Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Southern Cross Championships 2015 Writeup!

Last weekend marked the third year Southern Cross Championships, South Australia's fighting game major event was held. Here's the results for the tournaments I ran.


Persona 4: The Ultimax Ultra Suplex Hold

Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign-

Under Night In-Birth EXE:Late

 Like last year, Nerk and I stuck up our hands to take care of the airdash games. Unlike last year where my aim was to handle some brackets and recording while putting up serious competition, my main was to focus entirely on the administrative end so Nerk would have less on his mind and win the games he deserves to win. Overall, I'm pretty happy with the result since Nerk won two games, Alex 'Giggles' Gigney won another and Isorropia, the King of Australian Blazblue finally had his crown bumped off.

I have a saying that applies to most of life and is highly pertinent to running any sort of event. It goes like this:
Mistakes are a natural part of doing any activity. The trick is to not repeat them.

So with that in mind, let's go over how things went in more detail!
1. What we fixed from last year
 The stream is probably the most memorable issue we had last year. The loft at the top of Adelaide Uni blocks most WiFi signals, which are the only provided means for connecting to the internet. How this was solved was simple: Run an R18+ game like Mortal Kombat X so they have to get the loft for legal reasons. In the event I'm ever back in the loft for airdash games, I'm just going to bring a pile of USB extension cables and see if I can pick up the signal better by having the dongle trailing way out.

In a fit of madness I didn't bring anything that output sound to the recording setup last year. This meant that I didn't notice how horribly adjusted the audience microphone levels were. As a result, the entire first day's footage sounded like the gates of Hell had opened inside my sound card. To resolve this I brought headphones, brought extra headphones and took much more care to check how any stream and/or recordings sounded before going live.

A smaller but still distinct issue from last year was the combo vid I put together with footage from Nerk and Alex. There's some great material in it, but two main issues. The first is length. 12 minutes is far too long for a combo video being showcased at an event. The second was the large amount of in-jokes. I got Kieran "Wickd00d/Phifedawg" Lee to make a closing gag in GoAnimate as a nod to his frequent abominations on Youtube and to get him involved in the project in some capacity, but it was too obscure for the rest of the audience and fell flat on its face. I don't entirely regret the decisions made with the vid as it's far better to make such decisions with something that's a hobby than a completely corporate environment. Regardless, this year's video stuck to one game (Guilty Gear Xrd), was much shorter (4 minutes) and the only joke is entirely mechanical (With regular proration starters, the XX AI won't airtech very certain combo routes leading to black beats that look like an infinite). Here it is!
Thanks to Nerk for the couple of Sol clips, as well as showing me the TK Dragon Install Airthrow on standing opponents tech. There's a variety of games coming out between this event and the next, so I think that a multi-game expo would be suitable for SXC 2016 if I'm involved. I'm chafing at my current video editing limitations, so if I have the time and money I might invest in some actual software and/or a course in doing more serious work.

2. What went wrong this year
Tech was again a problem this year. The odds that it's never going to be are very low, so this is again not a real problem unless you let it get in the way of running the actual tournament on time. Frankly, broadcasts and records of your event are nice to have but ultimately secondary to the true aim: making sure the people who are actually there are having the most enjoyment possible. Fortunately, entries for the games I ran averaged 13 entrants and the largest was Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- at 21. That's barely a single pool of Sm4sh.
The first issue to raise its head was glaringly obvious when I arrived on Saturday morning: I couldn't access the internet. Since I have foolishly moved to Windows 10 in order to play Killer Instinct 3 soon, the drivers for my wireless dongle were completely wrong. After spending a pile of time trying different things, I at least had the internet access working on my laptop and could access Challonge to run the brackets I'd already made. I was able to start running the first tournament, Under Night In-birth EXE:Late only half an hour behind schedule and start off with offline recordings! We even managed to get the dongle working after going through driver hell and had the stream operating a short way into Xrd!

