First of all, for those wondering, my name is Jeff and I was, as James Chen described, the “brainchild” behind Fight For Relief. That’s pretty much the only thing random people will know me by in the FGC so there you have it. And apologies if this is in the wrong part of the forums. Also, given the nature of a thread like this, please be sure to read the stickied forum rules for the Fighting Games Discussion forums before posting.
Anyways, I came back from watching The Expendables 2 only to find my Twitter feed flooded with all this hate about Revelations 2012. SFxT prize pot reduced down to 10% of the original size (this seems to have been a miscommunication as JN himself said it’d go back to the guaranteed 100%). Fake Twitter accounts used to make TL look good. Real Twitter accounts’ owners paid off to promote the tournament. For those of us who have heard about Nelson and TL since the beginning, this should come as no surprise. This post is for the unfortunate who had not known about the past. For those who hate history, I’ll make it simple for you right now: STOP SUPPORTING THIS ORGANIZATION. Don’t watch the stream. Don’t go to the tournament. Don’t tweet about it unless you are putting it on blast. Not until John Nelson and/or Tournament Legacy can legitimately explain themselves.
So I’ll do the history section in chronological order, but keep in mind that:
- A few of the sources I used to make this post are from past SRK threads. Which, unfortunately, should not be considered concrete evidence. I wasn’t actually into competitive fighting games until 2010 (my first tournament was EVO 2010), and the history goes further back in time than that. I’m a journalism graduate from UCI so I at least have some ability to tell when to trust potential sources or not, but again not concrete evidence.
- Because of my personal timeline with fighting games, the order in which I found out about what I’m about to present to you is not the chronological order these events happened. So sorry if my thoughts seem jumbled.
- New disclaimer thrown in during an edit. I was told by several people this post is just scratching the surface. And even from the responses to this thread, I can already see there is probably a lot that has not been brought to light and may never even be brought to the public’s attention. I’m kind of weird in the sense that I like to read through threads to see the story develop and not just have everything in the OP, so I implore anyone reading this for the first time to sift through the responses. I will try to only make edits if any information here turns out false or poorly worded, etc.
Now to begin…
The first prominent FGC figure that I know of to have issues with this group is Gootecks. I’m sure a few other top players were on the same boat as him, but when I first heard about it he was the most publicized player. I wasn’t there myself, but apparently TL used to be called Active Gamers. They held a tournament in 2009 (or maybe 2010) called Triple Threat, in which Gootecks and others attended. Supposedly it was poorly run but that wasn’t really the big issue (because really, who hasn’t heard of Tournament Standard Time anyways). The issue was the prize money. Active Gamers “guaranteed” a certain amount (which I am not sure of), but once the tournament was finished and it was time to collect, that amount was reduced. I was linked to this Kineda post regarding it as well: http://www.kineda.com/activegamers-la-street-fighter-iv/
Again, I wasn’t there personally so I don’t know what happened, but I think the reason why Gootecks was the publicized figure in this issue was supposedly he did something with some of the equipment, and that naturally caused issues with him and Nelson to the point where when Nelson later teamed up with Level|Up in 2010 for SoCal Regionals, Gootecks was kicked out of the venue. Ironically, when I heard this story (and I literally heard this story, mouth to ear. I have no way to confirm if Gootecks did anything at all, it’s just what I heard), Gootecks was played out to be the villain in this situation, amongst the allegations of he’s harming the FGC, he’s only in it for money, etc. Funny how things have turned out. According to Gootecks, they’ve “squashed” the beef since then, so this isn’t meant to start an old fire or what have you. This was just the beginning.
Now after that, Active Gamers became Tournament Legacy. And financially speaking, 2010-2011 was a clean year for them. Their first big tournament was SoCal Regionals 2010, and everyone was paid out. Tokido did his Raging Demon pose and Filipino Champ won 1st place. Everyone was happy.
