Texas Showdown TO talks about inclusion in Red Bull Proving Grounds: “We can bop the Seattle region free”

By on March 11, 2017 at 10:00 am
Javier Moreno Texas Showdown
Red Bull has become a household name in the FGC; between their support last year and their seemingly continued support kicking this year off, they’ve become welcome pillars of the community. With the new year comes new events, and one in particular is Red Bull Proving Grounds, which sees a qualifier based team tournament, attempting to gather the best talent from each region. We sat down with Javier Moreno, the organizer for the Houston event Space City Beatdown, to get into a bit of what we can expect from the Lone Star State in the coming event.

John Silvia: Would you mind introducing yourself for those who may not know you? Who you are, where you’re from, what you do now.

Javier Moreno: I’m Javier Moreno (Javi) – I’ve been in the FGC since 1996, since the old agsf2 days. I started SRK with the Cannons, Seth Killian, Derek Daniels and John Choi, and that eventually lead to the creation of Texas Showdown in 2001. I’m a Software Engineer by trade, but my passion is contributing to the continued evolution of the FGC.

JS: So you run Texas Showdown today? How big is the player base down there? And this Space City Beatdown, is that a separate event you run?

JM: Yes, I run Texas Showdown today, though I came back in 2013 after a lengthy absence from the FGC. Our growth has increased quite a bit since then. As far as our player base goes, we’ve had some ups and downs throughout the years. But with the emergence of Street Fighter IV – like anywhere else, it’s grown significantly. We’ve had Evo champions from Houston in Tekken, Top 8 appearances in Marvel, and some strong showings in Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, and legacy games such as Super Street Fighter II Turbo.

Space City Beatdown came about to help fill a void left by a local shop called Insomnia Video Game Culture – they used to hold video game tournaments every month, but that model was not sustainable to them. So you can say that there was a 6 month void of not having any tournaments in the Houston area. You know that Houston’s a big place, right? So people were clamoring for a monthly type of tournament – kinda like what we had at the legendary Stargate Arcade back in the 2000s. So we decided to hold a new monthly series, to help fill in that void. To be honest, it was something that we were looking at for years, but we didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes.

JS: So, you mentioned titles like SFIV, Marvel, and Guilty Gear; are these the games that your area plays today?

JM: Ah, I forgot to mention the Mortal Kombat scene! It’s pretty strong over here – it was able to produce Echo Fox|Scar, he’s been making quite a name for himself. He was finally able to break the Echo Fox|SonicFox curse over at SoCal Regionals! He’s a great asset to the FGC. Marvel still gets played, and it’s going through a bit of a revival like the rest of the country in anticipation for Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. The Guilty Gear scene is pretty strong – we were able to see the epic match at Anime Ascension a couple of weeks ago involving KidViper – a Houston product. They tend to have gatherings every week in order to level up and keep up with the rest of the country.

As far as Street Fighter V goes – we had Noble|Vagabond rise through the ranks last year. Even though he’s moved away for personal reasons, he still considers himself as part of the Houston scene. But you know what? It’s not just the Houston scene that we’re aiming for here. We’re aiming for everyone in Texas to help raise their game across all games. The Stargate was famous for this – we were able to have people from all over the state compete against the best in the country at the time. That is the legacy that I want to continue – it’s just not about Houston. It’s about Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s about Austin. It’s about San Antonio, and any other region that wants to be compete. Texas is a proud state, and I want the rest of the country (and the world for that matter) to know that Texas shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to the FGC.

JS: Seems like there’s quite a bit of self-contained competition in Texas.

JM: Yeah, that’s how Texas Showdown got started. It wasn’t because of the competition from other states – it was about Texas in general showing the rest of the country that we can compete, and we’re able to hold our own against the rest of the country. That’s how we got to have people from out of state come – they saw we were leveling up – so they felt like they HAD to come here to prove themselves. We have the distinct advantage to where it’s an equal amount of time for people to travel, whether it’s from the West Coast or East Coast.

But with Space City Beatdown – it’s time to reintroduce that state rivalry. It’s what got up up there as a force to be reckoned with a generation ago. We start with the city rivalry, then we unite as a state and try to compete with the rest of the country, and the world. Everyone knows about Texas Pride – how we like to do things big, and how we like to assert ourselves. In the end, we all root for Texas. That makes the Texas FGC unique – we all cheer for each other in the end.

JS: Sounds like a breeding ground for great players, if I’m being honest. Which I guess brings us to the next question; you guys ended up being recognized as one of 11 cities in the Red Bull Proving Grounds event. You and your players must be pretty excited about the chance to compete there, no?

JM: Yes – when we made the announcement at Space City Beatdown back on March 4th – we had quite a few gasps during the announcement. But people were really excited at the chance to make a name for ourselves. When it comes to the Street Fighter scene as of late, the Texas scene in general felt left out when it came down to notable players in the scene. It’s always about West Coast/East Coast players – but people tend to forget that great players came from Texas, too! We as a state have great pride – and life be damned if we can’t be a part of the elite in the SF arena.

JS: Speaking of East and West Coast, Texas is like you said right in-between the two, so you kinda stick out being on Team East Coast. I know a lot of players on either coast tend to stick together, especially against the opposite coast. Do you think the East Coast players will have your back like that, or do you think you guys even need it?

