Hate Speech War Report: Our Own March Madness

MLG and NCR falling on the same late-March weekend spiked the salt level here at 8wayrun.com to the point where it became comparable to the Dead Sea, but that was hardly the whole story. In fact, the most interesting result of MLG’s cartoonishly evil attempt to undermine SCV, the fighting game community, puppies, kittens, and classic American values like the nuclear family, was that we were treated to a side-by-side comparison of radically different games (patch versus pre-patch), different styles of doing things, and, ultimately, a truckload of entertaining SOULCALIBUR content. So, bearing that in mind, let’s consider what we learned.

The Patch Changed Everything

Perhaps the most obvious difference between MLG and NCR was the style and overall quality of play on display. Many people expected this; the west coast hasn’t traveled much, so most of the notable players on everyone’s radar come from east of the Rocky Mountains (way east in some cases . . . like France), and MLG was the obvious choice for them in terms of sheer convenience. Nevertheless, “all of the good players were at MLG” doesn’t exactly give us the whole story. To my mind, one of the most important things we saw from that weekend was the stark, overwhelming difference between the styles of play supported by pre- and post-patch SCV, nicely ushering one era of the game while simultaneously kicking the new one off with a bang. MLG showed us the most refined form of version 1.01, displayed beautifully by all of the top placers, particularly Keev. He moved outstandingly, showing an amazing sense of positional awareness, and rode his spacing skills to a well-earned victory. Across the board, MLG was a spot-on demonstration of outstanding play with plenty of killers (especially from the east coast) at the height of their powers.

lQDcu.jpg
Yup. That east coast.

NCR, by contrast, gave us early glimpses into what 1.02 SCV is on its way to becoming due to the way backdash mechanics have changed. Movement, spacing, and patience now pay far fewer dividends than just letting things rip, and the top 8 certainly reflected that. I’ve suggested elsewhere that AlexJ cracked the code on this new version of SCV, and I stand by that. He was aggressive, exploiting fast, advantaged lows, and he effectively used safe ranged tools to eliminate his opponents’ ability to move effectively. The most telling clash between this new style and the pre-patch style could be seen in the winner’s final match between Alex and NFK. Noface’s style, drawing heavily upon what worked in 1.01, simply couldn’t find traction against Alex’s carved-to-the-bone solid simplicity. This is also why the grand finals struck a number of viewers as underwhelming, play-wise—both players were attempting to learn matchups on the fly while simultaneously negotiating the ins and outs of a radically different overall game system.

9jbsO.gif
Above: 1.02 gameplay at its finest. Oh, and it's .gif week, everybody. Get hype, or whatever.
In the end, I’m now eagerly looking forward to seeing how top 1.01 players will adjust their style of play to the new system. MLG’s gameplay was a refined, intense send-off, while NCR’s was exceedingly raw. Given a little time, though, who knows what we’ll end up seeing?

A Little Hype Goes a Long Way

The other most noticeable difference between the two events was the overall tone of each. MLG was characterized by a quiet, efficient, and at times almost antiseptic sort of feeling. There was definitely excitement and drama, but in general sportsmanship ruled the day. Hell, Bibulus even dressed up all fancy-like, which was kind of awesome. Overall, MLG allowed the very high level of play in its matches speak for itself, by and large, and that gave people more than enough reason to tune in and stay glued to their screens.

For its part, NCR was classic FGC rawness. The venue was crowded and hot, people were screaming, and more than a few people rubbed up against me so much that I’m a little heartbroken they never called me the next morning. We saw the upside of this model particularly during the grand finals matches; Alex was going nuts, the crowd was getting into things, and, as if on cue, basically the entire population of southern California showed up to cheer Noface on during the critical final matches. The trash talk and other shenanigans, while off-putting to some, effectively disguised the inevitable miscues arising from playing on the three-day-old patch. What’s more, this served to manufacture interest. Even someone unfamiliar with the players involved could take one look, identify heroes and villains, and subsequently find himself with a semi-personal stake in the outcome of the tournament. Good hype really does compensate for quite a bit, which is a lesson we should all take to heart.

vqZqy.gif
Kids these days have no sense of sportsmanship...

Our Standards are Rising, and Tournaments Are Meeting the Challenge

Fighting games in general and SCV specifically have proven increasingly popular, and that popularity has placed increasing strain on tournament organizers in basic logistical terms. We’ve all had horror stories by now, just as I mentioned recently in the wake of Final Round. It would seem, however, that organizers are taking notice of this and endeavoring to improve things. Most reports from MLG indicate that the tournament was run efficiently and professionally. The NCR situation was similarly well-run, and this despite a number of important at-the-door registrations which had the potential to affect pool balance. My pool started precisely on time and was run to its conclusion within something like an hour and a half, and at all points before and after that I was free to go about the business of not being crushed up against 400,000 other sweaty nerds.

