Well done Jebailey, well done.
The fighting game community grows every year. As the popularity grows, games such as Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and even Super Smash Bros. alter their formulas to make the fighting game format more playable and accessible. CEO 2016 is a prime example of how the large tournament format has grown with these games. With record turnouts this year, CEO is bigger and better than ever before. With 12 events in total, all streamed, fans at home knew they had an entire weekend of fighting games to tune into.
With work during the day and the wait for the jerseys for the Bit Cultures Sponsored Players, I was not able to be there for the official start of CEO 2016. I arrived at the venue late Friday night, the day the event had started pools, and as I struggled to find parking at the packed venue – snagged a sweet spot upfront luckily – I finally made my way in and saw the the mass of players in the Smash area. Games of friendlies were under way on the sides and there were three large screens displaying Super Smash Bros. Melee, Pokkén Tournament and Super Smash Bros. Wii U. I thought that this alone was massive until I was informed Registration was next to the other hall… What I walked into blew my expectations of what a major gaming event in Florida could look like.
This room was massive, with dozens upon dozens of set ups playing Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat XL, and Ultra Street Fighter IV and a wrestling ring set up for the streamed events in this room to play on. While here on my first night, I bought a shirt for the event, which was $25 (not an amazing price but I was happy to support the event). My first day at CEO 2016 was short, but I was already having a blast getting to watch some awesome Street Fighter V action and enjoy the spectacle until they closed the venue around midnight to prepare for the biggest day of pools where the strongest would be divided and the salt would flow.
Up at 8:30am so I could arrive at the venue in time for my friend’s (Jim Wallace) first pool, which started at 10am. The lack of caffeine and a proper breakfast was part of my downfall for this day. I went to pick up my Media Pass and when I went to get it, the registration desk could not find the actual physical passes. My registration was confirmed but no actual pass could be found. They directed me to another desk where I was told he did not have the passes, and I would need to go back to the original desk to get them?
After an awkward silent moment, the very nice fellow at desk #2 handed me an All Access Pass and said it would get me anywhere I needed to go.
Next, I was off to Jebailey Land. This room was a magical place I had only seen in my dreams. The room was filled to the brim with arcade cabinets, consoles running Tekken 7 (as well as the recently shown Tekken 7 console version with Akuma) and Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, and people… lots of people. The downside of this amazing room is that it drew a heavy crowd for friendlies and tournament play, and the mixture of a few hundred people and all of the electronics was too much a burden for the AC Unit that thought it could. I was drenched in sweat by the end of my stay in this room and had to take several breaks to recover from the heat wave.
My break in the main area took me to where I could get a glimpse of Daigo playing his signature Ryu. I also came across fellow Bit Cultures member, Jovan, who was playing in the Street Fighter V event. This was a nice change of room temperature and a chance to see my favorite game at the event, Street Fighter V.
After a lunch break at Wawa (I highly recommend the Meatball Sub paired with a Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie) we made our way back to Jebaliey Land/The Tekken 7 room where a younger player was running through his pool. A youngster at the age of 10 who has been bred into a future FGC star by his father. A brief interview with them is below:
After a dinner at Soupa Sayain (which I do not recommend), I ended up back in a friend of a friend’s hotel waiting for the Melee Top 8 to begin, which did not happen for two hours past the planned start time. I finished my night watching the finals on a couch as Hungrybox took down Mew2King to win CEO 2016 Melee Singles.
After a long day of carrying equipment and traveling back and forth between crowded, sweltering rooms, I decided to take the last day, which was almost entirely reserved for finals, slow. Tekken 7 Top 8 started the day, and with a bracket reset happening and a slightly late start, I was able to make it to the still filling up main room and get up front and nearly on stage to record the finals. Watching Tekken 7 Top 8 unfold in a wrestling ring in front of my eyes was a spectacle all on its own. With each combo and back and forth battle, the crowd grew more intense and the number of people in the ballroom increased.
While Tekken 7 was impressive to watch in person, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 blew my mind. The hype in that room was incredible, and I have never seen a gathering of people that large get so excited before en mass. With MC YipeS, the crowd got hyped and rightfully so because that shit was insane! Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 is a game that is both cursed and blessed. The game was basically abandoned by Capcom and players have had to adjust to the lack of balancing and updates by fine tuning their combos and infinites. While the field of play may seem broken, it generates some of the craziest action you can see on one screen.
Here is a highlight reel from the Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Top 8:
After Marvel was finished, I had to head out as I had a long drive ahead of me and some Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale to watch. I was saddened that I was not able to stay for Street Fighter V, but it started almost two hours later than scheduled, so staying until past midnight would have been a terrible life decision on a Sunday… but next year, I am blocking off the weekend plus Monday.
Overall, this was an incredible weekend. I was not originally planning to attend CEO 2016 but made an impulse decision to drive up for it. The experience was incredible, and the gameplay was intense. My faults with the event would be that the arrangement in the rooms and the mass crowds contributed to some intense heat, and with outside temperatures being close to 100 degrees, there was no escape for cooling off unless you left the venue completely. Additionally, it seemed like there were some issues with starting and ending some of the Top 8s on time, but that could have been related to some of the larger pools. At the end of the weekend, though, I would not trade this experience for anything else. I got to see some amazing gaming and cannot wait to make it to CEOtaku later this year and CEO 2017! Well done, Jebailey, well done.
— Jebailey IS #CEO2016 (@CEOJebailey) June 27, 2016
Also… Here are my Fan Boi pics…