Friday the 8th of August saw Capcom UK hosting a launch event for the physical release of the latest version of Street Fighter 4. The launch was hosted at Xtreme Gaming in Colchester, Essex, and was also sponsored by Mad Catz UK, who provided prizes for the day.
The event wasn’t known about very far in advance, as it was only announced a few weeks before the big day, with promises of free Ultra Street Fighter 4 all day, Prizes, a tournament and cosplay. For the most part I was actually the only cosplayer there, once more donning my now famous Akuma cosplay, as it would be rude not to for a Street Fighter event in my home town, until the afternoon when one of the other fighters emerged from the toilets dressed as Dan
Leading up to the event I honestly didn’t quite know what to expect, the Capcom community manager I’d spoken to had been rather tight-lipped about it all, and I’d never seen an event of this potential scale held in Colchester. Would people travel for it? Were there enough Street Fighter fans in the Colchester area?
Luckily some of my questions were answered, though I’d planned to turn up for the 10am start time of the event, I was about 10 minutes late as I’d mistimed how long it’d take to get my Akuma stuff sorted, but arrived to find a good few of the screens already had people playing Street Fighter, and the recognisable ‘Hadouken!’ sounds from all around the Xtreme Gaming store.
After a quick chat with the Capcom Community Manager, Neil, and introducing myself to the Xtreme Gaming store manager Arthur, I jumped at the chance to play some Street Fighter, before I’d even got into my full cosplay (just had the hair going on at that point) I played a few games with my younger brother and then asked where I could get changed.
My cosplay went down pretty well, and understandably I was known as Akuma for the rest of the day, to the extent that I think some people thought I was an official part of the day, as I had people thanking me as they left. By the point I was Akuma, Xtreme Gaming had started to fill out a bit more, and some of those people had brought their own arcade sticks – so you knew they meant business. By 11am it was obvious we were in for a very good day of Street Fighter madness!
I think in total there was about 80 people through the doors with some sort of interest in Street Fighter (everyone who came to the street fighter event was given a raffle ticket, and at least 80 of those went) and come the afternoon things started to get a little more serious as we readied for the tournament.
Once we were told that there was only 30 minutes left until the tournament start, we all knuckled down and started practicing a little more seriously, getting some games in with some of the tougher looking opponents when we could, trying to learn what they were going to bring to the table in preparation for potentially facing them in the tournament itself.
At the designated time, Arthur told everyone to stop and gather up, as he thanked everyone for coming, thanked Capcom UK and Mad Catz UK for their support, and started explaining some of the rules. The brackets were set, and the first 4 names were called – we had begun. Early on we had a bit of confusion as to how many rounds and games we were playing, but eventually we settled into a single game of First to 3 (FT3) all the way until the grand Final – to help keep the time down as we had 40 entrants.
This was my first Street Fighter tournament. And leading up to it I wasn’t sure how well I’d fare in all honesty. But I was very happy to see a wide range of abilities and ages represented. From young kids who didn’t really know what they were doing, to players like my brother, who knew a good chunk of the moves, but not so much what to do with them. Or to players like me, who know the moves, knows what to do with them but is working on doing so to a high standard, and to a few even better players who I was legitimately scared of facing early on in the tournament.
I was soon glad I’d convinced Arthur to use a Double Elimination system, as a lot of the kids ended up facing experienced fighters early on, and while those players knew they could obliterate these youngsters, they made sure the kids got some hits in, or even won rounds, to make it look closer than it ever really was. But when the kids inevitably lost, they were excited because they got to play again, they weren’t out yet! It was great to see the experienced players being nice to the kids, rather than just ‘perfecting’ them 3 times and waiting until the next round. I even taught one little boy how to do Blanka’s Electricity attack and he then ‘beat’ me with it and he loved it!
But it didn’t take long for the less experienced to be sent into the losers bracket, and eventually out of the tournament. This just left some of us more experienced players left to duke it out from the Quarter Finals of both brackets onwards.
