This was the big one. This was the day where everything was on the table. All the showmatches, all the thousands of dollars bet beforehand was just a warmup to the main event.
You wouldn’t have guessed, watching the cheers, gasps and regular group hugs on the stage (to the annoyance of organisers and any health and safety officers in the crowd) that the final prizes were so small compared to what changed hands earlier in the weekend. Still, it didn’t dull the intensity of the matches or the passion of the spectators one iota. It was almost a kind of pure enjoyment, playing solely for the glory, something evident on the faces of particularly the Melbourne supporters.
The seeding points for EVO later this year wasn’t really a factor; most top players I spoke to weren’t planning on going. Many couldn’t fully practice for OHN 11, due to university or other work, although that didn’t stop them from enjoying the atmosphere.
Naturally, not every game received the same welcome. Marvel and Street Fighter were scheduled towards the end and they received the most ecstatic praise. The former was especially helped after Antman advanced from the lower bracket and forced Arnold Desu, the eventual Marvel champion, into a final best-of-five.
Not all matches were broadcast either, although this was by design rather than necessity. The Street Fighter 3rd Strike finals were played off-stream, and due to the schedule the games had already been resolved before organisers realised how far ahead of time things were.
To make up for the hour they’d gained — one of the hallmarks of excellent administration, a constant theme for the event — an on-the-spot Street Fighter team battle was arranged. That opened the door for fan favourites like ToXY to showcase even more of their skills, and the crowd’s roar of appreciation was a fitting reward for the admins’ ad-hoc decision.
Street Fighter produced the tightest rounds; I never expected someone playing Juri to win the whole thing. And the comebacks after the champion, gb from Victoria, popped the Korean Tae Kwan Do master’s ultimate were remarkable.
Despite getting a scare in the first best-of-five, Arnold Desu was able to wrap things up relatively comfortably. The game was peppered with instances of him eventually breaking through runner-up Antman’s guard. Both players executed their moves well, but Arnold maintained his lead through some incredible blocking; re-watch the VODs if you can. The guy is a robot, honestly.
Marvel continues to astonish me. It’s difficult enough as a spectator co-ordinating your brain with the action on the screen, let alone the sheer speed of the players. Ultras and specials being executed within split-seconds of each other never gets boring, simply because so few people can bring everything together so reliably under the pressure.
After all these years, I feel disappointed that I didn’t make the effort to attend fighting game tournaments earlier. Not only do they remind me of why I got into competitive gaming in the first place, but they’re also a hallmark in terms of showcasing a strong and passionate community fortunate enough to have organisers talented enough to keep the show running.
Sure, consoles are a lot easier to deal with than computers and the offline capability of the games removes a lot of problems from the equation. But that didn’t stop the stream from being absolute quality, and it certainly didn’t stop the admins from coping with over 210 players on the day (231 signed up beforehand).
Congratulations, OzHadou. Not only did you successfully run what was the smoothest tournament I’ve seen in many years — and that includes major events over the last 12 months — but you also made a new fan.
I’m looking forward to seeing you all again in May. And if you, dear reader, have the opportunity to come down to Melbourne for the next FGC event, come. It’s worth it.