Hate Speech War Report: Final Round XV

Final Round XV took place on March 3rd and 4th in Atlanta, Georgia, and clocked in at a truly impressive 254 entrants. The tournament itself had numerous ups and downs, a few surprises, and an overall level of play that was truly impressive for a game so early in its life-cycle.

FRXV also inadvertently shined some light on a handful of larger issues affecting both our specific community and fighting games more generally, all of which deserve a good amount of thought and discussion. That being the case, let’s get down to it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the FRXV War Report . . .

The State of Play

Final Round XV showcased an oppressively rich field of player-talent. We saw a number of familiar faces from past SOULCALIBUR tournaments along with plenty of the newer generation, and everyone was hungry. One of the great benefits of attending these events is getting a sense of how other regions approach gameplay: What do they do well? What do they lack? Where are their priorities? All in all, it’s quite an education. After playing handfuls of casuals here and there with as many people as possible (and, of course, watching the tournament unfold), here’s an off-the-cuff assessment (note that I’m just trying to hand out well-deserved props here, so nobody better get all salty):

East Coast (NYC and New Jersey, in particular):

The EC guys have proven strong thus far in SCV, which makes sense given their scene’s overall level of activity, and while they weren’t at the absolute top of the heap in Atlanta, they nevertheless had several representatives competing on day two. Their style of play struck me as the most balanced; their best representatives showcased solid fundamentals, a moderate, flexible balance of aggression and defense, and an eagerness to exploit SCV’s meter mechanics. All in all, they’re a formidable group, despite being nothing more than a conglomeration of fizzbitches and frauds (shout outs to Ramon <3!).

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Ramon celebrating. Yeah, it's an inside joke, but doing an image search for "fizzbitch" is like a direct portal to all the stupid on the Internet.
ATL:

Overall, the Atlanta guys seem to favor a game based primarily around patience, solid defense, and good fundamentals, which comes in two primary flavors: the RTD and the Wing_Zero. When RTD is in RTD mode (you can tell this is happening because his cowboy hat starts glowing yellow and everyone around him dies), he’s incredibly difficult to pin down. He always seems to be floating just outside of a range at which you can comfortably check him, inducing you to make errors and then moving in for the kill. Wing_Zero and those who favor a style more like his, by contrast, seem perfectly content to block, punish, and pick their moments that way. Both styles proved incredibly effective, as we saw.

Chicago:

Due to the thus-far absence of streams and major tournaments in the area, Chicago was like something out of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for me—mysterious, unknowable, and vaguely dangerous. What we saw at FRXV was proof that whatever secret evil they’re working up there is paying real dividends. Specifically, the Chicago guys demonstrated not only good fundamentals, but a truly impressive facility with new mechanics like Just Guard, and their best players are investing time in characters which would be powerful in anyone’s hands, let alone theirs. It wouldn’t have taken a breakout performance from Hawkeye to prove to the world that they’re a scene to watch, but that sure didn’t hurt, either.

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Yeah, this came up in the same search. You know what? I'm gonna roll with it.
Texas/Oklahoma:

There’s a lot of upside here, which is no surprise. Byakko from Dallas made an appearance on day two, and he damn near unseated KDZ in his pool. The Dallas players generally have an eclectic style that’s the product of oldschool SC veterans and some new up-and-comers crossing over from other games, and when those groups have taught one another what they can, the rest of the US will need to take notice. Additionally, we had Animefreak putting Tulsa back on the map, which was personally gratifying for me. He’s rough around the edges, but he’s definitely on the verge of doing more real damage in tournament situations. Even now his Xiba is giving everyone he faces a real run for their money.

Norcal/Socal:

Mysteries. I was the only California representative of which I was aware, and I had an underwhelming performance, only taking 4th in my pool. I scouted you fools, though, so watch out!

