Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 21: Ziggy

Hi guys, Spider Muttons Productions © 2010 are back with a monster of an episode. Our guest is one of the founders of Ozhadou and OHN, and has been a pillar of the Sydney fighting game community for more than ten years. We’re talking of course about Andrew Ziogas, otherwise known as Ziggy!

Igor and I have wanted to do this interview for a very long time, and we just missed out on snagging Ziggy at OHNX. (The TO’s eternal curse: a severe shortage of free time.) We have wanted to pick his brain about his decade’s experience as Sydney’s primary tournament organiser for quite a while now. We talk about the history of the Sydney scene, the emergence of the OHN series, the founding of Ozhadou, the rise of the new Ozhadou, the OG players, York Street Battle, his tournament organisation article series Bracketed, BAM, Shadowloo Showdown, Daigo and Justin Wong, SFxTekken, esports and much, much more

So I made my way down to Geelong to Studio 69, otherwise known as Igor’s house, and we did the interview over Skype. Ziggy didn’t disappoint, providing a very comprehensive history and breakdown on the tournament scene in Sydney and Australia since the inception of Ozhadou with Final Atomic Buster. He was very open in our conversation, and it was clear to me that a lot of what drives Ziggy is the pain of seeing his mistakes repeated unnecessarily in the actions of others as they go down the same path he has.

I’ve personally learnt so much about the history of the Sydney and Australian fighting game community from this interview and we thank Ziggy very much for taking the time to sit down with us.

You can find Ziggy by PMing him on Ozhadou.

And be sure to check out his series of blog articles on tournament organisation:

Big thanks to Hebretto aka Yang for directing me to his marvelous archive of pictures, which I drew upon extensively for this article. If you click on any of the pictures you will be directed to his archive. It was quite amazing going through the annals of history and seeing shocking things like Young Johnny and Teenage Toxy!

As always, you can listen to the podcast below or read the transcript of the entire thing if you prefer. We hope you enjoy the interview guys, we certainly enjoyed doing it.

Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 21: Ziggy

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Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 21: Ziggy

Muttonhead: Do you wanna start?

1-      Spidercarnage: What were we talking about…Yeah. The current [Australian tournament schedule].

Ziggy: Ah yeah yeah, so. I think it’s much better this year than what it was last year by far, hands down. Everybody’s not on top of each other. Everyone’s talking, everyone’s sort of planning. There’s still a little bit of um, SS (Shadowloo Showdown) being the monster that it is, it kinda had to whack its flag into the ground and say; this is where we are. And everybody else could build around it. But there’s nothing wrong with that I mean. That’s a perfectly sensible way of doing things.

And it worked out well because the timing of EVO this year- if we had gone with our original plans to be post-SS, the EVO tie-ins would’ve fallen to pieces. So by having to pull back to the summer it actually worked out better for EVO tie-backs.

We don’t really know what’s happening in the later part of the year. We know roughly when BAM is gonna be.

M: Around the same time in October…

Z: We still don’t know what Queensland’s doing, we don’t quite know what ACL is doing this year but they’ve got plans on the table. But it’s way better this year.

If there are any concerns about certain people not turning up at SS, I wouldn’t put it down to the timing. In terms of relative closeness of tournaments. It’d be other factors, like external things getting in the way and stuff like that? Stuff that’s out of everybody’s control, pretty much.

M: Well to clarify, because we left out the start of the question, I was asking Ziggy if he was coming down to SS, and he said that he’s not coming down to SS and a bunch of other people aren’t coming down. And I was asking whether that had anything to do with…even though we’ve kind of spread these events a bit more this year, but it kind of feels that even two or three months isn’t enough time for people to kinda recover financially…

S: Mm.

M: And kind of from the work that they put into their events. But I guess you feel that isn’t a factor.

Z: No, not especially.

Like I mean, myself I was pretty dead after OHN as you would expect. But now…it takes about a month for me to kind of get over it and feel like I wanna do stuff again. Having said that, I’ve got nothing on the cards at the moment so I’m kind of climbing the walls with not much to do, but that’s alright.

The…I think the thing is more now; I don’t know what the hype factor is towards even like EVO. I’m not feeling…a lot of hype at the moment. I think it’s just a function of the games that are out at the moment. And where people are with relation to the games.

I mean, ultimately the scene is a function of the games. So if the games aren’t popping, then the scene’s not popping sort of thing.

I feel like SFxTekken has landed with a whimper rather than a crash. And with Street Fighter 4 kind of petering out and Marvel sort of sitting in the middle, in limbo at the moment. It’s popped a bit but it’s not, if you know what I mean?

M: Yes I do.

And over here in Victoria for our events, our xTekken registration for tournaments have kind of…dropped a cliff kind of, recently. So what’s it like in Sydney for you guys?

Z: Well I think today, YSB, will be the first one they’ve done!

M: Ah okay!

Z: They took March off because it was the month after OHN. So they [said]; we’ll do nothing in March and recover. So April was the first time they were going to do it. And they also sneakily used it as an opportunity to give people a month with xTekken to decide how they felt.

And today they’ll be running a bracket and they wanna see what the interest is like.

Because I dunno if you’ve read on the forums but some of the guys, I think Jaunty and um, Mike- Goodpart are talking about putting together like a ranbat series through YSB now.

S: Mhmm.

Z: They’re still sort of going through the game selection phase.

M: Yep I saw that- the points, and the seedings and all that stuff. The keeping of results and…

Z: Yeah, yeah. So those guys have come out of the OHN experience rather keen which is good to see.

So we’ll see what happens. I think in their minds at the moment for what SFIV and Marvel are sort of must-haves to kick it off. But xTekken is kind of on the sidelines because they’re waiting to see how people feel about it. I think when EVO came out with the pair player thing that kinda threw everybody for a loop that was sort of looking at EVO to sort of say: we think this game is legit.

And then when they did that, everyone sort of said; uhh.

S: See the other thing is, I think EVO is really only very America focused. For example other countries…don’t really have the player base to do 2v2. Honestly.

Z: Absolutely. Yeah no, Australia will struggle to have a strong 2v2 scene I think, just because of the numbers. I mean if you go to a tournament with typically twenty odd people turning up at locals and you’ve only got like ten teams.

That’s nothing incredible. I mean something like Wednesday Night Fights might be able to do it. Where they get like a hundred dudes randomly every week without any trouble.

Ziggy, Benson, Robsux and Kientan. EVO APAC.

S: Yeah I think they put up numbers like eighty, seventy to eighty. So that makes it okay. But even then it’s only like what, maybe a 32 man bracket? A little bit more than that.

Z: Yeah, yeah. The other thing that I thought was interesting when I did the pair-player was…At first people were complaining on the SRK blog going, oh man I was gonna go. But now that I need a partner I’m not so keen anymore.

Some people responded well dude, just use the forums and find a partner. We’ve been doing that since team Third Strike and stuff.

S: Yeah but that’s not the same.

Z: Exactly. You actually need to train with the person. You can’t just rock up and ah- you play your matches and I play mine, it doesn’t really matter if our dynamics as a team gel.

And you can practice online, but half the people playing have Xboxes, they can’t necessarily do it.

M: Exactly.

Z: The other half…they’re really training in lag mode. I don’t know…how it’s gonna play out. Because you can put Justin Wong and Alex Valle together on a team. But that doesn’t mean they’re gonna get their combos right. Because they have to train together and know what each other’s tendencies are and when to come in and do their thing.

M: And it kinda reinforces the advantages that certain locations have. Like SoCal, where Wong lives with Floe. And you know, those guys that have situations like that really benefit from it.

S: You know what; this whole 2 v 2 thing just reminds me of tennis and its doubles. The reason why the Woodies were so bloody good in doubles was because they had synergy.

Z: Yep.

S: They could train together…they’re basically like reading each others’ minds.

Basically the same concept applies to xTekken because you have two people working together, trying to basically play as one.

Z: That’s right. I mean, it’s great that the game has that feature and it gives you something new to explore in the fighting game space. But the price you pay for that of course is the thing that makes fighting game tournaments the massive and exciting things that they are is that any dude can rock up from anywhere and potentially blow things up.

Now the pair-player mode doesn’t really allow that opportunity as such.

M: Mm. I dunno, I have this feeling…I think we had this conversation Igor.

Because xTekken’s kind of not really popping off right now, it’s kind of…you know.

NCR, the finals were a bit anti-hype. So maybe this 2 v 2 is a way to kinda…create that hype?

I dunno.

S: Hmm… I dunno. To be honest with you, I don’t think the 2 v 2’s actually the problem. I think more of the problem in general is the timeouts and the way the game plays. The other emphasis was on gems.

Z: (Chuckles.)

S: It was such a controversial topic, but they basically become completely irrelevant besides the assist gems and the meter building gems. And! We can’t use them in tournaments.

Z: And not because they’re broken! It’s because Capcom doesn’t know how to build a menu.

S: Exactly.

Z: To put it bluntly. (Laughs.) I mean, it’s really sad.

M: Oh my god. How can they do the button check system so perfect for HDR, and fuck it up…every single game afterwards.

Z: I’ll tell you: it’s called Capcom USA having one team and Capcom Japan having another. It’s entirely a Japanese company thing. It’s entirely down to that unfortunately.

M: (Sighs.) Yes.

Z: But coming back to EVO’s decision to do pair-play. It’s kind of funny because the last time they did a pair-play or the last times, by memory. I remember they did for Third Strike the last year they ran Third Strike. And I had a feeling they did it for Guilty Gear one year as well. You might correct me if I’m making it up.

But when they did it for Third Strike it was because Third Strike was kind of falling to pieces competitively. Because it was like six Chuns and two Yuns on console Third Strike. And it was boring everybody to death.

So they went; well if we do teams at least we might see…a Yang or something for crying out loud.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: So they did that, but the signal to the community, because they did it when there weren’t any other games right, they were trying to keep Third Strike alive because they needed it. So now the signal that people get from that if they’ve been following the history is: oh, EVO have suspicions about the competitive viability of this game. Now I might be reading too much into it.

Now I might be reading too much into it, but as you said, the timeouts predominantly, are really not helping the situation! If the game was balanced right, these timeouts wouldn’t happen as far as I’m concerned.

I know the community needs time to find the most damaging combos and that. But these aren’t stupid people. They’ve been playing SFIV for three years or whatever. They’re on the ball. If there was damage to be got. I think they’d be halfway there by now. But it still doesn’t…like I watched a random online match between Poongko and some other dude. And I mean if Poongko’s winning by timeout, something’s wrong!

S & M: (Laughs.)

Z: There’s something wrong with the game.

M: Pretty much.

S: That’s a very good point.

M: That’s a very good point, yeah.

So I guess today’s York Street Battle will be very interesting to see how the scene develops in Sydney. To see if it mirrors the way it has in Melbourne. We had strong sign-ups at the start, and now it’s kind of slowly petering off as people fall out of love with the game. And Skullgirls just came out, so.

Z: Have any of you guys checked out Skullgirls?

M: I have watched it, I have not had time to download or play it.

S: Yeah, I’m in the same boat.

M: Yeah. What about you Ziggy?

Z: Um, I’ve seen bits and pieces of it. It’s probably not something I would get into, because it just doesn’t gel with me aesthetically. But it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. I think it’s got a lot of cards stacked against it. Being in the niche that it is.

I mean we know in Australia especially niche fighters just are usually stillborn unfortunately.

M: That is very true.

Z: But who knows, I mean if a lot of people aren’t picking up what should be the mainstream games like xTekken it might be its time to shine, I don’t know.

2-      S: So like speaking of like mainstream games, are you worried about oversaturation of new games coming out?

Z: Yes. Absolutely.

To me right now the arrival of xTekken plus a few other companies jumping on board, things like KOF 13, kind of finding legitimacy but not, Marvel being in a similar boat and a few other things. I feel like we’re back in the late 90s.

S: I was just about to say that. Yeah it seems to me like we’re getting the late 90s all over again.

Z: I mentioned that to Stef the other day and he said, yeah we’re not quite at that level of viable games running in parallel. But we’re heading there very rapidly. And it’s good and it’s bad. I love having the variety, like I like having Marvel there as a choice.

Because when it was just SFIV I kind of felt constrained. But at the same time, what I didn’t like back when we were starting tournament with Ozhadou- we had the three streams. CVS2, MVC2 and Third Strike. It was the great divide. You struggled to get that bracket above 20 guys.

You’d go up to a Third Strike and say, c’mon, Yun’s in CVS2! And [he’ll be] like, I’m not touching that stupid game.

S: (Laughs.)

Z: And you get it in both directions. And Marvel especially was the one…because it was so different to everything else.

So it’s awesome having the choice, but I still love the fact that SFIV did what I thought what was impossible in the late 90s. And that was it took everybody that had a range of choice and somehow managed to make them all happy simultaneously, for at least the twelve months, roughly.

S: But you know why that is? It’s because there was nothing else besides Tekken.

Z: True. It existed in a vacuum, all the games before it were already dead or dying, which helped a lot. I mean people were so ready to drop Third Strike in my opinion. And it tried to tick all the right boxes. It tried to put in something to make SFII people happy. It tried to put something in for the CVS2 people.  It tried to put in something for everybody at once. And I think by the time when you got to the end with AE I felt the game was just being made to pull in all those Third Strike guys that still hadn’t given up on Third Strike yet.

That’s a biased perspective…

S: Nono I probably agree with that. It’s like…they needed something. The other thing is I think Ono sort of wanted to bring it back to sort of a Vanilla flavor where you have a few dominating characters and the rest of the cast are more like a fan favourite.

Z: I don’t know about you guys, but because I come from a SFII background and when I saw Ryu and Sagat just throwing fireballs at each other, twenty in a row in SFIV, I had a big smile on my face.

M: Same here, exactly.

Z: I thought that was fantastic. Everyone around me was saying this is retarded, why don’t they fight?

I’m thinking, what are you talking about? This is fighting! This is perfect!

S: Exactly!

Z: And then as we got along, it was kinda like…mmm. You know. They’re trying to bring in the Third Strike hanger-ons with the Yun and the Yang.

M: Dive kick central.

Z: And nerfing the fireballs all to buggery. And it’s kinda like…okay, now you’ve gone and turned me off because what I’ve came in for, you’ve kind of gone back the other way sort of thing.

M: Yes, I agree.

Z: I don’t know how they strike the balance. They seem to have a lot of trouble with it.

S: That’s actually a really interesting point that you brought up. Because when you sort of look at Australia’s competitive fighting game scene and you being there pretty much from the beginnings.

A lot of the Australian fighting game scene from what I gather started of with more of a Third Strike generation rather than a Super Turbo generation.

Z: Very much so. In fact, I’ll tell you one funny story. After OHN2, we went back to Joey’s place and just had some casuals there. We had some Melbourne dudes there, Sydney dudes. And um, somebody brought a Dreamcast and had Super Turbo on it. So we powered it up and I was having a few games. And Jack, Third Strike Jack, which everyone would know from Sydney, walked in the room and went; oh my god! What is this game? This is so old! What is this.

Benson, Joey and Yang. OHN6.

I was, dude, this is Street Fighter II.

Jack: I’ve never seen this before!

M: (Laughs.)

You’re kidding right? I thought all you people were OG like the rest of us, you played Street Fighter II…

Jack: No, Third Strike was my first game!

…Oh that explains a lot.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: Now I understand where you people are coming from. But I had no idea that people didn’t come from a similar background to myself. I didn’t realize a lot of them were Street Fighter virgins when they discovered Third Strike or CVS2 or things like that.

S: I think it’s also because our community is a lot younger than the US community.

Z: Yes, very much so.

It’s nice of you to call me OG but to be honest, I’m OG in a vacuum. Like I played SNES Street Fighter II. I very rarely went to arcades, I very rarely played other people. When Ozhadou came into being in 2001, I discovered there were still arcades in the world, I thought there were all dead.

And I was never part of that Street Fighter II tournament culture…if Australia even had a tournament culture for Street Fighter II, I’m not even aware that it did.

S: That’s the thing. There were never officially tournaments in Australia. There could’ve been smaller arcades, but not really tournaments at least from where I lived. The areas that I lived in were Melbourne from ’92 to like ’93 and then in Sydney from about ’93 to about ’95. And then Geelong and Melbourne from about ’95 to about ’98.

And in that time I only ever really attended one tournament, official tournament. Which was actually run by Blockbuster. But that basically was pretty much it. There wasn’t any really any sort of serious tournament scenes. And I really wish if someone does actually know that, would come forward and tell us all about it. Because as far as I was aware…I know there could’ve been tournaments, as in just small arcade ones. But they were never advertised anywhere, it was never really put up anywhere. Unlike the American community where they sort of started off with…

They had nothing until about Hyper Fighting. And that’s when their tournament scene actually started happening.

Z: Right, yeah.

Speaking from the Australian scene, the one guy that was around back in the day that might be worth trying to chase down is Mike Abdow from Virtuafighter.com?

M: Oh you mean Iron Myke?

Z: Iron Myke. That’s him.

M: Ah. Does he play ST?

Z: Yeah he was an SFII player, ST.

M: Ahh.

Z: Virtua Fighter is his passion now but back when Ozhadou started, he’d just come back from a stint working in Canada, playing some CVS over there. And he actually had a good relationship with the Playtime arcade in Sydney at that time. Because he was running Virtua On tournaments and things. So when we were trying to get tournaments up and running in Sydney he saw us posting, trying to get people in CVS.

And he said, oh yeah, I’m interested in CVS tournaments. I know some guys at Playtime so I can sort of talk to them and hook you guys up. So he has all this OG knowledge and experience from within the Sydney scene and if anybody knows whether there were tournaments or not back in the day, he’d be the man to talk to.

M: Even here in Melbourne, who knows about SFII days, if you look at Toxy as OG, he kind of started with X-men vs. Street Fighter right?

Z: Yeah, that’s true.

M: Not Super Turbo.

S: But the thing is yeah, whenever I talk to Toxy, he said most of the tournaments usually started around 2000, 1999. There weren’t really any official tournaments, it was just people going to arcades and playing and then…

At least for me I started following the US scene in about ’96 through alt.binaries.SFII and so forth. Because I was one of the lucky ones to have you know, a 33k modem.

M: Wow.

Z: (Laughs.)

S: Yeah, I was hunting newsgroups!

But anyway, you are…let’s just say an OG in a vacuum.

3-       So how did Ozhadou and OHN start? Can you give us a brief history?

Z: Yeah I can, and if it’s not brief just tell me to get on with it.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: With Ozhadou starting…it’s a bit interesting. As I said, I live in Wollongong so I’d sort of given up on arcades. They’d all shut down here and I thought the game was sort of dead and buried. Then I started working in Sydney sort of in 2000, 2001. And I discovered that the arcades were still alive, and that people even went to them.

I was amazed.

So when I saw that there was Marvel and things like that I thought, oh that’s interesting. And um, I’d stumbled across Shoryuken.com around that time. And I started reading up on their guide to how to run a double elimination bracket and all that sort of stuff. And I was looking around for Australian players. So I went on the forums and I saw some guys who’d been talking about playing Marvel in Sydney in the arcade right near where I was studying.

So I went, okay I’ll post in here and see if I can hook up with some of these guys. I did that, I didn’t get a response from anybody in Sydney but I got an email from a guy in Canberra. By the name of Justin Hogie.

M: Ah.

Z: Final Atomic Buster, as you would know.

M: Yes.

FAB aka Justin Hogie. OHN8.

Z: And he said yeah, yeah. I’ve been to Sydney a couple of times, playing in the arcades. Let’s meet up in the arcades and play some games. It’d be fun.

Okay. That’s not what I was expected, but that’s exciting, let’s do that.

So we were talking online a bit before we met and um, I said to him; one thing that’s always struck me as frustrating is that I found this Shoryuken.com site but it’s really hard to find Australians on there. Because it’s just an American site.

