The Seattle Qualifier Showed Fighting Games at the Highest Level
The tournament this past Saturday did not take place at Century Link Field. It did not take place at Safeco Field, which had a Mariners game that night. It did not take place downtown. Instead it took place in a neighborhood that resembled a stage from one of the fighting games being played there. The Living Computer Museum in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood played host to the Seattle Qualifier of the Red Bull Conquest 2018, and it was fantastic. The crowd there was as loud as the 12’s on game day. The players as skilled as those on the field at Safeco. The action was more exciting than anything else in the Emerald city that night.
Nearly 200 players converged on the modest museum Saturday to duke it out in the virtual arenas of Guilty Gear Xrd REV2, TEKKEN 7, and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Players came from all over the Pacific Northwest region, filling buses and bringing their skills and an uncountable number of flashy custom fighting sticks (arcade style controllers) to the competition. The tournament followed the conventional double elimination format for all games with players advancing to a finals on the main stage. Here’s a recap of the finals for each game.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV2
Forty-one different players fought it out in the latest Guilty Gear title. Though the lowest turnout of the three games, the fights proved just as exciting. The action packed finals put Hamad and Dave O first. The winner of this fight would be Hamad, who advanced to the finals while Dave O went into the losers bracket. Not one to be deterred easily, Dave O fought his way back into the final match.
The final game was tense affair but in the end Hamad took the win and the right to represent Seattle in Guilty Gear at Washington D.C.
Little did I know when I returned to my seat after the Guilty Gear finals that was in for the most exciting TEKKEN I’d even seen. The finals for this game were a top four event and they played out in real life as passionate and exciting as the plot in the game. The excitement started the first match as crown favorite Eduardo ‘eDDIEBOYMANG’ Ignacio (or EBM as a nearby fan explained to me) took on Changbini ‘Binchang’ Moon. There was an infectious energy from the crowd who clearly wanted EBM to take it and I found myself rooting for him too. Despite some killer plays though, EBM lost to 3-0.
The next game was between JustFrameJames and a player called Moltariuz. Colton ‘Moltariuz’ Skinner, sat with a perfect poker face. A large beard, headset, and dark glasses completed the look and even as the match started he was the picture of calm. Moltariuz won the match 2-1 and went onto to defeat EMB in an exciting 3-2 game that was packed with all of the emotion of a fight from the film Bloodsport. He now had to face off against Binchang in the Grand Final.
With Binchang having reached the final match from the winners bracket he only needed one best of five win to become the TEKKEN 7 champion. Moltariuz, coming from the losers bracket, need to win twice. The stakes were high, but the crowd was with the stoic as the game set up.
The TEKKEN 7 final, Binchang (left) Moltariuz (right)
I cannot stress enough how much energy was in that room as the match began. All of the energy the crowd had started with when they cheered for EBM had grown and now was behind Moltariuz. As both players began the complicated fight I realized I was on the edge of my seat. Not a single emotion played across the players faces as hands fast as lightning danced across the sticks. Next to me some of the fans, other eliminated players for the most part, replicated the movements on controllers or sticks channeling the same energy and spinning combos as though they were the fighter.
Two rounds went by and both went to Binchang. This player wasn’t without some fans who cheered as he nailed combos and took a pair of 3-1 wins. A single round stood between him and first place. Then Moltariuz came back. He clutched out to take the third round 3-0 and the crowd could not get enough. whispers of ‘reset’ began to drift from the audience to the stage as Binchang decided to change characters. Round four began and as the bearded stoic took his first fight the whispers turned to chants. Amid chants of ‘Reset’ so infectious that I was even caught up in them Moltariuz won two more rounds 2-3, forcing the reset.
It all came down to one final best of five. This time Binchang would prove the better fighter. He took the first two once again with a relentless series of attacks. The mask broke for Moltariuz who managed a smile to the audience before considering a character swap. He came back in the third round winning it 2-3 but it wasn’t enough in the end. Binchang would get the last win to take the series 3-2. He would take home a Red Bull Conquest fighting stick along with the task to compete in D.C. for the Pacific Northwest.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
Despite the grumblings of the TEKKEN crowd that anything worth seeing was over, the SFV finals were standing room only. With an incredible 95 competitors, the most of any game, it’s not surprising that the room was packed. While not as explosive, these fights were just as exciting.
The grand final here pit Chris CCH on Guile against WestCoastPlease on Birdie. These players had already faced each other in the first match of the SFV finals with Chris CCH winning. WestCoastPlease had fought his way back out of the losers bracket for a rematch. The audience here was without the chants of the TEKKEN final, but a quiet and intense energy filled the room. People watched every move each player made as the two top contestants showed game play at the absolute highest level. It was a dance of perfectly timed combos and blocks. It ranks as one of the most even finals ever seen in Street Fighter.
Chris CCH would take the win, receiving the same prize as the other two champions as well as the same duty. He will now be representing the massive Northwest Street Fighter community at one of the largest tournaments of the year. If he plays then like he did Saturday though, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Three Champions Will Represent the Emerald City in D.C.
The three winners will represent the Seattle region in the finals in Washington D.C. November 16th-18th. They’ll face the best players from 15 other regions in the United States. The Seattle Champions won’t be fighting just for themselves though. They’ll be slinging combos, making blocks, and performing special moves to prove that the Northwest is, as the website says, the best fighting game region in the nation. If what I saw this weekend is any indication, the other regions better watch out.