December 19, 2022

Shinobism Live Viewing event for the final SFL:Pro-JP regular season game

On Tuesday night, Shinobism held a live viewing event for the Shinobism vs. DetonatioN Gaming match (and the following Gyogun vs. Nagoya OJA Body Stars match). In order to attend there was a lottery, since space was limited. I tweeted about it when you could apply on Dec. 2nd, and applied myself. I luckily was selected (I don't know how many people applied, so maybe odds were high, maybe odds were low, I don't know).

The venue was a smallish event space / bar in Akihabara, with about 30 or so people comfortably seated around the room with a big screen in front and a bar in back. The Shinobism staff was there with some goods for sale - I have a nice Shinobism Polo shirt that works really well as a work shirt, I highly recommend it. The staff was all very friendly - and I was happy to say hi to Chocoblanka, she's always great and running things behind the scenes to support Shinobism. I sat down at my (randomly assigned seating table) and started with beer and edamame, a great combination to spectate the matches.

The players were not playing from the venue, but other Shinobism members were there. Haitani and Eita came out a bit before the Warmup segment, and started talking about how they thought the matches would go. Haitani was surprisingly (to me) funny, chastising Eita who pretty clear hadn't watched the JP SFL matches. Eita assures us that he watched "all of the Shinobism matches" (mostly), and Haitani kept poking fun at him throughout the night. They were a very entertaining pair, and occasionally talked a bit about training at Shinobism and a bit of behind the scenes stuff. I didn't record anything or write anything down at the time, so I don't have any details. They also continued commentary through the matches.

You could take pictures, but anything posted up couldn't include other people's faces for privacy reasons, so I didn't take many pictures at all. The table seating was randomly assigned, and I thought that was a good opportunity to chat to people who also have an interest in SFL:JP, so I had a few conversations with people. If you've spent much time in Japan though, you know that it can be hard to strike up conversations with strangers. By luck, I happened to know one of the people at my table, so we had some fun conversation through the night.

Watching the matches with other people invested in the outcome of the match was a lot of fun. Usually I watch SFL matches as VODs, on my own. They are fun, but there is a very different vibe when you are watching live with other people, and those people also have a vested interest in the outcome. Everyone there was supporting Shinobism, so we wanted to see them win. Myself, I'm a big fan of Itazan and by extension, DNG, but I also really got into supporting Shinobism. It's so easy when you get caught up in the crowd.

When Yamaguchi lost to Nauman, people were disappointed. When Fujimura lost to Itazan, people were nervous. The crowd was really, really behind Momochi and cheering for him. When he got the win the place went wild. The followup FT1 win by Yamaguchi seemed to come too fast (it's a FT1!) but everyone was relieved. I'm a real believer in trying to make a home / away concept for SFL, and this event really shows how a home game in some venue would be lots of fun for spectators and I'm sure the players would be inspired by the cheering as well. I'm hopeful that we can see more of that with the next season. SFL JP already has strong associations for each team with a locality. Capcom reinforced that with the "Fan Caravan" events where each team hosted a fan event in their home region, usually at a large Aeon owned mall, and I'd be surprised if Capcom didn't expand on that next year.

After the first match, Momochi apparently came to the venue to talk with people, but I'm an old man and it was already getting late, so I left before he got there. It would have been nice watching the full thing, but with the ending around 11pm or later, an hour for me to get home, and getting up a bit before 6am the next day I wasn't going to stick around.

Finally, I'm surprised that more teams haven't tried to do interesting experiments like this. I think it's great that Shinobism put this on - it was lots of fun, and I hope they came out positive with merchandise sales. It was free to attend if you were selected to go, and I know renting out a place like that isn't cheap.

The only other really out there thing I remember is that Team iXA sold t-shirts (which I still need to track down, not that I don't have more t-shirts than I need) with characters for each of their players based on their input.

So, many thanks to Shinobism for running a great event, and trying new things. I had a great time, and I hope that I get more chances to do similar things in the future.




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