And I just said, I wonder if there’s other Australian Street Fighter players out there. I wish there was a website which you could find them. Because I’ve like Googled for Australian Street Fighter and there’s nothing there.

And he said, well I’ve got some web space. And I’ve always wanted to do like a Street Fighter centric website. But I just didn’t have an idea of what I wanted it to be.

Justin said, why don’t we make a hookup site where it’s just Australians and they can just say, I play, this is where I am, get at me, I want to play some games. Because this is pre-online play of course.

S: Well technically no, we still had Kaillera. (Laughs.)

Z: Kaillera in…yeah that’s a good point. Because I remember at the time, 2000ish, they were still cracking the encryption on CPS2.

S: Yes I believe CPS2 was cracked in either late ’99 or very early 2000.

Z: Yeah because I remember I was so excited when I could play X-men vs. Street Fighter at home. I’d been wanting to do that for years.

S: Yeah, CPS2 shock. I used to trawl that site everyday just to see if new ROMs had come out.

Z: (Laughs.) Yeah I was the same! Exactly the same.

So anyway, that was sort of what inspired us to create the site. And then when we were meeting up in the arcades in Sydney we bumped into a few Sydney guys. One of them- Stefan Heap,  XNDL on the forums. He’d actually been talking to Justin years ago via alt.games.sf2. So they all sort of knew of each other. So they had a chat and I said; do you guys know each other?

Slapper Joe (middle) and XNDL (right) OHN5

And they said; only from talking online.

And then Joey Nguyen was there as well and Hebretto-Yang.

And I just started talking, saying, oh we’re thinking of putting this website together. We kind of need people to join up and moderators and things. Would you guys be interested?

They said, yeah it sounds cool. Kinda get involved.

At that time, I said I’d been reading these guides on SRK on how to run double elimination tournaments. Because I’ve got the old…I don’t know if you had this book, but the Hyper Fight guide from Gamepro?

S: I actually have it. I actually had my mom send it to me from Croatia to here. Because I missed it.

Because I left it at home when I moved back to Australia myself.

Z: Nice, very nice.

M: And your mom said yes? And she didn’t like…oh! I lost it somewhere.

S: No. No no. That shit was locked down in the basement with all my other stuff.

M: Nice.

Z: Yeah. So I used to get Gamepro and things like that back in the day. And I read about tournaments in the US and I always thought as a teenager, it’d be cool to play in a tournament just to see how good or most likely, bad, I am. Because I haven’t played other people.

So when I read this article about how to run tournaments, it occurred to me, well hang on. It’s not corporations or businesses that run tournaments. It’s actually the community, it’s the players.

S: Yeah it’s the people.

Z: Well I can do that. I mean, it’s not hard. Why don’t we just try it and see. And the tournament I’d always wanted to play in I’d be running, but at least I’d get one.

So I said to Yang off the cuff when I was talking about the Ozhadou concept. Oh we might actually even run tournaments one day. Yang’s like: no way. You’ll never manage to run a tournament. It’ll never happen.

And from there I went: I’m going to prove you wrong.

S & M; (Laughs.)

Z: I am gonna run a tournament, you sad sack. I’m gonna make it happen. So from there, by the end of 2001 in December we had our first tournaments happening in Playtime.

And it seemed that everybody that was there unless they were as OG as Mike, it was sort of like the first time they had played in a bracket that was community run, that was for sure.

S: Are you telling me that OHN got started because of spite?

M: Because of Yang? Heh.

Z: Oh no, the local tournament scene got started because of spite. OHN actually got started because of the desire to create an inter-city rivalry.

M: Ahh.

But I guess we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Why don’t you continue, and we’ll get to OHN eventually.

Z: But yeah, that’s pretty much the end of the story of where Ozhadou as a website came from. So there was a dude in Canberra and a dude in Wollongong. Having an encounter over SRK.com. And the next thing you know, there was a website and some local tournaments in Sydney happening.

S: Mmm.

M: So this was in the year ’99 or 2000?

Z: It was end of 2001. December 2001 was when we ran our first ever tournament. The website came along I think in September of 2001.

M: So you guys have doing this for nearly…more than ten years at this point.

Z: More than 10 years, yeah.

S: Well this is the tenth year.

M: And how old were you guys when you started?

Z: I was twenty, twenty one at the time. Justin’s like a year older than me. So pretty much the same age. Iron Myke on the other hand is like seventy or something…

S: (Laughs.)

Z: So he was an old man from the start. But the rest of the guys, it’s quite interesting. When I ran into Stef and Joey, now those guys were only in high school. They were only in like their mid-teens at the time.

There were a few dudes from Uni like Benson and Yoguy who was sort of…they were more the early year Uni student kind of age, and then you had sort of more the teenager group.

Afterdeath (George, standing) and yoguy (Andrew Ost) OHN6

So it was quite a spread mix of people at the beginning.

We were sort of the older people of those days.

M: Very interesting.

So yeah, go on with your story until you guys get to OHN.

Z: So the OHN side of things…so we’re doing the locals in Sydney, it was quite interesting because we’d recruited some…We’d always wanted it to be a national site. It was never meant to be a Sydney site because I mean, neither Justin or I are Sydney centric as such. It was just the closest city with arcades.

So we’d actually were using SRK to kind of trawl around and try to find people that were on there talking about Street Fighter that were from other regions. And we found some guys in Melbourne. At the time, the two that were most important were Kechu and Auriku. Aurik and Kevin were the first two people that we recruited as Melbourne moderators, having never met them I might add.

Humanbomb vs Kechu OHN1

We just said, you guys seem like sensible people. Would you like to be our mods?

S: (Chuckles.)

Z: Here are your powers. Go nuts!

So luckily it worked out well. But we did that and we sort of…they were kind of keen to get things happening in Melbourne. So they put on a CVS2 tournament in the January of 2002 just after we’d done our first ones in Sydney and December.

So Justin and myself and Mike, we were all sort of on a high after doing the local CVS2 tournaments. So like, let’s go down to Melbourne and compete. See how we do.

So the three of us trekked down to Melbourne. Having never been down there before.

Mike had been there and actually had some friends in the VF community already. So for him it was already a bit of a normal thing. For Justin and I it was kind of a bizarre thing to do. But we went down there, we met up with the scene. Mike did quite well, I think he came second or third.

I went two and out and got the living snot beat out of me. And Justin didn’t do much better. And that was a nice reality check.

But because Johnny had beaten Mike so convincingly in the CVS2 finals in Sydney…

M: Aha! So wait. So when did Jonny (Humanbomb) show up in Sydney.

Young Johnny!

Z: So Jonny turned up for the very first CVS2 tournament in 2001.

M: Ahh.

Z: So he was kinda there, and him and Mike and a few other guys like his brother Nin was there in Sydney as well at the time.

So they were kind of a clique. They kind of hung around together and practiced at home together. As well as going out to the arcades. So you had that group. And they were kind of the top tier group. Because naturally any group that is training with Jonny is naturally better than everybody else.

M: I see.

Z: We were kind of amazed how much better than everybody else Jonny was sort of right out off the blocks.

And then when we went to Melbourne, Mike who’d come second was struggling to stay in top 3 in Sydney, we’d thought: I wonder what would if the best  in Sydney…

M: …If Jonny played…

Z: …and the best in Melbourne, we put them together and we see what happens. So we were kinda like; let’s do it. Let’s have a…I mean we called it a national tournament because as far as we were concerned we were the entire country at that point in time. Sydney and Melbourne, we were Australia, that was how it was going to be. But it was literally born out of the desire to have an interstate rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne in CVS2.

That was what drove the decision.

S: It’s always that fighting game competitive edge I guess.

4-      I was gonna ask, because OHN was sort of built on say, this rivalry. How has the rivalry changed over the years.

Z: It’s been very interesting because…I know there’s been a lot of talk certainly in the last twelve to eighteen months about the way Sydney and Melbourne get along with each other. Like, there’s a lot of talk that it was a very close relationship and now it’s become a very volatile relationship and it kind of swings back and forth between these extremes. To be honest, it wasn’t any different back then really.

They were really happy that we went down there for that first tournament and played and they were quite enthusiastic about the idea of coming up and returning the favour. But it was always sort of seen from that perspective of it was really a tit for tat exercise or that was how people had expected in a Melbourne turnout.

So…it was awkward because…when Melbourne came up for OHN, it was very good competition, Kevin came second behind Jonny in CVS2 but he convincingly won Third Strike. And being the competitive man that he is, he wasn’t happy about coming second in CVS2. So he walked away going; I am going to come back and I am going to destroy this man Jonny in the next one.

So we were all really excited. OHN2 came on hot on the heels of the first one because of all the hype. So it was only six months later which turned out to be a bad idea in hindsight. But anyway.

S: Heheh.

Z: We did it and Kevin got his revenge, and again won Third Strike convincingly. And that was all good. And then…there’s already been some tension because of some people shooting their mouths off online. But the turning point came when…I kept trying to encourage the guys in Melbourne you know…

We need a major in Melbourne to offset the one in Sydney. Because if we’re going to get some exchange here, some mutual flow, we need you guys to have an event that we can come to. So that you don’t feel like you’re always doing the work.

S: Yeah, you’re always on enemy ground.

Z: Yeah that’s right. And I mean obviously for them it’s no small thing when they’re Uni students or whatever to put down the money to go up for a weekend in Sydney, cover all their expenses so.

S: Not to mention flights back in those days weren’t cheap. Jetstar wasn’t around.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: That’s right. It was a non-trivial exercise for a lot of gamers to do it. So…

It turned to rub people the wrong way that Sydney guys weren’t going down to Melbourne. Especially when Melbourne was winning all the trophies. So Melbourne would come, they’d win. And they’re like, why should we come up to challenge you? We are the champions. You should be coming to challenge us.

And the tournament we would challenge you at is??

Where is it?

And they’re like; we have no venue, we have no suitable place. We don’t have the resources, we can’t do it.

And it’s like, well that’s not a good enough answer you know? You need to give these guys a battleground otherwise they have no reason to come.

And Sydney traditionally…it’s changed since the SFIV generation’s come along. But traditionally they were a very low-travel community. They didn’t go anywhere. They were very local-centric. We’ve got the most people. We’ve got the venue where it happens. We’ve got Ozhadou doing stuff for us. We don’t have to go anywhere. We’re just going to sit here. And if you care, you’re going to come to us kind of thing. Even if we’re not the best.

And that was what kind of rubbed the Melbourne guys the wrong way. During the Third Strike period it kind of changed a bit. Some guys would actually make an effort to go down to Melbourne and say; we acknowledge Third Strike is the best, Melbourne has the best Third Strike players. So we’re going to come down here and pay our dues…if we want you to then come back to OHN sort of thing.

And that kind of helped. But certainly the Kechu era was very much around the, we’re better than you. Why do we have to travel up to where you are kind of thing.

M: That’s really interesting.

Z: And that did make it…every OHN from 6 back, was a political nightmare. Trying to negotiate to get people from Melbourne who were our most important competitors to turn up. It was a real struggle.

M: That’s really interesting. And that kind of makes me realize the disconnect between that generation in Melbourne and this generation.

S: You mean the current generation.

M: The current generation.

S: Which is also basically built with the older generation but with, now, a lot more young blood.

M: Yeah. But yeah, please go on.

Z: If I was to look at generations in Melbourne and the sort of attitude towards travelling to compete and coming to Sydney and compete and what have you.

There’s the Kechu generation, and then I see the Toxy generation. They’re the sort of two eras for me. Toxy has the attitude of: he just wants to play. He will go wherever there’s a good chance to play and a good chance to compete. He just wants to test himself. He doesn’t care if he’s already better than the people there. He’s happy to go up there and take the title again and again.

Because he just wants to play.

M: He just wants to compete.

Z: Whereas Kevin was more…I’m only going to go if I think if I think I’m gonna really be tested. And if I’m already the king of the hill then I got nothing more to prove. So I don’t see why I should come back kind of thing.

That’s not to say they didn’t come back. But it meant that you were kind of dealing with that kind of attitude out of the gates when you were trying to encourage people to come.

S: It’s more dethrone me and then…

M: And then I will fly out to get it back.

Z: That’s right, exactly.

M: That was OHN6 right?

Z: Yeah. OHN6 was kind of…That was the first SFIV…no that was the last time before SFIV. Because that was the year Justin Wong came out.

M: Yeah! Do you wanna talk a bit about how that happened?

Z: Ah yeah that’s very interesting actually. OHN5, I dunno how you much you know about OHN5 but Justin Wong was supposed to come to OHN5. That was the grand plan. I don’t know if you guys know xxx (name removed on request), TSC at all?

M: Nope.

Z: He was actually…when Playtime closed down in Sydney, he was the guy who provided the cabinets at Mai Chan Hyong That kept the Third Strike scene in Sydney alive. So that was after OHN4 basically. So he kind of was heavily involved in organizing OHN5, because it was his cabinets. The Third Strike community wouldn’t play on anything but arcade. But OHN4 would run it on console. And they just didn’t turn up.

So he was willing to provide the cabinets to ensure that and do a lot of the organization. And part of what he was organizing was he was talking to Triforce of Empire Arcadia to try and get him to bring a bunch of guys primarily Justin Wong but other guys too to OHN5 to make some big international kind of thing happen.

Well his mistake was that he was talking to Triforce of course. Triforce promised him the world and delivered nothing, unsurprisingly.

Jwong and Tom. OHN6.

S: Yeah I heard something about like…a private jet?

M: (Laughs.)

Z: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Triforce was talking out of his backside. And none of what he said made any logistical sense whatsoever.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: But the good thing was the community was really forgiving. We told them, we advertised this would be Empire Arcadia invading Australia. And none of that happened.

And yet most people kind of sucked it up and said, yeah well. It would’ve been nice. But we still got the best players from Melbourne and Sydney for Third Strike here and it’s still a kick-arse tournament, we’re happy.

Then you had the other camp of people. And it was very small. Who felt legitimately like they’d been jibbed. There’s only really one person that I felt really bad about. And that was Aurik from Melbourne. Who had moved to Japan already by that time. He had the choice to either go to EVO that year or come to OHN.

Having come to OHN every year from 1 to 3 when he was living in Melbourne, he chose to come to OHN5 because he thought the Empire was coming because he wanted to defend Australia’s honour against the Americans sort of thing. And when that didn’t happen, he was not a happy man. And rightly so.

Because he’d spent all his holidays and money on coming back to Sydney for the umpteenth time instead  of going to EVO for the first time.

So he got really mad. And I totally felt horrible about it. And in the end he had a great time. And he really enjoyed catching up with the Melbourne players and being on their team and supporting them in the top 8 and everything.

And it all kind of went away in the end. But it was a pretty kind of ugly outcome of it. Anyhow, getting back to where that led to Justin Wong at OHN6.

Because that all kind of fell apart, we came into OHN6 and everything, to put it bluntly, going into OHN6 was dead. Tekken wasn’t doing well, Third Strike was dying. Nothing was going well. Everything was kind of stuffed.

So we were looking at an OHN6 that nobody cares about so we went, well this isn’t good.

S: So which year was OHN6, ‘07?

Z: Probably ’07, yeah. That would’ve been 2007. So just before SFIV turned up in the arcades kind of thing. Like about six months, twelve months before that. So you literally had nothing…the thing was, Third Strike in Australia was killed by SBO, to put it politely.

Because we finally sent teams to SBO after sort of OHN5. They got the living snot beat out of them, more or less. And played a lot of casuals over there, had a great time. But 80% of the people who went, or 90% who were hardcore, quit afterwards because they just realized the…

S: Skill difference.

Z: The mountain was too high. They had no idea how high it was until they went there and realized,, okay, this is not gonna happen. So a lot of them just quit outright. Even though they went on maybe to play SFIV, they became a lot more casual. That hardcore tournament mindset was just kind of burned out of them.

So Third Strike…they were trying to send a team to SBO that year as well. But after things had kind of gone not quite right, it all kind of fell apart.

So we told them we were sending a team for Third Strike. We didn’t. We got into a lot of…Australia got into a lot of trouble.

M: I heard quite a bit about that, do you want to talk about that?

Z: I won’t talk about it in detail because I wasn’t involved at all. All I know is that SBO doesn’t take kindly to being told X months that you’re not sending a team when they’ve already put out promo material. So the response…the Japanese are very sort of simple minded. This is the kind of you’re in or you’re out sort of thing. So once you’re out, if you’re out on bad terms, you’re out. You’re out of the circle of trust so to speak. We’re not going to talk to you anymore.

Tekken fortunately has maintained a good relationship. But Third Strike…I don’t think anything would get us back in Third Strike. I might be wrong, there might people who can work magic.

Other Street Fighter I don’t know. But no one sort of tried or has had the passion or the interest to try. It might change…I don’t know.

5-      S: So would Ozhadou or OHN be interested in hosting another SBO qualifier?

Z: It would take the right people to sort of do the organizational side. I know that Bryce Saiyuk From the Tekken community, whenever he’s organizing Tekken he does sort of politely say, look. Would you like Street Fighter on the cards? Would you like me to talk Street Fighter to them?

But on the condition that somebody takes responsibility and you guarantee him that you’ll go sort of thing. The good thing is, the community hasn’t made the same mistake twice. They haven’t stepped up and said, yeah we’ll do it. And then flaked again.

So they’ve actually done a bit of soul searching and gone , yes  we’re there. Yes there’s a team that will go. Or no, honestly we can’t win. We’re better off just stepping back and waiting for our time to come. I mean they’ve taken a lot of maturity in response to what happened, which is good.

I think in time it might happen. And now that SBO is moving to console and it might be having a second wave into the future in terms of how it works, anything could happen.

M: Yeah that’s really interesting actually. [SBO moving to] console.

S: Well the other thing that I heard was, I heard rumours that this might be the last SBO ever.

M: Yep.

S: So there’s a few things interesting happening with SBO.

M: And I heard they’re doing double elim in the top 8 of Street Fighter IV. Really, really un-SBO like things.

Z: That’s very interesting, I hadn’t heard about that one.

S: Yeah there seems to be lots of rumours. I mean, has Marvel 3 been confirmed for SBO?

M: It has.

Z: Yes it has. It has.

Marvel 3 and Soul Calibur V are the two console games, by memory.

S: So I mean, with Marvel 3, if they’re going to run a one game single elim…

M: Whattt (Laughs.)

S: C’mon. Really?

Z: Like a coin tossing competition, that’d be just as exciting.

S: Exactly.

Z: Just as accurate in terms of the outcome.

M: Ahh man. Single elim Marvel. That would be the most ridiculous tournament of all time.

S: It would also be the most salting tournament of all time. I flew seventeen hours for one game? And got randomly X-factored by Dark Wesker.

Z: (Laughs.)

M: It’s like I said before: the happiest of birthdays! (Laughs.)

Z: It’d be interesting to see. The thing that makes it hard for SBO is because it’s actually a corporate run event…

S: Exactly. It’s Arcadia magazine I believe?

Z: Exactly. And then with all the various corporate companies using it as a vehicle to promote…historically it was a vehicle to promote your latest arcade fighting game. That’s how the lineup was chosen. It’s tried to keep a bit of O.G. roots and it’s mixed it up over the years. But that’s always been its primary purpose. But because it’s run by corporates, that disconnect between the community’s vibe of what’s going on with it.

Because games aren’t necessarily picked on the reasons that we would pick them. And the event itself isn’t run for reasons that we would run it. So as a result, we’re not in direct communication with the people doing it. They’re not part of our clique so to speak.

So when I say our, I mean the entire global, competitive community scene. So they kind of do their own thing.

It’s a bit the same with what Capcom’s plans are sort of this year with the xTekken tournaments they’re backing. There’s a lot of whispers and talk and no one really knows what’s going on there. But because they’re corporate we probably won’t know until they throw the cards on the table. It’s just sort of…we’re not used to being so far outside the loop of tournaments because for so long it’s all been onus personally to make it happen.

