Thursday, November 20, 2014

More Personal Experiences and My Fun Time at EVO!

So it's already obvious that social media is stronger than ever and now everyone's voice can be heard.  In this small community we have many people have different opinions and we can't always get along.  We tend to joke around a lot and talk smack openly in forums and what not, but at the end of the day we do amazing things and that is why we are still here and thriving.  The problem is though, we are thriving in the public's eye because the internal drama was manageable and wasn't causing enough of a rift to fuss about.  But at this point one person has made me change my views on many things and this one person has basically pushed me over the edge.  I remained quiet over many situations that have occured over the past ten or more years and I stuck by the scene and let people do their thing.  I noticed the scene was growing and didn't want to interfere with progression, although I could've spoken up a long time ago and made a mess, I didn't.  I didn't do any of this because I believed the person causing the issue was a genuine friend and I did not want to harm a community that was barely staying alive at the time.  At this point I feel as though the FGC is strong enough to handle itself and it is time to point out some flaws and hopefully make some changes.  The sad thing is though, in order to make changes for the better, someone is going to be hurt in the process and exposed for all the things he has done.  I might sound like a scorned, hateful, and vengeful person who has been black balled by the community I hold dear to my heart.  I might come off and some crazy lunatic spewing nonsense and making up stories just to satisfy my ego.  I might even sound like some old man with a slight case of dementia, telling war stories of the past but altering these tales to my own liking.  These might all be the case, but let me tell you something.  I honestly have nothing to gain by telling you all these stories and if anything I am at risk of excluding myself from the community I have fought so hard to keep alive.

Before I tell you guys the brief incidents which actually led to all this exposure and hateful writing, I want reassure you that although I am not in the happiest state of mind, I am still positive that my efforts will bring forth positive change and allow people to pass their own judgement regarding this person I am going to be talking about.  So prior to my last post I was talking about how "Evo Throwback" was eventually changed to "#37Reloaded" and basically gave you guys an idea as to how things work for Wizard.  I am going to go into further detail about a few things they occurred over Evo weekend and some details leading up to that week.  So keep in mind we are still in talks about planning the tourney and everything is cordial up to this point.  So let me first talk about what I find a little disturbing and borderline crazy.  I was told by Wizard that I was possibly up for a Cannon Award along with Henry Cen.  As a person who cares about the community and respects the Cannon's to the fullest, this was actually something pretty cool and very rewarding after putting in so much work.  For those of you who don't know what the Cannon Award is, basically it is an award acknowledging the hard work and contributions one has made towards the community.  Anyways, so we continue to discuss this and Wiz mentions that Henry has gone on stream and talked bad about women or something which eventually nullified his chances of winning anything.  Bummer....  Then he goes on to state that the Cannons watched some of our "NSFW" stream archives and were worried that my image was a little to harsh in the public's view.  I am obviously concerned but I do recognize that my actions are not always everyone's cup of tea.  I tell him that I am a little disappointed and it does sting a little to know I have come so close to something I wanted so bad.  He also tells me that although there is some issues, it's not 100% clear who will be receiving the award and that the trophies are already made and only the Cannons know who the winner will be the day of the ceremony.  Ok, so let's look over these details for a second.  First, I am told I am up for a shot to win the award, then I am told I might not win cause of some stream archives, I am informed that there is in fact a trophy with my name on it and even if I don't win he can possibly give it to me anyways.  All this build up, all this drama, all for what?  He even goes as far as telling me that I still have a shot and just to wait for things to unfold.  So all this is leading up to a point where his actions are becoming borderline psychotic and hes basically trolling the sh*t out of me.  Now onto more of the story.....