(As RedRapper and a source close to LU says, this is mostly in part due to the fact that Level|Up handled running the event. Schedules, brackets, etc. Basically they did all the hands-on stuff, not TL)
However, that is not to say they did not have their controversy. I forget what order this all happened in, but I believe first came the announcement of Revelations 2011. Thread here: REVELATIONS 2011 - 20,000 FOR SSFIV! June 10-12th, LAX
Basically, Jebailey announced CEO 2011 for June 10th in Florida, and it was an EVO seeding major as well. I only dug a little into CEO 2011 but supposedly they had their own issues with shady TO’s (to quote Kneedrawp: CEO was started because of a shady TO for another tournament that ran off with gamers’ money after they’d made arrangements to come to Florida for the tournament.) and this was supposed to be the resurrection of the FGC in that region? Anyways it was super hyped, but then Revelations 2011 was announced with huge prize pots (I don’t think any EVO major had 20k for a single game before, so it was a huge deal back then, although I guess MK9 and eSports offers that nowadays). As you can see in the thread, even Justin Wong was upset about the clash of dates.
If you read through the thread, you can also see I made a post on there defending TL while trying to maintain a neutral position in the debate. Like I said I was new to the FGC and didn’t really know much about anything, including TL and the Triple Threat tournament before. I knew Valle (interviewed him for one of my senior projects for journalism in college) and by then guys like ETR, Choysauce, and AJ “Potatohead” from Level|Up were good friends of mine, so I felt that at the very least people should just calm down and give TL the benefit of the doubt. Funnily enough this prompted Jebailey to IM me and Facebook friend me and we had a nice little chat, but I have yet to meet the guy personally (one of these days I will make a CEO tournament!) About a week or two later, the debate died down, at least within the Fighting Gamers @ UCI crew (back then called UCI Fight Nights), so I never really thought much of it after.
Sometime in early 2011, TL came out with a Revelations reveal trailer that announced the formation of Team HORI: AndyOCR, Tatsu, Warahk, and Sakonoko. Being from the OC, Andy, Tatsu, and Warahk were good friends of mine as well when this was announced. I was really hype for them and I know they were super stoked to have this kind of opportunity as well, especially with a superstar like Sako on their side. April 2011 came, I ran Fight For Relief, and I proudly labelled Andy as HORI|AndyOCR, even though all he did was come up and give me the entry fee. More on this later.
Revelations 2011 and CEO 2011 come and go. Both are successful, and the players at Revelations get paid out again (there is a nice picture of John Nelson posing with Daigo and Mago holding fat wads of cash out there somewhere). Two big tournaments, two promises backed up! There were still questions floating around how all this money came about, but they were just whispers and it’s not like the government came hunting the players down or anything, so it all seemed fine.
(edit: guess not! Wolfkrone won the online AE qualifiers and was promised a paid trip to the tournament, and ended up arriving without a hotel to sleep in…)
But during all this, Team HORI was in trouble. Now, I don’t know if John Nelson is the top dog at TL or whatever (it seems that way anyways), but I know he was the manager for Andy, Tatsu, and Warahk. I think Sako had his own connection with HORI.
Sometime after Revelations 2011 I was at Hot Pot City in Westminster eating dinner with Andy, AJ from Level Up, our friend Angela, and I believe Tatsu and Warahk were also there as well. At this time, Andy was really upset. From what I remembered, Nelson promised Team HORI to sponsor them to enter a big tournament (I believe it was Shadowloo Showdown 2011, the one where Mike Ross beat Mago and Poongko won 1st with Red Bull and a lack of a belt). But Nelson bailed on them last minute. There was no idea that the trip was going to be cancelled until the week before. Around this time, I had also found out that Team HORI was promised sponsorship to EVO 2011, but they ended up having to pay for their own travel and hotel, again at the last minute. Basically Nelson had been saying he would support his players, but had yet to shown any proof of it. HORI, for the record, was doing their part by providing clothing and equipment to my friends. I’m assuming this is because Valle was good friends with both the team members (who were regulars at Wednesday Night Fights since the garage days), and HORI themselves (it was Valle himself who hooked up me and my Fight For Relief tournament with HORI as a sponsor).
