Road Diaries – The Hardcore, DIY Spirit of Combo Breaker

“…This is the place?”

As our vehicle pulled up to the MegaCenter of the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Illinois, which has been the site of the past few Combo Breaker tournaments, I have to admit that my initial reaction was less than enthusiastic. I was attending the event for the first time, and I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t this. The PRR is a 250-acre resort that looks as old as it is; the place opened for business in 1963, and its architecture is charmingly stuck in a late 70’s-early 80’s style. It’s a timeshare salesman’s wet dream, the kind of place that my grandparents would whisk me and my brothers to as kids during summer vacation: indoor and outdoor pools, a full golf course, a bunch of restaurants, theaters, and a quaint, WASP-y charm.

Given all that, I just had a real hard time imagining that a fighting game tournament was supposed to be taking place here, let alone one with such an amazing reputation as Combo Breaker.

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Loose Screws – The FGC Should Be Hostile To Shady Organizations

One of the more heartwarming things I saw come out of the FGC in the past year was the Michigan Masters event that took place back in April. It was a regional event in Farmington Hills that was expanding, after a few years, to a 3-day event. While it was not without the usual trials and tribulations that come with running a big tournament, its mixture of popular fighting games, much smaller but unique games, and festive atmosphere proved to be a winning combination that pushed them to great success. A key to that success was that atmosphere I mentioned, which the organizers took seriously enough to actually levy bans out to a few players from the Michigan area. These players, who are mainly known for their association with a Michigan group called C.O.R.N (don’t ask me what it stands for!), had caught the ire of the local scene by extrapolating some drama into threats of physical violence. While not an uncommon occurrence, particularly for that group, the MM2018 organizers had had enough and maintained that those players were not going to get away with it. There was a lot of blowback for that decision, but ultimately it was seen as positive step forward in bettering the community.

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Fuudo for Thought: FGC Content Needs To Be More Critical

In the past few days, a discussion on Fighting Game Community content was started up on Twitter, which is a pretty cyclical topic that usually makes the rounds every few months. This time it was started by Japan-based commentator and streamer MajinObama:

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Loose Screws – The NRS Community and Growing Pains

I think everyone who has ever been involved with the Fighting Game Community can remember their first time. No, get your head out of the gutter, I’m talking about something else! What I’m talking about is that first time that you feel, whether it’s during a late-night meal after a practice session or in a packed hotel room after a major event, the almost mystical feeling of this is where I belong. I still remember mine: Final Round 2012 in Atlanta, GA. The tournament itself wasn’t very good, but on the Saturday of that weekend, a 5 on 5 exhibition was held that involved ten pillars of the then-fledgling community who almost exclusively played Mortal Kombat and other fighters from Netherrealm Studios. Some of my training partners played in it, and although they got their ass kicked, the elation and fun of being in that room with all that energy powered me through the disappointment of seeing my friends lose and being packed in like a sardine. 3 years of competing in tournaments and I was finally home. I’ve been a lifer ever since, having played every NRS game competitively in some fashion and creating content exclusively tailored to that community.

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Politically Incorrect – The FGC IS Becoming a Scapegoat for Daytona Beach to Ignore its Social Problems

I still remember when I first heard that my uncle was homeless. Well, he was “homeless” in the sense of what the hundreds of thousands of those we consider “homeless” actually are: he could scrap together some cash to put his family up in a Motel 6 here or there or stay with some friends from time to time, but he did not have any sort of residence that didn’t change day-to-day. Between the various debts he owed to both utilities companies and the federal government, he was simply in far too much debt to really earn money, since almost everything he could scrape together through any anonymous day labor he could find went toward finding some sort of housing and food, with very little left over to start saving some money toward a more permanent home. I remember seeing his son, then a toddler, hair long and in front of his eyes due to not being able to get a proper haircut, and his clothes wrinkled and dirty from his parents not having any means to get them clean. The last I had heard, they were splitting time between spending days in public parks and nights at whatever shelter or friends’ place they could find, trying to stay out of the hot Arizona summer and chilly desert winter.

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Loose Screws – Rotten Twitch Chats and the FGC’s Refusal to Fight It

Before I start, I do want to give a warning that there is some pretty heinous stream chat clips that have lots of transphobia. If that’s not something you can handle today, please be aware!