So Super Arcade is granted a booth in the main hall at Evo.  This is a huge deal because we are the only booth to be located in the main hall and I am excited to be given this chance for more exposure for our shop, but also a golden opportunity to make some decent money.  In exchange for the booth space, I am required to bring arcade cabinets that are to be set on free play for everyone to use during Evo on both Friday and Saturday.  Granted the cost of having a booth at Evo isn't cheap, and being in the main hall is such a huge deal, I quickly agree to the terms and calculate all the costs.  Truck rental was roughly $1200 with insurance, $900 for gas, $1500 for full time tech to come which including his food and hotel stay.  So all in all the cost to get a booth for me was $3600 and I was assuming this would be easily covered by tshirt sales and other various items we brought with us.  So Thursday afternoon we get all the machines loaded up and start headed out for Vegas.  We are taking our time driving the truck just trying to be safe and conserve fuel and eventually arrive at the tournament hall around 10:30pm.  First thing I hear from Wizard is "You didn't even call me to let me know your location etc etc etc."  This is the first sign of things to come as this dude was already on a power trip for the weekend.  So I ask him where my spot is and start unloading everything.  I have arcade cabs, boxes of shirts, and other misc items to bring in and it takes a while to get everything done.  As I am bringing things in, of course I just start stacking stuff in my general area and placing things in a border around my allotted space.  At this time I get two more complaints from the Wiz.  He says my boxes are an eyesore and he didn't tell me to place the cabs in the particular spots they were in.  I quickly reply, "He Joey, no problem, tell me exactly where you want the cabs and I will arrange them exactly as you wish."  He then keeps complaining and fortunately Chris Li, big dude that helped with security and hands out the medals to finalists, comes around and says "Joey! Mike just said he will move them right now exactly as you like.  What's the problem?"  So not even one hour into my Evo experience of 2014 I am dealing with this maniac.  Granted the stress levels are through the rough for him trying to organize this entire ordeal, but man, open your eyes when someone is already conforming to your complaints.  So we move the cabinets into the formation he desires and after about 2 hours of unloading and organizing, my booth space is finally to his satisfaction.  After all this I go seek out the Cannons to thank them for everything and I even bring up the fact that I knew about the possibility of winning their award and understand why I might not win.  They probably thought I was crazy at that moment because come to find out Wizard was making shit up the whole time, but regardless, I asked them for a few minutes on stage to thank people for our Kickstarter's success and they say no problem.  So I end the night on a good note knowing I can thank everyone on the biggest stage and head back to my room to sleep.

EVO Day 1: So morning comes and I know some works needs to be done in terms of setting up the arcade machinery so I get to the hall around 8am. Of course some of the cabs are having issues as expected with these type of electronics so I begin to troubleshoot the problems and get things moving along.  My tech was staying at another hotel nearby and arrived around 9am.  Some of the problems we were having were beyond my repair and the main reason I paid someone to come with me on this trip.  At 9:30am Wiz walks by and tells me, "Watson, this is embarrassing for Evo and you need to get all your shit working."  Okay, maybe 2 cabs out of 10 were not up and running at 100% at the time and obviously being worked on, and this dude still making it a point to come over and complain.  No problem, my bad captain, and we keep trying to fix things.  Eventually everything gets up and running and I don't see Wiz for a maybe half the day.  People are having a great time playing some old school stuff like MvC2, CVS2, and ST.  T-shirts are selling well for the first two hours and all everything seems to be going great.  Then eventually sales come to a halt and reality starts sinking in that I might not make any money and might even take a loss with the inventory costs factored in.  We also promised to loan a couple cabinets to the Super Turbo tournament to help things run smoothly and thankfully someone from that community was very generous and helped us cover some costs of travel.  So Friday night comes along and the highly anticipated match up of team #WNF vs team #NLBC is about to happen on stage.  This is the time that I was supposed to be able to grab the mic and thank people, but as time was becoming an issue as it was already 11pm or so, I guess the people forgot and I didn't press the issue trying to avoid being a hassle.  Anyhow, team #WNF wins in dominating fashion and our team is happy along with myself cause team #WNF basically represents Super Arcade.  So chalk up the victory and time to head off to bed.

EVO Day 2: Arrive at the hall around 8:30am to make sure everything is working fine and things kick off well as we are selling a good amount of product and just having a good time hanging out.  People are taking pictures with us and I get a chance to talk to a lot of people I only see once a year at this amazing event.  But then again, sales come to an almost dead halt and the stress begins to build.  Regardless, near the end of the night Joey finds some time to come over and chat with us and asks me about my sales and stuff.  This time around he was super friendly and I guess after most of the brackets were done, things have gone seemingly well and his stress was relieved.  Good job Wiz, glad you got over your bitchy mood and was able to communicate with us feeble beings in a kind manner.  So the hall is being prepped for finals day and we are required to pack up all our stuff so they can finish.  After loading up almost everything I start talking to Wizard telling him I am probably going to just head home and not hang out for the finals.  I tell him I am bummed out that sales didn't go too well and also bummed out about not winning the Cannon Award.  He kind of hints to me that I'm not 100% out of the running and that I should come chill the next day.  Oh really?  Now here's the point where its becoming more and more obvious that this dude is seriously just f*cking with me.  For what reason?  I am not exactly sure, but I know for a fact he likes pushing buttons and gets a kick out it.  So after persuading me to stay we all just kind of hang out in the hall for a bit.  Spooky comes by to chat for a bit along with the other hard working staff that are still there finishing up for the night.  Everything seems cool and although things aren't going completely as expected, I love Evo and these interactions with people you like are what makes events like this so great.  Okay, on to the last day.

