Yep there’s some big buts here (& I cannot lie). Read on later for why, but first, here’s my story… 🙂
From Sharrow to Harrow
Well it was a fairly late decision for me to go to SVB, and the main thing that swung it was the amount of friends & online guys that I knew would be going this year. My previous experiences of going along and only knowing a couple of people there was very different to this year. After a four hour drive down that was far longer than it should have been (nasty M1 traffic and 50 zones annoyances) somehow I managed not to get lost when driving to a new place – practically a first for me. Freakishly I drove right up to the hotel carpark without a hitch. I did get a bit worried when I’d come off the motorway and I seemed to be driving through woods for a while, but for once googlemaps directions were correct & I was on the right road to Harrow. As soon as I walked out of my hotel room I was greeted with a “Hey! Are you Remy?” – incredibly Tony “Herbalholic” was right outside my door and remembered me from last year, and then he introduced me to Mike “Zero1” who was in the room opposite me. 🙂 So yeah, the social situation was basically fantastic at SVB for me this time around. It was great up to meet up with (SM)Qarnage, Fulan, Ethan, Robin “PlanetRV”, Lion-O, Painindagame, Markyboy, Ashman NW, Obi “Bleeper”, Callum “RavageC”, Jish “ScarGfx”, Zach “AverseBliss”, Orf and put a few names to faces for AlanDaMan & justinxavier, and probably a load of other players I’ve unfortunately forgotten – I’m very sorry – please get in touch and remind me who you are if I met you at SVB! Also it was very cool that a large number of “big names” from the fighting game scene were there this time around – of course Daigo Umehara was there as was advertised, as well as Markman from Madcatz, and names I knew from EVO and other tournaments – Luffy, Ryan Hart and Kayane – but the real surprise for me was the industry presence as Katsuhiro Harada (Producer of Tekken), Yoshinori Ono (Producer of Street Fighter IV) and Seth Killian (Capcom USA) were there too. In fact the highlight of the whole event for me was getting a chance to talk a bit about videogames, fighting game design and the ‘scene’ with Seth for a while – he was really generous with his time and I came away being really impressed with him (despite the fact I’ve disputed some of his articles in the past! 😛 ). You can expect a few more articles on the coming months on some of the things we spoke about. One thing I was really disappointed about was Daigo wasn’t playing in HDR. The story I heard was that Madcatz was only sponsoring him for SSFIV and so that was all he was allowed to play. Perhaps there was some concern he’d walk away winning all Street Fighter games if he was allowed to enter? But I don’t really know.
Anyway, back to the event – I got some food with Zero and Herbal and then drove over to the venue halls and I was really glad I’d driven down so had been able to bring my XBox and kit along as I was able to immediately get an STHDR setup going. Zero1 told me there’d been nothing on for SF2 (bar Dreamcast stuff) until I’d gotten there and he’d been getting a bit bored, so it was awesome to finally get some casual games on right away – I only wish I’d managed to get there sooner really, but I hadn’t wanted to travel too early as I was planning for lots of late nights in London. I realised once I got there that SVB had improved their organisation at least a little from previous years, and had the players’ names for all the pools had been pre-prepared and were written up on the wall. I wasn’t sure if I should look or not, but someone told me he thought I had “an easy pool” and so curiosity got the better of me and I just had to check it out. Despite all the (all too) vocal haters out there HDR once again had a decent amount of signups (30+ I believe, a lot more than many of the other games on) and there were 8 Pools for HDR. Overall I found the level of play was higher in HDR this year than last – to me, whilst casual interest in SF2 may have worn off now HDR isn’t “new” it seems that the number of good competitive players at this game in the UK is growing. There were six players in my pool and I knew three of them immediately just from their nicknames – two of them beat me regularly beat me on XBox Live, and the other one beat me last time we’d played.. so right away, my confidence was really quite low. I didn’t think I’d have any chance to make it out of that pool, but I wasn’t too bothered, as I’d really come for the casuals and meeting up with people this time anyway, or so I thought… ( foreshadowing at it’s finest there! 😛 ). Just to add to it, my joystick broke in the hands of one of my pool competitors (Robocop II) later that night just as I was about to get some practice games in against him. So I was left without my favourite modded Seimitsu HRAP stick (crafted by my friend Marc “Id0ru” – wish you coulda come along Marc!) that I’d been loving and practicing on for the last few months. 🙁 Gah! Although thankfully because I’d brought all my fighting gaming gear I had my old Madcatz TE to fall back on. One of the really cool guys at the front desk had soldering equipment and everything on hand and offered to try to fix it if I wanted him to, but said that he’d already promised a few repairs to other people so he didn’t know if he’d have time. Oh well, no use crying about it I thought. I settled down to get in as much practice as I could to try and get used to the different feel of the Sanwa TE again. We actually continued the HDR casuals back at the hotel later by bringing my XBox back to Zero1’s room (as it was much bigger than mine!) and we played tons of good games until about 4am, even mixing in a bit of HF for a laugh.