Omega:

This man deserves his own section. As it stands, when it comes to SCV in North America, it’s Omega’s world, and we’re all just living in it. His game is incredibly strong, and the overall SCV system favors his aggressive style. Omega’s brilliance as a player stems from his ability to make a read and commit to it without hesitation. Sure, he’ll occasionally get hit or lose around, but he doesn’t let that shake him. This fearlessness combined with his stellar reactions and excellent use of GI make him, for now, the man to beat.

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Take a wild guess.
The Tournament Itself

While the gameplay was exhilarating, the overall tournament was something of a mixed bag, and it raises issues we need to consider. Before getting into any of that, however, I’d be remiss in failing to note that ShinBlanka already commented on the hiccups we faced, and not every problem can or should be laid at the feet of the FRXV staff, all of whom were busting ass for the entire weekend. In addition to the hard-working staff of volunteers, FRXV provided us all with a solid venue room, plenty of setups for our tournament, and a location without any issues relating to spotty, awful Internet access (which is a problem entirely more frequently than it should be). Still, the FRXV experience was inconsistent at best, which could probably be most easily described by comparing my day one experience with KDZ’s as he related it to me.

SOULCALIBUR V players were told to arrive at the venue starting at 10am Saturday. We were then instructed to locate ourselves on handwritten paper brackets to get a sense of when we would play, and to prepare accordingly, which all of us did, including KDZ and myself. It was at that point where our stories radically diverged. KDZ found himself in one of the earliest brackets. He arrived at 10, his matches moved along at a good clip, and his pool was over within two hours, leaving him free to go about his day. All in all, it was a model of efficiency.

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Yup.
My name, by contrast, didn’t appear until the third page of the bracket, meaning I had some time to kill. Unfortunately, no one could tell me how much time that was, effectively leaving me shackled to the venue room until things got started. Once they began, however, I rattled off three quick matches, including an epic nail-biter against Omega that was one of the real tournament highlights for me. Subsequent to that match, I inquired about my next one and was informed that we needed to populate the loser’s bracket a little bit before continuing. I was told, “You probably have time to go to the restroom if you like, but don’t go too far—you’ll be playing any minute.” I got this same spiel, or a variant thereof, for approximately the next four hours, all without playing a match. Finally, when my tournament started up again, I was required to play four matches (or was it five?) back to back to back to back, all without a break. By the time I was finished, it was basically dinnertime. I’m not the only person with this experience or something like it, either. WinterBrawl champion Linkrkc was also in my pool, and I believe he too experienced major delays.

So why did it take so long? Simply put, it’s a matter of expectations and priorities, not to mention FRXV buckling a bit under the weight of its own success in every game. First of all, we dropped a logistical H-bomb on that tournament. I’m positive nobody expected us to field 250+ entrants, and the organizers simply weren’t prepared to handle that plus everyone else. The otherwise spacious venue was packed full of people all day, each buzzing around trying to get through match after match in various games. Even so, some of this should have been avoidable. Major 2D tournaments had their pools assigned and publicly posted by midnight the night before the tournament, meaning players knew precisely when to be at the venue. No 3D games were extended this courtesy. In fact, it appears as though the initial plan was to run SCV on a single, giant 250-man bracket, foregoing pools altogether. This plan was ultimately abandoned, as we all saw, but even the attempt seems wasteful. Secondly, running the tournament on paper brackets led to numerous problems. Some players ended up placed very close to their good friends and training partners while others were left off of the brackets entirely, at least for a time, both of which led to players being shuffled around from pool to pool after the tournament was well underway. Computerized brackets and a little extra planning up front make a world of difference. Lastly, on the matter of delays, I know that my pool was inordinately held up so that players could finish large numbers of matches in other games. While a few minutes here or there is perfectly acceptable, grinding an entire pool to a halt for hours simply isn’t. To my mind, entering multiple games means the responsibility falls on individuals who make that choice to be willing to go instantly from one game-mindset to another on short notice, otherwise we’re all a little bit screwed.