EVO Day 3: I get to the hall around 12:30-1:00pm and Killer Instinct top 8 is going on.  I walk up to the front with my buddy Hungbee, who is also a friend of Joey's, and we ask where can we sit.  The place is already packed and every year we have attended Evo we sit in the command center that is generally placed in the center of the hall and for staff only.  This year there was no command center but there were sofas placed up front, so we attempted to sit there only to get denied by Wiz.... no problem buddy, these seats are saved for the corporate staff we are told.  So we wander off and can't find seating so we just step out for a bit.  Hung didn't want to bother and later on Mando hits me up so we return to the room.  We still can't find seating and Joey tells us there is a section for venders with reserved seating for us after being denied access to the front again.  We try to find this seating and eventually wind up sitting on the floor at the front right side of the room.  Not gonna pull the we are important card, cause obviously we are just peons now to the "Corporate Evo" so we make the most of it and just enjoy some matches.  Mind you I am here still thinking it's a possibility I am going to win an award.  So Smash Brothers top 8 starts and the first award ceremony kicks off.  It's very obvious who this is going to and very deservedly so.  I don't have much interaction with Prog but I know of him and know what he means to his community.  Huge props to him and I am genuinely happy he is recognized for everything he's done.  Ok, so we sit through more finals and now finally the second award ceremony begins.  I feel like a little kid and start getting excited.  The words announcing the winner were even fitting for me........ "And this Cannon Award goes to... this guy is an absolute workhorse.....he's done this longer than a great big brother figure to a lot of people here.... give it up for............ "  I can't explain what I am feeling inside when I hear the build up to this.  In my head I'm thinking, wow Wizard, this is so cool, maybe you aren't that big POS and maybe you genuinely are trying to make things right after 10 years.......  Then I hear "BIG E!!!  come up to the front."  Ouch.  This was the final shot that ended a fake friendship of over 15 years.  I immediately got up and started walking out of the hall not saying anything to anyone after this moment.  Had Joey been in my path on the way out, I might have gone to jail that evening.  It still stings to this day, I'm not gonna lie, but I have come to grips with it and who's to say I deserve anything.  This is the Cannon Award and it's their name on it.  They have every right to give it to who they feel, and don't get me wrong, BigE is the man and deserves this more than anyone.  But to be dragged through this whole fiasco by Wizard was a bit much.  He even went as far as stating before the fact that Tom Cannon felt bad and wanted to give me a card or a medal, and also a pink chip to make up for it....

So let's examine this gentleman's actions.  I think I have shown that he is a power hungry person and when in the position just wants to yell and people and flex his authority without cause.  There are witnesses to these events.  Then he is also a very cold hearted person to know that during one of the worst times in my life, a shining moment like winning the Cannon Award would make everything seem all worthwhile, he decides to make up lie after lie and intentionally try to cause me heartache.  All these instances are very real and there are many witnesses to everything.  I have already said on stream that only the things you care about can hurt you, and this was one of those instances.  I love the community, I love Evo, and I respect the Cannons more than anyone in the entire scene.  This is why I was so hurt over the situation and why I no longer will be quiet about Wizard's bullshit.  Here's a short recap.

Get bitched for not telling Wiz where I was on the road
Get yelled at after conforming and yelling only stops when someone steps in to stop him
Get lied to over and over about winning Cannon Award

Aside from all this I come to find out that the winner's of the award are actually known a month in advance.  I also get word that Wizard was telling people not to help me with my tourney.  So this work of art not only intentionally tries to f*ck with me emotionally, but also tries to sabotage something he didn't want to be a part of.  I really hope our tournament this weekend is a success and I hope people have a lot of fun here.  Because success is going to be the biggest slap in the face for this jackass like I said before, I am only just getting started.  Wait for more stuff to come out about this guy and let's see how his current position of power holds up.......