Too Cool to Pool
I got up pretty late again the next day and got down to the venue expecting to play a few games, play my pools, get knocked out of the tournament and then go out for a clubbing all-nighter in London (at Slimelight). Predictably, things were delayed and running late, so I got there in plenty of time… however HDR wasn’t too badly affected compared to some of the other games, and started only about 30 mins late. Sadly my potential stick-repair man was too busy, and so I had to play with the TE. Markyboy then hooked me up with a beer just before the pools started – but right as I started to have a drink we were told that alcohol wasn’t allowed in the venue – which was a surprise as no-one had seemed bothered the day before – I assume there was some miscommunication somewhere. However luckily I managed to chug a load before I played which really helped me – thanks Markyboy I owe you one! It turned out I actually knew everyone in my pool, as one of the names I hadn’t recognised from the board was actually painindagame who I knew off XBox Live, and the final guy I didn’t know didn’t turn up. So the 6 pool was cut down to only 5. Surprising myself completely I managed beer-assisted wins against everyone except Robocop II and his expert Blanka.. and I managed to play the match of my life and get really lucky to beat Ashman NW too. I somehow pulled off some absolute circus-act stuff to come back from a huge life disadvantage. I was really enjoying finally getting to play tournament matches offline though. As I’ve always found, everything is so much clearer to see without lag and it really helps my style of play and my not exactly brilliant reactions to not have to deal with missing frames etc. I was even hitting super-juggles I can almost never hit online, even though I was still struggling a bit with the Sanwa stick which I’m not fond of on the TE, and getting a few random moves out that were completely unintentional – but perhaps my unpredictability helped me a little. I also think I was really fortunate that RavageC chose to play T Hawk against me rather than mirror match me with his DeeJay… but when Ashman NW beat Robocop II I predicted what I thought would happen and it did – three way tie again – exactly what happened to me last year. So I discussed it with my Pool judge and thought we had things sorted. Robocop’s name was drawn out of a hat and myself and Ashman started to play a tiebreaker match. I won the first match and then I realised something was wrong. The pool judge had said the loser of our match was out. I realised if I beat Ashman again he was going to suffer the exact same unfair fate that happened to me last year, and Robocop had effectively just won the tiebreaker for free (just as CalmDownMonkey had last year). True to my word from last year, I kicked up a fuss on behalf of my online sparring friend Ashman, and the Pool judge and Robocop were both totally cool about it as they weren’t confident things were being done right either, as I explained what GoldenGunman had told me after the event last year. Anyway, one of the main TOs (I think it was Bulletproof but apologies if I’ve gotten mixed up ^_^) did come over and stated the correct rules to which I said “that’s exactly what I was saying” and things were then done right. So it turned out Robocop II had been unfortunate with the short straw here, and he had to re-play Ashman after I beat him in the tiebreaker. Again, the pool system was really unfair on Robocop here, as he’d only been beaten by a single player in the whole tournament but was out (more on the tournament system later), but at least it was fairer than settling a tiebreaker without playing another game. Completely shocking to me, I’d won my pool – and RavageC joked to me that “he didn’t believe in me either”. 😉
Anyway, the first set of Pools (#1-4) were completed in about an hour and then I waited for the final 16 match which I assumed would happen that day, although no-one seemed able to tell me for sure. And I waited, and waited, and then waited some more. I don’t know what was happening, but Pools #5-8 took forever to run (more than double the time our pools took) and it was now getting really late into the evening. I was getting really impatient and had to phone my friends and warn them I might not make it out clubbing as we’d planned. Finally they got around to doing the top 16 and my opponent had left the venue – so I got a Bye into the Final 8! I was slightly deflated because I’d now missed my chance to go out in London to not even play a game, and I now needed to get some sleep too so I’d actually be able to hopefully play semi decent in the last 8. An all-nighter in gay olde London towne suddenly seemed like a bad idea (as much fun as it always is!)