The Road to LVL Up Expo - Chasing the HYPE

The Thrill of the Fight

Silence fell as a small group of spectators stared intently at the soft glow of the TV. There was lightning in the air as Chun-Li threw an onslaught of kick at Menat. The aggression that Chun-Li had was palpable. After all, this she was fighting for her life. As soon as there was an opening to Chun-Li's volly of kick, Menat drops her guard and throws a low orb. Tripping up Chun-Li, Menat goes into a small strings of combos, clenching the victory from Chun-Li. The audit sigh of relief came out of me as I realize I won my first battle in a tournament.

This is how it felt when playing in my first ever tournament. Truth be told, a lot of that was exaggerated. But, the way that moment felt when I won my first battle in this tiny tournament was so powerful, I felt the same way I did when I played Baseball. There was a sense of a warm rush of air coming over my entire body as I clench the victory.   

The Atmosphere of the Tournament

Now when I say this was a small tournament, I do mean small. It wasn't a sponsored tournament, at a commercial building complex, or even at a place of business; it was a "house tournament".  Calling it a "house tournament" is generace. In actuality, it took place in a small two bedroom apartment in my home town of Riverside. It was crowded to say the least.

While registering on Smash.gg, I read that there were a total of 120 people going to this tournament. That was just the players going to compete. There is usually a section for people that want to register to spectate the tournament, but it was closed to the public.

When the day finally arrived to compete, there were about 73 people that actually showed up to this even. Still being way too many people to fit in a small two bedroom apartment. Inside, there were 5 TVs and PlayStation 4s setup throughout the apartment. Two in the living room, one in each of the bedrooms,  and one out on the small backyard patio. I looked around and the apartment was a complete bachelor pad. Barely any furniture to get in the way, only the necessities in the kitchen and bathroom.

Most of the contestants either waited in the back patio area, living room, or outside the front door. Much of the time was spent standing around (due to the fact that the apartment lacked seating) talking about character strategies, past tournaments that people went to, and pro-competitive scene matchups. Waiting was 80% of what I did in the beginning.

The Tournament Rules

Being that there were so many people that signed up for the tournament, the rules was short and simple. It one single elimination; meaning that, if you lose you are out, no exceptions. To win a match, a player would need to win 3 rounds out of 5. It was $10 to enter, winner of the tournament would take 40% of the total profits. Second place will take 20% of the remaining profits. Third place will only take home pride of getting to the top 3. The house, (people running the tournament) will take home the remaining. At this point, the thought ran threw my head, "this is a great way to make money and pay rent." But then, we got to the drawing for the pools. 

From what I read, regular tournament usually has this completed before the tournaments. They will either do random pools, where players will be randomly place in their perspective pools. Doing it this way may cause a pool to be one sided. What I mean by this is, a pool may have nothing but strong players, causing these players to be kicked out of the tournament early on. Or have nothing but weak players, causing a bunch of matches that are boring to watch. However, at this "house tournament" nothing was ready to go. We spent 20 minutes or so, pulling names out of a hat and writing them down on a whiteboard. Once that was completed, the tournament started.

My results

My first match, I was very nervous. I have never competed in a live event. Back in the day while I was at college, I would go to my campus' recreation area. I would compete with other players in Tekken 5, MVC2, and Guilty Gear X on the arcades. This was strictly for bragging rights. I was only half decent in Tekken 5 with Lili. But this time, I was playing for more than that. I wanted to hone my skills and get better. I wanted to win. I went 5 to 4 with Menat against Chun-Li. I thought Menat would be my main, but in a competition she just didn't feel right.

My next match, I switched to my back up character, Ryu. That felt like the proper fit. the matches got easier as I got more comfortable with competing. The entire time I thought, "Man these people must be hella noobs, or all that time in the training room is paying off." 

Match after match I won. The fear I had of losing and getting eliminated early on waned. I got my rhythm and finally felt like I was truly grasping fighting game concepts that eluded me a decade before. Constantly using Ryu's hadokens to keep my zoning and to gain ground so I can attack up close. Strategically blocking and waiting for an opening. But most importantly, going on the offensive and taking control of the match.

Image from  deviant Art  By  Bontzy123

Image from deviant Art By Bontzy123

Winning 6 matches felt amazing. But at last, I could not keep winning. A guy that play by the name of M@vrik stepped up. With mass aggression, he used me as a punching bag with his Akuma. Knocking me back and forth as if I was a rag doll; stunning me in 3 out of the 4 rounds. I was able to barely take M@vrik out once, but it was a desperate move. By the end M@vrik took the win and putting me in 13th place.

Uninterested in how the rest of the tournament plays out, I congratulated M@vrik, took my controller, and left. I didn't leave out of spite, or frustration. I left because the apartment was getting too hot, and I needed to record our Podcast. I knew what I needed to do, train harder.

Final Thoughts

After playing in this tournament, and seeing how others interact with each other in the community, I have grown more fond of it. You have the smack talkers, and the people that tries to get under your skin, but that is all part of the strategy. It is all about getting better and trying to be the best one came be. Each match one has gives us the ability to learn something new, to hone a skill or tactic, and a chance to be the best fighter one can be.

After talking to SirThugsALot1 about this tournament and Street Fighter V, I realize something about myself and the game. Although I had a lot of fun, and was able to learn concepts that I have never been able to grasp before, I felt like something was missing. What was missing was the soul in the game. I had no passion for any of the characters but Ryu and Menat. The only reason I like Menat is simply because it was something new. But playing her competitively lost the appeal.

Over all, I realize that Street Fighter V is a fun game to watch other people play. A great game to train in the basics of fighting games. But, it doesn't seem to get really fun and enjoyable until you become one of the top players. I am now looking for a new fighting game to sink my teeth into. Who knows, maybe my love of "Dragon Ball Z" will push me to become the best in "Dragon Ball FIghterZ".

However, I am not done CHASING THE HYPE!