Thank You all for reading as this post really took a lot out of me.  I would like to apologize to the Cannon's though if I have brought about any needless drama.  I can no longer be quiet about this guy and I really hope you guys do something about finding a new face to handle the biggest and baddest fighting game tournament in the world.  Wait till I tell you all what happened 10 years ago.  Then you will see more of how much a slimeball this guy really is.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Relationship Between Super Arcade and Level Up

This blog has definitely taken a turn from being something heartfelt and turning into what is basically a tell all about the Fighting Game Community.  Although this change is only going to be temporary, I would like to apologize to some of the people that might be offended.  The stories and issues I will be talking about do reflect my true feelings and my view of some situations may change the way some of you view me as a person or change your view of my establishment.  My goals have always been very clear though and that is something that will not change.  I have always been 100% honest and never sugar coated anything here.  I receive some criticism for being "unprofessional" and "crude" but in order to describe and tell things with authenticity, this is road that is sometimes traveled.  Anyways, onto the things I would like to discuss in this chapter.  This portion will be explaining the relationship between Level Up Productions and Super Arcade and also some of my personal views regarding the community.

For starters, I found it odd that people did not know "Level Up" and "Super Arcade" were two different entities.  Level Up is a production company run by Alex Valle and crew while Super Arcade is the establishment owned by me where Level Up held events such as Wednesday Night Fights and The Runback.  Super Arcade joined forces with Level Up about 4 years ago when the arcade was under ownership from someone else and I was the acting manager at the time.  Prior to my presence at Super Arcade, Level Up was running events at various locations and never really found a solid home for their #WNF tournaments.  As it was, Super Arcade was located right in between Los Angeles and Orange County and deemed the perfect spot where people could attend events frequently and in a location where someone in the community had full control over.  We normally stayed open till 3am on these nights and the people appreciated the fact that they had somewhere to hang out where they weren't forced to leave at an early time.  Things were going so well that we had to split up the event and start running a Thursday night tourney known as "The Runback."  The FGC in SoCal was flourishing once again and the arcade was definitely the place to be.  Then of course things started to simmer down and the arcade wasn't making enough money to keep the owner at the time happy.  Sometime around early January of 2013, the previous owner called it quits and I was left with two options.  Try to pick up the pieces, or just let the place close up and go back to my normal life.  As you all know, with the help of the community we ran a huge raffle and raised about $11,000 thanks to MadCatz and various other parties involved.  This was our new life we did what we could to revitalize a completely empty arcade.  Anyways, back to the point I was trying to make.  So initially Super Arcade had an agreement with Level Up as to how revenue splits were going to work and everything was fine and dandy.  This verbal contract was never renegotiated when I became the sole owner and of course the blame lies with both parties.  The deal Level Up was getting was very good for their side and I'm sure they knew this and had no intention of changing it unless forced to.  I'm not going to say that this lopsided agreement was the main reason for Super Arcade to fall on hard times and lead to us starting a Kickstarter, but I will admit fault and say I didn't do my part to initiate a contract renewal of any sort.  Many of you guys out there will never know the harsh realities of running a business and how hard it is to make business decisions when feelings or friends are involved.  For those of you who do, you will understand the statement that friends and money never mix.  Fortunately for myself and Alex, we are grown adults and we have been through both good and bad times together.  Our split is a mutual understanding of what needs to be done, and also an acknowledgement that our goals are not the same.  As a friend, Alex has helped me out by loaning us some equipment and still supporting our event.  This is a gesture that shows there is absolutely no animosity between us and we continue to want each other to succeed.  We just don't want to succeed in the same areas any longer and in order for growth to be achieved, parting ways was the only viable option.