…. Even so I was super jazzed to know I’d be able to go on to play on the stage in the final 8. I was also really happy that my friend Robin “PRV” had made it through as well – even though he had to fly back to Germany in the morning and wouldn’t be able to actually play his matches. However, he was just happy to make it too, and we both knew that our XBL friends Fulan, Orf and Qarnage were through as well, and we didn’t exactly fancy our chances to beat them anyway! 🙂 We were both just overjoyed we’d got through that far (even though in my case it was mainly through luck!) and had had such a good day of gaming. We stayed up having pizza and (many) more drinks and some more HDR matches at the hotel; once again Zero1 and I played until about 4am. Sadly the SSFIV money match between PRV and markyboy didn’t happen as PRV was half-asleep and markyboy was completely out of it by then! Crazy guys. (Naked).
Ultimato, Ultimato, Ultimato Fight! COME ON!
Sunday I again got up really late, long after everyone else I knew had got to SVB or had had to head home, so instead I chilled out in Harrow town centre for a bit. I found an great Italian coffee place (Anacona’s I think it’s name was, anyway its right in the centre with an “Illy” coffee sign up) that I highly recommend should anyone find themselves in Harrow centre… Oh crap! I realise I sound like Peter King & his random coffee reviews now… but seriously, their macchiatos were amazing and they were really friendly, good prices too, and of course I had to order a tuna sandwich to eat, as is now the SVB tradition. Eventually I made my way over to the tournament venue and by now all the previous delays had caught up with them and, as everyone had predicted, things were running massively late. The HDR finals were scheduled for a decent timeslot of 6.30pm, but they didn’t actually start until about 10pm – and a lot of the crowd had gone by that time. The announcer made some noise about defending HDR from being “unpopular” but as the signups showed, that wasn’t true at all, it was more likely due to the fact that it was now really late on a Sunday night and people had to catch trains or get home for work the next day! Luckily most of the foreigners, the long-distance travellers who were staying the night, and not to mention all the Tekken 6 crew (who were on after us) were still around, so there was a good group there still to make it feel quite special. However I was sad that almost all my friends had had to leave already as it had run far later than planned – the same thing happened to me at my first tournament I attended as a spectator, so these days I plan for it. I watched some of the SSFIV finals just before HDR and they were honestly quite fun to watch. Obviously I’ve written a lot about why I didn’t like SFIV that much, but SSFIV has impressed me in the way it improved on a lot of things from “vanilla” SFIV. I have to say still rate the “IV series” as decent competitive games for my taste, I find them an intriguing blend of being somewhere in between the type of fighting game I enjoy the most – zone, footsie, timing/reaction, positioning and mindgame heavy (ie: SFII series) and the kind of hit-confirm, combo & technical-execution based fighters that I don’t enjoy so much (at least competitively, casually it can sometimes be a different matter). The weird thing watching the SSFIV final though was Daigo losing to Ryan Hart. I thought that Ryan had picked Cammy as some kind of surprise character, and lost to Daigo’s Ryu.. and then Ryan had lost a Ryu v Ryu and so Daigo had won.. however at some point I realised the ‘home’ crowd was really going too wild for that to have been the case and I realised I’d got the players the wrong way around mirror and it was Daigo that had picked Cammy and had lost as her and as Ryu! Why on earth he did this is currently a mystery. He didn’t seem to be taking the match too seriously though, messing about doing Cammy repeated air cannon strikes in the first loss when he had a large life disadvantage and effectively just gave up… or maybe he wanted to show off his cannon strike skills (if I recall it’s pretty hard to do what he was doing) or was trying to build meter… either way, it was strange to watch. I’ll post the HDR results later, but if you are interested, you can get all the full results for SSFIV and all the games played here.
