This past weekend, Chicago kicked off the RED BULL CONQUEST series of events, announced earlier this year. The energy drink company is energizing various regions in the United States to show their regional pride and compete in Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2. Each of the regional tournaments challenges the players to form teams that will compete at the final event in Washington D.C. in November.
Chicago’s Ignite Gaming Lounge — a typical FGC venue for the community — hosted the event. Red Bull showed off their impressive event production by creating a stage with setups for each game. A swag station sold Red Bull-decorated hats, hoodies, t-shirts, and more, and a special drink bar offered non-alcoholic beverages. Each game’s pool progressed smoothly throughout the day, giving stream time to every title on Twitch. Persia and Vicious, well-known FGC personalities, hosted the event — speaking on camera to coordinate the show for viewers from around the world.
The Street Fighter V tournament had the most entrants, with 95 players throwing their hats into the ring. The action took most of the day, making endurance a factor in the fights. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Chicago’s star SFV player, BxA|THE COOL KID93 — Marcus Redmond — squared off against Rob “RobTV” Burney in Winners Finals. Redmond barely pulled off a win with his Abigail against RobTV’s very patient Guile.
“I love Red Bull events. Before, people really didn’t look to Chicago, because we didn’t have that Alex Valle, those kinds of people, who run those local events that people really look at,” Redmond told SRK. “People started learning about us because of events with Red Bull, they give us a reason to practice and get better. These events over the past years made everybody step up.”
Then, Redmond faced Chakotay “ElChakotay” Andrich in the Grand Finals, coming out on top after a bracket reset, and becoming Chicago’s SFV representative in the Red Bull Conquest series.
“I’m feeling good. It was a headache,” Redmond said. “Normally, these Red Bull events are about points. If you lose, it’s ok, you get some points, you’ll come back next month. But this time, there was more pressure; it was just one tournament. I told my wife, we are going to have to fly to every region if I lose!”
Redmond is looking forward to the release of Cody, his favorite character, and in the coming months he will focus on preparing for the November finals.
As for Bandai Namco’s 3D brawler, attendance came close to Capcom’s game, sitting at 80. While the competition was tight as well, many people favorited Marquis “vShadow_20z” Jordan to win, and he came through. He will team up with Redmond to represent the Chicago region.
“People consider me the best in Tekken in the Midwest, so I feel pretty good,” Jordan said. “I feel I can represent well for Tekken and Chicago. We have some great players here. We’re also professional with it. Chicago has a certain image, and not everyone fits it. Most people consider Chicago violent [politically], but it’s not all that, but as far as the fighting game community, there are some great people.”
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 didn’t have as many players, (33 entrants), but many of them took the effort to come from somewhat distant areas to compete in the event. The winner hailed from St. Louis, Missouri; Stephen “Mr. K” Shannon, Leo Whitefang player and pun aficionado, battled multiple Millia Rages on his way to victory and managed to best BlackSnake’s Venom.
“Everyone in Chicago is super nice. I appreciate everyone I played against, I’ve always been welcomed here,” Shannon told SRK. “This is one of my favorite places to travel to play. I know that if I wanted to drive up here for a tournament for a weekend to play, everyone has that kind of passion, they want to get their games in. I’m glad that Red Bull has Guilty Gear on the circuit, it’s the reason I’m here.”
“I think the GG community deserves a little more visibility,” Shannon added. “The people that play are very passionate about the game, they want to play the game for all the right reasons. And I think that the game is super sick. Guilty Gear is a game I can play for 30 years and never be dissatisfied with it.”
Any player can enter and win to represent any region in the United States. Not locking the rules down based on geographical location was a conscious decision on Red Bull’s part.
“We kept it open because we wanted to get maximum participation,” said Jimmy “ShinJN” Nguyen, the National Tournament Director for the Red Bull Conquest series. “We could have introduced a region lock, but we thought that maybe sometimes a person can’t play in their own region and they can compete elsewhere. I think the cool part about the FGC though is representing your region, so I mean, do you want to go play for California? If you win a qualifier? That’s up to the player, and whether they can live with that.”
This was only the first regional tournament, and there are 13 more to go. The next Red Bull Conquest tournament takes place in Seattle on May 19th. In addition, there will be an online qualifier as well as a last chance qualifier at Washington D.C. Every winner receives $500, a variety of small accessories by Red Bull, as well as a flight to the finals. What will the ultimate winner get? Each teammate competes for $1500, in addition to a flight to Evo Japan 2019.
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
1. BxA|THE COOL KID93
7. Stack Bradford
2. Beast Infection
3. Jody Tha Great
7. The Realyst
9. Gold Diamonds
9. Chitowns Deuce
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2
1. Mr. K
9. M A D W A K
9. LGOD|Ken Griffey Jr.
View the full results and brackets over at smash.gg.
[Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool / Bryan Lamb]