OHN7

6-      S: Now that we know a little bit more about how OHN and OZH happened. What’s the actual mission statement of OHN? Or Ozhadou sorry?

M: But don’t you want to know about the Street Fighter IV era? Right after Justin Wong…

S: I do, but the thing is, I think it’s more important to get the mission statement first. Because the one thing that I kind of get confused a little bit about Ozhadou is…

It seems at least these days it seems very Sydney centric from a certain view. For example the IRC channel is mainly Sydney people.

Z: Yep.

S: Don’t know why that is, but maybe it’s a historical thing?

So what’s actually like the Ozhadou mission statement? What do you guys…is it still as it was back in 2000 when you first came up with it or have things changed?

Z: I’m not…It’s hard for me to answer that being the only man on the line because I’ve…for the most part divested a lot of control as to what its mission is now. I mean, when it was founded, Justin and I as I said it out, our intentions…it wasn’t even tournaments at first. It was just at first a meeting point on the Web for Australian fighting game players but Street Fighter inclined because that was what we liked to play. Or Capcom inclined at least.

Then once it became about tournaments as well, it was more that tournaments were seen as a vehicle to bring people together, rather than being separate to that concept. As time went by, we always tried to involve other states, but it just seemed very hard to achieve a national team. No matter how hard you tried. Whether it’s just the distance made it hard or…

I guess because it’s a hobby and it’s not a business. It’s really hard to kind of bring people in and say look. We need you to commit to doing this much stuff to represent your area to this degree so that everybody feels involved. I mean ultimately it’s a hobby, people put in how much time they feel obliged to put in.

And early on we were very…for our sort of fear that things might blow up on us, in a bad way. We were sort of very rigid in terms of who we would let have this amount of power and all this kind of stuff.

So it was kind of, we’re at the top of the pyramid, and nothing happens unless we say so. And I mean that works if you’re involved a lot. But because both of us were living far away from Sydney. And you’re far away from the closest scene, then you’re even further away from everybody else. So it kind of does end up naturally evolving to create that national focus that you’ve just sort of always had in mind.

So what happened was because Sydney was the closest to the people that we now knew directly. They kind of were trusted a bit more to do more within the site. So they became the Voice, more than anything else. Or the active component. And the others were always sort of seen like an SRK thing where they were using it as a vehicle to tell the world that they were out there, more so than directly contributing.

I mean OHN as the primary event that Ozhadou organizes…it’s run by Sydney people because it’s in Sydney. But a Sydney team evolved because people wanted to sit down and talk about what the plans were kind of thing. It wasn’t natural to sort of plan it over long distances that sort of thing.

S: And to also be fair though, as far as I know, the Sydney community, as least from say an outsider’s perspective, because I wasn’t that involved in the fighting game community in general, but the Sydney scene always seemed to have the strongest or say the most competitive people and Melbourne was always second.

Z: Um…it’s hard to like…

From my time from 2001 on, there was never any doubt in my mind that the best players in the country was in Melbourne. With the exception of Jonny, Melbourne had the best players.

And Jonny couldn’t even stay ahead of them all the time. Like Kevin on his best day? Would defeat Jonny.

I mean, that’s just straight up…and Aurik on his best day was able to defeat Jonny as well come OHN3. So it was…they had a different training mindset. Jonny works really well considering that he’s basically working in a vacuum at his level.

Like he doesn’t have anybody else at his level or didn’t have in Sydney…he’s gone now. (Humanbomb has moved back to Hong Kong.) But when he was there, he was kind of just beating down on everybody else. Because no one was challenging him. He had to challenge himself to become as good as he was. And big credit to him for doing what he’s done.

S: Definitely.

Z: But Sydney always had the critical mass. Sydney has the volume of players. And it also had the nicer venues. Like you walk into Playtime or whatever, and you didn’t have to worry about the guy…trying to sell you drugs behind you kind of thing.

M: (Laughs.)

S: Oh Whitehouse.

M: Hehehe.

Z: Yeah, it was like…when I went down to Melbourne arcades for the first time it was a bit of a culture shock. It was kind of like…I don’t know if this is really where I want to be, to be honest!

M: (Laughs.)

Z: I want to play these games, I don’t know if this is the atmosphere for me.

And that held them back in a lot of ways in terms of developing community…and well the SFIV era allowed them to sort of… The beautiful thing about Melbourne is that this belief, that “we cannot” attitude that permeated during the arcade days have gone away now. And it’s a “we can” attitude of; we can get the people together. We can get our own venues. We can buy our own gear. We can do our own stuff. Has transformed the Melbourne scene in a fantastic way.

M: Yeah. A lot of the Shadowloo optimism that has really permeated this generation…

Z: Exactly. Exactly. Don’t get me wrong it took the right people, the right place, the right time.

Like you needed the commitment and the time to do it, and the passion to do it. It’s not just gonna…yes it can be done but the right people need to be there to make it happen.

But I still get the feeling that in Melbourne that there’s a lot of constraints at the local level. Like Sydney…the YSB situation has turned out miraculously well. Because not only has York Street provided a large venue for OHN, it’s provided a small venue for local events. At a reasonable price for both. Which is just a miracle, I mean it’s very rare that you get that combination.

M: Yes. As we, as the Couchwarriors staff, very well know heh.

Z: Yeah absolutely!

M: Getting a venue price is a…pain in the arse.

Z: Really hard, yeah.

So the fact that that’s panned out for them has just been golden. Whereas Melbourne sort of seems to have struggled to find…You don’t need a one size fits all venue, but just a venue at the local level at least where it can be consistently at the right price for the size of the scene you have. And we can use it consistently. And it’s convenient for everybody as well! Well that’s the miracle of YSB, is that it happens in the city!

M: Yep.

Well I mean, with Shadowloo Night Live, we have it at Crown Casino now.

Z: Oh right.

M: And I think the Shadowloo guys want to make that sort of like the centre, the weekly, the local level kind of everyone gets to go kind of thing. So.

S: And then we have the casuals once a fortnight which is Chris’ Club House, or CCH.

M: Yeah. But I mean, I guess Ziggy does have a point. Our venues are kind of broken up and spread out. Whereas…

S: Yeah. Well Collingwood’s not that far away from the city.

M: That is true, yes.

S: The only real distance one was Deakin, a while ago. Because that was…way out.

M: Or when Couchwarriors was in Box Hill. Or when SNL was in Brunswick.

S: Yeah. We’ve had a bit of an issue. But it seems that things have stabilized or calmed down a lot more. SNL seems to be every week at Crown. CCH is every fortnight. And those two seem to be the two  main…

M: And in fact one issue…a very interesting issues that we have now is actually perhaps we have event oversaturation.

We currently have SNL every week, and we have Chris’ Club House every fortnight, and we have Box Hill Beatdowns every fortnight, and we have South East Throwdown, and we have Impact over in Werribee…I think that’s ten events a year. And we have…

Yeah! So…

Z: (Laughs.)

M: I mean personally, I’ve noticed attendance has been dipping slightly, I think people might get burned out. So it’s kind of a really…as you said, a big shift in the Melbourne um…

Z: Out of curiosity, what do you guys think is actually fuelling that large range of events spread out as far…is it a geographical thing? Or it is a…

M: It’s partially that. For Impact and South East Throwdown it’s people that…For Impact, the dudes that live in Werribee, it’s really hard for them to come down to the city for the central events. So they decided to run their own events out in the West. And CouchWarriors has kind of…

Yeah a lot of it is geographical. And some of it is we just struggle to just find whatever venue we can get at a price which is reasonable, that kind of thing.

S: And I’ve had numerous amounts of people coming up to me, oh when’s Deakin starting up again?

Because you know, it was on the other side of the city.

M: Yeah!

S:  And we had a lot of people going basically around that area, it’s like well Deakin is great, all I had to do was a five minute drive, and I’m there for the entire day!

M: Yeah! People are lazy. Like they want many events everywhere, like five minutes from them. And they’ll just go to that one. And screw the other one over on the other side of the city.

S: Well I mean, it’s also pretty hard. Because…Melbourne’s public transport is semi-okay. But if you want to stay up late, or late anywhere, you have to drive.

M: Yes, that’s true.

A car is needed to be a fighting game player.

S: Yeah but it’s also a pain in the arse. Because for example if the event starts at six o’clock, well then you have peak hour traffic to deal with.

M: Ah yeah, that’s true.

S: Which is basically even worse in Sydney for example. Because in Sydney, does peak hour traffic end?

M: (Laughs.)

Z: (Laughs.) I don’t know…no.

It’s horrible.

S: The Sydney traffic from the eighteen months that I lived in there, from 2007 to late 2008. It was…you had selective times where you would drive, otherwise you’re stuck in gridlock.

Z: Yeah, that’s one thing I’ve found. If I went to stay back in the city for an event or whatever, I would not want to leave there until eight o’clock at night where I knew there would be no cars anymore. So I could have the ninety minute run home instead of the two hour plus run home. So.

S: Exactly.

7-      M: Yeah. But going back to York Street Battle, I think it’s a good time to ask about kind of like the rise of the “new” OHN. The kind of like added responsibilities that guys like Gamogo and Spencer have taken up. And I guess FAB’s (Final Atomic Buster) looking to step back a little bit?

Z: Yeah… It’s been an interesting kind of transition. Because EVO APAC was kind of the kick to the groin so to speak. Because it caused people to start to change their minds about things.

EVO APAC was such a monster of a thing. Like it was only one game. And Daigo was the only real centerpiece around which everything had to revolve.

M: Daigo changed everything. Heh.

Z: He changed…at first it was just a local event with EVO slapped on it. And then we get a call from Seth Killian, and it’s like, you know. This dude Daigo, just didn’t qualify over here in France or whatever EVO [qualifier]. So he asked me if there’s anywhere else. And I happen to know of your event!

It’s like, ah good. Thank you Seth.

This is awesome, and yet painful at the same time.

S & M: (Laughs.)

Z: Because unfortunately I mean the reality is…people can hype all they want international dudes. But the reality is two sides of the coin.

There’s the budget…and effort.

And there’s the opportunity cost sort of thing so.

With Daigo…literally within the team of EVO APAC when the thing was put on the table you had two camps.

You had one camp going: it makes no sense to spend all that money on Daigo’s plane ticket. And then you had the other camp saying: it makes no sense to give up the opportunity to have Daigo in Sydney.

And…it takes time to reconcile that and work out where you’re going to meet sort of halfway. In the end where it gets met is usually you say, my budget can’t cope with this. If you can externalize the funding we’ll do it sort of thing.

So in the case of Daigo it came down to…community donations funded his trip. The tournament budget couldn’t hold…we couldn’t provide…

We were funding a ticket to EVO. When Daigo came on the cards we knew we had to fund a second ticket to EVO otherwise Australia was not going to EVO.

So we just suddenly picked up an extra cost before you look at Daigo flying to Australia. So you had to say to yourself, someone’s got to find some money somewhere. So in the end between community donations and the guys who own the GGs cabinets, Josh and Kevin coming on board as sponsors to cover that cost, it just wouldn’t have been possible.

For what it’s worth, EVO APAC I think made a small loss in the end. Which was pretty amazing considering sending two people to the US. And trying to get Daigo on board.

Which is tiny compared to the budgets they have balance for Shadowloo Showdown.

M: And we’ll get to that. But um…continue with…

Z: But yeah. So EVO APAC was a bit exhausting. The team for EVO APAC was built around existing friendships rather than who was the best man for the job. The consequence of that was: people came to the table with different expectations around what they would have to deliver. What I thought people would deliver was not they thought they would have to do etc.

So when it all kind of ended, it was probably one of the most successful events we’ve ever done in Sydney. But on the organizational side of it there was a lot of friction and frustration, for me anyway.

So um…I sat down with Justin afterwards and said, look, I know we promised everybody we’d do an EVO APAC and OHN in the same year. But I just can’t do another one of these in the next six months, not after what just happened. I need away time.

And he said, yeah I’m feeling that. That sounds fine. So we decided that we’d long term wanted to get people more involved with running OHN rather than just us at the top of the pyramid. So we said okay. Let’s identify a team of people who have vested interested in OHN succeeded. From a community or financial perspective. And we’ll put them together and say; OHN9 is your baby. Make it happen kind of thing.

Low Blow, Yang, Ace, Skitze and Cactus. OHN9

We’ll give you advise and that, but we want you to make it happen. So we put together a team. Of four people. And as you would’ve remember with OHN9 there was a lot of delays and rescheduling and um…

Eventually it happened…but it wasn’t…

The plan…the people that were doing it weren’t aiming for the same bar that FAB and I would’ve aimed for. If you know what I mean.

It was kind of… It worked out and a lot of people who went to the event felt that it quite well-run, but it was smaller than normal too, so it’s often easier to succeed under those conditions.

So that was kind of the first part.

Your question was when did we start to pull back. And I’d say it was post EVO APAC. That was when we sort of started to try to find other people to take on the burden. Because with us being so far away…from like…

During that time, I wasn’t playing Street Fighter IV anymore. Justin really wasn’t playing SFIV anymore. We’re not competitors anymore. We’re not even really casual players anymore. To a large degree. And we’re not involved with the forums on a daily basis so we’re not in touch with the community either. And in my opinion that makes us the worst people for the job, because you need to be in touch with the community to do this stuff.

M: That’s how I feel as well, but yeah.

So after EVO APAC you felt that you needed to restructure the system and…who stepped up?

Z: So we approached four people. We approached Eric, DK.

M: DK, yep.

Z: Because he’d been running his own events out in Western Sydney, he’d actually come to me beforehand and said he was interested in being involved in organizing OHN if there was ever a opportunity. So he obviously had the credentials and experience with his own stuff it made sense to sort of tap him on the shoulder. Plus, he had his own gear already.

We’d pick Jack as a community representative. Because he’d been running SFIV stuff at GGs. And helping out with OHNs anyway. It turned out to be bad timing for Jack, and then in the end Henry kind of stepped in to fill his shoes because he had to step back.

But we had a position for a community guy. And then we had Kevin, Josh, from GGs. Since it was their cabinets that was being used for OHN it made sense for them to sit on the committee and make the plans.

Now, the idea was that that team of four would run the event. But what actually happened was, Jack/Henry weren’t really the right people to manage things at that level, or weren’t in a position to do it. And Kevin/Josh were really not comfortable doing it at that level. They were more comfortable providing the cabinets as a business kind of arrangement. So you really only had Eric driving it. And it was…It was probably too much for one man to do. And…

His goal was really just to get it over the line sort of thing. And as a result…it kind of…

I feel like OHN when it ran head-in first into SS, it was always gonna to be a smaller event anyway. But like, I felt like it still could’ve realized a niche as being the first Australian nationals for Marvel. But no one seemed interested in really pushing that agenda. And as such it turned out to be low-key. And while people came on, Spencer in particular came on board to design the website. And then he started out helping out with more stuff. Just because he could see that there holes that needed to be filled. So he started filling these holes and doing what he could. He did a fantastic job in the end to keep things on track.

And when it was all done and dusted he said, look I’m interested in being involved in the future but I would like to assemble my own team. I want to build from the ground up.

I said well, that’s cool. Because it doesn’t seem that the guys who were on board for the first time are all that keen to come back. So go for it, see what you want to do.

So he and Shane had actually put their heads together, they had already started to take on board some of the Ozhadou website responsibility because Justin and I were looking for people in that space. And both of them sort of have web design skills. Shane in particular. And Spencer’s on the ground on the community, he’s the guy who’s still playing sort of thing so he’s in touch with everything.

So they were stepping up as admin. So it made perfect sense for them to become sort of the OHN drivers. And they sort of built a team to make OHN10 happen.

M: And they also became the primary drivers behind York Street battle right?

Z: Exactly. Yes.

In fact their first step when they stepped was to make YSB…

Spencer said to me very clearly when he took over in the activities post-OHN9. My primary goal is to fix the Sydney scene. Because GGs had closed.

M: Oh yeah there was a big GGs issue.

Z: Yes. We’d been kicked out of GGs. We had no venue. The scene was basically on the brink again, just like way back when Playtime had closed. So they said, look, we found rooms on York Street that we can do locals in. We want to bring the Sydney scene back from the brink. And save it.

GGs.

So that was their job. So they spent the next three or four months just focused on Sydney and doing that. You ask why is it Sydney-centric.

I mean when you got the only two guys that are admin that are in the Sydney scene, of course that’s going to be their primary focus. So that’s what they were doing. And when it became clear that there was interest from the Tekken community to get the next OHN happening. And they were interested in sort of realizing it.

And they invited me to be involved and me and Justin. Once they got their heads straight on doing the YSB stuff, that was when they started to look at planning OHN10.

M: It was the training for OHN10 basically.

Z: Pretty much yeah. They were just sort of getting their sea legs in, so to speak.

And it was also an financial inventory thing too because they used the YSB money to fund the hardware that was needed to run OHN. Because we knew OHN9 didn’t have enough gear. And it was not acceptable to rely on community to bring stuff. Because you can’t at a serious major tournament rely on the community for all the gear.

So they used the YSB…because historically the way it was you went to GGs. You paid your money. GGs split that money with Kevin/Josh who had some consoles there and the cabinets there. And the money was all on that side of the fence. So the community paid their way to use the space.

Now with the YSB situation and also with our guys running it rather than external third parties. You’ve got guys who say, we’ll charge you this much. It pays for the venue and anything we get extra we’ll use to fund hardware. We’ll use to fund stuff the community needs. To make these events bigger and better.

Spencer’s goal was very clear. He said: I want to create a BYO stick local environment for Sydney. I don’t want them to bring monitors, I don’t want them to bring consoles. I want to provide all that for them. I just want them to walk in with a TE under their arm and be ready to play.

So he knew financially what he had to do to get that done. And he and Shane have worked very hard and done a fantastic job, and have enjoyed a lot of support from the Sydney scene.

Because numbers blew up once we started running YSB.

M: Yeah!

Z: The reason why GGs was always stagnant was that the physical room- couldn’t cope. The one time we had sixty dudes turn up in summer for a SFIV tournament at the event, there was a huge fallout with GGs afterwards. Because they had Magic tournaments that night. They couldn’t have sixty Street Fighter dudes in their room. It just doesn’t suit their business model. So the events were always capped at GGs.

Not officially, but physically you went there and if there was more than so many people you felt uncomfortable. The staff weren’t happy that you were there. The Magic players weren’t happy that you were there. There was a bit of friction. It was a discouraging environment.

YSB is the opposite. We want to fill the room with Street Fighter players. That’s all we’re here to do. And if we ever have too many, we’ll try a bigger room!

So it’s kind of, it’s a completely opposite…instead of being constrained it’s now wide arms open for as much growth as we can take.

The Sydney community has wanted to grow for years; this is the first chance they’ve had and they’ve embraced it.

M: That’s amazing.

Everyone should remember that this is a community. And this is based on the passion of people like…This is their hobby and no one pays them to do it. And it’s amazing that things like this can happen because of the passion of dudes like Spencer and Shane.

Z: I guess as well to contrast that with the Melbourne situation where you’ve got tons of events but spread out a lot. And people feeling a bit oversaturated and things.

Shane and Spencer have been petitioned by the community to make the events more frequent.

M: Hmm interesting.

Z: Because at GGs we had weekly at one point or fortnightly, depending.

1:00:00

And there was always a sense of people thought the event was a little bit disposable. It’s kind of ahh I can miss this one. There’s always next week kind of attitude.

So they said, look. These rooms aren’t cheap. And we’re going to buy all these consoles and monitors we can’t be going backwards on our events. You need to feel like if you miss this you miss out kind of thing.

M: Yes.