2019 has barely started but the Fighting Game Community never stops rolling. Both the Dragonball FighterZ World Tour and Genesis, one of the biggest Super Smash Bros. tournaments of the year, happened within a week of each other, and both were great watches for any fighting game fan. Genesis, in particular, had what will likely be one of the biggest upsets of the whole year when Magi, an up and coming Super Smash Bros. Melee player who recently cracked the top 100 on the Melee Global Rankings, upset Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, long considered amongst the very best SSBM players.

But the more we see new faces upset old legends, the more some terrible things stay the same.

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Loose Screws – 3 Years Later, Street Fighter V Still Can’t Escape Its Own Shadow

One of the joys of being in the Fighting Game Community is the long wait ’til December, when the Capcom Pro Tour for Street Fighter V finally concludes. The CPT is a nearly year-long odyssey for its players, who have traveled the globe and entered many tournaments in order to earn enough points to make it to that final 32-man bracket. Not only that, almost every match at the finals is between two world-class players, experts who really push the game to its competitive height in order to scrape out a win. I’ve never not been impressed by the play at Capcom Cup finals, and I figured 2018 would be no exception, and I’m happy to say it wasn’t!

The grand finals set between Hiromiki “Itabashi Zangief” Kumada and eventual winner Kanemori “Gachikun” Tsunehori was nothing short of breathtaking. Kumada, a veteran with more than a decade of competitive experience under his belt, stole back momentum from a near route by top USA player Justin Wong early on and tore through the loser’s bracket, even forcing the grand finals to reset against the nearly unstoppable Tsunehori. Eventually, however, Tsunehori rebounded and took the final set convincingly 3-1, although Kumada didn’t make it easy. Seriously, even if you’re not a fan of the game, this match (and several others) are well worth the time to check out!

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Politically Incorrect – The Military-Industrial Complex is Coming for the FGC

On January 17, 1961, three days before then President-Elect Jack Kennedy was set to take office, acting Commander-in-chief Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his televised farewell address to the nation.

In it, he speaks of the post-World War II “permanent armaments industry of vast proportions” that has had a “total influence–economic, political, even spiritual…in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government.” While acknowledging its necessity whilst the United States maintained a containment philosophy against a perceived geopolitical threat from the East, the President nevertheless admits the “grave implications” of such an industry.

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Money for Nothing – Injustice Pro Series: Exactly What Not to Do

It’s getting very close to the end of the year, and that means there’s a lot of activity going on in the fighting game community. Of that flurry of activity, I was most looking forward to the finals of the Injustice Pro Series, the 7-month long tournament series that would award a prize pool of $150,000 to the 16 best Injustice 2 players in the world. I’m a big fan of the game and I was glad that the game’s highest possible level of play was going to be on display for big money. Evo is obviously the biggest tournament of the year as far as attendants, but the prestige and cash coming from the IPS was nothing to sneeze at, and it made the competitors in the running hungry, which is always a necessary fuel in order to push any competitive game to its limits. Man, I couldn’t wait to see the conclusion of this series!

And I say that not only because I was sure the finals was going to be a clinic for the game, but also because the IPS had been an absolute clusterfuck, with very late announcements and just general poor communication. What was supposed to be the sequel to a somewhat shaky first run turned out to be even poorer than the last, and it seemed as if very few lessons were learned in the process. 

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Money For Nothing – FGC E-Sports Is in Desperate Need of Serious People

About three weeks ago, the FGC was hit by some big news regarding Echo Fox, one of if not the largest and most prolific E-Sports organization to host fighting game players:

“Organizational realignment.” It sure sounds nice, doesn’t it? Clinical, professional, unbiased. But don’t let the fancy wording fool you: this is an old song with new lyrics. We’ve heard it in a more dire form from Circa, we’ve heard it in video form from the weirdly hoodie-clad VP of Splyce, from EVB Gaming, The Steam Co, MadCatz (although they might be back on the come-up?), Yomi Gaming, the list goes on and on. And these are all just in the past three years! The verbiage may change, but the subtext is always very clear: it wasn’t financially feasible to keep investing in the FGC, so we’re shutting down.

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