Jump into the sky! Fighting for your dream!
Finally after all the waiting, HDR was on, and I was called up as the 2nd game to be played. I took a few swigs of my “special drink” for luck, and to be honest, it all happened so fast it was a bit of a blur to me. I was matched up against PR Balrog… a guy I’d never met before but I knew he was a bit of a big name and big reputation (I know he is from elsewhere in Europe than the UK, France I believe) – and I’d just watched him take rounds of Daigo in SSFIV so I knew he had to be a great player. I did my grinning DeeJay pose to the camera and it really wasn’t a fake smile. I just felt so much joy inside me – just to be there it was amazing. 🙂 My main goal as I’d mulled it over the night before was to hopefully get at least a round off one of these top players – it’s normally the best I manage against the likes of Orf and Qarnage! I knew I had gotten great luck to even get this far, but to be fair, there were a number of players in the top 16 who I thought I could’ve beaten, so I couldn’t totally say I didn’t deserve it, but still.. I didn’t want to embarrass myself and I wanted to at least prove it wasn’t just a fluke of the format and that I belonged. Surprisingly, despite his nickname, PR Balrog picked Chun Li against me – that put my confidence up a notch as I like that matchup much more than Boxer v DeeJay. I was also glad to be playing someone I didn’t know (and who didn’t know me) as he wouldn’t know what to expect from me. So I ‘came flying out like a Batman villain’ with absolutely everything I had – and to my own surprise I took the first game 2-0… For Jamaica!!! I don’t know if I was just too happy to have won a match on the stage and subconsciously relaxed, or to be honest, what really happened the rest of the way, but I know I took him to match point twice, and I know I was playing very wild and loose, but he came back to win it in the final match, final round. But I don’t feel bad about it at all, in fact my hat (if I had one 😛 ) is off to PR Balrog – he adapted amazingly well and quickly to how I was playing, and played a really good defensive Chun. He certainly played better than me in the match and deserved to win it. I was fishing for an opportunity to use lots more tricks (some of which I’d caught Ashman’s Chun with just the day before) right down to the wire, but he played brilliantly and didn’t fall for any of them. We both had a chat afterwards about what a great game it had been and how I’d caught him by surprise with a lot of the things I used and how close it had been. I feel it was a bit of a coin flip in some ways (as it can be in SFII), I’m not sure what would happen if we played more against each other. I’m sure I’d win some, but I have a feeling he’s better all-round than me & would do better the more we played – his execution and reactions are certainly far better than mine as is evidenced by the fact he also got final 8 in SSFIV – a game I wouldn’t stand a chance at.
Here’s the full results for HDR – I was glad I got to talk to and congratulate all the players except Sprint.
Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix:
1: KaosFlare (Guile)
2: WA Qarnage (Boxer, Guile)
3: ORF (Ryu)
4: PR Balrog (Chun Li, Boxer)
5-8: Remy77077 (Dee Jay)
5-8: PRV (E. Honda)
5-8: Fulan (Blanka)
5-8: Sprint (Cammy, Zangief)
I don’t actually want to burn any bridges here as I think a lot of the guys there are individually really sound & as you’ll know if you’ve read my past reports, I’ve praised many of them in the past, however as a collective group, Neo Empire appears to have some real issues when it comes to running tournaments, that came to light even more during SVB 2010 and that left me feeling quite sour about a few things. I feel all of this has to be said, even if I’m the sole “voice of the little guy” or whatever, or they decide to ban me from further events or something, I will just have to deal with it, since my principles simply won’t allow me to not say this stuff. I would have said about this to NE staff in person once I’d found out about all of the things below.. however I didn’t want to risk spoiling my good mood before or after the HDR Final 8. As I said in the headline, for me, the tournament was pretty great.. but…
A number of my XBL friends had chatted with me in the preceding weeks about what my previous experiences with Neo Empire events were like, and the way I explained it was that they seem to get all the big difficult stuff sorted really well – as you can see with the flashy graphics and posters, the “big names” brought in, the promotion, all the kit and the venue etc – they do a great job. But then it’s such a shame they manage to fall over on a lot of the smaller details. Some of it is just general disorganisation and chaos that comes with the territory with these events… but some of these things can be avoided or at least not exacerbated as seems to happen at times. Scheduling for example: Since you had to sign-up prior to the event, they knew the exact maximum numbers of players for each game. Now, first time around things can be a bit of a mystery, but once you’ve run a few events (as for example I have with my online tournaments), and as they have with proper tournaments, you should know pretty well that X amount of players will take X amount of time. However here they made a decision to change every game (from what I’ve heard from friends that played in other games) to best 2 of 3 matches (not just rounds) and in some cases like Tekken they upped it to best 3 of 5 matches (also with 3 of 5 rounds per match!). So pretty obviously this was a contributing factor to blowing the schedule in a number of areas. It was a fantastic decision for a game like HDR where matches are decided in a couple of minutes at the most anyway, but for games that go on for a far longer time like Tekken, BlazBlue and in particular SSFIV with the large number of sign-ups it had, this seems to be a baffling decision as the schedule didn’t seem to have been planned with it in mind properly. One of the problems with this was that it meant that a number of games ended up being played simultaneously… which is just a problem you face, however, here’s where it starts to get worse fast. It was very noticeable that if you were a “Neo Empire Name” player, you would get your matches held up, or be allowed to play all your matches in a pool in a row, so you were able to compete in all of them at once. However if you were a new player… no such luck. I found out later one of my friends was DQ’d from a couple of games because he was playing other ones simultaneously. Now, I’m sure his name was being called and they did a 5 min wait or whatever.. but the problem was the event was split into two halls with events being run in both, and there was only PA in one of the halls.
The way individual pools were ran also left a bit to be desired… my own Pool was at first being judged by Robocop who was of course one of the players in the pool – however Robocop’s a stand-up guy so it wasn’t an issue for any of us, and another pool judge soon replaced him by the time it mattered and he played his games. Still we then had the palarva with the three-way tie, and again, everything got sorted out fine in the end.. but it took someone (ie: me) to take a stand and to know their own rules better than their own staff do. At least these have been written down now though. 🙂 However one thing that was especially embarrassing for HDR was that Akuma/Gouki wasn’t actually officially banned anywhere in the rules at all! Luckily everyone seemed to know he was supposed to be banned.. however I’d have really pitied a new player if he’d turned up expecting to be able to pick Akuma – how would they have known otherwise?
In another pool a “Neo Empire Name” player didn’t pick a character and waited on the select screen. The player he was against then also wondered what was up, and did the same thing – they both waited for about 2 minutes. However eventually he got worried and picked his character.. and was promptly counter-picked and beaten by the “Name” player. Shouldn’t the Pool judge have stepped in and either force both players to forfeit (as the rules say) or resolved it with a proper blind pick. However I got the strong impression the reason nothing was done was because this was a Neo Empire Name player, and thus got away with this.