Z: So people have said to them, I want fortnightly. And they’ve just said straight to their faces: no. You’re not getting fortnightly.

People have said to them, we wanted a little more frequency. So they said, we won’t wait four weeks, we’ll run three weeks and then we’ll run five weeks the next one and see how you respond. Well, numbers are usually down.

So they’ve gone, nope. Keep it four weeks apart. People are always keen…right up to the point that they have to turn up.

M: Heheheh.

Z: Then you know who’s really keen. It’s the OHN2 mistake. Everyone was so keen after OHN. So yeah, six months later, let’s do it. Numbers were down. It’s kinda of…people devalue it the more often it is.

M: Yes. Exactly. I agree 100%. But…um…there’s two sides to the coin. You can definitely argue that the frequency devalues the event. But on the other hand, having a regular place to grind and level up is really good for the community as well.

S: It’s not even that. It’s also about consistency as well. If you have something that is on consistently, people will get it into their routine.

M: They’ll fit their lives around it.

S: Exactly.

Z: Yep. I mean the one downside of YSB is that they haven’t been to lock it into the X Saturday of the month. Like always the first, always the second. But they’re kind of at the mercy of whatever’s already booked into York Street. They book it months in advance actually, they actually make their reservations way in advance. So they’ll know they have a room but unfortunately they just kinda have to move it around a little bit.

S: I was gonna say that this is one thing that I really loved about Couchwarriors while it was at, what was the marriage place?

Z: (Laughs.)

M: The convent. The Abbotsford convent.

S: Yeah. See, that was the first Saturday of every month. You knew where you’re going.

M: Yeah, God was looking down on you.

S: Exactly. And we get random drunk people walking in and going, what the hell are these people doing?

Z: (Laughs.)

S: But that aside, it was really good! And in that sort of 2010 era? We had the four week schedule.

M: Yeah. And we had consistent attendance at Couchwarriors.

S: No we had consistent attendance at everywhere! We had consistent attendance at CCH. We had consistent attendance at Couchwarriors. We had consistent attendance at Deakin.

And actually Deakin grew a lot over that last one where we almost had…I was thinking about getting a second room, because we were just full. Especially during the summer.

But anyway. I think that consistency is one of the most important things in basically everything, in these sort of community based events. Because people will get it into their routine…

M: It’s not just that. Probably Arcade Edition…the Yun and Yang version kinda killed interest for some people as well. So it’s a lot of factors. It’s not just…

S: Yeah but Marvel also was out and…Yeah it’s really interesting.

M: But yeah, go on Ziggy.

8-      S: So actually speaking of OHN, so why did OHN make a decision to go fully pre-reg and BYOC then.

Z: Well the…on the pre-reg side of things we actually did that for EVO APAC. So it wasn’t like we hadn’t done that before.

M: Ah yeah.

Z: In fact OHN9 wound back the clock again because it wasn’t Justin and I calling the shots there so it was kind of wound back in that direction. When we came to OHN10 Spencer and Shane was on board with it in general, and I said, look if I’m pressing the registrations I want pre-reg. Because I can’t do the brackets properly if I have to deal with it on the day. It’s just not worth the hassle.

M: I also agree. Pre-reg is the only thing…you need that for brackets, basically.

Z: To be honest if you want to ask us whether or not it hurt us in terms of people missing out…absolutely people missed out. And I’m sure some people were cheesed off and might not come back because of it. But at the end of the day, you really have to draw a line in the sand if you’re serious about doing this as professionally as you can. I know it’s just a hobby thing, it’s just a community thing. But I mean, we’ve got the gaming presses’ attention now. We’ve got corporate attention to some degree. We can’t keep kind of…stuffing around with this. Now’s the time to get it right.

Go back to OHN1. If I said pre-reg only I would’ve had nobody in the bracket. That was the time. But now, it’s a different generation. It’s a different attitude. Everyone’s kind of hooked in through the websites and the online side of the community now. You’re not dealing…back then you were running tournaments, your nationals were in the arcade where the casuals were played. You were relying on walk-in traffic to make the bracket look okay.

It’s totally different [now]…If you’re in a venue that’s not an arcade. Foot traffic’s not even part of the equation, I don’t even understand why it’s part of your business model anymore!

M: Yeah!

Z: It just doesn’t make any sense. I mean, the thing is too, you gotta ask yourself when you’re running a bracket, why are you running a bracket? Are you just…is it just for giggles or are you running a serious competition? Because if you’re running a serious competition, with serious competitors with a serious title or prize on the line, do you really want the dude who just found out about this morning when he woke up and checked the forums and wandered in off the street saying, I play this game. I’ll have a go.

Now you got another two matches at least in the bracket you’ve got to run for a guy who doesn’t even really care if he’s there or not.

Is that worth it for everybody else?

M: Yep. At a certain point, the integrity of the tournament is more important than the hanger-ons, basically.

Z: Yeah.

There was a guy by the name of Freddie Teo, Summer was his nickname. Melbourne guy. At one point I used to badger him sometimes when I was down in Melbourne. Why aren’t you in the bracket? Why aren’t you in the bracket?

He’s like, I know you see it as getting the numbers up, and that’s fine and everything. But if I’m not serious about this game- it’s disrespectful for me to enter this bracket. And play against these people who have trained and worked hard, when I don’t really…I’m not that interested in it. I’m not serious enough about it.

I used to think that was a negative. But over the years, as I started to realize that I was the annoying hanger-on in the brackets sometimes.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: You start to go, yeah I don’t really care that much if I’m playing or not. And you know, anybody could fill that scrub slot. I mean, a bye or me, it doesn’t almost matter at this point. So, it is kind of…

Don’t get me wrong. I encourage people to have a go. I want people to try. But you do have to sit down and want to win. Even if you think you’re going to go 2 and out. You really need to sit down and be serious.

S: So speaking about brackets, what were your motivations for the Bracketed series?

M: No I mean, can we go on with this a bit more?

S: Alright, sure.

M: I think York Street Battle has a lot to do with…you guys have created…To get pre-reg to work, you have get a culture of pre-reg and BYOC going. And you guys definitely have that going with YSB because I noticed at OHNX quite a few Melbourne players didn’t even realize that it was BYOC. Even though it said there on the site…and I brought my stick because it says BYOC but…

Because they’re not used to it. In Melbourne we don’t really do BYOC. And you guys have trained your players to be used to that. And I think that is really good!

Z: Yeah, I mean, hats off to Spencer and Shane. They’ve been the ones who have done all the hard work on the ground to make that work. But yeah in terms of the decision to do it, I didn’t make that call per se. I think it was Spencer who just kind of fronted up and said, look. If I can provide the monitors and consoles and they can provide the sticks we can meet halfway here. Because the problem with the old model of, or the classical model of, look, if enough people bring enough stuff, we can make enough setups to make this work.

You just never know what’s going to come in the door. Whereas the attitude that sort of that EVO has taken that seems to work pretty well for them is…

We can provide you the monitors and the consoles and the games. All we ask is that when we call you up to play, you actually have a device upon which you can play. And I mean it just makes it clear who’s bringing what to the party if you know what I mean?

There’s no people to bring in two bowls of chips and no dip if you know what I mean?

M: Yeah. (Laughs.)

Z: So you actually get all the food you need for the banquet so to speak. And that way… The good thing about sticks too is that it’s one of those things that you can kind of…you don’t need one per player really. You say you want that, but you can get by with quite a few less. Because you’re never going to have one console per player. Not like a Halo tournament or something. You can manage a bit less. You can make up the shortfall. You don’t need everybody to be on board. You just need enough people and enough people who are generous and kind enough to be willing to share their gear with other people. And you can get it over the line.

But in terms of…if you look at all the stuff that you got to provide for console tournaments, the logical way to split the responsibility between the organizers and the players, is controllers on the players’ side. Because that’s the part they need to use, and that they might be personally touchy about. And the other side which they’re insensitive to, you can mass collect on the collector’s side.

S: The other thing with the BYOC is…why would you trust somebody else’s stick? Because obviously, you’re in a tournament. You want to use something which feels natural and which you’ve been practicing on.

Personally if I’m ever gonna be playing in a tournament, I want to be playing on something that I’ve either played on before. Or I feel comfortable with. Or something that is mine. Because, to use a stupid analogy is…I’m not going to borrow your pair of shoes to go play basketball.

Z: (Laughs.) Exactly.

M: Yeah. It’s just a culture. We were discussing BYOC in our Couchwarriors and in our Illuminati Shadowloo meetings and like…some people are resistant to it because they’re just used to it. We have to create the culture of BYOC in Melbourne and in Australia countrywide, because we’re getting to the point to do it otherwise at majors anymore.

Z: Two things One side of it is definitely the um…I understand carrying a TE  under your arm for a while, especially if you’re on public transport is a pain in the neck. Don’t get me wrong. I understand it’s not fun. Imagine what it’s like at EVO where you got to lug that sucker around for half a day.

S: I’m it. I lugged two!

Z: Exactly, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I understand the resistance because it’s a pain. Okay, if you can find friends to share the burden…let’s face it. This is a social community, you are supposed to try to make hook ups here. Make friends, share the burden. Make it a bit easier for yourself. You know, three guys are sharing a stick over the course of the day. And only one has to babysit it from time to time. That’s not so bad.

On the other side, definitely that arcade culture of…you come in and you play with the tools that you find. Is very much ingrained in a lot of the older players for sure. Give you an example, when I went up to the ACL finals in Brisbane last year, some guy has his own Hyper Fighting cabinet that he brought into the event. And those controls were wired up terribly. One side, the kicks and the punches were the wrong way around. The other side certain directions on the stick weren’t working and certain buttons weren’t working. And you know what, people played the hell out of that.

Because it was a challenge! People said they wanted to play, I don’t care if it’s wrong. I’ll just work out how to cope with…

And so when it’s casuals anyway, there’s this attitude of…I hear the U.S. OGs say it all the time. If they walked in and they found a SFII cabinet and heavy punch wasn’t working, they’d say okay. Who can I pick, that I can win with without heavy punch. It was a puzzle to be solved. That was the attitude they took.

Now…it’s not the attitude that I ever take. I actually get really annoyed when I get on a cabinet and things don’t work. But there’s that a generation of people who say, if you give me a stick, and it’s…a lemon I’ll just make lemonade out of it. It’s okay. I’ll find a way to deal with it.

S: To be honest though, in the early arcade days…because I was an arcade rat. And I played in arcades literally all over the world. Including Spain, France, and so forth. And you know, I’ve played in some really dingy places. The thing is you just sort of walk in, you put your money in…and yeah it’s basically like rolling the dice, honestly.

And you just do what you can. But we’ve gotten to the point that arcades are no longer around. And if you’re going to be playing in a serious tournament…personally you want to bring your own stuff.

The other problem with the arcades in those days were…the owners. It’d cost them money to replace things every time. And basically you have to look at the bottom line. If people are still playing on half-broken things. And the money’s coming in…well why fix something that’s not broken. Even though the sticks are broken. Bad pun but still.

Z: The thing is too, when you walk into the arcade to play on that broken controller it was casual time right? You were just mucking around. Some practice was some practice no matter how silly it might’ve been.

To my mind, walking in and playing on a broken cabinet is the same as going online and getting nothing but lag matches. You would just make the most out of the situation. Walking into a tournament…if you walked into a tournament and there was bad lag, you’d probably walk out.

Walk into a tournament and the sticks weren’t working. I remember this happened when we tried to run a KOF tournament at Playtime once. The stick weren’t working, everybody just stepped back and waited two hours for the technician to come in. Because they refused to play on it.

That’s a fine example of why arcade tournaments are and should be dead. Because the environment’s just not conducive to getting the right quality at the right time. And that’s why we need, for tournament play, there needs to be a mindset of, I know you always have the casual guys but you need a mindset of if you’re a competitor, you need to have a certain gear of a certain quality. And you have to understand there’s a certain amount of responsibility on you. I mean we emphasize that with the rules all the time like…if you didn’t read a rule, and you accidently paused and your player decided to take the round, there’s no point in complaining and crying. It’s written down there, you had a chance to read it before.

M: Yeah 100%.

Z: But yeah, a lot of people really have trouble crossing the line. Going from a casual mindset, to “this is just a game” to I’m competing at this game here.

And it’s funny, because often people on the casual side get really mad about losing and stuff. And they’re not really in that competitive mindset either. They kind of live in this weird hybrid space where they think they’re competitive but they’re not. And they can be a bit frustrating to deal with at times. But it’s…because they’ll compete, but they’re not really competing and they’re the guys who will not turn up with a stick and then cry when you don’t give them a stick, and all that sort of stuff.

M: To get off the topic of BYOC for a while, I’d like to go back to when you talked about Justin Wong and bringing Daigo over. It seems that you guys definitely have a history of bringing over international players before. But you guys…are you for it in this day and age?

9-   What are your thoughts on organizers flying out big name players to their events?

Z: Well in terms of history…I mean you know…I mentioned why Daigo came out. I never quite finished probably saying why Justin Wong came out.

M: Mm.

Z: Ultimately we had spare money from the SBO fund that didn’t get used because we didn’t send a team.

M: Ahh. Okay.

Z: Between that and player donations and Joey calling up Justin directly instead of talking to Triforce…

S: Heh.

Z: And saying, are you free? Would you like to come?

He’s like, yeah man I’ll come. Just pay for the ticket. And so we did that. And then next thing you know, Justin Wong’s in Sydney. It was just learning the right way to go about it basically.

And we only entertained the idea because we knew OHN6 was a dead event. It was dead in the water, there was no interest.

M: Ah, I see.

Z: No one was coming from Melbourne, no one cared. I say no one, but Toxy was always gonna to come right? Because he’s just hardcore. But Kevin wasn’t coming until he heard about Justin Wong. And a whole bunch of other people weren’t really coming until they heard about Justin Wong.

Teenage Toxy! vs. Shaaa OHN5.

So he was the only meat in the sandwich that year. There was nothing else. There was no hype around any of the games. And I mean Justin won seven of the eight games, or whatever.

M: Heheh.

Z: It was free, pretty much. His match against Kevin in Third Strike was the only really epic final that he was in. And Kevin gave him a real run for his money. But you know, Ibuki and Chun Li in Third Strike, what can you do?

M: (Laughs.)

Z: And don’t get me wrong, I don’t know if you’ve watched those videos but damn, he fought about it and he put a damn good hard effort in. But still, it’s Chun Li vs. Ibuki.

M:Yeah heh.

Z: But yeah, he was brought out really because the event had nothing else. And it was also making up for the failure of OHN5 in not getting him out. OHN was always intended as a national rivalry tournament. It was never meant to be a vehicle for international competition.  Even EVO APAC wasn’t meant to be a vehicle for national competition…It was really meant to…

Well actually…I told a lie there. We were trying to get people from South East Asia. We were talking to Singapore and Hong Kong. And we were talking to New Zealand. We got New Zealand out obviously, but for the others we just couldn’t…strike a deal there, so to speak.

So we had had plans along that direction but we never put in the effort required to make it work. That’s the most honest way to say it. It’s not that we would be against the idea of having a bunch of big names in Sydney from all over the world going at it. It’s just…the amount of money and time and investment needed…No one on the team then or now is prepared to do what’s necessary. Or is invested in realizing it to make it kind of happen.

So…yeah you have to really want it to happen and then be prepared to put in the hours to do it.

M: And is there a conscious decision with the presence of Shadowloo Showdown now, it’s like oh they got the guests. Let them do the guests and we’ll focus on the national side of things. Is that…

Mago the 2D God, SS2010.

Z: I think that’s a natural response to the situation at hand. I mean after EVO APAC there was kind of the sense that we weren’t prepared for Daigo. And what Daigo…

Because Daigo was post-Justin Wong of course. And with Justin Wong, the fan factor wasn’t the same.

People didn’t line up for Justin Wong’s autography. This was all pre-SFIV as well. So a) it’s wasn’t that generation and b) yeah it’s Justin Wong. More people saw him as a villain than as a hero, so!

M: (Laughs.)

S: Ah yes.

Z: So it was a completely different mindset. And we just weren’t prepared for the amount of people that came to spectate just because Daigo was there. The amount of people that signed up to play just cause Daigo was there. The amount of people that wanted to talk to him or get an autograph. The amount of Japanese people living in Sydney that turned just because Daigo…we’ve never seen those people ever again.

But you know, they came up just because of him.

M: Hell, I went down to Sydney for Daigo.

Z: See! Heh.

But yeah, there was a lot of that. But yeah you’re in the community and you would’ve come for Street Fighter sort of regardless. But there were dudes we’d never seen before and have never seen since. And I think you probably had that at Shadowloo Showdown at well. Dudes that turned up that you’d never seen them before.

M: And never seen them again. Yeah.

Z: And never seen them again. Just because they want that, I’ve seen this dude on Cross Counter, or I’ve watched this dude’s matches so many times…

M: Yeah pretty much. Heh.

Z:  I wanna breathe his air, I wanna play against him, I wanna be in the same room as him…

M: I wanna steal his Coke…

Z: I want his name on my TE damnit!

M: Yes.

Z: So they go for that. There’s a drawcard to that. And that’s a great thing. I don’t know financially how to build a tournament around it, personally.

M: Is it sustainable here in Australia?

S: That’s a very good question.

Z: If I were to do it the way I do things, no.

It totally can’t be done the way I approach things. The way Shane and Spencer are approaching things right now as well, I don’t think it would be.

I don’t know how the Shadowloo Showdown guys do business. I’m pretty sure the Couchwarriors guys if they were left to their own devices, the way they do things, it wouldn’t make sense.

But because Shadowloo’s got this international perspective. And they’ve got their fingers in pies beyond Australia. And they’re taking a business approach towards it and networking on a business level.

M: That is the biggest difference. Like Couchwarriors and Ozhadou we’re kind of like…a non-profit organization with a hobby, community side on things. And Shadowloo is a business, straight up.

Z: Precisely, yeah. So props to those guys. People like xx (name removed by request).  In that, in their time and even Eric to some degree, had a more business mindset. And sort of tried to push in that direction. But nobody’s had the manpower or the powers or the resources that Shadowloo have brought to the table. And um…it takes the right combination of people that you’re comfortable to work with, and the right dedication across all those people.

It’s not hard for me to find friends to work with, within the community. But finding friends to work with who are prepared to put in the amount of effort I am or more…

Because it takes more than what I put in to do what Shadowloo does. Way more.

That just takes you know, the right place, the right time, the right people.

Because first of all, you’ve got no money to hire these dudes. You’re relying on them just turning up and being keen. It’s not easy.

M: It’s not easy at all. It’s a humongous task. And Shadowloo is not replicable, because they have Ali, who does it basically full-time. And you have the brothers who have the necessary skills and…they live in the same house and they…

Z: Well that’s right. If you look at SRK.com you have to ask yourself, if the Cannon brothers weren’t brothers and twins would SRK look like what it looks today? Who knows? Would EVO look like what it looks today? Who knows?

So sometimes it just takes the right combo of people, the right place, the right time, and you just don’t know where it’s going to happen.

M: Yep exactly.

Daigo vs Derrace. GGs, EVO APAC.

10-   So yeah, before we move onto another topic, so what do you think of Daigo being in Sydney while…we were in Melbourne for Shadowloo Showdown! (Laughs.)

Z: That was a surreal time!

Because I got phone calls as I was getting off the plane for Shadowloo Showdown 1. And Joey’s like, yeah I hear Daigo’s in Sydney.

I’m like, you have got to be kidding me.

M: Yeah, what a troll!

Z: What is with this man!

But anyway we tried talking to him about SS. And we tried talking to him about coming to S3 which is like the weekend after. And he was like, nah, I’m just here to chill. And we’re like, that’s cool, that’s cool.

But we’ve never talked to Daigo directly. There’s a language barrier obviously. But it’s always been going through like his agent, his representative. Who I think- she’s with Capcom USA by memory.

