Yeah I’m going; actually I’m helping to run the SF2 side of things. I’ll be providing the HDR setup and one of the CPS2 boards for the cabs. Basically Play Expo is a large video games event where all kinds of scenes meet up and just celebrate video games together. There’s a large UK arcade/pinball community called JAMMA plus who attend and the members there are arranging to bring their cabs (one guy alone has confirmed to bring 26 cabs), you’ve got various other exhibitors who sell merchandise and retro games etc and the highlight for me is that Replay Events, the guys who run play expo, have a huge collection of rare retro consoles which are all out for people to play on. Things like weird NES revisions by Sharp, N64 DD, Sega CDX, Nomad, tons of stuff. They also run tournaments for certain games such as Mario Kart 64, Bomberman, and even Street Fighter 2 Turbo on the SNES.
Nintendo is confirmed to be there showing off the Wii U as well as other things.
The tournament side of things is pretty interesting this year. I’m not sure how you guys operate in the US, but here in the UK we have these kind of regional scenes that run events and tournaments. Basically a bunch of people who identify as a group and either run their own tournaments, or offer their services and piggy back on other gaming events. Two well known scenes/TOs here in the UK are Armshouse (I believe headed by WorstGiefEver) and Electronic Dojo. Armshouse is based in London and EDojo in the Birmingham area, so they both deal with different parts of the UK.
It turns out that both Armshouse and Electronic Dojo will be at play expo running tournaments. I’m not sure if this was intended or a conflict of plans, but it looks like it’s all in good faith as Armshouse are holding pay to play tournaments for the major games such as SF4, Marvel, Tekken and EDojo are holding free tournaments (presumably not to step on Armshouse’s toes) for SF4, Tekken and Persona 4 Arena on alternate days.
Now as is usually the case these days, most tournament organisers (here at least) neglect ST (though EDojo have typically held HDR classic mode tournaments at previous events to their credit), which is why DNA set up Grand Master Challenge. GMC is a one of these scenes in itself, but we focus purely on SF2. We look at tournaments that may be of interest and then we go about asking the TO’s if they would add ST to their line up, and we basically provide setups, promote the event and run the SF2 side of things at no cost or involvement of the original TO. So it’s basically adding ST to their roster for free as they don’t even need to do anything.
So far we’ve had some great events. The first GMC tournament we hosted in Birmingham off the back of Electronic Dojo’s VSFighting 2 and then more recently we hosted our second tournament at a LAN event called i46, together with Unequalled Media.
GMC has a particular affinity with Electronic Dojo, since it was DNA who originally set Edojo up, so yes I believe we will be streaming on Edojo’s stream, and the matches should be recorded. When I get details of the stream URL, I’ll pass it on.
So yeah, the reason why there are 3 versions of SF2 at play expo, is simply because GMC is running that side of things and we have the resources to do so, rather than a tournament organiser trying to juggle 4 or 5 main games and having to decide on a specific version of SF2. What we want it to push ST out there and give it the same level of attention that the big games get, rather than leaving it to someone else to run it and it get relegated to side tournament status.
The main purpose of GMC is to promote SSF2X, but we both are pretty happy to play any version or any port since we just love the game that much. I put it to DNA to also run HDR as I want to attract as many ST players as possible. The other thing is that the arcade scene in the UK is virtually dead, and many HDR players that I know, have never even played on a cab, let alone the actual game that HDR came from. So I think that will be a nice treat for the HDR players (and of course the ST players who are so often confined to emulation). I hope that by getting HDR and ST players together that they will be more open to playing any version of ST, which will help grow the tournament attendance, rather than have people sitting it out since it’s not their particular version.
I haven’t seen Orf since i46, but I’ve been meaning to ask JPJ if he’s going, and he’s a good friend of Orf and they tend to attend events together.
The thing that the UK needs to work on badly is just getting the word out there. Everyone knows the US players and events, but I think we don’t make enough noise about our own stuff. A good example is Super VS Battle in London. That became a really well known event, in a good location and because of that HDR got 48 entrants or so, and playes travelled from all over the world such as PR Balrog, Daigo, Kareeem, Cuongster etc.
Play Expo isn’t a major like SVB, Evo or anything like that so I wouldn’t want to hype it up too much for overseas players only for them to travel over and maybe feel a bit deflated, but I do hope the die hard ST fans who think nothing of travel decide to come along. It’s a brilliant event either way.
There has been no SVB this year, and our Capcom 25th event got pushed back to 1st/2nd Dec… Now I don’t know of any events happening around that time that Capcom would piggyback off, so maybe SVB plans to make a late showing this year?