In the Semi Finals of the Winner’s Bracket, I was a little bit fearful of my opponent, a Hugo player who had been beating me regularly when we’d been practicing together earlier. As I play Juri it should be an easy match for me facing Hugo, and he’d already knocked the favourite to win down into the Loser’s Bracket. Earlier on I’d say he had been beating me on a 7:3 ratio, so I knew I was in for a tough battle.
We did the button check, and I did some last-minute practicing of my fireballs, as I knew I was going to need them to be well-timed to pull off the win. We shook hands and started the fight. I started my fireball game, trying to keep the massive new character to USF4 away from me, knowing that once he got in, I wouldn’t be alive for long.
Each round was down to the last pixel, but I managed to beat the Hugo player 3 straight rounds, securing my place in the Winner’s Final. I got to have a break, and watch the Loser’s Bracket Semi Final, at this point keenly watching who I’d be facing either in the Loser’s Finals or Grand Finals, depending how my next fight went.
Winner’s finals saw me up against a Guy player called Denny. I’d not played him earlier, but had seen he looked pretty good – and was undefeated up until this point! Add in that I’ve only once played a none CPU guy player – it was going to be a tough one! It was a fairly close fight, but ultimately my lack of matchup knowledge was my downfall, as I didn’t know how to deal with Guy’s mix-ups and lost 3 straight rounds and sent into Loser’s.
Not surprisingly after his earlier knockout to the Hugo player, I was up against the favourite to win in the Loser’s Final, a Cammy player called SFO_Scotty (hopefully I got that right) and I’ll be honest, he decimated me for 3 rounds. I didn’t stand a chance against him. I’ve always struggled with the Cammy match up, and this guy was the 15th best Cammy in Europe on Xbox Live… He left me coming in 3rd place, and advanced to the Grand Final against the Guy player, Denny.
For the Grand Final we did it proper EVO Style, best of 2 rounds, best of 5 games, with Scotty needing to get the first 3 wins to reset the bracket if he wanted to win. It might not have been on the same scale as EVO or the Capcom Pro Tour, but our little tournaments Grand Final was not disappointing at all! The competitors shook hands, and right off the bat it was back and forth, trading round for round and game for game.
It was Scott the Cammy player who got to 3 wins first, thus resetting the bracket, starting from zero both players were now battling it out for the top prize. It soon became apparent that SFO_Scotty had the read on Denny’s Guy. And after the bracket reset Denny only got 1 game, and a few rounds as the Cammy play was becoming overwhelming.
SFO_Scotty got tournament point, but Denny denied him the round, and that final round came down to SFO_Scotty taking the tournament or Denny keeping it alive. The crowd didn’t know who to cheer for, everyone loved SFO_Scotty’s comeback, but now Denny was making his own comeback. It was close, but SFO_Scotty took it.
After much cheering and congratulating, we started the prize giving. For 3rd place I bagged a PixelBlox Ryu and a 360 Copy of USF4. Denny in 2nd place got a Tritton Kunai Headset and a copy of the game. SFO_Scotty in 1st got a brand new Mad Catz TE2 Fight Stick for 360 and a copy of the game.
We quickly dished out the rest of the Mad Catz goodies as raffle prizes and the organised part of the day was over, we were free to go back to playing or to leave. After a chat with Neil from Capcom and Arthur about how well the day had gone, I played them both at Street Fighter, Arthur made me play as Akuma and just managed to beat me after I messed up hitting the Raging Demon (trying to finish it out in style), but I showed him what was what with Juri shortly after. Neil fared a little better with another new USF4 character, Decapre, but ultimately couldn’t keep up with Juri’s zoning.
Neil left for his 3 hour journey home at about half 6, and I got to talking to Arthur about the possibility of setting up a regular Street Fighter night at Xtreme Gaming, and he said that after the success of the day we’d just had he already had plans to do so, and we had a long chat about what we could do with that.
I can’t wait to work with Arthur and Xtreme Gaming in the near future to get a proper fighting game community set up in Colchester!
Was a fantastic day, everyone had a great time and I can’t wait for more events at Xtreme Gaming.