M: Ah.

Z: So he represents him when talking to, I guess, Western interests.

S: Even now, when he’s sponsored by Mad Catz?

Z: No it might be different now. Well actually no, he was sponsored by Mad Catz at EVO APAC wasn’t he?

S: Uhh..

M: Yes he was wearing the Mad Catz shirt, remember?

S: Yes. Yes. Actually I think that was the one of the first tournaments that he went to sponsored by Mad Catz, actually.

M: Yeah, pretty much.

Z: I remember people saying, oh you know, Mad Catz sponsored him to go to EVO APAC. And that used to rub me the wrong way. Because Mad Catz had…

M: (Laughs.)

S: Nothing to do…

Z: Nothing to do with anything. It was just Seth getting in touch with us, then putting us in touch with this woman who was managing him who I think was within Capcom USA who was like his liaison. We got no official assistance from Mad Catz, no money, no nothing.

I’m always a little bit cynical actually about sponsored players as a tournament organizer. Because it’s kinda the “what’s in it for me” attitude. It’s sort of like, okay, yeah you’re paying the player to do the thing and the stuff, but then I got to pay to get him here?

M: Yeah. I think there was this misconception of sponsored players at the start of this whole phenomenon. But now people are starting to realize the reality of it that I guess a lot of sponsors don’t really do anything for…

S: No…it’s not actually that. I think the majority of the sponsorships are…if to say the player’s a U.S. sponsored player, they’re only sponsored for U.S. tournaments. They’re not sponsored for international tournaments.

Oh sorry, the scope of the contract is; we will sponsor you to go to U.S. tournaments. So if they say they wanna go to SBO or they wanna go to Australia or they wanna go to Singapore, or anywhere else, I believe you get there on your own dime. You’re still representing us…but…

M: But what I mean is with this big rush of people to go and get sponsored at the start of this trend, and now you see people kind of leaving their contracts and people being unhappy with their situations.

S: Yeah because…just like with most other places most people don’t really think about lawyering up and reading contracts.

M: Heh, lawyering up.

S: I’m serious.

Z: Yep.

S: It’s the same as signing a contract on your phone. Do you know how people don’t read their 24 month contract? And then they decide to back out. And they go well wait a minute, you owe us six hundred dollars.

M: Yep, pretty much.

S: It’s the same deal. People don’t sit down and you know, read contracts. I mean, it’s a nice idea but…

The other thing is actually, what I really wanted to say, I think Gootecks and Mike Ross really…

I think their sponsorships is probably one of the most interesting things is because Gootecks is already orientated from a business perspective, has that sort of a mind. And when they announced they got sponsored, I actually really wanted to see that contract.

M: Ah. (Laughs.)

Z: (Laughs.)

M: It would be interesting to read…but that’s never gonna happen.

S: It’s never gonna happen but I would really like to see that because I think that would sort of give the perspective of how a sponsorship should work, where I believe there is a give and take in that relationship rather than…not so much in from what  I’ve noticed from all the other sponsorship.

Especially some of the Mad Catz ones which I find a little bit more…very interesting.

But anyway, let’s not get sidetracked too much.

11-   M: Yep! So next topic, are you guys gonna do a followup to S3?

Z: S3. Oh geez. S3 was the kind of the unofficial successor of the heatwave which I think was the unofficial successor to nothing.

I think it was just borne out of…not much happening at the time. By memory.

It was kind of a gap filler. At one point Justin and I talked about having bi-annual instead of annual in Sydney, like major wise. Where there would always be the national level focus one and another one that was lower key that people could come to.

It never really took off because probably you go through that phase and thinking, yeah we can do more of this. And after you do a major, it’s like no, we can’t do more of this!

M: (Laughs.)

Z: So you kind of…you have to be a little bit realistic about these sorts of things sometimes.

M: Yeah. You have to be slightly insane, I think. I think guys like Ali and Chris (GC) are slightly insane. Because they do one event and it was…oh man. That was so tough. Oh, let’s do it next week!

(Laughs.)

Z: Yeah when I walked into the Capcom showcase in Sydney and saw Ali and Chris and that doing their thing there. My first reaction was oh, it’s a shame that Sydney guys weren’t invited to do this. And a few minutes later I looked at the condition and I went, glad I’m not doing this!

M: (Laughs.)

Z: Because you just think, you really have to want to do it.

M: Yeah!

Z: You have to be kind of in the space…so props to those guys for…it takes a lot to…

M: Yeah!

Z: They are willing to say, that’s it. Antarctica tournament. Let’s go tomorrow. Let’s just do it! They’ll do it out in the middle of the snow. They don’t care.

M: I’m pretty sure he would. Unless he ran out of gas on the way.

Z: (Laughs.)

But like yeah, I’m well and truly into this is a hobby and I’m an old man and I whinge about things. So I’d be there going oh man, why do I not have more sticks. Why can’t I get these people out of my way. I don’t have a megaphone, this is unacceptable, I’m going to have a bit of a fit!

But like Ali’s, no, I will soldier. And that’s just the way it is.

M: (Laughs). Yes.

Z: So like, I think one of the problems with wanting to do more majors is that there has to be the sort of reasonable amount of motivation. I think, looking nationally, I think what the scene needs now is more, more stuff in the other regions that have critical mass. Like I feel like…I don’t think that Perth and Adelaide are there yet. But they’re on the path. And I think…I don’t know if Canberra will ever get there just due to the population but you never know. But Brisbane I feel is kind of living in sort of a limbo space at the moment. Like, good stuff happens in Brisbane. But it just hasn’t quite cemented itself to sort of…The fusion of events to create a sustainable major quite hasn’t happened. It feels like all the parts are there. But that one last catalyst doesn’t seem to be coming on. Maybe it’ll happen this year, maybe next year, I dunno. But I’d be more interested in helping create something that fills a gap like that. Whereas I feel another major in Sydney wouldn’t really be plugging a gap at the moment. I think that between YSB and OHN they’re well and truly sorted out.

M: Yes.

S: To be honest with you, I think the only…from talking to Tom from Queensland, I think they’re just missing a Gamogo or a Shane or an Ali to just take all those little bits and go, look this is what we’re doing, come out.

M: Mm. Somebody with the right mixture of free time and passion.

S: Yeah. Just the leader, to basically unite the Queenslanders.

M: Well there was one guy that they mentioned that was one guy for a while…was it Val…sorry

S: I’m not sure, I can’t remember.

M: I can’t remember either.

S: But I think that’s the one thing Queensland’s missing, just basically one motivational guy to go, look, this is where stuff’s gonna be happen. Be here, and let’s get things going.

Z: Yeah. Because between Slapper on the Ozhadou/Lansmash side and JB on the Lansmash side, I mean, they’ve got some of the best streaming gear in the country. Bar maybe Bugsimus. They’re got plenty of gaming gear and hookups. And they’ve got venue access and they’ve got players there. As you say they just seem to lack one dude who’s like, I’m going to make sure this is going to happen, sort of thing.

Toxy and Heavy Weapons. OHN8.

12-   M: Mm. And speaking about streaming, why don’t we get more match videos and streams out of Sydney. Why aren’t there YSB streams? I’ve always wondered about this.

Z: Okay. The reality of Sydney is that everybody is lazy by default. But I imagine that’s the same in every scene, right? So you’re waiting for that one magic man to emerge from amongst the masses and say, I am your superhero. I will save the world. I will do this job. And no man has put up his hand, and come in to be the hero for the stream for Sydney. It just hasn’t materialized.

I mean, Benson has done some stuff on and off. As has TheMuso. But TheMuso doesn’t seem to available when YSB’s happening consistently to be the go-to guy. And Benson’s sort of in a similar boat. So the end result is that no one individual has said, I feel like being the streamer. Everyone’s still kind of happy being the player or the bracket guy or whatever.

And um, and you guys would know, probably from talking to Bugsimus, it’s not a cheap endeavor. Once you decide to stream man, you’ve really got to have some capital behind you, and be committed. And hours. I mean it’s not a…

M: Not an easy job.

Z: …small undertaking. So again, it’s just waiting for that guy to turn up. At the moment, we’re cheating at OHN and using the talents of JB and Slapper to get it done with Lansmash resources. But I mean if you don’t have it, you just outsource, that’s just the way the world works. But you can’t do that at a local level so.

S: So what about more media content in general.

How about just getting like matches from YSB recorded and then put up on Ozhadou.

M: Youtube.

S: Because this is the thing, for example I didn’t even know that YSB is on today. And by the way, to be 100% honest, I don’t really follow the Australian fighting game scene that much. My main interest…I mean I love the Australian fighting game community, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t follow it as much as I follow the US. Because there’s just so much more media content coming out of the US. And I would really want to know what’s happening in Sydney. Besides going to Ozhadou and reading the forums, there’s no other way for me to really get any information on what’s happening. And not just in Sydney, by the way. In any of the local scenes. And yeah, it’s just a bit disappointing, because I’m actually really interested to know what’s happening in Adelaide. Especially in WA. I only see Derrace once or twice a year. Mr Chowda, Guillotine Fist. I know they’re out there doing stuff…but why don’t…tell me something! I want to know!

Z: Yeah exactly. Because most of my knowledge from around the country comes from occasionally glancing at the forums. Which I don’t read anywhere near as much as I did five years ago. In fact I barely look at it these days. So you know, aside from just scanning my eyes down the tournament announcement threads, you’ve got no idea what’s going on. And um, I mean, OH as a centre of information has fallen quite short of what it could’ve been and what it should be.

The front page blog has been a complete and utter debacle. Part of the problem is again, there’s no guy who’s gone and put his hand up and said I will be the blogger of Ozhadou. So the end result is I do my little thing every week, where I just have my little rant about tournament organization. And then you’ve got occasionally if Shane’s got five minutes between his ridiculous work schedule to say something, he might.

Justin was head blogger but he’s faded into the background. There were a few other guys that have been on there but they just don’t commit, so.

M: Like myself.

Z: Okay, you’re selling yourself short there, Mutton. Because to be honest, the one area that I don’t usually have to worry about where the news is covered is Melbourne. Because I know if there’s something serious in Melbourne, you’ll usually jump on and you’ll blog it. Like even with OHN I had to blog everything, except Melbourne. Because you would always jump on there and blog Melbourne.  So thank you very much for doing that.

M: Well I could be doing a better job. But that’s another discussion for another day.

Z: Yeah.

M: And actually I have a little bit of an issue these days with everyone doing streams…I can’t embed stream videos on the little window there…

Z: Oh yeah because that little text box doesn’t really let you do much.

M: Yeah so it’s not Youtube I can’t put it there, and it’s kind of annoying because…but okay that’s another discussion [for another day]…

Z: Yeah, yeah. Exactly. But I mean, the front page has been due for a overhaul now for a long time now. Our weblord Gamogo has just been busy with other tasks and hasn’t been able to get it done. There’s prototypes and stuff, and things are moving along. And seriously six or twelve months ago I would’ve loved to see something go up. I can’t tell you when it may or may not happen, it’s a question that he needs to be asked, I guess. But that’s definitely something I would like to…

Because my vision of the front page blog was really it should’ve have been a key events aggregator the way that Eventhubs is for the rest of the world. Just saying, this event is on. In this place, this weekend. Keep it in mind. Or, so and so, here’s a quick rundown of the winners from last weekend. Or, Capcom’s doing a thing in Sydney this weekend or this day, remember it.

Those kind of soundbites. Or even, hey guys. Street Fighter x Tekken is on the shelf now at JB. Or it’s dropped today. There’s heaps of Australian specific news you could blog.

S: Yeah definitely.

Z: It just that nobody seems to be willing to be the blog man. So again, there’s a lot of potential. Like in a lot of parts of the scene, and Ozhadou as a site for a lot of that. But it just needs the men on the ground. It just needs the men on the ground. It needs people to want to commit to it and make it happen.

M: Yeah.

So yeah. You just mentioned Bracketed. Do you want to talk about your motivations for creating that?

13-   S: Yeah, so what were your motivations for creating Bracketed?

Z: It was a bit of a…It was a two phase thing. Everybody knows that I gave rather vocal feedback after the second Shadowloo Showdown.

M: Yes.

Z: I won’t go into details into that.

S: Oh no, we got questions for that.

Z: Ah okay. Very good. (Laughs.)

It was kind of two pronged, okay maybe three pronged. On the one hand, I built this spreadsheet for doing all of my seeding at OHN. And I thought it was a good tool. But I knew it was horrifically user-unfriendly because I’m not a programmer. I’m a mathematician. So I can only program enough to get my algorithms to work. And then the rest is just good luck.

It’s a tool that does what I need it to do. But you just can’t hand it to someone and say, use it. It’s like Challonge, it’s not.

So I thought well, if I did a series of articles or whatever where I explain the functionality and give an example of how to use it, like a living training manual. Then at least people wouldn’t have the excuse that they…even if I’ve said, look it’s a better tool and they say well it’s hard to use. [I can say] well I’ve tried to educate you even if you’re not interested kind of thing. That was one side of it.

The other side of it was a certain degree of frustration of trying to give feedback to tournament organisers. And it not being taken on board or it taken too much to heart rather than seen as constructive criticism. And wanting to have a way to share that with the wider audience. Because it seemed that the target audience wasn’t prepared to listen.

And I thought maybe if I started to talk to everybody instead of just the organisers, maybe the attendees would become start to become vocal about things that they either liked or didn’t like. It’s a two-way street as well, if they love something, by all means identify, understand why it works and then praise it. Rather than just blindly praising it.

Um, so there was some of the of two sides of it. And originally I thought I would only write about my spreadsheet and my theories about how I’d like to seed the bracket. And then that would be kind of the end of the road and I’d have nothing else to say. And then when I started thinking about it, there’s kind of a ridiculous amount of little micro things I can talk about it when it comes to running a tournament. So then I just kind of kept kicking it along, and kicking it along and I don’t think that it’s gonna go forever. I can see an end in sight. Because I’m sure I’ll start repeating myself. But um, it’s been a bit of a catharsis for me just to get things off my chest. I hope it doesn’t come across completely negative, it’s meant to be encouraging and empowering, not talking down to people. I suppose I have a habit of that being my tone sometimes. But the lack of feedback makes it hard for me to tell if anyone’s reading or if anyone cares. But um…

M: I read it. I enjoy it, finding out more about that stuff. And yeah, I think that the tone you have is fine. Because I’m dumb, I need to be educated!

Z: (Laughs.)

S: It’s not even that, you also almost have ten years experience in running tournaments!

M: Pretty much, yeah.

Z: I guess it’s the other thing too is that it’s awesome that people want do it their way. And I totally respect that. And I know we need people who want to do that. Because you’re never going to get innovation without people saying no I’ve got an idea and I’m going to make it happen.

But it makes me bleed inside when I watch people make the same mistake I made five years ago.

M: I see, I see.

Z: It’s like, you could have dodged that bullet. There was no reason to take that hit. And you’ve taken the hit and now everybody’s going to have to wait another five years for you to learn the lesson. It’s like no. We’re further than that. And we’re…running a tournament shouldn’t really be a…It’s competitive from the sense that we all want to one-up each other and offer a greater experience. But it doesn’t have to be competitive from the sense of: we’ve all got to make the same mistake five times in a row before somebody learns anything. I’d rather stand on the shoulder of giants whether that be Shadowloo or Couchwarriors or whoever. Rather than just going, oh man. I’ve just paid no attention to what was happening over there. And now I’m starting from the ground floor again. It’s like… but dude, there’s all this stuff you could’ve based your ideas on. There’s no need to start from the… The wheel is invented, don’t reinvent the wheel.

M: Heheh. Yes.

S: It’s basically just trying to mitigate certain pitfalls which you can actually do by…That actually makes sense. I mean. There is a lot of…this reminds me actually of any OHN…not OHN. Operational Health and Safety environment at any work. That’s basically what they do. They tell you to sit up and straight. To have your monitor at 90 degrees. And you’re basically doing the same thing except for it’s just running a tournament.

Z: Exactly.

14-   S: So why did you create the 2011 Shadowloo Showdown feedback thread?

Z: It was an interesting thing. Because while I was on the floor on Shadowloo Showdown, people would come up to me from Sydney mainly, but also on Queensland and say to me, oh I’m not happy this has been done with this bracket. I’m not happy with this thing.

And I said well…primarily it was often seeding. And you get that with every tournament. People whinge about seeding. It’s inevitable. So um…I said to people. Well you know, okay. You’re not happy about seeding. I mean you’re in the heat of the moment, because you’re about to play. If someone can kind of give me a look at the brackets so that I can take it away and think about it and actually quantify how the brackets have been done, let’s see if you have a case or if you’re being emotional.

And I knew I was never going to be able to get that data directly from the organisers. But it was published on the wall, public for anybody to write down if they had the time. So some guys snapped some shots for me and sent them across to me and I put together some stats. And I was surprised how good the regional spread was when I did that. I felt that a lot of the people from interstate were really unfair to Loki because considering the awful data…the way it came into him. He managed to apply…I don’t know how he managed to do it but he managed to get a good pretty good spread…

M: By being superhuman. That’s how he did it.

Z: Oh yes. He’s more machine than man.

M: Yes!

Z: He ended up creating something that worked pretty well. Obviously it had its gripes. Like Tom, Australian champion for Marvel in the middle of some random pool somewhere kind of thing. In the end of the day that was never going to be sorted [out] in that environment. But it was more so that I wanted to analyse how it had been done, and just identify… If it had been stacked. Like all of Sydney in Pool A or whatever. To say to people, yep that really did go down, you should be upset about it and people should be thinking of how that happened and how they can mitigate it. Or if it wasn’t the case, it’s like you people are just emotional because you’re in a tournament and you’re hyped up and you’re psyched, cut some people some slack and just chill.

But I mean after the event, while people had their feedback and gripes, a lot of people had a lot of positive things to say and really had a good time. So um…

M: But why did you create that thread. When I read it, I thought it had a lot of fascinating discussion and I agreed with a  lot of things that you said. But why did you not instead bring that to a private discussion with the Shadowloo organisers instead of putting it out there and perhaps giving kind of like an open target board for people to shoot things at them.

S: I guess what one is sort getting around is, do you think it would’ve been perhaps been better to give them the data in a private forum, rather than a public forum.

Z: Yeah, it definitely would’ve been better. Except that I’d already done that before, for Shadowloo Showdown 1. Where’d I talked directly to Ali and a few other people on how things went down at that event. And I’d kept my feedback private. And I’d also filled out their survey that they put out, which was a good idea, afterwards.

And I was quite vocal in that. Because I wanted them to know everything that was on my mind. I figured yeah, the more they know the better they can manage things. And when I turned up to Shadowloo Showdown 2 and saw that either solutions had been applied that were worse than the original, or things that I’d highlighted had been totally ignored…

And in the lead up to Shadowloo Showdown 2 I tried to sort of talk to the organisers  and was pretty much not getting any engagement. So I felt that I had no line of direct communication. And especially when you consider that Shadowloo Showdown was over the top of OHN9 as well, there was a lot of tension around the degree to which people kind of cooperated on an organizational level. So I sort of felt that the door was closed at that point in time. Or I tried walking through it and there was no receptiveness being displayed.

M: Perhaps you were talking to the wrong guy. You should have talked to Loki directly, maybe.

Z: Yeah I think on the bracket side of things I could’ve talked to Loki directly. But I mean, it’s difficult too. Because again, full props to Loki for all that he does, and he does a fantastic job. But I kind of put my hand up when I went to the first BAM and said can I help. Because I’m not a competitor. I’m more than happy to pitch in and lend a hand. Loki said, no that’s cool, we want to run our own thing. And I respected that and I provided some assistance where I could with some gear and stuff. But otherwise it was their thing. And that was fine. But even when it was sort of talking to Loki I found that it was sort of, look it’s my bracket, it’s my thing, just give me my space. And that’s cool. I respect that, that’s fine.

