What happened with Absolute Battle 8?

By on August 29, 2017 at 1:00 pm
absolute battle logo basic

Despite the hurricane in Texas — which has impacted many lives and prevented safe travels — members of the fighting game community took the opportunity to travel to Plano this past weekend. The eighth iteration of Absolute Battle, by no means a small tournament, invited competition across the wide spectrum of fighting game titles: from mainstays like Street Fighter V, Injustice 2, Tekken 7, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, to anime titles like BlazBlue: Central Fiction and Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, as well as For Honor and some Mystery Games.

The event is no small fry for sure. Part of the Injustice 2 Pro Series, a Capcom Pro Tour Qualifier, and the Tekken World Tour: the stakes were fairly high, attracting 522 attendees, according to the smash.gg event page. The sponsorship support is there.

However — during and after, multiple sources started pouring out feedback regarding the event. To shorten the r/Kappa thread (some NSFW language, there), problems arose in a multitude of ways: story/DLC characters missing on setups (BlazBlue players had to rapidly slog through the enormous Story Mode to get Susano’o), pool “swicheroos” where your pool could be unexpectedly pushed ahead in schedule, missing cords to get consoles working, streams failing to work, and the stark difference between top 8 treatment for certain games.

Below is a comparison between the stages: on the left, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and on the right, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, which reportedly didn’t have sound running, and also had to switch to a 2/3 format from a 3/5.

Kizzercrate, a top 8 Guilty Gear and BlazBlue player at the event, wrote a personal recount from Absolute Battle 8. It’s definitely a worthy read, as it tells about how the pools were shuffled around at the last minute, which led to disqualifying many participants. Furthermore, the brackets weren’t ready ahead of time, which prevented studying opponent match-ups.

“1:30 PM rolls around. No stream, no in-house projector working, no sound on the speakers, and there’s one tournament organizer running Gear top 8 and apparently [there’s a] huge Tekken snafu at the same time,” Kizzercrate writes. “We played the winners’ side of top 8 and I found out that they’re using my setup to run losers’ side.”

“Through a couple of shaky cams, peering over shoulders, and livetweeting updates, we got through top 8. And then another two full hours of pestering to get our payouts (‘they’re cutting the checks right now’ my butt) so I could actually catch my flight home. During this time, BB top 8 started and apparently the stream, finally “fixed” after four hours, had a ton of issues even then?”

This wasn’t just the case with anime titles, though. Rip, a caster for many high-level events, tweeted out his concerns during the event, which impacted his play in a negative way.

Echo Fox|Justin Wong further corroborated the sentiments.

So what actually happened to cause so much disorganization? Versus Gameplay, the organization behind the event, provided statements to explain what went wrong.

“I will admit the tournament did not go as smoothly as we had planned,” said Reginal Jeffery from Versus Gameplay to SRK. “We had a lot of last minute changes and scheduling that clearly fall on my shoulder as the tournament organizer. We had problems with the large influx of numbers that we had. Our past tournaments ran much better. I regret not giving a better experience, and we really want to work hard to correct that for next year.”

When asked about the manner the pools were ran, Jeffery responded:

“We had a low outcome of crew that we expected to come in. Unfortunately, I put some guys in positions to run brackets they may not have been ready for. We were short on staff, and I asked some folks to step in and help, and that was my fault for doing that. As soon as I was able to get stronger bracket runners, we were able to get things going. But because we had staff that was kind of inexperienced, it was honestly on me putting them in the bad spots. They weren’t trying to rush things, I think they were still at expected numbers.”

Streamers suffered from issues, but Jeffery makes it clear it wasn’t their fault. Among them was Panda x Gaming, who had to clarify on multiple fronts that he tried to salvage as much of the event as possible and defend himself from community criticism.

“My streamers had absolutely nothing to do with the issues at Absolute Battle,” Jeffery continued. “We had issues with our ISP (internet service provider). I dealt with them directly. I did my best to make sure they had the speed and everything. Unfortunately, we ran into some hiccups. I know a couple of games weren’t streamed, they weren’t streamed as often. That was no fault of streamers, that was miscommunication between me and my streamers and not being able to get them on the same page where they need to be.”

As we know, Hurricane Harvey impacted Texas this past weekend. SRK asked Jeffery what kind of effect it had on Absolute Battle.

“We saw some rain, but Dallas is a long ways away, so I don’t want to say that was the main reason. We did have some staff and some people who couldn’t come in because of the hurricane. We reacted accordingly. As for some pools, we had players who couldn’t come in, so we had to rearrange pools quickly. That made it seem like some pools were unfair to others and we made did our best to fix those at the last minute. But at the end of the day, I was not prepared for the influx and the changes and the lack of people showing up and the addition of people showing up from other states made, so I kind of put the team in a bad spot with that.”

When pressed on the contrasting quality of stages, Jeffery explained that while they had a goal of running all top 8s in one day, the last-minute adjustments they had to make prevented from making a better second stage. Due to limited venue space, they split up the other top 8s in another room to “reduce traffic” and crowding. SRK’s own writer Crow_Spaceboy attended the event, and said that this year only half the ballroom was used, while last year the entire ballroom was used for the event purposes.

The Absolute Battle organizers have already booked a much bigger venue in Dallas, TX, for next year. But it’s up to the community at large whether they will give Absolute Battle 9 a chance. To the anime community, Jeffery acknowledges that they may feel disrespected.

“I can tell you that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I respect all my players and the games the same. We want them all to have the same experience, no disrespect intended. It’s just that we ran into some hiccups last minute, and we weren’t able to flex in time to give everyone satisfaction in the event that they got in the past.”

Sources: interviews; Justin Wong; Pssych; Kizzercrate; Rip; Panda x Gaming

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.