"Four or five hours is too far to drive."
I know one guy in the Melty Blood community who drove sixteen hours to get from South Mississippi to Philadelphia, PA to go to one tournament. That guy is awesome. We need more players in the SG community like him.
If you live within ten hours of a major tournament, you should look into attending it.
If you do not have a ride, try to find one. Finding a ride to a tournament is as easy as going to your local scene’s Facebook page and saying “Hey, can someone give me a ride to (tournament)?” If there isn’t a Facebook page for your local scene? Make one!
"Online is fine."
If it’s your last resort, meaning you have no chances to ever play the game offline, then yes. It may be. However online is not local. Tournaments are local. They have an electricity in the air that you’ll never get offline. People don’t see you playing online. Online play does not increase community. Case in point: KoF13 has more turnout than Skullgirls, and its netcode is horrid.
"I’ll enter if it gets more than (x) people."
This part might offend some people. If you’ve ever said this, take your arcade stick, give it to someone else who will actually use it, and then give up ever being good at fighting games. There were four people who came up to me at Texas Showdown and told me this. I wanted to strangle every one of them, but I held my smile. If they’d have entered, we’d have had eight people. Still a joke, but at least it didn’t get cancelled.
Please don’t ever say this. People saying this is what kills tournament attendance. It’s a lazy excuse – enter anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? If the tournament doesn’t make because of a lack of players, you’ll just get your money back.
When in doubt: ENTER ANYWAY.
(and if you don’t enter a tournament because JWong, ChrisG, Duckator, WingZero, AB Stone, or any other player entered and you don’t want to lose your money, then please consider that you may be playing fighting games for the wrong reasons. Most people play them to get better at something, and you don’t get better by ducking better players.)
"I play on 360."
I understand this one, as I’m a 360 player. You should still show up, though. Try to get casuals in to knock the rust off. It’s really best to just play the game anyway. If you have a friend with a PS3, play with them. The patch should be out anytime within the next two weeks anyway (as of 4/23), so don’t worry! Soon, this won’t be an issue!
"But I have a job/family/responsibilities to attend to!"
This one is legitimate. A little time management helps here. If you have a job, you have time to get off to go to most majors. Most places are cool with you requesting off a month in advance. Most tournaments open pre-reg months in advance. If you have a family, plan it around a vacation! Make it a family event! I promise I won’t hit on your wife (much)! If you have other responsibilities, ask for time off in advance. It never hurts to ask!
"But I don’t have a job, so I don’t have any money!"
This one’s legit, too. It all comes down to finding a way to make money that allows you to go to tournaments.
I used to have an awesome job. I lost it, though. I still wanted to go to tournaments, so I found a way to make money at them. I started modding sticks. Now, I pretty much get to go to tournaments for free because it takes care of the costs. Now, I’m not encouraging you to take up stick modding. It’s dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. I know what I’m doing and I still went blind in one eye because of it. Also, showing up to tournaments and expecting to make money is a bad idea, because you’ll piss off TOs who want to be paid for you using their space. You still have options. If you’re an artist – sell art. If you do bead sprites, sell those. If you’re good at the game, money match people (Note: Skullheart doesn’t endorse gambling!). There are ways to make money, you just have to be creative.
Tournaments can be expensive, yes. Ask for help! Someone may let you sleep on their hotel room floor for free, or at their house if they’re local. Ask if anyone is driving through your area and offer to split gas (if they won’t let you ride for free). If you’re concerned about food costs, get some bread and some cold cuts (I do this one a lot!). If you play your cards right, a tournament can be as cheap as $100, with most being around $250 if you drive.
"But I’m not very good."
I suck too. I know how much it sucks. Showing up to tournaments is the fastest and most reliable way to get better at a game, though. You just show up, get your ass kicked, and get better at a game just from seeing first-hand what other people do. That line from the Matrix about not knowing a person until you fight them? It’s totally true. There’s something amazing about actually being there that you’ll never get from watching a stream.
Going to tournaments also has an unexpected side effect: It gets you seriously on fire for the game, and makes you so hungry that you’re wanting to play it all the time just so you win more.
In short, you shouldn’t be avoiding tournaments because you suck, you should be running TO them because you want to get better!