But it kind of means…Loki’s way more receptive to direct feedback, but I was seeing it as a Shadowloo event more than a Loki event. So I felt that the umbrella was really Shadowloo.

And really Couchwarriors advertised…It wasn’t made clear from the advertisement whether that CouchWarriors was running the brackets and Shadowloo was running the promotional…It was never really delineated like that. It was kind of, this is a Shadowloo event, we might be outsourcing some small aspects of it but um…

M: I guess it is really unclear to the rest of the states what is Shadowloo and what is CouchWarriors.

Z: Yeah!

 But the reality is that we’re just basically all in Melbourne. And if it’s a Melbourne major, it’s very likely that all the Melbourne people will be helping out. So kind of…it’s called Shadowloo Showdown because it is run by Shadowloo, but you have Couchwarriors staff and Couchwarriors gear and even Impact people running the brackets, and so on and so forth.

Z: Well yeah in terms of running things that’s certainly how it works, like it’s often a team effort with people pitching in. But what you find is at some point, you need a king. You need someone to sit in the CEO’s chair and make the final call.

S: The go-to guy.

Z: Someone needs to have the final power to say this is how we’re going to do it and this is not. Otherwise you end up with decision paralysis where ten people have a different opinion. So someone has to sit in that chair, and usually that person comes from one organization or another. So what ends up happening there’s usually one group that says, look. At the end of the day it’s our name up in lights. Or we’re going to be the front man on this, we’re going to take the final hits.

I always feel if I walk up to a BAM, Loki’s the man. Like Couchwarriors guy will be making the final call to what happens. If I walk into Shadowloo Showdown I feel like Ali or one of his brothers will be the final decision point to making a call. The same as if I walk into a Lansmash, I’d imagine I would have to talk to JB, no else in the room is gonna be the final “this is how it’s gonna be” kinda guy.

The first BAM.

Not to say that’s a good or bad thing, that’s just the reality of having…how these things end up working.

M: And I guess from a practical point of view, we did not expect to get five hundred people in the door for Shadowloo Showdown 2. And…

Z: No way.

M: And talking to Ali on that weekend was basically so hard with so much shit going on…that weekend!

Z: Well I mean you guys know, talking to me for five seconds at OHN…

M: Yeah it’s already really difficult.

Z: And that event was less than half the size. So like, once you get into that zone and you got a job to do, that’s it. You can’t really deal with any external stuff.

That’s why the pre-planning phase is so…

M: So important, yes I agree.

Z: Because you’re gonna pretty much lay all the foundations and once they’re laid down…

Things that broke down at OHN like the staffing roster and the way that happened…There was no capacity to fix it on the fly because everyone’s just too locked into what they’re trying to do. And I imagine Shadowloo Showdown was the same, but amplified by a factor of ten.

So like, if Loki was sitting there going, man I wish I had five more guys to run this bracket, well there aren’t five more guys to run this bracket now. And the way they’re gonna do it has been laid out in stone so they’re just going to have to soldier and hope that they come out the other side. It’s hard but that’s unfortunately because we just don’t have that amount of trustworthy people that you can call up at a drop of a hat. Often, if the scope of something blows up on you, you just sort of kind go, put your head down and hope for the best.

M: Especially with a major on the level of a OHN or Shadowloo Showdown you just can’t call a random Joe and hey, hold this bracket for me.

Z: And what happened with the finals at OHNX is a beautiful example of how you set everything up and it’s kind of got around to that, and kind of any fix is a catastrophic fix. And it’s kind of…you don’t want to go there but…you have to finish it somehow.

15-   M: But yeah, you were very transparent in your own criticisms and judgments of what went wrong with OHN. And kind of after having all that discussion about Shadowloo Showdown 2K11, how do you feel OHNX worked from an organizational perspective. Do you think things could’ve been done better, what were you actually happy about, so on and so forth.

Z: Yeah I guess I probably covered it already in painful detail on the forums.

M: Yeah heh.

Z: But I think in terms of…overall it worked well. But my…the fact that we managed to get all the games’ finals on the same day somehow and kind of bring that all together, give BYO games or DIY games a little bit of stage time… Get our first OHN stream and all the rest of it. We ticked a lot of boxes that we wanted to tick, and I’m very happy with that, the brackets, the way they ran and everything.

Biggest failures…nearly having a dude from Brisbane having to fly home on Friday because he was underage for being in the venue was a huge catastrophe.

S: Oh really?

M: I did not know that.

Z: Yeah. Baxter from Queensland was under 18. And we didn’t realize that we weren’t allowed to have under 18s in the venue because there was a bar kinda there.

Because we actually didn’t realize that stipulation from the prior year. The staff had turned over at the venue and they were much more rigid on enforcing it.

M: Ah I see.

Z: In the end we negotiated no alcohol in the room. And he could stay but if there’s any alcohol, him and the guy who brought the alcohol would have to leave immediately kind of thing. So we managed to negotiate terms. But at one point we were going to be paying to fly him home. That’s how…

M: That’s how bad it was.

Z: How bad it was getting. So that was a huge screw-up on our part. The other side of it was really the rostering and the scheduling in terms of how much we were doing. Because we hadn’t done a multi-game tournament in…

OHN9 was kind of a pick up and run with it kind of thing. It wasn’t really planned in detail, it wasn’t very big so it didn’t have to be. EVO Apac was a one game event really. So it’s really easy to run a one game tournament, you just have everything dedicated to that.

So this was the first time going back to kind of the OHN8 space where you have half a dozen serious tournaments. We really only have three majors but because of the EVO thing and trying to prop up Soul Calibur and KOF. Even though they were DIYs it kind of turned into sort of a five game tournament.

And we just blew the schedule to pieces, on the finals day in particular. But it wasn’t really that great, pools were running overtime as well on the Saturday. So really we underestimated…I’m usually very pessimistic  about run times. So I usually allow way more time than necessary.

But during OHN9 I was criticized a lot for being too pessimistic about it, so this time I took a aggressive stance and it kind of bit us in the backside.

M: Oh! I see.

Z: It kind of turned around on us. It was embarrassing too because I’d just written that article about don’t screw your schedule, and then I screwed up the whole schedule. So it’s kind of, yeah, shoot yourself in the head Ziggy.

M: Yes.

Z: But um, yeah. Sometimes you’ve just to stuff it up to learn. That’s just how it goes. But it was great to deliver a EVO style finals where all the finals were on one day. But we learned a valuable lesson that you’ve  got to bloc way more time if you want to do it properly. Like one hour’s was just way too aggressive per game.

M: I’m sure this year’s Shadowloo Showdown is going to be a nightmare. We have so many games, the finals on Sunday as well. Oh my god.

Z: See, it shouldn’t be: it’s a nightmare. It should be; right now, we’re solving the nightmare. This is the planning phase. All the nightmare…It should only be a nightmare on the day. Like up until the day, it should be, we can do this. On the day, yeah, you can have it fall apart. But I hope everyone’s sitting there in Melbourne going, we got this. We know what we’re doing. We’ve spent weeks, months, planning how to make all this stuff actually fit together.

M: Well this year what we’re doing is we’re trying to allocate different…every game has its own bracket staff. So that way we want to an excess of staff. We want to have a staff rotation. And for example, I’m going to be running Marvel this year. And we’re probably going to be doing four pools at a time? So we want to have at least six to eight staff members on hand to run Marvel. So that’s the approach we’re going to have this year, and hopefully that will be enough to take us over the line. Yeah.

16-   So yeah, on that topic, you mentioned in Bracketed, about volunteers. And you also mentioned at OHN that that was one of the failings…training of volunteers. How do you think this can be better implemented?

Z: Yeah there were two mistake that we made there. One was that we thought that it would be cool…well I thought it would be cool to have like a rotation. Because one of the problems that I’ve had in the past with staff is that nobody kind of wants to be stuck watching a setup for eight hours or whatever. So I thought, if we mix it up, and they can do a bit of this and a bit of that, it’ll kind of keep it fresh. And they’ll feel like they’re having more fun doing it. The downside of that was no one really learned their task on the fly at all. Because they just kept chopping and changing. And also roster wise once we started running late, the roster just didn’t make any sense anymore.

So I think specialization is actually better. Even though it seems a bit boring, and no I don’t want to be the gopher for the stream for eight hours kind of thing. Well if two guys run it you can each take breaks and things. That way you get in the zone with what you’ve been asked to do. And as it goes on you get better and better at doing it. Because I put myself in the zone of just running those brackets. It was a bit of a stutter start the first pool of Street Fighter. But as we went on it was becoming really really smooth and I was getting it down sort of thing.

M: Mm definitely. I agree, that’s a good point

Z: So yeah, I feel specialization is actually important and finding people who are willing to specialize…I mean, most people when they volunteer are pretty easy going. It’s when you conscript people then it’s a problem. When you say, I need you to help me? Please help me. Please.

And they say begrudgingly, oh alright. I will help you. I need you to do this for eight hours! Yeah sure.

And they disappear after two because they didn’t want to be there in the first place.

M: Yeah, pretty much.

Z: But the people who put their hands up, like all the Perth guys and the Sydney guys who volunteered. Kudos to all of those guys. They did a great job under the circumstance. They’re just, yeah, give me whatever. I’m just here to help.

They’re the guys you should respect that they’re willing to do that, and actually give them a task to specialize accordingly. The other side of it training wise…

Because we were a bit… Friday setup would’ve been the perfect time to do it. But we were a bit haphazard. Poor Spencer was stuck in work. Later than we would’ve liked. And he was kind of… our manager and master of equipment. So without him we were a bit haphazard with setup on Friday. So it kind of had to be done twice. Which is a bit rubbish.

We kind of set it up, he came in and said, you’ve done it wrong. And then we had to do it all again. And that was fair enough because it was a mess. But because of that time wasted, time that could’ve spent pulling all the volunteers aside and saying, this is the job, this is what is needed to done, it just kind of got lost in the Matrix.

So you definitely need to help people understand what they need to do. Having someone with experience and someone without experience pairing on a task, and keeping them on the task all day is probably helpful. Means less training is needed. But yeah, it was silly to think that we could train nearly a dozen people in half a dozen tasks when we’re all too busy to so much as breathe, before we ticked everything off.

M: Well that’s why for this year at least, we’ve been using SNL as kind of, Shadowloo Night Live sorry, as kind of a training ground for the potential volunteers that we’ll have at Shadowloo Showdown. So…I think we’re still be doing training on the day, or at the least we’ll go through the rules or whatever. But I mean, I think there’s been a concerted effort to train people in bracket running. Leading up to the event. Are you guys looking to do that in the future?

Z: Yeah well I’m hoping that YSB becomes the training ground for OHN in that respect as well.

M: Mm.

Z: Like I said these exact words pretty much to Justin actually during OHN. I said, YSB ultimately…OHN…any major is usually built on the foundation of its locals. So if the local works and it works well and it has good people behind it. That will naturally flow onto the major in the same region, assuming the same people are behind it.

So I’m like…one of the things that YSB sort of struggles with at the moment is that it’s a little bit haphazard. Because even though they happen every month, as you said, Igor’s already said; I don’t know that it’s on, I don’t know what’s happening, I don’t know if I’ll even see anything from it.

It’s never clear if there’ll be a stream, it’s never clear if there’ll be a tournament, it’s never clear what tournaments will be run, what games, what format. So there’s kind of a little bit…yes it brings the community together consistently. That’s great.

What happens after that is a little bit free for all, a little bit loose. I think the downside of that is when you try to build a major on top of that, it’s kind of…the classic one is that we don’t have stream talent, or we don’t have a lot of committed bracket guys because they don’t even know if when they turn up that they’ll be running a bracket.

So you kind of need to establish the status quo locally. So that you can build on that when it comes to major time. And I think that it sounds like you’re doing that in Melbourne which is excellent to hear. But Sydney probably needs to level up in that respect and make a commitment towards some kind of standard. And I think that the ranbat plan will get it there. Or start to get it there. But we’ll see how it goes over the next six months.

FAB, OHN7

M: Yeah I mean, it’s definitely good that we’re doing this this year, but I kind of feel that we can never have enough. I want to have even more and more and more staff who can run brackets.

Z: Oh yeah!

So. I dunno, that’s just me, I’m probably a little pessimistic or paranoid.

Z: No no, I’m probably like… I don’t know how pessimistic you are Mutton, but I’m one of the most pessimistic…

M: (Laughs.)

Z: So like you speak to me whenever you’re down or pessimistic or negative or…

M: Yes.

Z: …Suspect people aren’t going to follow through. But that’s just my modus operandi.

M: Yes. (Laughs.)

S: Yes, that’s the way I usually plan. I don’t rely on anybody. I usually…if I plan anything in advance, it’s usually I have 46 backup plans just in case something goes wrong..

Z: Oh yeah man. When I turned up to OHN , it’s like I got the USB stick with the brackets, I’ve got the printouts of the brackets…

M: (Laughs.)

Z: I got the online brackets with my account…

M: That was really good actually. I really enjoyed having the online brackets available, that was good.

Z: Yeah…the feedback. We only got like two posts on the Shoryuken thread about live updates on OHN. And they were both positive about the stream and the bracket. So it was kinda like…well that’s…if you’re not going to get much feedback, that’s probably the feedback you want, right.

So that was nice to hear. That people appreciated it. Because it’s been my long term goal to make that process work better.

17-   M: Well I guess we’ve talked a lot about Shadowloo Showdown and BAM and OHN. Do you feel that communication is better since that time of last year, or can we improve it further between the different states and communities here in Australia?

Z: Well I think it’s going to depend upon what everybody wants to see long-term. And to be honest, unfortunately…well I say unfortunately, look, the organisers discern the agenda for the scene. Let’s face it.

While people in the community say what they want or ask for things um, the only vote they have is really turning up, right. If they don’t support something it goes. If they do support something it grows. It’s that simple.

So the organisers determine what or will/won’t happen because they’re giving up their time and their resources to make all this stuff a reality. So if they don’t enjoy it and they’re not committed to it, it’s not going to happen. So…in terms of communication, this year has been infinitely better than last year. There’s no…it’s gone from nothing to something so obviously it’s better. (Laughs.)

Not for a lack of trying before. But there was just a sort of…I don’t know everybody really understood that…

M: We need each other.

Z: Yeah! Are we on the same team here. There’s still a little bit of uncertainty around that. I think it’s better now because people are saying, look. We don’t want to slash each other’s wrists. We want to achieve nation wide majors where everybody can go because that’s good for the scene. And there’s an agreement in that space and people are working towards achieving that, which is good.

Is that all you could achieve? Of course not. I mean that’s just one way of realizing a coordinated national scene. Because I’ve stepped back a lot, I don’t feel that I have any right to say what it should be. It’s not appropriate if I’m not doing things. But um…if we end up…

At the moment we’re kind of imitating probably the SRK or the US model of the last decade or whatever where sort of everybody operates in their own isolation, feeding into one kind of larger scale event. Shadowloo Showdown is the one you’d have to name as the larger scale event just because it goes international and it’s the biggest…if you want to rep Australia that’s where you’re gonna go, so. So it’s kind of doing that but it’s doing that independently, like people are using… talking to each other kind of spread themselves out. But in terms of coming together to become more than a sum of its parts if you know what I mean, I don’t see that really yet.

People are talking about it from time to time, but there’s no common agenda…whether that’s because you need one leader or whether it’s because no one’s formed…

M: I think it’s a bit of a logistical thing. For example let’s say if we wanted interstate gear. Let’s say people bringing down their consoles and people running brackets. But if you’re not there in our face to face meetings like every week or every fortnight, it’s hard to…it’s hard to get that core staff together with interstate people if you get what I’m saying.

Z: Yeah, yeah. Like I mean, one thing that would be nice…and it’s not easy to do, because getting it right is hard. But if somebody decided to aggregate…like once you identify what the Australian majors are, sans Showdown. And you go well these are the ranking points in our…

M: Oh yeah that would be so great.

Z: And it’s hard to get to get the right numbers, but I think EVO’s hit the sweet spot with the way they do it with their road to EVO. Where you just say, who cares about the size, it’s just this place gets this many points and these places get these many points and then third points and beyond just get a piddling amount of points but at least we know you’ve tried. So we’ll make you stand out.

Because back with the APEX system which some of you may be old enough to remember…that thing was just a complete mess. Good intentions by the Cannons but the execution was… well it just can’t really be done easily. It’s just that the community doesn’t really allow for that to work.

So something where you say, look I recognize your achievements going into these tournaments and it’ll feed back into this other big tournament which then might feed on into this other big tournament which then might feed on another big tournament in somewhere else in the world. The chain of events is healthy because it creates that sense of…it’s valuable for me to go around, not just to play for the experience or as a spectator for the hype. But as a competitor building up my portfolio as a serious tournament competitor. Because you don’t really get that sense at the moment. Like you go around to these things and if you win ACL finals you might get a couple hundred bucks and a handshake and nobody really cares after that. Does it really have to be that disconnected? I mean, we’re playing the same game I mean, and often under the same rules too. So why is it we can’t sort of establish a circuit. Why has that been so hard to do. I don’t know the answer.

M: One reason is because results are inconsistent. For example when Spoony was doing the seeding for Marvel we had this problem where the dudes up in Queensland were like using different names when entering tournaments and that screwed us up so bad!

Z: Yeah, yeah! Man Brisbane people need a Nazi up there to say you can only sign up under this name. Or you can…

It was hilarious because when I was over at ACL finals Slapper was like…I was is that Tom there? Slapper: no that’s Melvin. Tom’s over here.

You’ve got to be kidding me. Why don’t you just change…

He’s like, I tell them to sign up properly, they just do whatever they want. I don’t care anymore, I’m sick of these people. I’m just going to put it in as it is. And I was like, yeah okay. I can kind of see where you’re coming from.

M: (Laughs.)

S: To be honest though I think there is a bit of ambiguity especially in the Melbourne scene as to what exactly Shadowloo is and what exactly Couchwarriors are, as also what exactly the rest of the community is. Because the problem is…

Some of these things overlap. Some don’t and especially if you’re viewing the Melbourne community from an outsider’s perspective  say from Queensland, Sydney and so forth. A lot of people think that Mutton and I are actually part of Team Shadowloo. But we’re not.

We’re basically just…I’m just a community guy.

M: We’re basically just Muttons and Igor.

S: Yeah exactly. We help out Shadowloo as volunteers, but that’s basically the end of it where our involvement comes into it. And same thing with Couchwarriors as well. Couchwarriors and Shadowloo, they have a working relationship but I believe it’s quite clear where the pillars are. At least if you’re in the Melbourne community you know there’s quite a clear line in the pillar list. The difference between Shadowloo and Couchwarriors…

M: Well, my question is…well okay I kind of know the answer, but it is important for people to know? Does it really matter? So long as a tournament is on and…

S: I believe that it is. I think it’s important because…it’s also because to have credit going where credit is due. But then also when it comes to say giving feedback to events, you’re giving feedback to the right people.

Do you think there is an easier way getting perhaps that sort of level of communication out to people so they know who they can talk to.

M: Do you mean like having a staff overview, let’s say CouchWarriors. We have the treasurer, the secretary, the president. And then not just does Couchwarriors know that but the whole of Australia should know that kind of thing. And we have a gigantic board that this is Ozhadou and that is the president, and this is the web guy. Blah blah blah.

S: Well this could be good from a community perspective, but it could also be good from an external funding perspective.

M: Oh yeah, like sponsors and all that.

S: Exactly. So for example I know that I want to go talk to…Say I’m an external sponsor. Say I’m BenQ, right.

M: Yep.

S: And I want to go and talk to CouchWarriors, I want to sponsor one of their events. Who do I talk to?

M: The PR guy.

S: I talk to Berzerk!

