Bar Fights: Masterpiece or Proclamation of Independence?

With the passing of “Bar Fights”, arguably the most hyped and anticipated event thus far next to Season’s Beatings, many of us are left with not only a sense of fulfillment, but rather a feeling of looming consciousness of just how great the community is and how big we have become. From an independently founded idea by Gootecks and Cross Counter, to 5,000 viewers all sitting at home and viewing as soon as Spooky hit the “start” button, to a stream of endless tweets that even the Starcraft 2 community has to respect, Bar Fights solidified not only the Fighting Game Community’s ability to devise something tremendous, but reinforces the fact that we can do so without the global support, or major backing of companies, media, etc that otherwise do not contribute anything to it. Don’t get me wrong, I will always be one of the individuals who believe that common ground and reconciliation benefits all factors, and the E-Sports vs. Fighting Game Community debacle is nothing short of a perfectly looming example waiting to be proven. However, I don’t think any of the success, admiration, and respect that Gootecks, TeamSp00ky, Twitch TV, and all of the sponsors rightfully deserve is lost on any of us. This was a huge event, and it popped off in a huge way, leaving an even larger gaping impression upon the community. Luckily we have plenty of salt to fill it with.

Finding Success Where Others Have Failed
What made “Bar Fights” a unique experience in itself is a little more elaborate than a typical standard tournament or event because of all of the factors that went into making it exist, let alone highly anticipated. While this is definitely not the first event organized by a current, former, or even retired player still loyal to the scene, this is one of the first events where I feel the details were specifically tailored not just to the attendees but to those who were at home desperately seeking for that “at home, yet still hype” experience. Specifically, some of the things I felt this event delivered perfectly were:

· **Streaming Team Capable of Adaptation- **It’s safe to state, or become biased when it’s in regards to Team Sp00ky, we can all be perfectly honest here. Sp00ky in my mind, closely followed by Gootecks, is without a doubt the hardest working man in the Fighting Game Community. Tireless hours, countless acts of repetition, a consistent thirst for progression, and a genuine love for the community has allowed Sp00ky to progress live streaming, not only for the scene, but on a much broader note. He has set the tone not only visually, but through consistency based on reaction, opinion, and the mindset to make the stream viewable to as many people as possible regardless of location, internet connection, or individual computer.

He sacrifices using conventional and mediocre methods of simply plugging in HD capture cards in order for a smooth delivery which does not exile the members, and for that he has garnered perhaps more fans than any professional player in the scene today. That being said Team Sp00ky is a group which under the leadership of Sp00ky is very good at reacting on the fly when problems arise. From slight snags on Twitch, to seemingly effortlessly nullifying lag spikes, they do it all, quickly and effectively. Not that there aren’t plenty of other capable streamers out there: Ryan Hunter does great work, as does Level Up, Jaxel from 8wayrun, etc. However if you’re looking for an event to go with as little a hitch as possible, I would personally fly out the NY locals. Good helps hard to find, but good help that you can find is worth hiring for the job.

· **Solid, Consistent, and Professional Commentary- **Commentary is a touchy topic in the competitive Fighting Game Community. There are toes you don’t want to step on, and egg shells you don’t want to walk on, however, you can’t make a point without rubbing someone the wrong way regardless. What made “Bar Fights” really fluid and in many ways upped the ante for me personally, was the professional, yet very much “raw” commentary of Ultra David and James Chen. Ultra David and James Chen invoke not only an ambience of knowledge and intelligence both as individuals and fighting game enthusiasts, but they also present the facts in a way that isn’t completely biased, fabricated opinions, or ego-driven sentiment. What do I mean by this?

Essentially what I’m saying is that they are professional yet no hype is lost on them or the game in the process, which many of us know for a fact, E-Sport or not, is something that is a rarity in competitive gaming. You either have a constant stream of slang, ebonics, and cursing, or you have (no offense to anyone of course) one or two white guys dressed up dragging out the facts and preaching to the live stream as if everyone is a pro player instead of an average viewer or casual gamer (which the majority of people in retrospect are). Commentary, whether people like it or not, does need to be made presentable in a way that less knowledgeable people can understand and relate to, and that maybe even the older generation can respect. This is how you will bring in more viewers and this is how you essentially pull in and start to breed the next generation of fighters that will eventually come out to compete.

· **For The Love of the Game, Not Necessarily the Money- **This wasn’t necessarily a must, but I did feel it was something that I personally felt shouldn’t be overlooked, perhaps not necessarily for tournaments, but maybe future events that could spring up similar to “Bar Fights”. It was so refreshing to see something so hype, players go so hard, and such amazing footage with nothing on the line. This may sound like some crazy statement out of the Twilight Zone; trust me it even sounds weird to say in my head, however, I truly do believe that the lack of prize money at “Bar Fights” does invoke that spirit of where we came from. We come from arcade machines that took our quarters, but gave us a hobby. They gave us grief, but they also gave us lasting friendships with people who shared our passion. They took our parents patience with us when we spent more time playing than doing homework, but for many of us has given us a dream, maybe even an occupation that we couldn’t have found in conventional textbooks. This is the underlying message that “Bar Fights” presented me with: “Sometimes love for the game means more than money.”

· **Hype, Hype, Hype, and uh… More Hype- **Ultimately what it boils down to in terms of what made “Bar Fights” as successful as it was, is hype. Hype for the matches, hype for Viscant finally making his debut, hype to see how much Combofiend makes us all feel like novices, and hype to see some of our favorites return to, or leaving their thrones. Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to get your event hyped when you’re none other than Gootecks of all people, but a lot of promotion, media, coverage, and investment went into “Bar Fights” and I don’t think it was ultimately just about Gootecks being Gootecks that made it that way so much as a lot of hard work, cooperation, and mutual respect and appreciation. Everyone banded together to bring one of the sickest events to date, and it paid off both in satisfaction, and enough salt to cover a century’s worth of boardwalk fries.

That being said, as another successful event passes us by we look to the future with anticipation and careful deliberation, constantly asking ourselves: “Do we need to collaborate with the bigger leagues in order to progress and become even bigger?” While I believe Inkblot’s original post on the topic accurately describes how I feel on the topic, I will leave you with a sentiment that’s worth mauling over. If more events like this are possible, with big pay outs, with even better equipment for the teams, and bigger venues, media coverage, and mainstream expansion, how can we not produce even better events that will cause us to thrive? While I understand the hesitance and the unwillingness to simply hand over something that we built from the ground up, I can’t help but feel that we need to learn not to play the protective parent to the community, and give it some room to breathe and decide for itself. If the community willingly attends events by leagues such as MLG with noteworthy attendance, and is willing to let bygones be bygones, we should allow that as an indication that we should look to the future instead of living in the past. If not, we can surely take solace in the fact that major contributors of the community will ensure that we aren’t going anywhere, E-Sports league or not.