May 2, 2018
Various things happening in Japan and Fighting Games
Table of Contents
It is currently "Golden Week" in Japan - a time at the start of May when there are three to four National Holidays, so it is easy to take a day or two off and get a long vacation. All sorts of fun stuff happens during Golden Week, like it being almost impossible to get airline or shinkansen tickets, hotel reservations, or find any sort of place that isn't packed with people. In the Fighting Game community, a bunch of events are taking place (I track events I know about in a different blog post). I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of things that have been happening or will happen, and write a bit about them.
1 Aim for the Top! Kawagoe No.1 eSports player!
Kawagoe is a city in Saitama, just outside of Tokyo (depending on where you are, 30-60 minutes by train). The city itself is actually organizing a SFV tournament for May 19th, and they held a qualifier tournament on April 30th. Entrants were capped at 64 people, spread across 16 elementary school participants, 32 middle schoolers, and 16 high school and up. Their information about the event talks a bit about what eSports are, and talks about maybe making a push for eSports in the Olympics. I don't really have an opinion about that, but it is super interesting to see a local city government organize a FGC tournament. I spent a bit of time looking around, but couldn't find any information about the results, but it looks like AJ, a non-Japanese Zangief player, won his bracket and will play in the final tournament. Harumy is a guest of the project, and you have a chance to play against her at the event as well. There were some well-known players there, and I expect the tournament on May 19th will be pretty good! It was free to attend, and according to things I read on twitter, there were lots of families and kids playing, which is great. I like that this event focuses a bit more on getting youth involved with their age-separated brackets.
2 Red Bull Japan Kumite Qualifiers
I'm sure everyone knows about the Red Bull Kumite event put on by Red Bull in Paris since 2015 with Ultra Street Fighter IV as the game. The event was an invitational with 14 people invited and 2 open slots decided by qualifiers. All my information is coming from this article on the Red Bull Japan site which says that even though the event was at 3am in Japan, for 2017 there were over 46,000 streamers from Japan watching. So in 2018 Red Bull has decided to hold 5 qualifier events in different parts of Japan, and they will hold a final tournament November 10th to decide who gets the ticket to the Paris event.
I have the dates and locations listed for the Red Bull Japan qualifiers in my April and May list of FGC events along with their streaming links on Abema.tv and OpenRec.tv. All of the qualifiers and the final (May 13) are listed, and that final tournament should be pretty good.
One of the interesting aspects of these events is that they are all held in shopping malls. Reading some responses from people on Twitter after the first one (I should have saved a few, I'll do that next time and update here) a lot of people really enjoyed how people would just walk by and get interested. I like the idea of holding events in non-traditional spaces and getting fighting game tournaments out in front of a more general audience. I'm impressed that Red Bull has been very good at doing this and handling the logistics so that it works out well. I attened the 2017 Red Bull Tower of Pride event in a mall, and that went very well. It is also nice to see regional events, similar to what Red Bull is doing in the US with Red Bull Battlegrounds as well. Shout outs to Anna Sakagawa for all her hard work!
3 Bon-chan's Road Trip
As long as we're talking about Red Bull, we might as well talk about Bon-chan's Road Trip. This is the second time he's run an event like this. Here are some points from Red Bull's Page. There are a bunch of videos there you can check out too.
- An event that occurs at various places around the country where you can play with different guests and we'll hold some random 2-2 tournaments.
- There are 10 setups
- Anyone can come! You don't need to pre-register!
- No streaming (this is important because people are often quite concerned about privacy in Japan).
These are also held at Aeon Malls (large indoor shopping malls) in Japan, and they have these ones listed:
- April 21st, Kumamoto
- July 16th, Niigata
- September 24th, Iwate
- November 23rd, Kagawa
4 More regular local events
Recently, more regular offline events have been established. Japan has always had a strong arcade culture, so when you wanted to play games you used to head out to the arcade. There still is a strong arcade culture, but when SFV released without an arcade cabinent, there was no way to meet up with other players in a casual setting. So two years ago Kagecchi started up Fighter's Crossover Akihabara. Since then I've learned about Studio Sky, where they usually host a SFV event on Friday and Sunday, and DBFZ has been showing up there recently too. Cyclops Osaka has been hosting events for as long as I know.
More recently though, Red Bull Gaming Sphere Tokyo opened up, where Jiyuna and Majin Obama started up a weekly Tuesday DragonBall FighterZ event. They just recently announced that they have officially joined with Bandai Namco and are hosting official DBFZ and Tekken7 events every Tuesday at their Fighting Tuesday event. It is a bit of a tangent, but it is great to see developers working with the community and supporting them with official events. As far as I know, the only officially licensed community run recurring event for SFV is Fighter's Crossover Akihabara, and I know that Kagecchi went to great lengths and expense to get approval from Capcom for an official license. It would be nice if Capcom would follow Bandai Namco's lead and give additional support to the event, but at any rate it is amazing that Majin Obama and Jiyuna were able to swing cooperation with Bandia Namco, and great for the community that Bandai Namco responded.
Of course, there is also Capcom's eSports club at Plaza Capcom in Kichijoji that started up this year. There is usually a Capcom run tournament on Saturday, and on weeknights there are community run events in the space apparently, but I haven't come across information about them yet. I visited the eSports club and enjoyed the experience, but it is a smaller space located inside an arcade. I'm more interested to see if Capcom expands on this strategy and opens more eSports clubs around the country (people think that will happen, but I haven't seen anything about it yet).
Just today, Red Bull announced that on Thursdays at their Gaming Sphere they will host a weekly for SFV, which I'm excited about. I'm curious to hear more about it, see who is running the event, and see what they plan in terms of casuals or events.
In the past few weeks I've seen events run by the Walker Gaming team. I hadn't heard about them until they popped up in my twitter feed, but they are a pro team with Tekken, Guilty Gear, and Battle Spirits players. They have been hosting gaming events at a gaming space in Asagaya. They host a variety of events which I try to keep track of, but they also have been doing some programming related lectures (Unity and Python) which is super cool.
Finally, I recently heard about an event at Taito Megarage, an Arcade Live Bar out in Kawasaki (about an hour out of Tokyo from where I live). I would like to check that place out sometime. This space has a full bar with drinks and food, and a bunch of large screens for spectating, but I haven't seen the layout and I don't know what they have in terms of setups. I think this approach contrasts with what Capcom is trying. I personally am a fan of larger spaces with bars, since I'm almost always going to want to get a drink along with my games.
I generally feel like more and more gaming friendly places are opening up, and more and more regular local events are being established to take advantage of it. I hope that the growth of the community can keep up and support new venues and events!
5 KSB x TSB
6 My timeline is full of FGC Food
Of course Twitter is always full of picture of food, but lately there have been tweets about FGC members making food. In particular, Kagecchi had a tween about Gaming flavored boiled eggs that got a lot of engagement. The response was so great that he said they'll trial run them at this week's FCA event. I really wish I could make it and try some of those salty boiled eggs, but I'm here writing a blog post with my son (who is awesome and this isn't a complaint).
Food everywhere. Harumy has recently been posting about delicious food she makes, Joe Munday talking about pizza, Arlieth is always tweeting about food, and Bafael has a whole series about cooking that is as captivating to me as his combo videos. Maybe I'm just hungry all the time and so these things stick in my head.