M: Yeah Berzerk.

S: But I know that. But BenQ doesn’t know that, because they don’t know where they can get that information.

M: That is true. What do you think Ziggy.

Z: Yeah it is a bit…um…It’s quite disjointed and it’s very slap-happy. And I think that’s because a lot of people approach it from a hobby mindset. And they don’t think about the fact that they’re going to have to interface with third parties at some point. So they just go…yeah yeah I’m just running a club for my mates. So it doesn’t really matter if they don’t understand you know. They know me, I know them, it’s all good.

But at some point as you go along you either bring in people that you’re not familiar with, or you talk to other parties and…Yeah having no clear communication lines makes it very hard. Because a lot of these groups don’t set up with a guy whose job is to kind of be the front man for dealing with these kinds of people. We certainly didn’t have anything like that. Whereas for OHN because we knew we didn’t have anybody like that, we talked to Berzerk and invited him to come in and be that guy. Because we knew he has the experience, we knew that he was sort of um…he could potentially be neutral even though he had involvements with Melbourne organizations. We didn’t see that as a clash. And he sort of said…yeah I’m happy to do that. And in fact he was quite enthusiastic about that because he was already doing it with Queensland guys through Lansmash. He was already doing it with Couchwarriors and Shadowloo to a lesser extent. And kind of, Ozhadou was kind of the one that he’d never sort of been involved with before. And he said, now I actually have all my ducks in a row.

M: Heh.

Z: I can actually approach these guys as a package deal. And I can actually say to them, I want to talk to you about the Australian fighting game community, not this organization. Or that organization. Or whatever.

I can present you an annual circuit of events. For which you can be involved in as a sponsor or whatever. And the power of that…we don’t really appreciate the power of that. I’m not a marketing guy so I don’t understand it. But he sees and understands just how potentially useful that is.

Because we are a small niche community group. So it’s hard to talk to a sponsor when you’re just talking about a couple hundred dudes there. Fifty dudes there. Put it all together and talk about a national scene and you’ve got something very different to sell.

M: That is really true.

18-   S: Which sort of brings me back to this question, where do you see the Australian fighting game community in the next five years?

Z: Uwerghh.

It’s a tricky one. Because like…if you asked me this question back during the peak of SSFIV. The answer would be totally different to what it is now.

M: So give us both answers!

Z: Okay.

Let’s go back to SSFIV. Let’s pretend instead of releasing SFxTekken we got SFV in the last part of this year. And it was like a total revolution again. Like a genuine new game. New engine, new graphics, new everything.

I’d say that we’d be going from strength to strength and we’d be seeing continual growth, focused with a particular game that everyone was keen on. And um…we could continue to expand and the opportunities at the national level and also with Capcom coming on board now doing it’s own corporate backing. The sky would’ve been the limit in some ways. The way we were talking back during EVO 2010 or whatever.

Now you look at it, and you look at the limp fish that is SFxTekken and you go…no we’re actually in a downswing now. We’re actually going…we’re slacking off. You’re seeing the people who weren’t super keen, who came into SFIV going I haven’t played Street Fighter in years. They’re gone now. For the most part.

SFxTekken has not brought in any new people. It simply divided the hardcore players that were left. Um, I think we’re heading towards fragmentation and I think we’re headed towards a period where some games are going to struggle to survive. And there’s going to be a lot of noise across a lot of games and a lot of people are going to fail to process it and just going to cherry pick or just switch off.

And we’re in danger of kind of backsliding. I don’t know where we’ll backslide to. Because I’ve seen the lows of the lows if you know what I mean.

S: Ah yeah.

Z: As has you of course, you’ve probably seen everything. But how bad could it potentially get. I think…look if you’ve got a lot of smaller events in Melbourne and you’re feeling that people are feeling overburdened at the moment. You’d have to say that given the way things are going, some of those events are going to shut.

S: Mmm.

Z: That’d be where the smart money would be right? Because there’s a critical number they need to achieve to make costs. And if they fall under that, they’ve got to fall off the map, inevitably.

M: Well don’t get me wrong. With the numbers, they’ve kind of like tapered a bit…but they are still meeting the costs. Like for example, we get like thirty, forty, fifty of people at SNL and…it’s just that we don’t get that one chunk of eighty people anymore for any event.

Z: And that’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Because you can find that you can’t really logistically handle that one whack of eighty, potentially. You might find that spreading it over multiple small events is optimal for your scene. And which case, then that’s fine. I mean if they’re all alive and healthy then that’s okay. Where I think that becomes a little bit awkward is if they’re all doing exactly the same thing within days of each other. Because you go, oh yeah I can go to the SFxTekken singles on Monday or the next Monday or the next Monday or the next Monday. And it’s the same thing with slightly different people or the same people. Where it becomes…And the problem is if you’ve got people divided games now. And they’ve divided between events? Theoretically you’ve got a double division which is going to a shrinkage right?

That’s not growth for me. It’s hard to sell the scene as a growth platform when everybody’s now in smaller chunks. With Street Fighter IV it was great because you could say, we have a massive game with massive support. Join us.

And people felt that they were a part of something big and special. If SFxTekken comes out and has a hundred dudes at EVO, I mean sure, it’ll be more like five hundred. But even if it’s only five hundred, it’s a fraction of Street Fighter IV at its peak. How do you sell that? Obviously people are switching already because the numbers aren’t there. It’s…I dunno. Depends on what comes over the horizon. I mean Capcom right now seems to be taking a very step back attitude towards fighting games at the moment.

We know Darkstalkers is coming. I don’t see Darkstalkers as the kind of game that can create a kind of SFIV like surge.

S: No.

Z: Marvel…

S: Marvel was their second best [chance] because the thing is…again this is sort of looking at it from a historical perspective but you had SFII which sort of started the whole fighting game genre. Completely revolutionized…and a lot of people have both nostalgic reasons and you know… it was something that started the whole thing.

And then Marvel sort of took it to eleven. For a bad pun. It was another revolution where people sort of stepped into it, and Marvel was the first sort of type of game they played. And then Marvel sort of lasted for ten years. And then we’ve with Street Fighter IV we came back to…oh I remember playing Street Fighter II. Or you have the new guys like Mutton here who started playing competitively Street Fighter IV. And these are the sorts of areas that people sort of tend to cling to. So Marvel 3 was sort of that whole cycle for…I used to play Marvel 2, now I’m going to play Marvel 3.

Or you had a whole bunch of people who didn’t like Street Fighter IV, but fell in love with Marvel. So these are the two sort of big titles which sort of sparked the whole fighting game community in general.

Marvel kept it alive for ten years during the dark period. Street Fighter II sort of started the whole thing and lasted from ’92 to about 2000. To me it seems that with Street Fighter x Tekken coming out people are like, why do I want to play this when I like playing Street Fighter IV. It’s not Street Fighter IV mmmhrghh…

Z: The way I think of it; it’s the crossover nobody asked for.

S: Yeah exactly.

Z: And um, it’s because you took a franchise that no one would think to cross with Street Fighter right? Tekken and Street Fighter are diametrically opposed in styles.

S: Exactly.

Z: True Street Fighter is a game with projectiles in them. True Tekken is a game that doesn’t have it, at the most basic level. The two…you put them together, you’ve got to pick one or the other. Either you screw over Tekken by making projectiles work or you screw over Street Fighter and turn into basically the second coming of Third Strike.

It has come up pretty much like the second coming of Third Strike. But I don’t know whether the…The spit and polish just doesn’t seem to be there in a lot of ways. Tekken players hate the game. Like I haven’t heard any Tekken players say anything nice about the game in Sydney. They don’t touch it, they don’t go near it. So in terms of bringing in Tekken players who might be curious, it has failed catastrophically, at least in Sydney.

In terms of getting people…it fills the niche in the sense that there are people who feel Street Fighter IV is long in the tooth. And they’re ready for something new. So it kind of fills that void.

But it hasn’t done it in a way that naturally evolves the Street Fighter franchise? So the same way that CVS2 was never gonna win over Third Strike players, xTekken’s not gonna win over SFIV players. And it has that extra thing against it. I dunno, I’m being an old man, I might have a different perspective.

But with CVS, I never played KOF games. But I knew of their characters and I always thought they were cool. And being able to play them in a Street Fighter engine…Because I didn’t like the graphics or the engine in KOF games. But being able to play them in a Street Fighter style game was very appealing to me. I mostly played SNK characters in that game and I really enjoyed it. But you put the Tekken cast in front of me…I don’t really care. I played Tekken 3 back in the day and Tekken 2 just casually on console. But I gave up on the series after that. And to be honest, to me, their characters don’t have a lot of appeal. So it doesn’t rope me in. It doesn’t have that ah, this is Street Fighter but with a new twist that I felt with CVS. So it kind of alienates me in a lot of ways.

S: Can I ask you what you actually said…it’s the crossover which nobody asked for.

That first day that Ono showed that video, I think it was at New York Comic-Con, one of the Comic-Cons, I just thought: why? Why do we need this?

And I got an instant message from one of my friends, Slorp, he’s actually in Europe at the moment. Who I have been playing Street Fighter II with for a very long time. And he basically sent me the same thing going: why?

Z: (Laughs.)

S: Why do we need this? Who asked for this, I don’t understand.

Z: You almost feel like if you were the fly on the wall in the bar where Ono and Harada were having drinks when they made that decision…You wonder how drunk they were when they finally decided. But it’s just kind of…Yeah it’s like, as you said…with the recent announcements surrounding Dead or Alive 5 for example, inserting Virtua Fighter characters, that makes so much sense.

M: That makes sense, yeah.

Z: Like it’s a natural fit. Because Dead or Alive was inspired by VF. It was made as a casual, just fun, muck around version of VF. And it made sense to kind of meld those worlds. Whereas with Tekken and Street Fighter, like you just look at it and go, to make this work, you’ve got to bastardize one side of the equation.

S: Yeah exactly.

Z: You’ve got to pick one, and you’ve got to bastardize them. I don’t know if you saw Ryan Hart’s rant about how the Tekken characters have been handled.

S: No actually, I missed that.

Z: Yeah, I didn’t read all of it. But basically he was saying; look, I’ve played both games. I enjoy Street Fighter x Tekken. But if I just put my Tekken hat on for a second. The only thing that’s Tekken in these characters is the name on the lifebar and the skin on the model. The rest of it you might as well have…you could have any new character from the Street Fighter franchise and give them any name you like. They are Street Fighter characters, new Street Fighter characters with Tekken skins and names. They don’t play anything like Tekken characters. And that sort of defeats the purpose. Because when you go in and you play CVS2 for example, and you pick Terry. He’s Terry! He does Terry stuff. He has Terry’s combos, he has Terry’s inputs, he has Terry’s stuff.

You pick Law in this game, and like he’s got a combo in Tekken which is like left kick, right kick, left kick, or the other way around. And this is like quartercircle forward plus kick. That’s not even the same game anymore! How do you come from Tekken and say, I know what’s going on here. It just doesn’t make any sense.

S: And King not having his chain grabs drives me crazy!

Z: Oh yeah. And the few times I saw videos and saw Nina trying to do chain- grab combos and they were just broken after the first bit every time. It’s like, what is this…

S: Yeah, what am I looking at here?

Z: Yeah…It’s just…

I don’t know. It rubs me the wrong way on many, many levels. And I’ve had to hold myself back actually from going all soap opera on the game. On Ozhadou, getting up on my soapbox and whingeing and whining about it. Because you know, my whingeing and whining is not gonna fix anybody’s problems. But just so much about the game disagrees with me.

S: See for me, I keep thinking that surely this is not the final version! There must be something new coming out because honestly…

I don’t know, I thought, I’d give this game a chance. Honestly going in I didn’t really look at too much hype or anything about that. I sat down. I tried playing it. And I keep thinking…it feels so unfinished.

It feels…so many things in the game don’t make sense. For example, this is again, one of the characters that really appeal to me is King. And King for example can cancel his command grabs from normals. The stupid thing is, the command grab whiffs because there’s too much hit stun when I hit them.

So it’s like…why would you give him the ability to be able to his command grabs but then they whiff when I’m hitting him.

Z: What happens if you hit them and cancel on blockstun. Can you grab them or are they in blockstun too long to grab as well.

S: Well that’s the thing. In certain cases they are in blockstun too long. If I use a light punch for example then it’s fine. But if I use a medium punch I just walk right in front of them.

M: I might be misunderstanding all this. But what are you trying to get at? Isn’t it like…

S: I’m saying that some of the mechanics of the game just do not make sense.

It just feels the game is not finalized.

M: Isn’t it like some noob Zangief hits you with low forward and tries to cancel into SPD and it whiffs? Isn’t it the same thing?

S: Not really…

M: Because I did not play King in Tekken, I do not know what you are talking about.

S: Yeah anyway. It’s a really bizarre ability. They gave him this ability to cancel normal moves into command grabs. But then they whiff when you hit them.

Z: Yeah because in Tekken there’s not cancel per se. The game is more about chains, you can chain one after the other. So you don’t really have cancels in Tekken unless you’ve got things where you can like…well I don’t even think in Tekken you can do it. Like in VF you can guard cancel animations of normals and things like that. So you do have that kind of aborting of an attack and then going into something else. But in Tekken there is no guard button. So once you press a button I think you’re generally committed to the normal or the move or whatever.

S: Yeah exactly.

Z: So cancelling a poke into a grab is not what you would do in Tekken. In Tekken you would sort of fake out to get them to whiff something so you can grab them or whatever. So to then apply Street Fighter’s mechanics of normals cancelling into grabs.

And Mutton’s a hundred percent right. If the Zangief did a crouch low forward into SPD it would fail because they’re in block stun. You’re not allowed to do that, fine.

But um, as a Tekken player, as a King player, you’ve never had that option anyway. Now you’ve got it and it’s useless.

M: Ohhh.

Z: You ask yourself, who adds useless craps to my character. Why would you do that?

M: Okay I understand now, yep.

Z: It’s a consequence of the engine. And it’s consistent with Street Fighter’s engine. But if you’re asking yourself, you’ve taken my character and put them in this engine and half the stuff they can do because they’re in this engine doesn’t make any sense to me, it’s kind of off-putting I suppose.

S: Exactly. I mean look, again it’s still kind of early days for the game. I’m still in a way kind of hoping that somebody’s gonna figure some magical thing that’ll make the game better. And it stands of today, the 14th of the 4th, 2012. The game to me, actually to be honest, the next big step is gonna be the next US major. To see how many people enter and what the numbers are and where they actually put the game. Because if they put it at the end again and they have a tremendous amount of dropoff in numbers?

Yeah…it’s going to be really interesting.

Z: What is…I haven’t been following any US streams since like before OHN so what has viewership been like around Street Fighter x Tekken in some of the US majors?

M: Like for example the recent NCR, everything was really hype and then xTekken came on and basically they got a huge drop off in the stream.

Z: Wow.

S: Yeah. So the stream numbers were about 26k for Marvel. And then it dropped to about 17? For when xTekken came on.

M: I guess part of that was because it was Infiltration against ChrisG and Infiltration was playing jab jab run away.

S: No no no, for the entire top 8. You’re just talking about the grand finals but I’m talking about the entire top eight.

The numbers just slid.

M: Alright, yeah.

S: And to be honest though, looking at the stream numbers from 2010, we have progressively…streams, especially Spooky and Iplaywinner. But even…all the major US streams have progressively been gaining numbers in viewership levels.

M: Mmhmm.

S: For example, I remember watching West Coast Warzone 3. It’s peak was around 8000. Watching Seasons’ Beatings in 2010 it peaked out about again 8-9000. Seasons Beatings last year was about 26,000. So every year, progressively the numbers have been going up for streams. But now the first thing that we’ve seen is the grand finals, xTekken comes on. And we get a huge slide in numbers.

So this is kind of an interesting perspective from what you’ve mentioned earlier Ziggy, we could be stagnating and this game could potentially actually hurt the scene. More from even a viewership perspective. Which is something that the majority of the sponsors are gonna be looking at when it comes to, you know. Funding our events.

Both US and here as well.

M: But yeah I guess that’s in the future, and who knows what will happen. Maybe roll-cancelling will be discovered or some similar thing. And the game will be fantastic!

I don’t know.

Z: You gotta be careful with those things though. Because things like roll cancel, yeah suddenly people discover like this hardcore competitive aspect of the game and it wasn’t there and it makes it exciting. But then the accessibility of the game goes down. So what you end up getting…You end up getting more spectators than competitors. And more spectators is good, but it’s the competitors which actually fill the pot right. So you kind of…you need a bit from both corners.

One of Marvel 2’s biggest sins was that while it was a ten year surviving strong competitive game, that’s only a handful of people who can actually really play it.

M: That is true.

S: Or play it at the highest level.

Z: Yeah, where it counted. So and CVS2 got that way very early on as well. I was not a roll cancel player. I gave up and just played K groove once roll cancel was discovered. Because I couldn’t do it. It was just…I’m not a 2 frame cancel guy. I just can’t do it. So you’re always at that disadvantage, always having to fight against that awkward mechanic. And some people they’re either in or out at that point.

S: See that’s actually a really interesting point you brought up there. Talking about…something that I’ve wanted to ask about [for a while].

19-   How do you feel about Kotaku, Brazzers and…

M: Esports!

S: And Esports.

Because something you’ve actually mentioned, you said that there is a certain level of people that you’ll get more viewers rather than players. But traditionally the fighting game community in general has been all about players and pots the players bring in, rather than actual sort of specialists that we watch.

This also brings in a certain point of Esports where MLG for example, they don’t really have open tournaments. For certain aspects of Starcraft they only have invitational tournaments and then people go and view [it.] What do you think of these sort of two different models, and where do you think the future of our current model is going?

Z: Well I think as long as they’re cost effective, the Esports invitational model can, will and should exist. As long as someone can make a buck out of it, they’re bound to try and do it. And make no mistake, Esports is a business.

It’s about securing the sponsorship dollars and advertising the sponsors and having something that gets viewers in to watch the ads during the thing. I mean that’s how it all works. And it’s good because it raises the exposure.

The more that it happens, the more likely you are to pick up more mainstream attention. The nice thing about the video game space as opposed to the traditional sports space is that it’s probably easier for people to go out there and buy an Xbox and pick up a controller and think that they can play this game. With pro-sports I mean if you’re a five foot five midget, you know basketball’s just not on the cards.

S: Sorry Mutton.

Z: (Laughs.)

So, there’s these natural physical barriers, I mean they exist in all video games as well. But they’re not as obvious. They’re not as in your face.

So the mystique of yes, I can be a player as well kind of lives a bit longer with these kinds of games. Now not to say that we want to con everybody into playing for a while or whatever, but people have to feel like they’ve got a chance. Or there’s something that they can get out of it.

Even if it only ends up becoming casual for them, whereas a lot of people might even struggle to enjoy certain sports casually because physically it’s just really hard for them to get into it. So it’s nice in that respect. But to answer your question, I think the two really will always sort of co-exist. You’re not going to have invitational Esports killing grassroots open-entry tournaments. Because you have to go somewhere to train up to get the skills to be good enough to be recognized to be invited so you need all this community run stuff, I mean it’s a shame…As long as we can keep that cost effective as well, you keep that stuff going, that’s the training grounds, the proving grounds, that’s the same like in sport right?

You don’t walk straight into the NRL Premier League. You actually come up through juniors and your local scene and that’s run by community groups. And it’s not big money tournaments and that kind of thing.

So it’s all part of the same equation. People need to get that out of their heads that it’s one or the other. It’s not that at all.

S: No exactly.

Z: It’s all one big collective thing and you only…for years we’ve said, what about us? It isn’t fair kind of thing. Because all the other games like Starcraft were getting that and we weren’t. Now we’re getting it and some people are saying, oh hang on, do we really want this? No calm down, don’t worry. It’s fine. Just chill. Let it happen. Just because you didn’t get the invite doesn’t mean you don’t count. Relax. If you’re good enough your time will come. If you’re not, just go and win EVO. That’s open entry. Don’t worry about it.

