Evo 2007: Continue to Improve
It's shocking to me that another Evolution has come and gone already. It's surreal, in a way. I still don't believe it's actually done since, during the four weeks before Evo Finals (Powered by Yaris, at the Green Valley Ranch in Henderson, Nevada), all I kept thinking to myself was "I can't wait until this Evo year is done!" With the amount of work the staff has to put into making sure an entire year of Evo runs successfully (on top of the fact that we all have actual careers), it can become downright overbearing. I think I went to bed on average of about 3 a.m. to 4 a.m. for all of the four weeks leading up to Evo working on things, and I know other members of the staff had to deal with similar sleep deprivation. For me, personally, this year was probably the most stressful time I've ever had working the event. If I had a scale of 1 to 100 to indicate how many things I wanted to get done by/at Evo (100 being everything was finished), I think I only managed a 75 or so. But the beautiful thing about it all is this: if you don't try, you don't know. And if you don't know, you can never learn. And if you never learn, you cannot improve. And if you don't improve, you can never fully accomplish your goal. And frankly, that's what Evo is all about, right? Improving until the point where you can come out victorious.
Now that Evo has come and gone, there has been a lot of reaction, response, and reflection already bandied about. There have been many complaints and even more speculation and theorizing. Frankly, I believe that anything said within the first week or two immediately after Evo should be stricken from the record. Staff members are tired and players are grumpy or frustrated. I'm not being negative or saying the event was bad, I'm just saying that it's human nature. The bad things resonate in your brain the strongest, but fizzle out quickly. The good things, however, are what last the longest in your mind. Months from now, we'll still be discussing Justin's otherworldly, inhuman Cyclops solo comeback against Yipes in the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 Finals. I would like to think that most of the negativity will be gone by then. And frankly, I thought this year's Evo was one of the best ones we've had, where we pulled off a lot of cool things we hadn't done before.
But at the same time, I would love to address a major complaint about this past year's Evo: Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Capcom Vs. SNK 2, and Super Smash Bros. Melee were changed to best-of-1 game, double-elimination (as opposed to best-of-3 games, double-elimination). This has caused quite an uproar from various people (even from those who didn't attend the event) and many people have been left a little angry and flustered. While I can understand that sentiment, I would like to address this from my perspective, if I may.
Lemme start off by being really blunt: for those of you adamantly complaining, get over it. Okay. Now, let me go at it from a far more diplomatic stand point.
Before Evo Vegas, I don't think I could have said that without being hypocritical. I've learned a lot from Evo this year. Not being able to accomplish everything I set out to accomplish (only managing to get 4 sets of interviews ready for Sunday out of the 8 games, for example) really made me disappointed in myself and my own abilities. And it did cause me a great deal of stress and disappointment in myself. But to come away with only negativity from this past weekend is just childish. In retrospect, it turns out that I am more disappointed that it bothered me so much that I came up short with my goals. I wish I had handled it better. There were a lot of things that couldn't have been helped, a lot of unknowns, and a lot of unexpected roadblocks that cropped up. I have to accept those and just come away with a more positive attitude.
And this is essentially what I am saying to the players who are angry and still frustrated by the 1-game ruling. There were a lot of things that couldn't have been helped, a lot of unknowns, and a lot of unexpected roadblocks that cropped up. No one is ever happy with the results of any tournament unless the results match exactly what the person had in mind from beforehand. And in the majority of the time, it will go differently than how you expected it. However, when you have an excuse to pin it on (and people definitely like to use excuses), people get angry. If you believe that Hsien Chang should have finished in the top 8 of Third Strike, then the reason he did not make it there was because of the 1-game rule. If we had kept it best-of-3, people would just have considered it an upset and moved on. But then, the tournament would have ran super late, and NOW the reason that Alex Wolfe did not qualify in Super Turbo was because it started late at night (as a domino effect from Third Strike running late) and he was tired. And why couldn't staff had made sure Super Turbo ran on time? Then the staff is disorganized and everyone is still angry. But as it stands, no one is complaining about Alex Wolfe (people just shrug it off as an upset), but everyone is crying about Hsien. It's a lose-lose situation.
Some people claim the results aren't accurate because of the 1-game ruling. Or they claim "it wouldn't have happened that way" if all games were 2 out of 3. Does this mean that years of Super Battle Opera results are all invalid because they've been running their tournaments as 1-game, single elimination ever since their conception? Does that mean our top players are only good if they get a second chance? Does that mean it is unfair if a player loses because they had one bad game? Tell that to the NCAA Basketball teams in March Madness. Tell that to the NFL Teams trying to win the Superbowl. Tell that to the poker pros at the World Series of Poker. My point is that this happens everywhere, and just because it happens at Evo from time to time it doesn't invalidate the results. Ken won Smash Bros. He was the favorite. BAS won Capcom Vs. SNK 2. He did last year as well. Nuki won Third Strike. He's done it before. Of course everyone wants to see their favorite player in the top 8 (and as a side note, I think it is extremely awesome that people HAVE favorite players), but when they don't make it, sometimes you just have to accept it as it is, no excuses.
The only way we can benefit from this year's experience is to come up with ways for next year to keep this from happening. People have thrown up a lot of suggestions to help fix time problems already, and I really do like a lot of them. Instant disqualifications, no waiting for people who borrowed your joystick, no more emergency registrations, reducing the number of games at Evo, etc. I'm also throwing out some more radical ideas, such as making it single game for all games, but making every game 5 rounds (if you can't wing 3 out of 5 rounds, then you probably are NOT the better player). Or keeping it 2 out of 3 and making it single elimination (though this sucks if you happen to run into Alex Valle or John Choi or Justin Wong). Or trying some even crazier ideas like making CvS2 played in an alternate mode, such as being forced to play 1-on-1 mode (so that winning by a pixel matters again and creates more excitement) or 3-on-3 mode (to remove the flawed Ratio system).
There are many things to consider, and we have lots of time to think about it. But as I said earlier, the first two weeks after Evo or so should not be a time where many suggestions and ideas should be discussed seriously. It's good to get the ideas out there now, but we'll have to wait a bit before we can seriously start discussing them officially.
In an attempt to make it a yearly tradition, I'm going to close out this year's Evo Season with the same thing I did last year: "The Current State of the Fighting Games - Year 2007 Edition." Stay tuned for the next post. And thanks for reading.