Virtua Fighter is having a great 2019, as LAG and now Big E Gaming WinterBrawl3D have shown. While attendance was on the low side, the presence of VF at an FGC major did good work towards building interest in the game. WinterBrawl was also a great test of Virtua Fighter’s ability to hang in a multi-game setting. While I am definitely biased I’d say that it passed that test, with members of other communities coming by to talk about the game, watch casuals, and even play with us. The whole weekend was a great experience, and one that I hope we will be able to repeat in the future. I’m going to write up the tournament results, but I’d also like to talk about the experience of running Virtua Fighter at an FGC event, because I think it’s valuable for our community to think about the possibilities. Especially after the success VF had at EVO, we really can start thinking outside of our smaller community for the future.
The tournament was streamed by tsb_blaze, and generated a lot of hype despite its size. I really want to thank him for running it well, and giving us permission to use footage for promoting VF. Travel issues came up, and sadly a few players couldn’t make it in time for the tournament. The final turnout was 6, and even though that was a little dissapointing, it meant that we were able to stream every match. We saw some really fun matchups, and some incredible stage changes! There were some close games, and a lot of friendly competition. Top 3 got medals, which really impressed us (mostly Oneida, who had gotten into the Chun-Li Tea at that point).
FULL BRACKET HERE
VOD HERE (Starts around 5 minutes in)
WinterBrawl was held at the Clarion Hotel in Philadelphia, and the place really rolled out the red carpet for the FGC. You could tell that Big E had a great relationship with this place; not only were there discounts on hotel rooms, the hotel bar had special drinks named after characters from fighting games! While I was a fan of the modified tequila sunrise named Marshall Law, it was pretty common to see the neon blue death-in-a-glass that was the Chun-Li Tea in everyone’s hands (pretty sure this was a riff on L.I. Iced tea but with every blue liquor that exists). There were retro games on cabinets immediately before the ballroom with the main games, and I enjoyed a few games of Kaiser Knuckle and Super Turbo. Shoutouts to the mystical Magical Drop 3 cabinet that kept changing games before we got to play it, as well as the Fate: Unlimited Codes cabinet. There were even vendors that had custom stickers, artwork, pillows, and more for the fans. The main area was set up well, with plenty of stations and enough stage space for 4 games to run simultaneously.
I ran the brackets for the Virtua Fighter tournament, and found the whole experience to be great. Running the game was simple, and I had a lot of support from staff in getting the game set up on the main stage. We had a technical issue with the screen for the casual setup, and staff took time out to fix it for us within 15 minutes. I was impressed with how much effort was being put into our game, even with the small numbers. We had our own stage area, complete with an incredible sound system. The stream was fantastic, with a separate table for commentary and beverages provided to the commentators free of charge. We also had our own casual setup, where we spent most of the day. There were a lot of visitors, and a lot of casuals. Shoutouts to SuperTiso who ran brackets for 3 games and still found time to play. A lot of credit to AkiraZero as well, who got bodied by work and couldn’t make the tournament, but still showed up to play casuals all day and all night!
What’s next? I really hope that we can secure a side tournament spot at the next Big E Gaming event, April Annihilation. Side tournaments are completely community run, so they present their own challenges, but I think it’ll be worth it. There are only 4 slots available for side events, and there’s going to be competition from other games. I am confident that after the showing we had at WinterBrawl, the only thing that could keep us from getting that spot is low turnout, so I am going to be aggressively pushing people to try and attend. The experience I had with the organizers was really great. When they first added Virtua Fighter to their lineup for WinterBrawl, there was not a lot of prior knowledge of the game. They sought me out to help them organize and run the game, and they were really supportive of my efforts. When I look at the sheer size discrepency between us and all the other games, I am surprised that we were treated with the same level of respect and attention for our tournament of six guys. I really would like to keep our presence at FGC events going, as it’s a hell of an experience and a lot of exposure for VF.
I’m also going to direct everyone to Defend the North, which will be happening in July. There’s a thread for it HERE.
I’ll be making some announcements about this one soon that will hopefully encourage people to travel out to NY for this, so keep your eyes peeled!