Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Hadoken Files #001

Imagine this: you wake up, brush your teeth and then sit down to train for a tournament. You finally go to said tournament and find yourself placing kind of bad, or worse than last time you played. So you might be thinking “Maybe fighting games aren't for me.” Well I’m here to say that fighting games can be your best friend and it all depends on your mentality. That’s what this guide is about.

My goal is to help you approach fighting games with a sharper mentality by sharing my tournament experiences, my mentality, goals, training methods, other people’s experiences to help you adapt if you’re a new player in the FGC. Now I know what you’re thinking: “What makes this guy think he’s so qualified to tell me how to approach fighting games?” Well the thing is I may not be because I haven’t won any majors and I’m definitely not perfect by any means. Though I must say it is because of these reasons that I feel I can provide you with accurate information. I have won a couple of tournaments before, but the bigger picture here isn’t tournaments. It’s to get the most out of doing what you love the most; playing fighting games! So without further ado, I present to you, The Hadoken Files!

Making the Jump
If you’re a causal fighting gamer and you’re looking to cross over into the competitive scene, then The Hadoken Files are for you. I bet you’re tired of wrecking your friends back at home am I right? If so, congrats, but competitive play is a whole different ball game and making the jump may not be as easy for some as it is for others. So let me start off by telling you about my first time trying to move from casual to competitive, and then I'll tell you what you I wish I had known back then.

My very first tournament was when I was 17. Back then I was aware of the FGC but I didn’t know that Cincinnati had a scene at all. My friend told me that there was a tournament called "Rocket Punch" coming to a local place called Arcade Legacy. I trained as much as I could every day after school. When the day finally came I went out to the arcade to play. When I arrived I didn’t know anybody there, so I was definitely nervous. I had learned from tournament videos about how insulated the FGC could be. While I was there I kept to myself so that I didn’t rub anybody the wrong way. I wanted to be respected and as a result I was timid. When I was there I was warming up in MvC3's training mode. I didn’t say anything to anybody, but it didn’t take long before someone came up and asked to play. Then came even more players and I was really happy because I was nobody, and I originally thought that no one would want to play me. A few hours later the tournament started and it went like how I thought it would; I had 2 wins and 2 losses.

I wasn’t upset at my results because I went in there expecting good competition. My goal wasn’t to win; it was to measure how far I could go with solo training since I didn’t have other players to practice with. After that experience I was definitely planning on coming back. However, because of money issues and school I didn’t come back to the arcade until 2012 when I was 19. While my first tournament experience was enjoyable there were a few things that I wish I had done differently, and I want to share those tips with you! So let’s get to the "dos and do nots" of crossing over to competitive fighting games for the first time.

Finding Your Community
When crossing over, the first thing you want to focus on is where your city’s local players are. By local players I don’t mean your cousin that you play once in a blue moon. I’m talking about the players that are currently active when it comes to getting better at fighting games. Now most of the time the FGC is located at arcades or game shops, so if your city has an arcade try to check them out or check out certain game shops. Even card game shops might have a FGC player base. If you’re having trouble finding a community near you, check out They have a link that allows people to find communities around the world. If you find out that your area doesn’t have a local scene then don’t hesitate to play online. Online communities are available and valuable for your training.

As a player, I can definitely understand the appeal of trash talking. I mean we are video gamers after all! Trash talk is encoded into our DNA and we are inclined to make occasional witty remarks and comebacks. However, you must learn when your remarks are okay and when you are taking it too far. Many players I’ve seen struggle with this balance because they get so caught up in the moment that they just blurt out anything, and that can get you into trouble. Talking smack around your friends is one thing because your friends know you and know how you are. You and your friends have a bond that leads to an understanding among yourselves. The thing you have to remember is that it is only among yourselves. 

There were plenty of times when I witnessed players get into disputes because of what another player said. Sometimes, a dispute erupted just because players bumped into each other and neither wanted to say sorry. Remember we are in the FGC to play games and make friends; not start drama. Treat players how you would want to be treated and don’t be disrespectful to people you don’t know. Players tend to ignore, and not play, people that rub them the wrong way. So you would be losing potential training partners. Of course this isn’t true for everyone, but you should still be respectful because disrespect and conflict can effect you in a bad way.

Losing is a Part of Winning
When we lose we feel like there is something wrong with us and we start asking the big questions: “Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? Why am I playing this game?”. I promise that nothing is wrong with you, grasshopper. Seriously though, we all lose at times and it is important that you learn to treat your loses as opportunities. It is thanks to these opportunities that you can see your flaws and improve on them. Learn from your mistakes and you can potentially improve your skills tenfold! No one gets worse from losing. If anything, winning all the time can be a bad thing because you don’t learn as much from a win compared to a loss. So the next time you lose just take a minute to reflect on what you did wrong and try to adjust from there via training mode, causal play, etcetera. Don’t be discouraged and don’t quit. The road to success is long, and there are no shortcuts.

To wrap this up there is one more thing I want to suggest. Have fun! I know it sounds simple but it is probably the most important thing that I can advise to new players. I think that the intenseness of competitive play can cause players to forget to have fun. If you remember to enjoy playing your game, you will find yourself playing at your best the majority of the time. That's all from me! Thanks for reading this and I hope you new players got something valuable from reading this Hadoken File. Last but not least, welcome to the FGC! 

Nathan Shields PowerUp Founder

Fighting game enthusiast, martial artist, and teacher. Nathan Shields ran three regional events, two of which were part of the Road to EVO Championships in 2011 and 2012. He continues to run local FGC events and supervise the growth of his scene and the PowerUp brand.

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