So EVO’s not going to…people get it in their heads, oh EVO will die. Or EVO will turn into Esports or it has to be this or that.  And um…no no no. I mean just walk past your local oval on a Saturday and see the kid playing cricket or football and remember, that’s all we’re really doing. Just in electronic form.

M: Yes.

S: The other thing is actually, is starting off in that perspective. If you played these sorts of games and then later on you’ll basically if you decide not to take it on professionally or you can’t play at that level you still have a certain level of appreciation for the people and how they play.

This is where Starcraft for example…why’s it’s so big. It’s because for ten years people have been watching Koreans dominate, and it’s not just in Korea. I have friends who basically was sitting down and watching the Korean streams way before Starcraft 2 was even on the map. And we all played Starcraft 1, and we know…the other good thing about Starcraft 1 was that the computer was fairly brutal if you didn’t know what you were doing.

They and my housemates for example, they have a level of understanding and appreciation of what the Starcraft professional players do. Because they played Starcraft in their younger days, and they understand what it is that these guys are doing that makes them top players. Even though they can’t do it themselves.

Z: Yeah, yeah.

M: Any other thoughts on the topic?

Z: I mean you’re obviously right, spectators  will have their place, I mean let’s face it, I’m as casual as it comes now. I spend way more time CPUing than anything when I’m playing fighting games. I’m content to do that. I’m not physically at the place where I can keep playing anyways due to a bit of RSI or what have you.

So I…and I don’t get the hours and I don’t get the time and I don’t have the dedication to actually improve. And I’m lying to myself if I say anything else. So long ago I accepted that I wasn’t prepared to do what was necessary to improve. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the engines of some of the games. Or I don’t get a kick out them. I muck around with Marvel heaps.

I find that game a lot of fun just to get out. I love the setting, I love the characters, I’m a fan boy for Marvel stuff and for Capcom stuff. And I love the fact that I can just do lazy, silly, cheap combos and they work. And everything’s fun.

I’d get scraped by anybody that knew what they doing. That’s fine, I don’t care. That’s not why I’m playing. For me it’s…I remember reading somewhere someone saying, you might play a fighting game not because you’re in it for the competition or the challenge. You might just play it as sort of a zoning out, a Zen exercise where you’re just forgetting about the rest of the world, you’re going into this space, you’re solving the puzzle of the fighting game in front of you. And you’re just exploring that engine and just the routine of doing your favourite combos or whatever, is relaxing.

M: Yep I agree.

S: And actually exploring ideas where you might have a thought of something or how about I try this? Or could this character do this?

Z: Yes. Exactly.

S: Or I have a problem in front of me, how can I solve it with my, say, my character X vs. character Y. You might not necessarily be a competitive player.

And actually to be honest with you I’m in the same boat these days. The only game that I take semi-seriously is Super Turbo. But all the other games, I sort of just sit there, and I think about how things should go and how things play out. And you know, me and Mutton go on to like hour long discussions of Ryu versus character X.

Z: (Laughs.)

S: And why I’m wrong and he’s right. Most of the time because he plays the game more than I do. But yeah I’ve gotten to that point as well that I know I’m not going to be competitive, but I just like thinking about the games. In general.

Z: Oh yeah absolutely. I’ve got um…I talk regularly to a group of Ozhadou OGs in Sydney. And um, pretty much all of them if you press them, even though they go to YSBs and stuff, would say yeah I’m not competitive, I’m not hardcore, I’m not serious anymore. They still go to events, they still play, but they talk about the games, and they talk about this setup or what this guy did on that stream in that final. Why it’s good and why it’s bad and that kind of thing. And I mean, it’s a language, it’s a culture, it’s a problem solving space. And I mean, a good problem solving space is inexhaustible right?

You can explore it to your heart’s content. And for people who just like to think about stuff, then it’s a lot of fun.

M: Yes.

Alright we should probably start wrapping it up.

S: Yeah, I kind of want to ask this question.

20-   So how did you get the name Ziggy?

Z: Oh dear. It has nothing to do with the Street Fighter community at all. It was purely, when I started off in high school in year seven, there were one too many Andrews in the year as there are everywhere you go.

S: (Laughs.)

So inevitably Andrew was never going to fly. Because I was the nerd so I couldn’t be called Andrew. The Andrews were going to be called Andrew. So um, one look at my surname:  Ziogas.

And it’s right, you’re Ziggy. And that was the end of that. And originally that was kind of like, it was a bit of a dig, it was sort of kids poking fun at and trying to come up with a nickname. And then I just embraced it and said, well fine I’ll be Ziggy. That’s cool.

M: Ah so, everybody…your friends call you Ziggy? Your mom calls you Ziggy?

Z: My parents don’t call me Ziggy, no. My immediate family doesn’t call me Ziggy. The funny part about that is my father was called Ziggy when he was in high school.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: His brothers were called Ziggy when they were in high school. I got a cousin, whose username on the forums used to be Trickster, who’s the Marvel champion at OHN2. He used to be called Ziggy, and he was quite put out when he joined the community and I was already called Ziggy.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: He had to call himself something else.

M: Wow there’s a clan!

S: (Laughs.)

Z: So there’s a whole clan of Ziggy Ziogases.  But yeah my school friends called me that, and when the internet came into my life, it’s like well I need a handle. Well I’m lazy, Ziggy will do. And I just stuck with it, socially and that.

I don’t get it at work, I don’t get it in family, but socially I’ve always been known as Ziggy.

M: Ah. That’s real interesting. Heh.

S: The Clan Ziggy. Heheheh.

M: So yeah.

21-   S: You have also noted…sorry I’ve noticed and a few others in the community have noticed that you have a slight resemblance to Richard Nixon.

Do you consider this as a compliment or?

Z: (Laughs.)

M: Is it warranted?

S: Yeah, is it warranted.

Z: That’s the first time I’ve heard of it actually! (Laughs.)

So I’ve never been called Richard Nixon or a Richard Nixon lookalike by anybody in the Sydney community ever, or any friend ever.

So this is a first. This is a real first.

S: Mm.

Z: Um, I can see where it comes from, because of the awesome receding hairline.

S: (Laughs.)

Z: The race for pure baldness is on.

Um, in fact I was kind of competing with Kechu at one point so…

M: Wow! (Laughs) Kechu’s on blast!

S: Heheheh.

Z: So I can see that. I suppose when I furrow my brow I have the Nixon worry lines too I guess.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: I guess if they’re ever going to make another Nixon biography I should put my hand up.

M: Yeah…a potential career.

Z: Nixon impersonator.

M: Yes!

So yeah, gonna wrap with some more positive stuff…

S: I was gonna say OHN-gate.

M: (Laughs.) ONN-gate.

Z: (Laughs.)

M: Heheheh nice.

24-   So yeah, what are some of your favourite players to watch, favourite fighting game players. Do you have favourite commentators or community guy, do you like Ryan Hunter, or James Chen. Yeah.

Z: I guess on the American scene side of things, I’ve always been a fan of Viscant. Predominantly because I just love his analytic mind.

M: Me too.

Z: He’s not the best player in the world. And that’s fine, he’s honest about his shortcomings.

S: Well he is in Marvel at the moment.

Z: Well, is he in Ultimate? He’s champion in…

M: In Vanilla but.

S: Yeah, I’m just saying.

M: He’s fallen off a little bit. Because of Phoenix I guess.

Z: He’s the kind of man, who if he can find a big enough crutch, he can ride that crutch very far. But sometimes if that game doesn’t have a nice enough crutch than life becomes hard for him. But you know, you need guys like that in the community anyway.

Who can abuse things so that people can properly work out how to defeat it. So that Japan doesn’t blow you up and what have you. But I just love the way…he’s a very good writer.

M: Mm hmm.

Z: And because most of my absorption of the community came at an age where I was just reading forums. So reading his threads on why this character is good and why this character is broken and why this game is good and why this game is rubbish. I always really enjoyed…and his sensibilities align with me. Like he thinks Super Turbo is an awesome game. He think it’s like really a Marvel game and not a Street Fighter game and I find that fascinating. I love it when he talks about what’s wrong with Third Strike because I totally agree with him; Third Strike is trash.

M: Yes.

Z: Um, we seem to think alike all the time. But I can’t come up with his ideas. I’m always in awe of his ability to break down the game because…I’m not a dumb guy, but I reckon you guys are both way more analytic in fighting games than me. I kind of just sit there and let it wash over me. I don’t think about it anywhere near as much as I should.

M: Well I mean, I think people like to think about fighting games, but not everyone can be an original thinker like Viscant. And I don’t think I can ever be like Viscant as well.

S: Mm.

M: To have your own…come up with basically your own argument instead of being a sheep, I guess.

Z: Yeah. It’s impressive the way he just puts his view out there. He doesn’t care if it runs against the grain. But when challenged, he can completely articulate why. And there’s not a lot of people who can do that. A lot of very good players can say, this is how it is. Why? Oh because I won last week.

M: (Laughs.)

Z: But how did you win? Why did you win?

I don’t know. I just know it works, I can’t describe it.

And Viscant will describe it in three thousand words or less sort of thing.

M: Yes.

Z: And I find that really…Like my favourite Cross Counter video of all time was the Viscant Marvel 3 1.0 video.

M: Yes. That was the best one.

S: I went out and paid for that instantly.

M: Yep.

S: Most definitely.

Z: Yeah. But in terms of other competitors and things…I have a soft spot for Alex Valle. The O.G. Man. Alex Valle and John Choi…I didn’t see at the time that it happened, the Alpha 2 finals. It wasn’t until many years I saw the B3 or whatever videos. But you hear the names thrown around enough. And you watch enough EVO ST finals with these guys doing their thing.

And let’s face it. Everyone’s got a Ryu inside of them somewhere.

M: Yes!

Z: So you know. You see these gods of Ryu. And you just go…man these guys are just great.

They do their thing so well. Totally different styles. They’re both pretty good guys, cool guys. And they give so much back to the community as well. So you kind of take your hat off to them. You can appreciate them on both sides of the coin.

Um. Big fan of the Cannon brothers. They’ve done so much for the scene and the community. And I mean, I look up to them whenever I’m thinking tournaments, inevitably. Because I just think that they’ve set the bar in terms of what’s right, what’s wrong and how to do things.

They’re not always right, mind you. I’ve disagreed on many occasions. But it’s just great that they…I can relate to them as well a lot of times because they go through the same kind of ruts. You see it when they’re posting on forums and blogs and things.

The same things get under their skin. Or the same things frustrate them. So I appreciate that side of things.

M: Before you go on, can I interrupt and ask you something? I want to get your opinion me and Igor have been arguing for ages.

Which is the yellow card to Justin Wong for playing Phoenix on point.

Z: Oh yes.

M: What do you feel about that? I’m on the: it was warranted [side of things]. Because the organizer put on a tournament, and if you don’t play your best you’re…what is the point of even having the tournament up there.

And Igor is like; he’s a playing/paying competitor, and he should be able to do whatever he wants. How do you feel about that?

Z: I’d have to say I have a foot in both camps. Which is not a very strong way of looking at it. But I mean, on the one hand I totally agree that it’s not like he did anything illegal. And he certainly…there’s certainly no proof that he match-fixed. You can’t really prove it aside from the obvious picking Phoenix on point is logistically retarded.

There’s no evidence that he’s set it up to do that. And he…the tricky thing about match fixing is like anybody when confronted can find a way to justify why they did what they did. So you’ve kind of as an organizer, you’ve kind of gotta put yourself out there and just draw a line and say no, I’m going to take that as inappropriate, so just remember that I’m keeping an eye on it sort of thing.

So I think on the one hand, it’s hard to prove. But on the hand, they had to make an example out of him. Because it was the best example they were probably ever gonna get.

M: Yep, that’s true.

Z: So if you’re gonna make a call. A) it was a huge name. B) It was really uncharacteristic play. C) It made no sense competitive wise even if he wasn’t trying to match fix. So if they let it go, people who were match-fixing could have done the same thing and used him as an avatar.

S: Exactly.

Z: So unfortunately someone had to take a hit. Better that they’re prepared to say that they’ll do something than to be too hands off and let everything fly?

M: Yep.

Z: But the good news is that they haven’t had to come down since. So perhaps it has worked…

M: Perhaps it worked out for the better.

Z: And it didn’t really hurt Justin Wong’s chances that EVO year anyway. So…

M: Yeah, being Justin Wong.

Z: Yeah. So he took a hit, but I don’t think he suffered as a competitor and I don’t think the community suffered as a result. That’s the thing you gotta remember, the Cannon brothers aren’t stupid guys. They’re very smart. They’ll weigh up all the pros and cons and then they’re not just going to fire like loose Cannons. Ha ha.

But they will actually pick their moments based on very rational and intelligent arguments. So I mean it’s a miracle that the community in the US has these two geniuses heading up their most important tournament, community wise. Because it could easily be the Jason Wilsons of the world which have mixed reputations, also run massive tournaments, but haven’t always come off as squeaky clean or as rational in their choices.

M: Do you have any more names you wanna throw out or?

25-   S: We’re gonna say, do you have any final shoutouts?

Z: Final shoutouts I guess…

Shoutouts to the Australian fighting game community. You’ve got to say that, I mean, if it wasn’t for them, and their passion for the games, I wouldn’t have had a hobby for the last ten or something years.

Props to all my colleagues at Ozhadou. Primarily Shane and Spencer. Doing all the good work that they’re doing.

But yeah I hesitate to…it’s actually hard because I don’t want to play favourites.

M: Whoops.

Sorry I lost the headset there.

I don’t want to name any scene over any other. Because there’s heaps of cool people in all the scenes and I’ve made a lot of friends all over the place. Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra. Maybe one day Tasmania will come on the map. But all you guys have just done wonderful stuff.

Shoutouts to you guys Igor and Mutton for doing what you do. Because we don’t have anywhere near enough content generation in Australia. And it’s criminal because we’ve got some great personalities and some great players and it’s a shame that we don’t kind of profile them more. So thank you for doing what you’re doing, not just to interview the international talent when it comes out but to help raise the profile of our local talent too.

M: Yeah I mean, we find it really illuminating as well. Like I just learned so much about Sydney and Ozhadou too. So it’s something we want to do as well.

S: The other thing is…I really wish that SRK would put up more of our stuff!

Z: (Laughs.)

M: You’re gonna have to edit that out.

(Laughs.)

S: No, I’m not editing shit. I mean, seriously.

We email them for every single interview we did. We pretty much email them and we only get a select few up there. I don’t know understand why.

M: Well I mean, I still think this should be edited out, but I feel that it’s quite important for the organizers like Loki’s profile, and your profile to be out there just as much as the Xians and the Gootecks…

S: Yes of course.

M: And the Tokidos out there. People need to know more about the people that put in the work like yourself.

S: Mmm definitely.

Z: Well I think it’s good to humanize us as well as organizers too. I mean it goes for the players as well. But often with organizers because people are thrice removed from us, if you’re not one of our immediate friends in the community we probably don’t talk to you as a player very much.

And it can often leave this impression that we’re big evil illuminati people who sit  in the background pushing our own agendas to the detriment of the little guy on the machine.

S: Wait. You mean we’re not?

M: (Laughs.)

Z: Ah sorry. I didn’t mean to shatter the illusion.

But yeah, we’re um….at the end of the day we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t players at some point ourselves. And we only…people sit down to play for fun at the end of the day, most of them. I only go to run a tournament for fun, okay? I’m not there to be the DQ Nazi. I don’t get a kick [out of it], Yang might, but I don’t get a kick out of it.

S: (Laughs.)

Z: Sorry Yang!

The Yang tradition. Karaoke night, OHN6.

But I…I do it because there’s an aspect of it that I find fascinating. I find the people fascinating and I find the games fascinating and so I’m doing it because it’s fun and because I enjoy it. Most people don’t find running brackets fun, and that’s understandable but…

S: I love running brackets, honestly.

M: Because you’re a control freak, that’s why.

Z: (Laughs.)

S: That’s true, that’s true.

Z: There is a certain power of knowing if that man hasn’t turned up within the next three minutes you can ruin his two dollar entry fee.

S: Mmm…I can DQ his…

Exactly.

The power…the unadulterated POWER!

Z: But no, it’s um…I appreciate that you guys are willing to talk to community stakeholders other than top players. And um…yeah, it’s good. We are people too. Cut us and we bleed.

And hate on us in the forums and we do listen, so.

It’s like we are…responding.

And we can’t have fun unless you’re having fun.

M: Mm. That is the biggest thing to take away from this.

Z: Yeah, always remember that.

M: Mm. Right, so I think…

S: Thank you very much Ziggy.

Z: Thank you.

M: Yep that’s gonna wrap it up. Thank you very much sir.

Z: Cheers guys.
 


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11 Responses to Don’t be a Scrub Podcast Episode 21: Ziggy

  1. I’m about half way thru the episode but this is all really interesting stuff! I first heard about ozhadou and went to meetups right at the end of playtime, around OHN3, and through to OHN9, so I remember playtime, MCH, GGs, York St, and the OHN venues at UTS from OHN4. Always love hearing about what actually went on with OHN1, 2 and 3, and I think Ziggy tends to see a “big picture” image of the community that hardly anyone else is able to do.

    • muttonhead says:

      Yeah I definitely agree, which is why we were so eager to do this interview.

      It was really fascinating for FGC history buffs like us to hear about kind of the start of our entire competitive scene and how the Melb-Syd things were back in those days. I think we should do more of these OG interviews!

  2. Pingback: Don’t Be a Scrub Podcast Episode 21 – Ziggy of OzHadou « Shoryuken

  3. fluxcorenz says:

    Another fantastic interview. This one hit so close to home in many ways!

    OzHadou was an enormous influence on why and how I created New Zealand’s NZism fighting game community, and seeing so many similar inspirations, opinions, problems and viewpoints on various fighting game scenes and happenings (both present-day and in the distant past) puts a few things in perspective. In my case it all fell apart, but at root that was mainly a geographical problem which compounded into many more problems.

    Anyway, thanks to Ziggy and all the OzHadou crew for the years and years of effort!

    • muttonhead says:

      We’ve heard a lot of stuff about the rise and fall of NZism…there’s definitely a story/interview there to be had!

      Yep big props to Ziggy and Ozhadou, if not for them we wouldn’t have the scene we have today down here in Melbourne with Shadowloo and Couchwarriors.

  4. NefeliousG says:

    Epic interview. Read the whole thing straight, took me over an hour haha.

    That OHN stick is now known as the ghetto stick in the qld scene now, the woodworking feel apart after years of use and it’s roughly held together by electrical tape and raw power.

    And I cringed at the cvs2 match, oh man so many drops haha

    • muttonhead says:

      Yo Tom! Kudos for getting through it in one shot, this was the first time Igor and I were seriously considering breaking the audio and the transcript into two parts. In the end we just decided to put it out there. Hm I wonder if anyone got through the 2hr 40 minute podcast in one shot…

      Haha that’s cool to know. That stick is probably a good metaphor for our scene as well. Ghetto, worn down by time but still going strong, and held together by fragile things like friendships, passion and sense of responsibility.

      Yeah heh sorry about that Tom. I was searching for Ziggy match footage for a while there…but the match I really wanted to put on was the SFII finals between Ziggy and Toxy at an OHN where they both hilariously held down back for the entire round? That would be epic to put up.

      • NefeliousG says:

        The crazy thing about that Ziggy vs Toxy match was that it was actually really hype haha. I remember there were some pretty epic Toxy vs Vlad matches as well.

  5. BerzerkDC says:

    Top Job on the interview Muttons and Igor! Ziggy was a great interviewee.

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