As to our new tournaments, I have received both good and bad feedback from the viewers.  I want to say this to those of you who keep bringing up the fact that Super Arcade's so-called unprofessional style will lead to a loss of sponsors and money.  When Super Arcade was "professional" do you think I received any of those benefits or saw any money from any sponsors?  Do you know for a fact what I was taking home from these sponsors you speak of?  I was granted the use of loaner computers from Alienware that my players hated.  But they all sucked it up because I told them in the long run we would get more sponsorships out of this and it would open doors for the FGC.  The local community here willingly played on a system that they were not happy with and on a system that was obviously flawed.  The game would freeze and lag on multiple occasions and even skip frames to the point where your character would disappear for a second and reappear somewhere else on the screen.  I felt bad for our loyal attendees and guilty at the same time.  I let this happen and was starting to ruin their fun and not staying true to making Super Arcade the best gaming experience for the players.  This was probably a main reason I wholeheartedly agreed to the split to begin with.  Aside from not being happy with the current contract, and not wanting to renege on a verbal agreement between friends, this whole computer issue was bothering me.  I rebuilt an arcade to cater to the people that supported us, and now I was in the center of destroying it.  Something had to be done, and well, this just so happened to fall in my lap.  Being as I was under the extreme stress of putting a tournament together and being told the main star was going to be a no-show, I went on stream to rant about it and also went on to discuss other issues I was unhappy with, ie. Mr Mcrib.  I also talked about how I was unhappy with how eSports was essentially being shoved down our throats and the only thing people could see was the money aspect of it all.  In fear of losing sponsorships, Alex and crew came down at 1:30am to talk to me about the situation and basically portrayed a sense of disappointment.  Mind you I just got off the mic from being on a rant and still a little emotional over the situation and then I have two people showing up at my shop that normally wouldn't come down unless something was wrong.  This just showed me that they were both very serious about the entire ordeal we all know how that wound up.  If Level Up was worried that much about their own image then let it be.  They needed to protect themselves from any backlash I might have caused and I needed to bring back what the players wanted here at my establishment.  I'm not sure why people are making so many assumptions as to why and what happened when it has been explained by both of us many times.  I did not kick Level Up out of Super Arcade and this choice was initiated by them in which I gladly accepted.  I also see people accusing me of being a backstabber and kicking them out after the helped me with the Kickstarter.  To those people, please explain to me how they helped aside from spreading the word like the rest of the community?  I worked very hard on that project with a gentleman by the name of Talis and if anything, Level Up needed it to succeed so they could continue to have a place to use as a venue.  Everything was a two-way street in this relationship and it's kind of insulting to see their statement regarding our split written as though it wasn't....  One other thing I wanted to mention was they just brought on a guy to be their new community manager and he literally just popped out of nowhere.  I have nothing against this gentleman but he had the nerve to post on his twitter account of 400 followers the following : "Our statement on the and split."  It's like cmon man...  You have barely been around for a month, you are in a probation period with your title, and yet you have the nerve to use the term "our" as if you are actually involved in this matter?  Let the people involved handle this and just focus on your job please.

Anyhow, while I am here working my butt off endlessly to keep a scene alive, people around me are aiming to become something I do not support.  I am not a puppet nor will I "sell out" to appease these companies who throw chump change at my community and expect the world.  Street Fighter does not have the fanbase these computer games have, nor does it have the appeal they generate to a much larger audience.  As sad as it is to admit, Street Fighter can never reach the levels of League of Legends or D.O.T.A. for one simple reason.  The money fighting games make is miniscule compared to the money these other games generate.  Plain and simple, if Street Fighter isnt making the manufacturer hundreds of millions of dollars, you won't see prize pools of millions of dollars.  It's very basic logic and you can continue to turn a blind eye to it if you like, but the economics won't change.  Would it be cool to see people battle it out in the game you love for a ton of money?  Of course!  But let's think realistically for a second.  The only way Street Fighter can get bigger and attract more sponsors is to have in run on a computer and not an Xbox, and at this time the computer is not a good port.  I know my views are not popular amongst everyone, and I have no problem with that.  My problem is only to expose people who pretend to have a good heart yet show nothing but ruthlessness behind the scenes.  I hope this clarifies the situation because it really is getting old and we have already moved on.  Thank you all for reading and I promise the next post will be juicy and expose someone for more childish antics and heartless intentions.  Gimme two days to get that one going and until then, enjoy your games and have a great day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How #37 Reloaded came about and exposure pt 1