That final issue (and the lack of pools/postings) points toward something more than just logistical oversight. Indeed, it gets to the heart of a major issue we’re facing in all tournaments, namely that 3D games simply don’t get the same sort of consideration as their 2D counterparts. This makes sense, given the overwhelming support for such games, but it’s still frustrating, even if it’s understandable.

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Okay, sometimes this search query got a little bit awesome.
The upshot of this, if such a thing can be said to exist, is that these issues go a long way toward undermining the argument that MLG picking up SCV will ultimately prove divisive. To my mind, the MLG announcement is amazing news. Yes, MLG Columbus is on the same weekend as NCR, which is a major reason I won’t be in attendance, but the beauty of it is that we’re being presented with options other than cramming into the far corners of established 2D-centric tournaments. If much of the logistical trouble we face comes from growing pains, how can it be anything but good to have more options, more events, and more people dedicated toward putting on a good SCV show?

In the end, despite the many bumps and bruises on the ride, FRXV was a positive experience that makes me quite hopeful for our scene. We came out in force and everyone played their asses off, so let’s keep the momentum going. Keep practicing hard, keep attending events, and keep putting our scene on the map.

Homework:

Gear up to attend a major. In fact, you should all start making your EVO plans right now—being in Vegas around July 4 requires extra early planning.

Oh, and if you attended FR, sound off about your experience, etcetera.
 

Comments

Ive been to Final Round the past 2 years in a row. This was my third and last Final Round until someone tells me after next year that it's been improved for the better.

Being told to be at the venue at 10AM and not knowing when(or IF) we are in the brackets AND being unable to find out our status in the bracket because the tournament runner told everyone to get the fuck away EVERY TIME was extremely frustrating.

Like you said Hates - the 2D players had their pool assignments done and posted online the night before which alleviated much of the stress in running their tournament.

Not doing the same for all major games played reeks of un-professionalism and laziness. Registration was closed on Friday afternoon. The organizers had all the information they needed to complete this task on Friday and have it ready to go on Saturday. Whether they were going to do pools or a 250+ bracket - it doesn't matter. They waited day of the tournament and it's a huge part of the reason there were so many problems for our tournament.

There is no excuse for that.
 
Final Round was my first tournament and I have to say overall I wasn't disappointed. Everyone I met was pretty nice and I even met a few people in my local scene that prior to the event I had no idea existed. After going 2-2 and playing some epic casuals I came to realize two things, 1 I'm better than I give myself credit for, and 2 I still have a LONG way to go before I can start placing in events. Though the whole bracket confusion thing was a real pain in the ass I still plan on this being my first of many FR I will attend in the future. (Though next time I'll bring headphones because I had no idea how Hype and crazy those ATL people are.)
 
I'll have to say while FR gets a pass since they didn't expect it, the Evo circuit can't keep underestimating the 3d games and give us the shaft treatment. I play Marvel like many other people, but being 2d or 3d, or hell, capcom or otherwise shouldn't be given preferential treatment.

Long story short, if NCR does the same shit, MLG will start looking REALLY appealing.
 
the 3d games got the short end of the stick. they even posted kof13 pools which mind u had LESS players than sc5. i was one of those people who was constantly on edge because they "lost" my name and i had to hound the shit out of them and be worried for many hours because i didnt kno when i would be called. otherwise things were run to the best of their ability and im grateful but i still cant help but feel that we're second class citizens.
 
Overall i liked the event. It was really ran like a giant Tulsa tournament, good and bad. I'm used to it so maybe that's why.

I had FUN, to me that's big, in every game i joined. 16th in SCV which was a hugely satisfying thing, yet underwhelming at the same time. I got 9th in Blazblue as well almost defeating the best Bang in the U.S. in a sweet mirror match. And i did fairly well in Marvel, albeit the way i lost was disappointing.

The events tendency to DQ as fast as they did was sort of scary. I myself won 1 match in SCV and Marvel because of it and i NEVER like winning that way. Sometimes it's necessary but my SCV opponent was in KoFXIII which we all know takes forever so that isn't cool.