Well, that first AV test of what we were getting through the stream revealed that all my digital mixing had gone on the fritz and sounded even worse than last year! After a single match  of now garbled commentary I switched to just recording the raw footage like last year's Sunday tourneys. I'm still not exactly sure why everything exploded since it was all fine when tested at home. That's irrelevant. What matters is that myself and the ever amazing Alethea Lim scrambled, googled, bashed heads, bashed command prompts until we could get the audio working. The solution we wound up with (outputting everything through a single virtual line) had its own problem in that commentators had to listen to themselves repeating if they wanted to listen to sound. I'm going to do some further experimenting to see if I can find a way to resolve this without just muting headphones. People leaving headphones around their necks while speaking is fine, but it needs someone dedicated to checking the audio mix all day so they can give feedback on when people need to speak louder.

Avermedia Live Gamer Portables are wonderful devices. They're cheap, have ways around the PS3's HDCP encryption and don't require installing PC hardware. Alas, since they're cheap they're also somewhat fragile. It's always important to have a spare one or two around, even if they're just borrowed from people in the evening that one gives up the ghost. I managed to get all the streaming done with a single LGP the entire weekend, but it was definitely chugging by Sunday afternoon. I should have just switched to the next one as soon as the issues started so the first could have some time to catch its breath.

As a final point for posterity's sake, I need to work out where we should have all our meals ahead of the weekend. I consider the time spent talking about matches, matchups or just learning more about each other to be one of the most important parts of travelling to an event and miscommunication over where to go can lead to some awkward splintering that doesn't need to happen. The biggest problem here was simply that Adelaide is a small city where many options are closed on Sunday. I'd like to find something cheaper than Brunelli's for that lunch and need a better option with food of substance in the evening. The end of a major can often run very late, so it needs to meet that requirement without also needing a drive. This likely means ending SXC 2016 with the Pancake Kitchen, but I think that's feasible if we don't do it on Saturday as well.

3. What went well this year
There are many fighting games on the PS3 and 360 at this time. Furthermore, there's a ton of airdash games. Each Australian state also has its own preference. SA has myself and Nerk always pushing for Guilty Gear. Queensland plays more Blazblue. NSW is on that Persona pretty hard. WA plays Ribbit King and Catherine. This means that it can be very difficult to decide what games should actually get representation at a major aiming to appease travelling interstaters and hopefully get some local players. I felt that the best move would be to just run Guilty Gear and Blazblue officially so there was plenty of time to just do whatever other games the people actually at the event felt like ad-hoc. Maybe $2 entries with the aim being to simply play with people offline and get excitement going for the lesser known entries.

Lo and behold, the official lineup was announced and it was the same as last year's (bar an update to Blazblue). Most of the NSW crew left early on Saturday last year so I was concerned that we wouldn't have time to do any sort of exhibitions like the aborted Blazblue Teams. Everything ran to time and we had time to spare for Alex vs Hunter Steven, Iso vs Nerk in All The Games and for SA to crush Queensland in Jackie Chan in Fists of Fire. The only reason we did have this time in the end was because of how small our brackets were. If we're going to get more blood in our local communities and more interstaters coming to play airdashers at SXC, I don't think 4 games is viable if we want to have some of those fun exhibitions to continue to have a presence. Not unless we run multiple games simultaneously, which requires a greater number of consoles and risks sloppier play as people switch between muscle memories.

We did have a stream functioning this year! We broke 10 viewers! I don't think a stream is super valuable for recruiting new players locally, but it is useful for increasing brand awareness. All the main discussion hubs for fighting games that speak in English are based in America. Getting recognition is far, far harder than it should be. I think that consistently having streams and records up can remind America that there is a world and community that just wants to talk about the games it enjoys with them. Twitch's Export to Youtube function also means that I only have 4GB of UNIEL to upload instead of two days' worth of footage.

The stream footage isn't HD. I consider this a good thing for Australians. Developing crystal clear 60fps footage is lovely to have, but I still know many Australians whose internet simply cannot support watching such things. I achieved a video quality comparable to uploads by Kouhatsu and TRF Nakano arcades. You can clearly see what's going on. I think that's the standard we should have until infrastructure is better.