Back to my situation in the final 16 for HDR. The whole running of this top 16 was really bad. Many of the matches weren’t even observed by any staff or judges at all – again this was ok because most of the players were cool and honest (but given some of the other things that went on, I cannot be sure there were no shenanigans attempted). I have no idea why they took so long to get started (probably scheduling problems with other games again), but when it was apparent my alloted opponent was a no-show, I attempted to talk to the NE staff member who seemed to be running things, and I pointed out two players who could’ve easily gone through from pools who’d been unfairly knocked out for various reasons (discussed here) and tried to tell him that I would be more than happy to play my final 16 match against one of them as they were still in attendance (and as you’ll remember from earlier, I had actually planned to go out clubbing, so a part of me was actually wanting to get knocked out!), but this particular staff member just completely ignored me and wouldn’t even speak to me – which apart from anything else was excessively rude for an event you are paying for. I would’ve been perfectly happy if he’d just said “sorry, we can’t do that” which would’ve been right and I would’ve agreed with that, being fair to the rules, however at the time I felt it was worth a shot to claw back something for players who’d been wronged earlier. Even so, there was nothing I could do so I’d have to take my Bye. However the next day, the player I would’ve been up against, who’s a great player and also happens to be a “Neo Empire Name” approached me and told me “You have to play your final 16 match against me today”, and apparently he’d been told by someone on the staff this is what should be done… Now, nothing personal against anyone involved but I actually couldn’t believe what I was hearing – it was just appalling sportsmanship. Because of the whole situation with the final 16 matches running so late and how I’d had to stand-up my friends who were expecting to meet me out in London that night, I was having absolutely none of it – I flat out refused to play my game “in arrears”. But what sickens me is that had anyone else tried this – for example if I had swanned off and gone out clubbing and missed my final 16 match, do you think anyone at Neo Empire would’ve even entertained for one second the laughable idea that a “no-name player” like me would be allowed to even ask to do a next-day re-match? It appeared dangerously close to being one rule for Neo Empire Names, one rule for everyone else. That said, luckily, my refusal to play stood, and nothing further came of this, and, as you read in the above story, it all ended well.. but I really worry if this had happened to someone without my situation or level of determination to ensure fair play.
Back to the Daigo SSFIV final 8 games. There are rumours that the “blind pick” of Daigo playing Cammy (as a counterpick to Ryan’s Dhalsim or Sagat?) was actually leaked to Ryan before the match began by one of the admins. Now these rumours have already been denounced, and I would normally laugh at things like this too… however given other things I saw go on, I have to say I can’t completely discount them myself anymore. It’s disturbing.
However I’m sad to say I’ve saved the worst case till last. Neo Empire Name Player #1 was playing in a particular pool, and told the NE Pool judge that Neo Empire Name Player #2 should be in that Pool. The pool judge (perhaps foolishly) complied and let both players play in that pool. No-Name Player ‘A’ beat both Neo Empire Name players #1 and #2 during pool play, however due to losing in other matches, it came down to a multi-way tiebreaker (again). I don’t know if it was resolved correctly or not (it seems unlikely given my experiences the last two years!) however No Name Player A was matched against Neo Empire Player #1 again, and beat him a 2nd time, to qualify without dispute from his pool. Or rather it would have been, but it seems the Pool judge had not tallied all the results and had asked NE Name Player #1 what the results had been, and he stated he’d beaten No Name Player A… however luckily he also asked the No Name Player what the result was – and so this was disputed. Luckily a video of the matches been taken, and the correct results were reported. Later on I saw Neo Empire Name Player #1 talking with a lot of the other NE staff, at length, when I was wandering about and wondering what was causing the extreme delay for the final 16 matches. I assumed this was just him chatting with friends or something of the like though, so I didn’t think anything of it – until I remembered it much later. Just before the Final 16 was played, No-Name Player A was told by a staff member that he was no longer qualified, because Neo Empire Name Player #2 shouldn’t have been playing in his Pool at all because he hadn’t registered properly, and so if the results from Name players #2 matches were removed from that Pool (ie: his win against #2 was removed from A’s results), he’d have no longer have been in the tie-breaker and thus would not have qualified. But guess who did, yep, Neo Empire Name Player #1 – the player he had actually beaten twice & who had been the one to ask the Pool judge for player #2 to enter the pool. It also transpires that the actual Pool judge was not consulted on what had happened earlier. BULLSHIT doesn’t even begin to describe this whole sorry situation. I regret that I didn’t understand what had happened fully until later and so wasn’t able to stick up for this poor guy who was effectively browbeaten into accepting it. Win and you’re in? Not if you’re playing against Neo Empire Names it seems, who can bend ears, and the rules, in their favour. It really is extremely disappointing that this kind of thing is allowed to go on. The good news is that this player did complain more later, and did receive a refund and an apology.
