Monday Jul 16, 2012
The following blog was written by Frank Hom, Senior Producer on Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown at SEGA of America.
This is Frank “I can’t talk about it” Hom on how Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown made it onto the big stage at EVO 2012. The ROAD wasn’t easy and we met a lot of great people who hooked onto our bandwagon as we made the journey. I’d like to give some highlights from my perspective now that EVO has passed.
It all started in August 2010 when I was asked internally to produce the International console version of Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown since I was already working with AM2 on Daytona USA. The goal was to make the console version the best home experience possible while giving the community a tournament level fighter. Once Production details were finalized with AM2, it was time to hit the tournament road.
Our communication to new players: Virtua Fighter is fun, exciting, and easy to get into. We also wanted to let VF fans know that SEGA was listening and didn’t forget about them. The first tournament stop was in our own backyard at South Town Arcade in San Francisco where we met Art and Haunts. They are huge supporters of the VF series and both of them came to PAX Prime 2011 on their own to stream our announcement event. We used the official arcade boards for the South Town tournament… heavy suckers. It was here where we met Shidosha, the dude with the shirt on his head. He had taken a 3-day bus ride (one way) across the country to play in this tournament. He ultimately took 3rd, but in the process he became our go to commentator on stream. We are grateful to have him.
The next stop was Final Round XV in Atlanta. It was a great turnout from the VF community down South and we showed off the console version for the very first time publicly. Final Round was also an emotional event. When Jeff and I landed the night before we were told that Larry’s mom had just passed, but Larry and his family wanted to keep Final Round XV going for the community. Larry was especially kind to us and got VF on the main stream for our tournament finals. It was touching to see that the Fighting Game Community is more than money matches, being salty, and USA vs Japan…it is family too.
The ROAD turned to our backyard again at NorCal Regionals. It was surreal for me as I attended San Francisco State and to be there for work had that “full circle” feeling. Renzo was the tournament champion; he also won the first 2 South Town tournaments. At NorCal we had another person join our merry band– Westtrade. My first conversation with him went something like this… “I’m Westtrade, I heard you have access to the only 2 Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown cabinets in America. I’ve got money in my pocket and I ain’t leaving here without one of them.” He was dead serious but they weren’t mine to sell, although I do have the keys to them in my pocket as I type this. It’s supporters like Westtrade that make our job a pleasure to do.
There were two non-tournament events that happened before EVO, the Pre-Launch Event and E3. I missed the Pre-Launch Event due to prior commitments but it was a fantastic celebration and an awesome Virtua Fighter display of how the game is meant to be played at a high level by Chibita and Fuudo. After watching the video recap and hearing how Talis found love through Virtua Fighter, I can’t help but conclude that good times were had by all. Shout outs to our Host Alex Valle and the LevelUp crew, as well as LA Akira for helping make the event fun and continuing the momentum with Wednesday Night Fights in LA. Trust LA. Also, special thanks to Myke of VFDC who flew all the way from Australia to be part of this celebration. We appreciate everything you do for VF.
The final stop before EVO was UFGT8 in Chicago. The VF faithful from the region came to support us, including Akai, a long-time player and VFDC moderator. It was at this event that I first saw the change in the community’s attitude toward VF. We easily hit the 64 player limit for our tournament; in fact we had to turn people away. There was also honest cheering and support from the audience when VF was on the main stage. We want to thank Keits for organizing a fun and well-run event; he even made VF medals and gave $100 to our winner Denkai.
This brings us to EVO 2012 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. It was a massive event with all that you expect from the biggest FG tournament. Mr Wizard (Joey) was a great host; he always came by to check on us in between the madness one can expect from running such a large event. We had numerous players come up to myself, Mai and Jeff thanking us for bringing VF back. It felt good but it also reflects on the VF community as a whole. The VF community is incredibly nice and helpful. Case in point, Jaxel volunteered to stream our tournament and did a fantastic job for us and the VF community. We ran a side tournament with $15,000 added, spread across the top 16. Art from South Town came to help with our 193 player tournament.
Some of best players from Japan entered but a pleasant surprise came from the US. Gentleman Thief, who had owned the game for only a month, used new fighter Jean Kujo and stormed through the tournament to finish 6th, behind Kamaage. He got all the players talking and he showed that like any other game, with practice comes success. The eventual winner of our tournament was Fuudo, last year’s EVO champion and our number 1 seed. Congrats Fuudo!
You mainly see me on stream but much thanks to Patrick, Mai, Jeff, and the rest of the SEGA team who worked tirelessly doing their part to help make these moments possible. You can watch the full stream right here on YouTube.
My hope is to see Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown selected as an official tournament for EVO 2013. I know our community can make it happen.
Don’t call it a comeback, Virtua Fighter was never gone.
Thanks Frank for that awesome write up of the EVO activity and the long road to get there. The final leaderboard from the EVO event is as follows, big thanks to everyone who supported Virtua Fighter 5, attended EVO, competed, and everyone at home who watched the stream!
1. Fuudo $3,529.04
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