Fighters Festival event wrap-up

Daniel "Berzerk" Chlebowczyk stops by to give you an update on how Fighters Festival went in Melbourne last Saturday.

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Over the weekend some of Australia's top fighting game players gathered down in Melbourne for the inaugural Fighters Festival. The day celebrated all things fighting games and played host to not just tournaments, but various other social activities. Games being contested ranged from more recent ones like Street Fighter X Tekken, to niche titles like BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend. While GameSpot AU wasn't able to attend the event, former-competitor-turned-organiser Daniel "Berzerk" Chlebowczyk was at the event and was kind enough to write down his thoughts on how the day turned out.

"Let me tell you, I love fighting games. They're fun, bombastic, and while all video games give you a lot of entertainment for your money, fighters really reward the player by getting better as you get better. But that's not even the best reason--they're the most fun to play with others. It's awesome with a group of friends on the couch, but how do you make that experience bigger and better?

The answer: get a whole heap of people off the couch, into a good venue together to play, and then you've got something really special. That's where the slightly ironic name CouchWarriors comes from, and that's what myself and about 80 other socially minded gamers did this weekend by attending the CouchWarriors' Fighters Festival. By making an effort to provide fun for ourselves, and other gamers, we get to enjoy our games that much more.

Many competitors brought their own arcade sticks to play on.
Many competitors brought their own arcade sticks to play on.

The event lived up to what I was hoping for as a great social experience--with no elitism and plenty of opportunity to learn--and featured some great tournaments that each showcased skilled play too.

So, how did it all go down? This first event of the year's season had some new things going for it.

The new venue seemed to be a hit. The big draw was the tie-in event with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO). Just saying that is a bit of a trip. Symphony Orchestra? Fighting Games? Just what is going on here?!

I'm still surprised at the coolness of the MSO for the idea, which will see two SoulCalibur V players fight out a special finals exhibition in front of a 5,000 strong concert audience--as the orchestra plays the real music from the game while they fight!

This qualifier to find the two best contenders was full of great moments. Freed to spectate after just missing top 8, I witnessed an exciting and nailbiting top four, as top players in the SCV scene Huy 'Eclair' Nguyen (who dared knock me out with his fast, poking Leixa), Runis (who made the trip from Sydney with a scary Hilde), Jessica 'Jelly' Lee (who put in a powerful effort with both her Nightmare and Xiba) and up and coming Aaron "Borgieman" Borg (Voldo) all fell way to see who would make it to the orchestra.

Virtua Fighter expert Alex 'AlexMD' Mitchell-Dawson showed his pitch perfect execution and versatility with Mitsurugi to see off impressive newcomer Kane's Cervantes, putting him face to face with a Nightmare as OzHadou Nationals winner Ben 'Viper' Burke (also a top KOF player) broke away from Alex's attacks to bust the match open at mid-range, while scoring a mean share of ring-outs too.

But the dark horse of the last few weeks who really threw down the gauntlet was Kevin 'Woody' Wood, a key part of the Tekken community who has been in the hyperbolic time chamber with his Yoshimitsu. He took the fight right to Viper and in a brilliant performance with the ghoulish samurai, won through the whole qualifier undefeated.

So the two top players had been decided--Ben and Kevin will play for the big prizes in front of the Video Games Unplugged concert audience. Can Ben come back to reclaim his crown? Will Wheaton bring his phaser to this sword fight? I can't wait to find out on April 12th.

Of course, there were many other games played as the all inclusive approach of CouchWarriors brings different player groups all together in one fighting game community.

Super Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition is still a bedrock game, with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street fighter X Tekken all still keeping the loud, fun, crazy reputation of our scene going strong and the top players turning out. King of Fighters continues to grow and there was an eclectic mix of social games that people brought just to bring out of mothballs and play, like Guilty Gear and CVS2. Recognition is due to the Smash Bros players, who turned up in impressive numbers, with plenty of new players – on top of that, they were early! Much respect to the Smash community.

If you want to catch just a hint of the laughs and excitement of the day, check out the stream archives here. Most of all, we look forward to seeing you at upcoming events via www.couchwarriors.org and the upcoming Shadowloo Showdown."

Daniel "Berzerk" Chlebowczyk
Lifetime gamer from the days of Atari and C64, Daniel's passion for competitive gaming grew when he became a pro gamer winning tournaments in the WCG and CGS, and now enjoys coordinating events for CouchWarriors and Ozhadou

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