Most importantly, the biggest success of this year is we had some damn good play going on. As I said at the start, Iso finally lost a Grand Final in Blazblue after years at the top. The guy plays a ton, but he also loves to play the Heel. Hunter Steven is a friendly, excitable guy who's only really played seriously for about a year. Seeing the Face Newcomer defeat the Undefeated Heel led to the hilariously paradoxical Grand Final where the crowd cheered for Nu-13 in a Nu versus Tager match. That's something we'll probably never see in any Blazblue community ever again. Guilty Gear and Persona finals were also great. UNIEL obviously highlights the issues with a small, splintered community. Nobody can beat Nerk's Byakuya and his beatdowns are at the point where nobody can be motivated to topple him. I could make some snarky quip about replacing it with DFC or Nitro+ Blasterz, but it's entirely our own fault for not putting in the work while he has.

I was concerned that I would be too busy to get food with people. That wasn't the case at all, so I got to spend time talking with the people who've actually come. I didn't really get games in besides some Vanguard Princess and claiming the Death Cargo virginities of some people. I didn't mind that since playing wasn't a focus this year. I still got the social contact I wanted and hope some new bonds have been formed across the Australian anime players as a result.

4. Direct Shoutouts
And so it's time to list the people I want to mention for all sorts of reasons. Here goes!
Alethea Lim - As always, you're an incredible Jack-of-all-trades machine at events. It's always an inspiration to work with you, even more so when it's unsolicited help. You're who I want to be in management.
Sam "PlatonicSolid" Thomas - You funded my meals the entire weekend. I can't really express how much that means to me at the moment. That's before we get to how willing you are to just jump in helping without being asked.
Nerk - After six years of getting smacked by your RC'd Volcanic Vipers, delayed airdashes and run-up Wild Throws I'm so proud that you finally get to win a GG major with money on the line, a playerbase that has invested time into the game and an audience to see it. Thankyou for your help with organisation, communication and always being the first to help refine any of the words I toss out.
Alex - You like to complain about games almost as much as I do, but you still put in the work to make sure you can methodically destroy opponents. Thankyou for winning your favourite game. Thankyou for showing our local power across the board. Thankyou for your endless energy and yelling to get audiences pumped for what they're watching.
Kevin "Alist1" Nguyen - Thankyou for your willingness to contribute without a moment's thought. Your Axl has improved drastically over the last couple of months. I hope you're able to appear at meetups more often. Oh, and please speak into the microphone a bit louder if we have a similar setup next year. The trick is to speak through the diaphragm, not the throat.
Anthony "A1major" Majaran - For a strong first showing in a GG tournament while also winning the games you know the most about. I can't wait to see what happens when you get confident with the systems and combo rules for the game.
Garry "Garrygod/Garrygawd" Mitrovic - You've grown up a lot over the last year or so. I hope you continue to grow in both games and life and keep thinking positively. A bit more restraint and variety and you're going to be a scary player to fight. Don't feel ashamed with playing Leo. It's the opponent's fault for getting hit, not yours.
The Brothers Nelson - We don't exactly see eye-to-eye on how to run things, but the event was still a rousing success. Great job!
Kaizmo - You're the content producer I will likely never be. You also have to run brackets with a size I'm eternally jealous of. You made a stream layout that displays states, the one feature I really wanted. You're a beast. I just hope you don't burn yourself out before setting up a more solid structure outside of yourself. Maybe next year I can replace UNIEL with Yatagarasu or something.
Hayden "Isorropia" Stephenson - Thankyou for both your devotion to playing the Heel, and for being devoted enough to the games you love that it's always a threat. I never get to actually play enough games with you, but it's always great to see you turn up and hear you talk smack about anything and everything.
Runis - Thanks for exposing how White I am when I mistook you for a local fella. Thanks again for playing, being willing to help out when you see something's going a bit awry and being solid support in your community. Just drop the LoL and play a game for MEN. Like Arcana Heart?
Alex K - For not getting hit by all my Minazuki DPs.
MEGADARVE/KYOKUGEN/DAVE - For eternally flying the old games flags while, like A1, being willing to pick up new games. You play a character who I found incredibly frustrating on a technical level and I hope Sydney continues to enjoy the games it plays.
Julius "AwakenedBeing" Hoffman - Keep the poverty spirit alive, son. It fills me with pride to know that there's someone willing to play anything so long as it's not Death Cargo. I really want to play more VanPri now ;_;
Javi - I hope you had a great time and that Melbourne gets angry enough about your losses in Top 8 to get amped about playing more GG again. It's funny to think that Australia only has one serious Milia at this point in time.
Talais - Sorry that the only words we had besides me calling you for matches was me being a grouchy jerk after my loss. You deserved better from me and I hope to see you at future events. Come to think of it, Axl is probably tied with May, Sol and Ky for most played character in this country at this point. Assuming I'm in a matchup I think it's worth picking him in...
Hunter Steven - Queensland has some incredible players in other games and it's great to see you (as well as Akihiro last year) proving that your state shouldn't just be considered an Astral-mashing joke in tournaments. I wish you the best in the next stages of your life and encourage you to take breaks from games as you need them. This is a hobby and should always be enjoyed, even when striving to win. As I've said before, fun is about self expression and that you were able to express Queensland sentiments while also winning shows what dedication can do.
Jason "SilverAsch" Nguyen - It's great to see so much excitement from you guys. Your Ky is no joke and I can't wait to see what more experience and situational knowledge will give you. As your crew ages a bit I imagine that mobility will be less of a concern and you can all play with each other more often. That's definitely something Queensland's communities need to do more of. I'll make sure to Mexican Match you next time.
Orin "Sleepmode" Quin - I think you need to work out what you're wanting to get out of fighting games at the moment. If it's to understand more about what it takes to win, play more. If it's constructing elaborate stylish options, stick to one or two game for at least a quarter and really explore what it's capable of giving. If you're feeling creatively stifled, there is no shame in doing something else with your time for a while.
Ieuan "DIEJOBDEATHCAR" Wilson - Watch less superhero shows and play more. Maybe next time we'll get to Super Climax Heroes. If not, there's always horrifying netplay attempts over Dolphin?
Ando - Sad I didn't get to play a bunch with you or talk more. Ah well, there's always the hope that we can go to more events. Thankyou for being a Faust player so Australia isn't completely free to the matchup when the day comes we get to play with internationals.
Klaytin Smith - Thankyou for being proof that Adelaide is an exciting place! Thankyou for improving! I hope you continue to do so and and I really hope that WA gets some revival in its games that don't start with "Super" and end with "Brothers".
Luke "Pen Ninja" Tottman - Whatever happens to you this year, I wish you the best. You might not even be in the country this time next year, but you're an intelligent and capable man who can make something great of it. Don't give up, talk to others and find solutions to whatever stands in your way. Hopefully next time I'll get to show you around for reals.
Terragent - I would've won that third round of Jaipur.

