you literally have to be there. If it weren't for the cameras being present, all this really ends up becoming is a "star-studded" lab session. Cute & all, but not exactly indicative or representative of the FGC. Sorry, but you just failed to sell me on the idea.
Finally, and this is what really gets my goat, is the subject (or rather, the perception) of controversy. I'm not going to name names or single out the moment in question because doing so would be rhetorical to the point of insulting your intelligence and that's not what the Dynamek One & Only is all about. We all know what happened, so let's just leave it at that. What bothers me the most is that when stuff like this happens, we ultimately let someone else tell the story. Oh, sure... we'll light up a comments section like Independence Day (holiday or movie, your choice) or unleash a torrent of social media angst deriding how the incident was portrayed, but has anyone actually gone out of their way to create a dialogue with the various media outlets that are choosing to focus on us? Remember what happened at Combo Breaker last year? Outside of going on at length about how nice he is/what he does for the community, did anyone actually reach out to the accused for comment? Were there any demonstrations of solidarity to support him? Last time I checked, no... there was none of that. We just went through the motions & moved on to the next tournament.
Look, bottom line, I am in awe at how far we've come in the last few years, but I'm never going to agree with the "no such thing as bad publicity" mindset. That's how spoiled, petulant children get their way and grow up to become terrible people. A golden opportunity has been presented to us, brothers & sisters... let's not squander it by making a mess & being glad someone noticed how sloppy we are.
Until next time... keep fighting the good fight, my friends.