Before I begin, I’d like to thank each and every person who contributed to the stunning view count for my last article, “What We Keep Getting Wrong about Women in the FGC.” I was completely overwhelmed by the traffic, and I have to thank Kayane, the Combo Queens Facebook, and Tom Cannon for sharing it so it could reach the widest possible audience. I hope you stick around, and I’ll do my best to keep putting out quality stuff.
Now, onto the main event.
So I’m at Midway Airport a couple weeks ago, all ready to start drafting the second half of my look back at my career through Mortal Kombat 9, when I suddenly see Twitter is aflame with constant chatter about ELeague. ELeague, for the folks at home, is a professional e-sports league that actually has big money behind it in the form of Turner Broadcasting. They’ve been running for a couple years now, with mega hit Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as the basis of its league format. Recently, they’ve added fighting games to their repertoire, running invitational-style league events for Street Fighter V and Tekken 7, as well as hosting the finals of the Injustice 2 Championship Series. The prize pools are huge, with the SFV season reaching $250,000, and the events have top notch production from the Turner studios in Atlanta, which broadcast the events on TBS, Turner’s basic cable channel. Sounds awesome, right?
To preface this article, let me wind back the clock: it’s Devastation 2010 and I am standing in the ballroom of the Phoenix Convention Center. I’m playing casual matches of Super Street Fighter IV, long after my tournament run has ended. As I move to the peanut gallery after losing my set, I notice there is a girl standing amidst the players. Much like me, she has a fancy arcade-style controller and is waiting in line to get her chance to play. We catch eyes for a moment, offer a polite smile of greeting, and make a little small talk.
“Playing Street Fighter?” I ask.
“Yeah. Trying anyways,” she answers back.
“Did you play in the tournament?” I respond, unsure of the answer despite the expensive, very specific controller she’s holding.
“Yeah, yeah I did,” she says, “I won my first match, lost the next, then I got scrubbed out in losers by this Honda.”
As she finishes saying this, she’s up to play. We exchange goodbyes, and I’m laughing to myself. Scrubbed out, she says? That’s the word we use, I think. Y’know, us fighting game players. And here’s this girl saying it too! Isn’t that wacky?! And she knows that E. Honda is one of the better characters in the game! I acted like it was a conversation with a talking dog, something that you would never expect in a million years.
Yes, I was doing the exact thing I shouldn’t have: I assumed she wasn’t a serious player just…because. Clearly I had a lot to learn.