Boy oh boy, this has been a very stressful and draining week both physically but more so mentally.  There is so much to talk about and a few things that need some explanation and clarification.  The first situation I would like to discuss our upcoming tournament "#37 Reloaded."  For those of you who do not know what this is, this is a tournament celebrating what is known as "Evo Moment #37."  The reason this moment is heralded as the moment Street Fighter was brought into the general public's eye.  Aside from the fact this was a display of tremendous skill under the highest levels of pressure, it also showed a truly genuine crowd reaction and illustrates our community's love for fighting games.  This event occurred 10 years ago, and as a celebration in a sense, we are hosting this event in the exact same location where this magic happened.  The two players involved, Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong, will both be in attendance and competing in the lineup of games we have already set.  There will also be a friendly exhibition match between both of them just for old times sake. 

Okay, enough description as I'm sure you all get the point :)  So this event was originally planned a few months before Evo 2014 even took place.  The original idea was to call this event "Evo Throwback" and to run the games that Evo ran that year.  I talked to one of the staff of SRK about running this and we were working on the idea that I would be the one handling all the grunt work and the event, while SRK would be responsible for advertising and taking registration.  So as time goes on I go and get info in regards to venue sizing and costs, then I come back with the numbers so we can start planning on the next steps.  Throughout this ordeal I was constantly being called a lagger while I was the one out running around and doing work.  I was sitting here taking this dude's bs before the project was even off the ground.  It gets more and more ridiculous so please bear with me.  So as we inch closer to Evo I was asked to put everything into an email and make this a formal proposal.  His excuse was, "We are corporate now and this is just how things run Mike."  Okay, no problem chief, we want to make this legit, I totally get it and it's not a problem...  Email sent, no real progress after, just a few phone calls to make sure we are still on the same page.  So, Evo comes around, no word about the tournament at all during Evo, no mention of anything.  But hey, why bother advertising a gaming event at the world's largest gaming event?  That would be useless right?  I'll go more into that story later on.  So anyways, no announcement, not a mention of anything, then I ask about it and was told, "Evo is corporate, we cannot associate with Super Arcade's image, I'm sure you understand."  Whoa nelly.......  So you ask me to get all these things done, we plan this stuff out, you even ask me to make a formal proposal, then you just go and drop me this and expect me to let it go?  This is where the "power trips" start coming into play and I will go into much detail with other various examples and experiences.  So tourney is off and obviously I'm a bit frustrated.  A lot of stuff also went on during Evo weekend that led to even more drama to this, so there is a reason to all the build up.  So I am leaving Las Vegas and I decide to give MarkMan a call.  Mark is the PR for MadCatz and is my connection to having Daigo attend our tournament.  I spend some time with him on the phone discussing our tourney and ideas and things seem to be going well.  I then bring up the fact that I am having issues with one of the Evo staff members and ask if this will be an issue.  I am assured it won't so we continue on further discussions take place throughout the week to book Daigo for #37Reloaded.  After I settle the issue of getting Daigo here, my next step is to talk to the Cannon brothers and get their seal of approval.  I call Tom and ask him if he heard about the tourney I was planning and he replied no, then asked me to tell him about it......  So here is the issue.  I spent time talking to Wizard for months about this and the idea was never even brought up to the other members of SRK's staff?  Wizard went on to make this decision alone and shot me down without ever giving it a chance?  Now thats some garbage right there.  Wasted my time, wasted my effort, and basically just dicked me around for the fun of it.  Congrats on being an asshat dude.  You really do take the cake, and I'm just getting started.  Ok, so back to the phone call with Tom Cannon.  He asks me to fill him in on the idea and soon as I'm done he replies, "So when is this happening?"  Instantly this man likes the idea yet it was never run by him.....  The creator of SRK likes my idea, but it never saw the light of day because one person was so selfish he would rather put me down and not let something like this happen.  There is a trend here, and I promise by the end of my next few stories and posts, you will all start to see it.  I continue to tell Tom that I'm sorry, but this won't be a SRK/Super Arcade event anymore, and I am just giving him a courtesy call to let him know this and also ask for permission to use their footage from previous tourneys.  He agrees with the only stipulation being I do not use the Evo logo anywhere.  Done and done.  Thank you Tom.

So you guys fathom all this, take some time to just breath and think to yourself, have you been in any situation or heard any stories about Wizard doing something to your disliking.  I'll be back with more fuel to the fire so stick around.  It might be a fun ride.