If anyone had anything less than a great time, I’m not happy about that, but the general contours of the complaints I’m seeing seem not just unfair, but almost funny from my perspective as an organizer. This was, with almost no real question, the best EVO ever. This doesn’t mean any particular person had the best time ever, or that everything ran flawlessly, or that all our dreams came true. That said, an honest evaluation will show that this really was the best event so far:
Location: This location is hands down better than all other EVO locations. In terms of food, entertainment, convenience, and overall facilities, GVR blows everything else away. If you disagree and are not insane, you probably live near Pomona. If I lived in Pomona, I’d wish EVO was back there too, but I wouldn’t be stupid enough to post about how selfish and shortsighted I was, or how I think everyone else’s experience should suffer to save me some time.
Registration: This was a massive improvement over last year, but obviously there’s still room for improvement. The good news is that we cut the average wait by over 4 hours from last year, despite increasing numbers of players showing up. A copier died unexpectedly, which slowed things down, but this will continue to improve and we think we can finally slay this monster entirely next time.
Event: The main complaints this year seem to be about pools running slow, going to one match, etc. These are all a direct result of the fact that we had basically 2x as many people as registered online show up to play. I love tournaments and want as many competitors as there can be, but it’s a little silly to tell us “you didn’t plan well enough for us being there!” when we asked you (for months!) to tell us you were coming, and you couldn’t be bothered. Online registration was open until 3 days before the event. If you can buy a plane ticket, you can register.
Simply put, we cannot make good plans to accommodate everyone when you do not tell us you are coming. Registering online is great, but registering and PAYING online is what counts, because it’s a much better indicator of who’s really showing up. 98% of people that pay in advance show up. Around 50-70% of people that just register without paying actually show up, making it a total crapshoot. Because our event fee is so dirt-cheap low (please compare it to the MLG’s own entrance fees, or comic or anime cons, or even ECC and MWC. Do you know what those 12yr olds playing Halo pay to enter a tourney? 200$/team. Blizzcon is 120$/person. Even random comic cons, which have thousands of sponsors that PAY to be there, charge attendees 65+$, or 25$/day. Now tell me again how mostly grown people think 20$ is an outlandish, impossible amount for a one-of-a-kind weekend?), we can’t afford to have a lot of extra stations, games, and the room to run them, beyond accommodating the players we expect to show up. When you collectively suprise us with 50% more people, we are sometimes forced to “surprise” you back with correspondingly slower starts and less matches. I hope this is not hard to understand, because it really is that simple at its heart. Please tell us you are coming early, and mean it.
It’s sweet that you compare us to the organization of anime conferences, but frankly they’re about 1.21 million times easier to run in many ways. The organizer’s main concern is to do is set up the exhibitors (all of whom pay a lot to be there), and then let people go pretty much where they want, when they want. EVO, on the other hand, has to get every single person there to specific places at specific times, to do something complicated, record the results, and repeat that operation many times over for everyone that’s advancing. We need to have each and every one of our attendees at specific places during specific times, to do specific things. If any one of them isn’t in place, it holds up the whole operation. This isn’t a complaint, but it’s silly to overlook this and pretend like any large group of people together presents the same challenges. Tournaments are HARD, and the more people you’ve got, the harder it gets. That’s a tall order- about a million times taller than “set up the hall and let people go wherever they want.”
This is no one player’s fault, so I’m not yelling at anyone in particular, but a big part of the responsibility really does lay with the players. We need you to be where you’re supposed to be on time, and we need you to tell us that you’re coming in the first place. EVO this year was essentially like a dinner party with assigned seats where 50% more people just sort of showed up. Obviously that’s going to cause problems, because even if you’ve planned on some extras, you don’t want to pay for and cook a lot of extra food that no one eats. We never want to turn away anyone who wants to play, but registering in advance is not just convenient for you, it’s becoming essential to our being able to run things efficiently.
EVO attendees saw some new names rise up, some old names return, a lot of great matches, some classic upsets, and history being made.
Ultimately, the fact that you compare us to other professional events is really the most enduring compliment you could make. Even the most angry complainers compares our event to those put on by groups with 10-20x bigger budgets and tens or hundeds more volunteers. I encourage each and every one of you to run a tournament of your own. This may sound sarcastic, but I’m being dead serious. More tournaments = better scene, and there’s no faster way to realize how ludicrous and impossible many of the seemingly reasonable suggestions made here really are until you try them yourself in practice.
I know that there are problems, and each year we make progress on them. I think anyone being honest can agree that EVO has improved significantly each year, and improved in exactly the ways that you (the players) asked us to work on. I certainly know that not every aspect of every year gets better, and there are a million things I’d love to do if we had the time and money, but I think honest evaluations will recognize that the event really does continue to improve. That doesn’t mean any specific individual is guaranteed a better time, but even as much as everyone enjoys hating on SRK and the EVO staff, I know there were more people stopping in hallways to say “this was the most fun I’ve had all year” than I’ve ever seen.
I won’t risk looking like an ass by trying to name names and letting my sleep-deprived brain forget someone, but (as always) a lot of special people went above and beyond to make this a great event. 11 years ago, I headed out to a dive arcade in the heart of New York City. I was on my way to one of the first internet meetups with other SF players. There’d been a lot of talk online, and we’d decide to meet up and settle a few things. I had a great time and met a lot of interesting people (and of course I also dominated everyone), but if you’d told me then that that crappy meeting would eventually lead to thousands of players cheering each other against the best players from around the entire world, in Las Vegas, I’d have laughed in your face, afraid to imagine the possibilities. Thanks to each and every one of you that has played and continues to play, for making this scene the amazing thing that it has become today.
I hope to see everybody again soon.
PS- a special nod to DSP’s mention of Tee Carter. I met Tee for the first time years ago at a MWC, and after we got done beating the crap out of each other, I came to know him as a friend. He was the rare combination of a dedicated, fierce competitor and pure sunshine as a person. He left too soon, but I’d like to think he’d be happy to see all of us playing on. GGPO Tee.