Of course, nothing is ever perfect. On the MLG side, Esom was subjected to some egregious circumstances, as he mentioned in SoulCast #2. While his experience seems to be a deeply unfortunate exception rather than the rule, there’s simply no adequate excuse for a tournament judge being unfamiliar with the policies he’s supposed to enforce. Nothing so blatant happened at NCR, to my knowledge, but there were still hiccups. It was at times difficult to hear matches being called, and I know at least one person in my pool was disqualified because he was called to play in a different game, despite the fact that he tried to take steps to inform the staff. What’s more, our finals were delayed by almost an hour, I think, if not more, because certain players, *aherm*, were running significantly late.

The big take-away here is that the FGC and Esports worlds have a great deal to learn from one another, and we can only hope that the people in charge of running events pick up on that fact. On the FGC side, organizers would do well to prioritize ruthlessly things like scheduling, efficiency, and so on, as well as taking more care to ensure that players aren’t crammed up one another’s nether regions just in order to play or spectate. Setting ground-rules and sticking to them without playing favorites is something to which we should aspire, and it’s certainly the best way to show respect to everyone spending the time and money necessary to compete. On the flip side, MLG (and Esports in general) needs to be willing to get its hands a little dirty. This ain’t Starcraft, it ain’t HALO, and neither an overabundance of civility nor one-size-fits-all rulesets make any sense within this context. They would be well-served by adopting community standards for rules, etcetera, and bringing in experienced community members to properly enforce those rules. There’s no need for them to reinvent the wheel when basically everyone within the community is practically begging them to just steal the best practices we’ve managed to work out through literally decades of trial and error.

Wpt2d.gif
FGC and Esports coming together! (FGC being played by Carl Weathers, of course.)

Additionally—and this is far outside of my wheelhouse, so don’t pillory me if I’m a little off-base—I think they’d be far better off focusing less on in-person presentation elements like sets, neckties, and cool blinky monitors, and directing that energy more toward bringing their web presentation up to the standards we see from Team Spooky, IPlayWinner, and the like. MLG had amazing matches and Bibulus’ beard was positively resplendent, as usual, but I wasn’t able to enjoy either of those things as much as I might’ve due to the grainy video quality. SCV is an especially impressive game, graphically speaking, and I’d love to see it showcased in the best possible light.

There’s Plenty of Room for Everybody

In line with my aforementioned hope that future events on both sides of this supposed FGC/Esports fence learn from one another, it’s imperative that we, as fans and players, do a bit of learning ourselves, the most important lesson being that the schedule conflict about which many were so up in arms wasn’t really a conflict at all. More events, even when those events fall on the same day, mean more options for players and more content for everyone who wants a SCV fix. MLG and NCR gave us two very different products, but at the end of the day both were enjoyable. Moreover, having events on opposite sides of the country provided players without the means to do a ton of traveling with a chance to get some exposure, and that’s a very good thing.

As our strange little hobby continues to grow and mature, we’ll of course still want blockbuster events with everybody who’s anybody in attendance, but multiple tournaments on the same day will also be unavoidable. MLG/NCR weekend proved to me that we have players enough to populate two really kickass events on the same day, and it’s my ardent hope that we get big enough to do that again and again. Now isn’t the time to be territorial; it’s the time to be optimistic.

a6Naj.gif
And dance, Esports-style! That's what they do at those events, right?
Homework:

You know the drill. Were you at one of these things? Sound off. Did you watch ‘em? What did you like or dislike? I’m keeping this pretty broad because I think these tournaments had potential implications for a lot of things within our community, from gameplay to organization, competitive ethics, rivalries, speculation, you name it. As such, I want it all on the table.
 

Comments

Thoroughly enjoyed watching both events, though my biggest complaint with MLG is the downtime - for all the games. In KOFs regard it made sense due to lack of numbers, but SCV/MK had high profile matches being played off stream, which greatly annoyed me. And being forced to watch the stream on MLG's site.
 
my only request for NCR would have been a bigger venue with possibly a stronger AC system, obviously a wish list, as I had a great time doing casuals not having entered in the tourney ($60 entry when I realized I was going is not coo), I also have never felt more hyped about any other SC final since probably evo2k3
 
I won't Judge MLG on one attempt at this. Too much downtown and commercials were my biggest issue. Get this matches quickly so we get more matches viewed.

And you should have tried the 480p option hates.
 
You know I just read that hate speech... But the only thing on my mind is I went to a wedding last night and put a garter on the hottest cousin :)

Also medium quality is free for MLG
 
I watched em both but very late.

I liked the MLG matches a little more but that's expected. Im sad at Wing_Zeros Pyrrha being on the screen instead of Xiba though.
Nightmare wins both though, post and pre patch lol, awesome.