Continuing on, at some point it was decided that during the dinner, Andy should call Nelson directly and basically inquire about what was going on. Obviously I don’t know what the full conversation was like, but it was the first time I’ve seen/heard Andy upset. For those that don’t know AndyOCR personally, he’s probably the most lighthearted person in the SoCal FGC. Even when he says stuff like “this character is such a scumbag”, and he means it, he’ll still say it with a grin on his face. So when I say he was upset, he wasn’t going nuts or shouting or anything. But his tone was definitely that of an angered person being pushed to the edge. I think even before that Nelson had not been returning Andy’s calls and during that phone call Andy was hung up on (I think he said Nelson was yelling back at him on the other end). It was also later revealed to me that Nelson was very upset at the team that the HORI sponsorship was used during my Fight For Relief tournament, because Revelations 2011 was supposed to be their first official tournament under the HORI name. There was also something along the lines of he didn’t want the team to even attend my tournament (Tatsu and Warahk ended up not attending anyways due to school), or that he was trying to get money from somebody affiliated with the tournament for the use of that tag. Which is pretty dickish considering it was 100% charity. I spent 250 dollars of my own money to pay for the venue and also add to the online donation, as well as bringing my own equipment, running the tournament, bringing all the NOS goodies to it, etc., and I didn’t take a single cent from the entry fees and did not charge a venue fee. And this guy was upset that I signed my friend up as HORI|AndyOCR. To put icing on the cake, Andy, Tatsu, and Warahk were dropped from Team HORI without public notification and I hear even the guys did not have full answers to the situation. To hear from AndyOCR himself, here’s his post: http://forums.shoryuken.com/t/john-nelson-tournament-legacy-and-team-hori/152246page-11#post-7402834
At the time I wanted to put Nelson on blast like I am now. That very night I was talking to Andy about all the details about Team HORI, but he was obviously uncomfortable revealing everything since he was still under that team and whatnot, so I ended up not doing anything. And after that nobody really heard much about TL in SoCal (SCR 2011 was hosted by our Fighting Gamers @ UCI, and Level|Up moved to Super Arcade). So everything seemed good. Team HORI didn’t really come out to the open with a grudge (and they might even be upset if/when they see this post), and like I said 2010/2011 was a good year for TL in terms of paying out for their tournaments (but I have a suspicion that resulted in Team HORI being screwed).
But here we are, 2012. And there are all these accusations about Revelations and TL and the organizer and the prize money and their Twitter legitimacy. I won’t lie: even despite my indirect past with TL I had considered attending Revelations this year to support Persona 4 Arena (blah blah no money not a real game blah blah). That consideration lasted roughly a minute. I will instead be attending a tournament in San Mateo, CA called NorCal Dogfights. I bet it will have a smaller turnout, but I also bet it will be infinitely less scummy than Revelations 2012 and whatever future tournaments TL may hold. And on the note of future tournaments: the FGC should make sure that TL is out of our system before there IS a future tournament. Please do not give them any more money, even if it isn’t costing you anything (like watching their stream). If you guys know sponsors or at least their Twitter accounts, warn them (I know someone already tweeted NOS to pull away from TL). Share this story. This organization obviously did not learn from their mistakes, and I would not doubt if they did some shady dealings to pay players for SCR 2010 and Revelations 2011. While I’m not a figurehead of the FGC or famous/influential by any stretch of the imagination, I love this community. And maybe TL just got royally screwed this year (and 2 years ago) with sponsorship money or whatever that they had to reduce the prize pot last minute. But even so, they are just too inconsistent, and when I had given them the benefit of the doubt last year, they ended up lying to three good friends of mine for about 9 months straight. Everyone else who knew about them before is also not exactly refraining from saying “I told you so” either. I think it’s best if we separate ourselves from them permanently.
Given the direction this thread has gone since I made the original post, I feel the need to say a few more things:
- This thread came before I heard about the KoF incident, described here: http://shoryuken.com/forum/index.php?posts/7401753
- The integrity of players like Justin Wong, Filipino Champ, Fanatiq, Combofiend, Ricky Ortiz, and any other top players who attended Rev2012 is not the point of this post. I have the utmost respect for those players who have taken the term “dedication” to an entirely new level, and even if they tweeted about Rev2012, I do not hold any ill will towards them at all. They, like most of the rest of us, are still just players.
- RedRapper’s experience: http://shoryuken.com/forum/index.php?posts/7395051
- BrokenTier’s experience: http://shoryuken.com/forum/index.php?posts/7396243
- GYT’s Glenn’s experience: http://shoryuken.com/forum/index.php?posts/7400370