So that's it for another year! Thankyou to everyone who came, I hope you had a blast. I sure as hell did from my end. If you missed out, you can watch the stream recordings in this playlist. Here's to the future, whatever it may bring! Maybe NPB will take off? Maybe Revelator will force us all onto PS4s? Maybe Pokken Tournament will eclipse our entire community and the Wii U will become the true face of Esports! Whatever it is, I think that Street Fighter V is pretty lame and won't be abandoning you guys for it.


  1. Go go power team Pichy and Ale, collectively called the Pale

  2. AVCon Games? More like Team JaleP

    Or team WWN I guess.

    1. We need the Hatman for that.

      I'm glad I ended up coming in this weekend. Was kinda thinking you wouldn't need me after our little banter on WWN. But lo and behold I was there, and I ended up gravitating to your little flock. I very much enjoying working with you, as always. Your pragmatic approach is the kind I jive with. And as I said to you on Saturday - the only reason I could have the freedom to fix all your problems was because I had no assigned jobs. So I'd love to put my hand up in a more official capacity in future years, but at the same time (as with AVCon) I enjoy being the floating jack-of-all trades that has the bandwidth to do things.

      If you want to work on the overlays I'll give you a hand setting stuff up with states etc. Especially since you've got most of the stream updater stuff in place already.

      PS: Andrew deserves plenty of credit for helping to bash around with the audio stuff as well. We got about 80% of the way together - he just wasn't around to witness the fixing of the audio stutter.

      PPS: It's okay dude I won the Jaipur. But then when we packed up we found a whole pile of cards that didn't get shuffled in for the third game anyway so...