I was in pool 7, they never told me where i was, and yelled at anyone asking. I sat there waiting for HOURS and was the very last SCV match to be played that day because of it. The amount of waiting was annoying. With that in my mind already Marvel was delayed later than any game from any other event i'd ever been to AND they had to ask for more Marvel discs because they weren't prepared. I was in pool 2 of that game and that started 7 hours late. Because of this i couldn't leave to eat of anything and only by the graces of my crew did i get anything. The Tulsa crew than proceeds to dawg me after making them wait forever and then losing and not making it out of my pool for the rest of EVER.
Oh ya and within the delayed bracket we waited another hour for an opponent that wasn't even there so ya.......

HOWEVER the finals day was amazing to watch, losing as swiftly as i did in SCV with the worst performance in a match that i've ever shown was a blessing in disguise because for the first time that weekend i could move freely and so stuff. I didn't have to ask to go potty. And Marvel was a real treat to see. So i had fun, just with there were more casual areas around that weren't in hotel rooms.
 
Yo Hates, I had a blast talking with you about the game. Mind blowing stuff throughout the tournament, and I had a great time.
 
I'll have to say while FR gets a pass since they didn't expect it, the Evo circuit can't keep underestimating the 3d games and give us the shaft treatment. I play Marvel like many other people, but being 2d or 3d, or hell, capcom or otherwise shouldn't be given preferential treatment.

Long story short, if NCR does the same shit, MLG will start looking REALLY appealing.
Not sure what you mean by the 'Evo circuit'. This was just one tournament. So there are specific details to consider. Did the same people organize all the tournaments at the event and put in less effort toward SC, or was it assigned to a different group and they failed? Stuff like that.

And I disagree that Marvel and AE2012 or whatever shouldn't get preferential treatment. It's not like they just get it randomly, those games consistently put in the numbers for both entrants and number of viewers.

What I'd like to know is what happened to the livestream. There was a schedule posted for SC5 to be on the second (FunkyP) stream and not only was it not on at the right time but it was on a different stream as well. Not that I'm complaining that Spooky streamed it instead. And I'm not even gonna complain all that much about it. I'd just like to know what happened.
 
And I disagree that Marvel and AE2012 or whatever shouldn't get preferential treatment. It's not like they just get it randomly, those games consistently put in the numbers for both entrants and number of viewers.
It's a matter of what constitutes preferential treatment. Should these be featured events? Absolutely, for precisely the reasons you mention. Should these be the only games wherein players' time is respected and things are run according to any semblance of a plan? Hardly.
 
You're speech is ok this time. Still sad that I see only opinions sounding like facts but oh well what can you do... You're hates so I guess you're born to be hated LMAO. Anywho, I agree with the ATL becuase I was there undercover. XD Didn't want anyone to see me. Didn't play though. But I was totally fail.
 
There is no excuse for that.
This is sounding all too familiar. NEC had the same problems. So I'll say this again: the potential of this series is now in the TOs hands. There are seriously too many competitive games that do it right for this shit to still be going on.


@Hates
While the article is good(as always) there doesn't seem to be any mention about swordlord. With all the uproar about how "unprofessional" the commentary was, I expected you to make a short mention/reflection here, with perhaps lesson learned... but surprised to see absolutely no mention at all as if it never happened. This was a bit off putting to me.
 
This is sounding all too familiar. NEC had the same problems. So I'll say this again: the potential of this series is now in the TOs hands. There are seriously too many competitive games that do it right for this shit to still be going on.


@Hates
While the article is good(as always) there doesn't seem to be any mention about swordlord. With all the uproar about how "unprofessional" the commentary was, I expected you to make a short mention/reflection here, with perhaps lesson learned... but surprised to see absolutely no mention at all as if it never happened. This was a bit off putting to me.

Why would he post that? He is only human he isn't a computer dude.