By RecSpec 3 Comments
There was a fighting game tournament this weekend. It would be easy to miss if you were watching speed runs or Fez II dissolve into the internet, but there was one. I’ve gotten real crazy for fighting games and have been trying to watch more tournaments. I still really don’t know much about everything FGC but that’s a blog for another time (I am but a tourist). The VideoxGames happened (aka Da Beech, not sure if that’s endearing or an insult), and there are a lot of things you can take from it. I personally was interested in how Triforce (yes, the power glove guy) was billing this as an Evo killer, then falling into the rabbit hole surrounding EMP and yeah, that’s also a blog for another time. I’m writing this today to try and make sense of the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 finals, where (OH!) collusion occurred, and the fallout from that. Actually there was very little fallout, mainly things to think about.
The overlooked thing is that up until the end, the Marvel finals were actually pretty good. The 2013 Evolution champion EMP Flocker beat both Filipino Champ and NYChrisG (Last year’s Evo champion and this year’s Evo favorite, respectively) in great matches, proving that yes, Flocker can beat them. Things started to get weird in the Losers finals (match set up to determine 3rd place, winner goes on to grand finals) when Chris G used a team that he usually doesn’t use (Wesker, Ryu, Hawkeye). Now that alone isn’t enough for a red flag, but he did manage to come back from a 0-3 deficit to win 4 matches to 3. Especially since his opponent was FChamp using one of his best teams. All speculation of collusion ended at the grand finals. Flocker and ChrisG had a rematch, and we all went to "Da Beech". Just kidding, it was a complete joke match. From the start it was obvious that neither player was playing their best. It is figured that both ChrisG and Flocker (and maybe FChamp) decided that no matter who wins, they would split the prize money evenly. This is where this all stems from.
There was a lot of outrage from many different sources. Mad Catz was one of the big sponsors for the event, and Mad Catz’s Mark “MarkMan” Julio called them “a joke” and vowed that if any Mad Catz sponsored player ever threw a game in that fashion, they would be suspended. Despite this happening, Mad Catz will sponsor the VideoxGames again, but if another instance of this happens, they will pull their sponsorship. Capcom’s Niedal “Haunts” Crisan voiced his opinion on Twitter: “Honestly, as a streamer, when you bust your ass all weekend and thats the thanks you get from the players, its one of the worst feelings.” I can respect this point of view. The people behind the scenes of the even do their best to put on the best show possible, and if the people on stage brush that aside, it’s easy to feel disrespected.
Aside from sponsors, there have been a lot of viewpoints from viewers, mostly outrage because the last match was garbage. That’s understandable, you spent the last two hours or so watching every match leading up to this, and for the finale to be a joke, an intentional joke no less, why wouldn’t you be pissed? The stranger conversation seemed to be on the topic of pot-splitting. From the chat on the stream to various forums and twitter, a good number of people seemed to be fine with pot-splitting as long as the players played their best. That makes no sense. How can you expect players to play their best if you take away one of the biggest incentives to do so. We can’t assume that everyone is playing for “the love of the game.” Now, I know that this isn’t something new to fighting game tournaments, but there are a lot of people fresh off Evo looking for more tournaments to watch, and to see something like that just hurts their interest. To get the best out of people, wouldn’t you enforce things to make sure people weren’t blatantly throwing matches? You can’t track if someone is playing their best as well as where money is going, so why not go that route?
That leads to the biggest thing I wondered about the whole thing. How do you measure that? How do you measure people “playing their best”? If someone picks a character they normally don’t use, does that mean they are throwing the match? Maybe they are picking a character an opponent has trouble with, or maybe it’s an ace up the sleeve for this specific situation, who knows? The VxG finals were blatantly obvious, but the match before it? I’m not too sure. People give ChrisG a lot of crap for playing the high tier Morrigan/Doom/Vergil team, but then they give him more crap for not playing it, thinking it's sandbagging. There's no winning. Again, all you can do is try to enforce it and make the punishment for being caught severe enough to try and keep people from turning out a shitty match.
Compared to the fine tuned machine that was Evo, of course the VideoxGames wouldn’t look as sharp by comparison. I personally have no interest in listening to Jessica Nigri reading the naturally stupid comments off the stream (kudos to Haunts for trying to avoid that trainwreck). But it seems like everyone had a good enough time, and a majority of the matches were fun to watch. Reminds me a lot of the Pro Bowl in the NFL, usually a garbage show, but maybe it’s not for us. Maybe the weirdest part is how this small tournament had better payouts than Evo. In the case of Arcade Edition, VxG paid approximately $6000 to the winner, Evo only paid $5500 according to EventHubs. This is a weird thing about fighting game tournaments, outside of Evo and the Majors, there are a ton of other tournaments. It’s actually quite neat, and only time will tell which of these or worth watching. I’m still just trying to make sense of it all.