Also the last arc of Fairy Tail was more hype than both the streams combined.

Yuruyurarararara yuruyuri
 
I'm glad that someone else agrees that there wasn't a scheduling conflict as both events are on opposite sides of the country. For the most part, people are going to attend the event that is convenient for them to go to since most people don't have the ability to fly across the country to play a video game. And now we are in the era where everyone wants to run a major tournament, so there's going to be events held on the same weekend until people stop playing SCV, then it won't matter. But from a spectator's standpoint, I'm glad that I had two events to watch instead of one since SCV doesn't get much coverage. I would be worried if we didn't haven enough people to attend both events.

I'm glad that NCR had that good vs evil dynamic going on because without people having that rooting interest, they wouldn't have been paying attention to SCV, compared to MLG where Keev just steamrolled his way to victory.

I hope that the FGC/eSports take from each other and continue to improve on the quality of these events and broadcasts. The overall vibe that I received from watching MLG was stuffy with the lack of hype and commentators taking a long time to loosen up. I don't see why it's such a pain for MLG to incorporate our best practices. And I would like to see the streams for the FGC events go beyond just showing matches on stream and give me more from the player perspective so that people outside of this community can know who they are.

I also hope that there is enough growth to sustain this game at both venues because I'm really worried about the longevity of this game now that SFxT is out, we have places struggling to field a 16 man bracket, and the amount of people who aren't thrilled with the latest patch. We'll see.
 
my only request for NCR would have been a bigger venue with possibly a stronger AC system, obviously a wish list, as I had a great time doing casuals not having entered in the tourney ($60 entry when I realized I was going is not coo), I also have never felt more hyped about any other SC final since probably evo2k3
Agreed 100x on the AC. I know IFB got sick because of the temperature alone, lol.

I also hope that there is enough growth to sustain this game at both venues because I'm really worried about the longevity of this game now that SFxT is out, we have places struggling to field a 16 man bracket, and the amount of people who aren't thrilled with the latest patch. We'll see.
I too, am worried to some extent. Here in Vegas, we're definitely struggling to fill up brackets as well (we had 9 last tournament, including Genver who came down here). However, I believe this is more due to the struggle of getting people into 3d/SC, rather than the success of SFxT. We're fortunate enough that because of the World Championships happening here that we get a free chance to re-promote the game locally, but I'm still not sure how to encourage more people to come check out the game.
 
What game do you think the people who are struggling with 3D games are going to flock to naturally? Street Fighter.
 
SCV is luckily pretty strong in Cincinnati. Ranking Battles at Arcade Legacy had 26 entrants this weekend, and the first weekend had 26 as well. PowerUp has 11 pre-registrants, and I expect that number to increase as we come closer to the April 13-15 weekend.
 
Good article as always, but I would've liked to see a paragraph set aside to quell the complaints of Nightmare being "OP". Keev got away with a lot of stuff he shouldn't have, such as unsafe grim stride entries, multi-hit strings not being properly punished, people not teching GS K BE, and more. He's going to keep steamrolling people until they do their homework until they can exploit the big holes in Nightmare's game.
 
Good article as always, but I would've liked to see a paragraph set aside to quell the complaints of Nightmare being "OP". Keev got away with a lot of stuff he shouldn't have, such as unsafe grim stride entries, multi-hit strings not being properly punished, people not teching GS K BE, and more. He's going to keep steamrolling people until they do their homework until they can exploit the big holes in Nightmare's game.
2A2A2A2A2A2AA22A2A2AA2A2A2A2A_1K

I can't seem to find any solution to NM GS mix-ups! T.T
 
Regarding MLG, I wouldn't start raising pitchforks yet. Taking Starcraft as an example, MLG started really shitty, but steadily got better. Everything from stream quality to venue seating was trash at the start, but they listened to feedback and have improved at every event.

Extended series still sucks, but it's a holdover from when MLG was all about the FPS games and is unlikely to go away.
 
A thought- a better way to discourage runaway is to discourage the whiff punish style rewards than to nerf the movement. Less NH knd/launchers, and bigger CH rewards. That way, yes you get a reward for whiff punishing, but if you want the big damage, you have to earn it by getting in there and setting up for it. Setting up for whiffs is comparatively easier in most cases.

Another thing might be with the game requiring so many reads in so many situations now, a universal damage tone down might be warranted as to up the "mental cache" of reads players accumulate against each other over the course of a set. High damage tends to skew the reward of a random "fuck it, I'm gonna hopkick" kind of reward.

Edit: High damage also skews the reward of "run away and whiff punish" in games where that is viable too, if the high damage comes off normal hit launchers. Food for thought.

That said, I'm fine with 1.02. Oh you were BACKDASHING AGAIN and got READ? Sorry take damage now.