JM: It’s kind of funny on how things work out. We’re not a part of the East Coast or West Coast, but we tend to get along with everyone. It’s a part of our Southern hospitality! However, we call ourselves the Third Coast for a reason. Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, we want to create our own identity. It’s to prove ourselves as a separate region. As far as Proving Grounds goes – we’re a part of the East Region. But let it be known, we want to take that top spot. We want to win Proving Grounds. And we want to send our crew to Evo, that’s the end goal for this season. It’s all about leveling ourselves up and getting to that next level, something beyond what WC/EC can do.

JS: It’ll take some work, but I could see a Mid Coast legion rising if you guys take this. So, as far as the Street Fighter V at the Red Bull event goes; it’s a pretty new concept, the 3 leading players in your region will advance as a team. If you were to place a wager right now, which players do you think are gonna form Team Texas?

JM: Man, that’s a tough question… we have talent from all over. Geez, there’s a lot of talent from Texas… such a difficult question! But if I have to choose – it would be AzizSensei, Hsien Chang, GoL Boi Toi right off the bat. But you know what, that’s what Space City Beatdown is for! To help determine where the top talent is from this region! Season 1 is one thing, but we’re in Season 2. It’s a whole new ballgame.

JS: True. That’s another point altogether though; with Season 2, so much has changed. Players from all over have to adapt a lot even before considering the new characters. As far as the other regions go, do you think killers from last season will be able to perform as well this time, or is it maybe time for some new champions?

JM: As with any major update – there will be a shakeup in the top players for CPT. The great ones will be able to overcome any potential liabilities. But as people drop off, there will always be someone who’s waiting in the wings to seize their opportunity. That’s the magic in the FGC – there’s always someone who wants to be at the top of the food chain. We saw that with UMVC3 every year based on Evo results. We even saw that in S1 of SFV. Who would have thought of an American winning Capcom Cup? But who knows? Where will the next champion come from? All that adds to the wonderful drama of the FGC, which makes us unique from any other esports genre out there.

JS: Yeah, it’s only been a year of SFV so far but it feels like so much has happened. As far as other regions go, are there any specific ones that you think may give you trouble? I know you guys just do what you can, but are there any specific sharks you think your players should be ready for?

JM: Well – to begin with, Team Texas will have to deal with the rest of the East Coast in the round robin portion. Since the top 16 players of the Capcom Pro Tour is not eligible for Proving Grounds, that could give us a good advantage when we come into round robin play. A lot of the East Coast players have been picked up by sponsors as of late, so that could give us a advantage. But let’s say we do make it out to the final round. The West Coast has an immense pool of talent to draw from, and that will be the more difficult challenge. Add to the fact that Proving Grounds will be held in Santa Monica in June – there’s quite the home field advantage there. It’s going to be left up to us to level ourselves up as much as we can to help prepare for the rest of the country. But our chances are as good as anyone else’s.

JS: With the pool of talent so diverse it’s kinda hard to get a good grasp on what’ll happen until things start going down, it sounds like you’re saying. I have to ask though; your region will be forced into a round robin with the whole East Coast, but you said West Coast will be the bigger challenge. You only have to go up against one West Coast team in the end. Are there any West Coast regions you guys would feel comfortable against, anyone you think you guys would end up bopping free?

JM: Oh, we’re going there, are we? Haha. I think we can bop the Seattle region free. They are more known for their anime scene. California in general will be tough. Historically, really tough competition comes from both NorCal and SoCal. But, you have to remember, that I come from the era where Alex Valle and John Choi reigned supreme. Kind of a double whammy there! But if I were to predict things – SoCal would have the distinct advantage because of Wednesday Night Fights – there are killers there every single week!

JS: I see. So, you could say you’ll be keeping your eyes on SoCal and NorCal while rooting for Seattle.

JM: We always are, but that could be said for the rest of the country.

JS: Fair enough. That’s about all the questions I have, though. Are there any parting remarks you’d like to leave the people with before heading out?

JM: Sure. The FGC as a whole, we’re are in a unique position to show the rest of the esports community what we’re all about. We as a whole (FGC) are the easiest community to follow, and the easiest community to be a fan of. It’s pretty easy to know what’s going on. In its simplest form, it’s all about one person beating the crap out of another. What other community gives you that immediate satisfaction? None. With the Proving Grounds qualifiers as an example, are there any other esports communities trying to have that growth at that grassroots level? I think not. It’s not only good for Texas, but it’s good for everyone else in the US for those who are trying to get to that next level.

You have these esports teams to try to get that exposure – but in the FGC, all you have to do is to produce results on your own. Be good, travel, bop everyone else, and you have that exposure. No other esports genre can say the same.

The first of 3 qualifying events in Texas, as with the other 10 regions, will be April 1st. It’s clear there’s a lot more than the prize pool on the line for Texas; we’ll see if this pride pushes them to the head of the pack come June.

John "Zidiane" Silvia is a big fan of classic fighters. Most well known for his efforts in the Skullgirls community, he spends his focus on approaching articles with fresh and unique perspectives. He prides himself on his passion and attention to detail on issues others rarely talk on.