One of the most notable entries on the West Coast region in the upcoming Red Bull Proving Grounds team tournament is Chicago. It’s the most recognizable region in the Midwest, and holds some of the biggest FGC majors of the year. Being the face of the Midwest, a lot of players will be working hard to earn the recognition they feel they deserve, while many more will be watching from home and rooting for their victory.
Today we take some time to talk with Noah, the TO of Mix-Up Monthly, which happens to be their Regional representative. Read on to hear his thoughts on their chances in the coming events.
John “Zidiane” Silvia: First things first, would you mind introducing yourself for the readers who may not know you?
Noah Vandercook: My name is Noah Vandercook, I’m a proud 09’er who is now a FGC TO for Chicago, mainly working with Ignite Gaming Lounge.
Zidiane: Ignite Gaming Lounge, is that a monthly? Weekly?
Noah: So, Ignite is a LAN center/internet cafe type of place in Chicago; there we have weeklies every Monday: Mix-Up Monday. It’s kind of a big catch-all for any FGC folks, but especially SFV. Thanks to the support of Red Bull, we were able to start the monthly, Mix-Up Monthly.
Zidiane: Nice. How big is the playerbase there?
Noah: There’s a healthy scene of like 20-30 players that come out dedicated for SFV, but since we run Mondays people’s availability can be all over the place, so the base can rotate around a little. The monthlies have really brought people out of the woodwork, giving a good 70-100 people from the area for SFV, and it’s still growing.
Zidiane: Are there any particular standout players in the area, that people already might know about?
Noah: From Chicago, the big two are GLB and The Cool Kid93; those guys are consistently at the top, and were two of the players than made it out last year. Other notables that make appearances are EliTheCurry from IN, Squall from OH, and Gllty from MO, though usually we do an alright job of protecting the city.
Zidiane: Oh, you get people from states over? What’s the furthest someone’s traveled to come play at that monthly?
Noah: Missouri for sure, that’s like 6-8 hours. It speaks to how cool this opportunity–and I would like to think, the quality of our event–is that players would travel from that far out to compete. Plenty of folks driving 4+ hours from IN, WI and IA just for a piece of the action.
Zidiane: It’s certainly a worthwhile opportunity being one of the Red Bull Proving Grounds regions, no doubt. Speaking of, how did you guys end up getting Red Bull’s attention for this, would you say?
Noah: Well, I got lucky. For a while I was doing my own thing with Ignite, putting on the weeklies and the occasional larger tournament on the weekends. I actually ended up stepped away from it a little just from getting burned out. Then out of the blue early last year Rick came to me about the whole thing, because as the Combo Breaker TO they rightfully went to him first. Since he was based out of MN at the time it would be near impossible to run a Chicago monthly, so I guess even though I stepped away, the work my community and I did still left a mark. Because of that I was tapped, and the rest is history.
Zidiane: It’s always nice seeing dedication pay off like this. How about the players? How are they feeling about the announcement?
Noah: They have some understanding of it from last year, so they are excited to get the chance again. The updates to the format really have people excited, both that the qualifying players will be a team, and how they’ll also be playing for their friends back home.
Zidiane: It’s a very unique format, to be sure. So, 3 of your players will end up being promoted as Team Chicago. If you had to guess right now, which players would you pick for representing your region?
Noah: Cool Kid and GLB for sure, the third spot is really up the air. Last year it was Squall, but a lot of the crew he plays with are getting to that level. Then you have the rest of Chicago that have quietly started getting godlike; even last year there was a lot of fierce competition in that area of placing, so if the same people start coming out each month then it can get really exciting.
Zidiane: It sounds like a region filled with potential unknown killers.
Zidiane: So, as far as the rest of the event goes: this is being sold as a East Coast vs. West Coast event. You’re of course on Team West Coast, but it seems like the Midwest area is sorta separate form that particular rivalry. Do you feel like that’s the case?
Noah: Yes, the Midwest has always been excluded from those sorts of talks, but I’m confident that people won’t be so quiet after this year.
Zidiane: Sounds like you guys are pretty confident. You will have to go through the entire West Coast team in that Round Robin first, though. How do you guys feel about that portion of the competition? Anyone you’re worried about, or not?
Noah: There’s nobody that we can’t overcome. I think one of the Midwest’s biggest strengths is our comraderie, which shines when we have the will–we work hard together. That was made clear last year, when the 3 qualifying players starting sharing knowledge early and often, but now that it’s a full-on team format I know that there’s no one that we can’t beat.
Zidiane: I see. So you’re saying you guys are the best team players, and that’s gonna be the thing that wins this for you.
Zidiane: Well, that being the case, assuming you get to the final round, you’ll have to go up against just one East Coast team. Do you have any thoughts on which team you might meet on that stage?
Noah: Probably Philly, and to be honest I am not sure who to expect out of the others. Orlando and Houston have strong scenes and are new to the circuit, so it’s really anyone’s game.
Zidiane: Especially with the new format, it’s really an exciting time. We can’t really tell what’s going to happen. That’s about it for the questions I had today. We’ll try to come back and revisit Chicago after some of the qualifiers start taking place, but was there anything you wanted to say before heading out?
Noah: Thanks to everyone involved. The coolest thing about RBPG is that it brings a lot of people together, people who otherwise are used to being on their own little islands. There’s been little reason for TOs to work together like this in the past; we get to learn from one another, which in turn is great for everyone involved.