I discussed with Seth Killian about my general feelings about this and asked him about how EVO runs things and he said the key thing that he’s proud about EVO is that it always tries to “put the player first” which I think is a fantastic one-line goal statement for an event like this. However one friend of mine also familiar with NE events put it bluntly to me on the first day about SVB – “Here, the players are treated like shit”, and given everything I witnessed above, I can’t honestly say that he’s wrong. Another sad quote I heard (admittedly 2nd-hand) purportedly from a NE staff member in response to a query was “if you don’t like it, go to EVO”. Not exactly a great attitude there guys…
So yeah. I’m calling Neo Empire out on all of this crap stuff that I saw or heard happening. Now, everyone makes mistakes and I’m a firm believer in giving anyone a 2nd chance – but the first step to fixing a problem is to admit that you have one… so really, Neo Empire, the ball’s in your court now. Collectively you do so many things right, don’t let stupid stuff like this and individual bad behaviour spoil your events. You can argue these are all minor things in the grand scheme – however the strength of things like this are determined by their weakest link. Again, the good news is that I’ve heard privately some NE Staff members have realised they need to take some steps to improve the professionalism of the way they run things. I really hope they can and do so, best of luck guys! 🙂
Ok, just to end this article on a slightly happier note, here’s one simple tip that I really believe would resolve masses of the problems with running the NE events as they are – as long as they are demanding advance signups and so know the numbers beforehand – run it as a double elimination format.
Now, I’m well aware that every workable tournament format has it’s issues. None of them are ideal for one reason or another. It often comes down to the case of time vs fairness vs ‘drama’. However I’ve become convinced over the years of playing many different competitive games in many different tournament formats that double elimination is the best one for this size of tournament for fighting videogames. You’d have far less matches and speed things up immensely, and do away with all the problems of Pool seeding, tie-breakers etc. Players like Robocop II should not get eliminated early, only losing against a single player like that. I also saw one pool had to run a four-way tiebreaker to resolve itself, which is ridiculous & very time consuming. You’d also prevent people like me this year from getting an “easy ride” into the final 8 like I did. I got into the final 8 with a real-game record of 4-1, and finished 4-2… last year I went 5-2 (with both losses against the same player), so I arguably actually performed better last year, yet of course I advanced much further this year.
I also wonder what you really gain by doing the Pools into single elimination format. I can see that it’s certainly more appealing for a player to attempt to enter even if they aren’t expecting to be able to win very many games, as they will at least be able to play out 5 or 6 matches and perhaps win one. However I think it must be very rare for any player with 2 or more losses to ever advance out of any pool. I certainly don’t personally know of anyone that did – so in reality it’s a double elimination anyway, with only the ‘illusion’ of a chance if you lose two (this is the same problem with Swiss pairings as well unless there are large numbers of competitors & rounds). The other point is, are you really running a tournament for players that enter not expecting to be able to win a game? I really understand you want to appeal to as many people as possible, but somehow, the trade-off doesn’t seem worth it here. What can possibly be done would be to put all the players that go 0-2 into a special “losers losers” bracket where two (or maybe more) players get a chance to make it back into the “losers bracket” (enlarge one of the knockout portions there by the relevant amount)… of course then you are kinda putting the 1-2 record guys in a bind – and if you take this to the extreme you could run a triple elimination, but then you are getting back to the masses of games problem that you started with.