How to Get the Most from Attending Your First Event or Tournament

By on February 28, 2017 at 1:00 pm
G4 Crowd Shot

The fighting game community is more accessible than ever before. From dank basements, college dorms, small venues, majors and regionals, to the national stages like ESPN-televised Evolution Championships, it’s easier to find enthusiasts (and competitors!) than ever.

Thanks to social media platforms like Twitch, Discord, Facebook, and Twitter, it’s hard to not stumble across your local scene. To keep the FGC healthy and growing, it’s necessary to think about the next generation and those less experienced with tournament attendance.

While attending Frosty Faustings IX a couple of weekends ago, I took the opportunity to ask around and see what the community has to say. Going to your first tournament may be intimidating, but there’s a good amount of advice the FGC offers to welcome newcomers, and make the experience a smooth introduction to a new scene.

Adam “Kizzercrate” Lewis’ first tournament, Frosty Faustings VII, was stressful–and he went 0-2–but he “got bit by the tournament bug,” he said. He emphasizes that bringing your own console or setup improves the experience. “There’s people who have setups, and people who have to ask around for [them.] If you have the means, it’s best to make sure you have everything so you can get the most out of your tournament experience.”

Handling stress is much more complicated.

“Realize that majors are for learning. Everybody concentrates on the tournament. Tournaments show you different playstyles that you may not be used to in your playgroups, your locals, or people you netplay against,” Kizzercrate said. “It gives you a broader sense of experience, so you learn different things that you wouldn’t otherwise. If you go to a tournament with a mindset to learn instead of to win, you will get a lot more out of the experience.”

Talking to new players can be a little intimidating, especially when asking for games. But members of the FGC assure that almost everyone is open-minded, friendly to newcomers and willing to take some extra steps to teach a newbie.

“Don’t worry too much about winning, go there to have fun, definitely play some casuals with other people around you, because they’ll be more than happy to play with you and even teach you a few things here and there,” said Joosung “BlueBit” Kim, who’s been competing for about five years, primarily plays Street Fighter, and has been prepared for the scene by going to arcades when he was younger. “Be more interactive with people around you, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

Though at times, there might be something to be intimidated by, at least a little. With growing popularity and visibility of certain figures within the gaming world, either thanks to Twitch streaming, big tournament organizing, or victories, we’re bound to run into some mentors in the scene or those commonly referred to as “gods.” Chris “Orly” Brittain, a Super Smash Bros. Melee player, definitely felt like that when he first started coming to events about seven years ago.

“It was kind of intimidating. You know how you see a celebrity in person? You get a little star-struck feeling. It was kind of like that, especially since at my first tournaments, one of the people I looked up to was there. I think that’s just going to be a natural consequence, with the way the streams are. People see the people on Twitch, YouTube, ‘oh man, that’s really him!’ right. That will happen. But the mentality people should go with to their first event is no expectations,” Brittain said.

Attending tournaments isn’t just all about competing and playing casuals at the stations, however. Many people channel their passions in different ways, either by cosplaying, selling and buying art, and community organizing. While the tournament scene–and competing in Guilty Gear and Catherine–drew Mia “Glacia” Martin, her interests grew more in engaging with the community and learning about how the events come together.

“I play Catherine competitively, but I have a lot more fun making the event come alive and doing my best to help the community grow, especially the Catherine community,” Martin said. “But competitively I just don’t have enough time between work and me getting my degree in computer science. But I always find time to help make these events better and bring together. Especially women in the community, bring them here and make them feel welcome.”

Her advice follows her lifestyle closely–act upon your interests beyond just competing with other people.

“If you are going to your first event, I would say, to compete, test to see how you are, and even if you’re not competing, get involved, get in the middle of the crowd, ask ’who’s playing? What’s going on?’ Play in the side tournaments, see the side events–I really enjoy the Mystery Tournament, which is always fun to watch.”

The above covers a lot about the mindset and approach for entering a first tournament, but there’s more from the FGC community. I reached out on Twitter to see what the respondents have to say in 140 characters. The answers were often humorous–but also include tons of practical, no-nonsense advice. Here are some of them:

This may sound like a no-brainer, but a surprising amount of veteran players actually were late or missed their pools. It happens.

While the shower and cleanliness tips are something everyone needs to keep in mind, there’s actually an Advanced Tech with hygiene that’s overlooked:

Thanks to everyone else who also tweeted their advice. We hope that 2017 will be a year of strong growth for the FGC, and that many newcomers will find their place, make new friends, and get into the spirit of competition!

[Feature image: Genesis 4]

Luke "Woocash" Siuty is a Chicago-based writer who specializes in ArcSys titles. A Guilty Gear veteran, he plays Baiken and commits atrocities by playing Sin when he's not busy pondering the ArcSys Cycle. He's always down to talk on Twitter, so send him tips. He's good at OS-ing in real life, not so much in video games, though.