A little bit about Proving Grounds, what happened and what’s in store…
What were your expectations before creating the event?
R: That’s a question for Dan, Nick (Secker) and Rob (Higgins) who make up Team Limit Break’s organisational core. When I first heard about the event and its scope I was made up. Being around in the scene from close to its inception this seemed like a massive undertaking and they have done us all proud. It makes me especially happy to see all of the scene come together to make sure the events ran smoothly.
T: We wanted to create an event with that showed off how professional and serious we are when it comes to the fighting game community here in the UK. We wanted to re-create the feeling of a “major”, but in one day. For both the events we’ve hosted, we expected a small turnout. However that would not be the case, our first event held in April brought in over 40 players and Proving Grounds 2 had well over 60 players involved as well as spectators. It blew us away. The reception we’ve had has far exceeded what we though we’d get. We thought it would take ages to get as noticed as we have.
Were they fulfilled? Were there any disappointments on the day?
T: We feel we provided a proffessional, fun and entertaining tournament for all players and sepctators involved. We kept to our times and even finished early. There were a few communication errors, a few little things that happened behind the scenes that will be changed for next time but for the most part we are really happy with how Proving Grounds 2 went.
R: The only disappointments on the day for me were my own performance in the tournament (need to get me some headphones!) and that there were technical issues in the KoF final that none of us could’ve planned for. Anything that does go wrong we are very willing to learn from and make the future events even better.
Did you have any interaction with the industry?
T: Not really for the first two Proving Grounds events. However, David “Dawgtanian” Hinds (the Community Manager for SFxT) was invited to both events and although he couldn’t make the first one, he did make the second. I can’t really say what’s coming in the future as we haven’t confirmed anything yet, but everything is looking up and will push our event to the next level. We also had ArcSys there showcasing the new Persona game, a great bunch of guys who I can’t thank enough for turning up and providing those setups. Team Limit Break is also now a part of Unequalled Media, which means we do get a LOT of help from those guys. As you can see from the YouTube videos, they provided full overlays and recording for the games as well as a tonne of help on the day. We’re always looking for people and companies who can help our event though.
R: Personally no. This is one for the core of TLB again. Seeing people like David Hinds (Dawgtanian, the Capcom UK SFxT Community Manager) and ArcSys EU along (previewing a playable P4U) they clearly did well.
What have you to say to people that say that there is no local scene for the game that they like?
T: Make one. Simple as that. If you don’t rep your game, who will? Super Turbo had a sort of revival in the South West after I insisted that it became a game at one of our monthy “Sodium Showdown” events. That, coupled with a player known as JPJ hosting events such as “Thunder Kick” and “Fatal KO” helped the ST scene gain some recognition, as well as more players. It’s as simple as that, if you put the effort into getting your game played, people will play it. If all this fails, travel. Become the real life Ryu. The UK FGC is required to travel, you need to get out of your local scene and play other players. You never want to get so comfortable with the locals that you become complacent.
R: If you live in or near a city then stop talking about it and get out there and put in the ground work. Locally there are only a handful of people who play KoF as their main game, I think in the week before Proving Grounds there were actually only two of us. Yet with a little effort we have pulled off the most stacked KoF tournament in the UK I’ve seen so far. The KoF scene is a disparate one, and the netcode is terrible so each and every one of us has to do all within our power to travel to other players and put things on, be it tournaments, house sessions or a season of ranking battles. Money and life will try to get in the way, so sometimes its really hard which I think is preventing the game growing beyond even the exposure we have for it right now.
If you are in a remote area then this is really more of a problem. No real way to get to other players so sessions are going to be harder to come by. All I can say is I hope you REALLY love KoF and that will carry you between when you can make it to offline sessions.
With events now in London, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast and Manchester, is there a city that doesn’t cater for that gaming need?
T: Events all over the country are popping up, each catering to something slightly different. It’s hard to find someone within a local area that isn’t holding some form of session or tournament. We’re kind of blessed here on how close all our towns and scenes are here in the South West, it’s only a short train ride to most of the places for sessions. If you can travel there’s no reason to not go. London has so many different places to play casuals and have sessions, more than most of the UK. So if you’re local to anywhere…or have a few pounds spare and time on your hands, hop on some transport and get the ggs in. I’ve travelled to London for Wednesday night sessions in Gamerbase from Wales, which was an amazing experience.
R: In the South West we have events in Cardiff, although very rarely and not usually run by the local scene, and regular tournaments in Bristol, Newport and Chepstow and all are very well attended and growing month on month with new faces showing up at almost every one. Manchester and other cities that aren’t London are showing similar signs of expanding month on month so if you live in or around these places then you have no excuse for not getting some offline games in. London is a far larger and more complex beast where more is going on but people seem far less motivated to go their events. It’s still a great place to be though as they currently have the best players – however, with how eager everywhere else is to up their game, we are catching up to them.
What was the most hype moment of proving grounds for you?
T: Wow what a question, there were quite a few. Proving Grounds 1 had to be TLB Savage vs SMBF CircleMasher in semis. Seeing CM’s T.Hawk in action, against such a competant Abel player was amazing, some amazing grabs and awesome tech. Proving Grounds 2 though, had to be the SSFIVAE finals, when MetallicMike won his pop off was amazing. Or when TLB Savage fought VS Milligano, so much excitement in those matches.
R: The most hype moment of Proving Grounds for me was playing Ryan Hart in groups. I’d already played him in casuals and did pretty well. Didn’t play as well as I could’ve but still held my own. It showed me how far I’ve come in the 5 months I’ve been playing KoF, but also how far I still have to go.
What’s next on the cards?
T: Proving Grounds 3! August 12th, same venue. KOFXIII, SSFIVAE, UMVC3 and 3S! We’re chanign things around and doing things a bit different with tournament format. We’ll hopefully have a few sponsors and few surprise announcements to come too, expect more news in the next couple of weeks. We also are looking at a few other events, but these are just pipe dreams right now. We’d love to say that in the near future Proving Grounds will have grown into something that runs over multiple days and holds more than just fighting games. Who knows….
R: Next on the cards for me is attending as many tournaments as feasibly possible including i46 at which I’m aiming for a top 8 finish. Gonna do my damnedest for top 4 so y’all better watch out. I’m also going to try to improve my commentating as I really enjoyed the opportunity to do it on the recordings for Proving Grounds 2.
As the KoF player for the team I’m going to up my tournament game as I do really well without that added pressure at the minute and just need more tournaments to get that to carry over and do my boys proud.
Which games do you see still getting played this winter?
R: This winter I expect people to be playing the same games as now pretty much. Top of the bill at tournaments I expect to see the latest iteration of Street Fighter 4 and UMvC 3. Personally I really disliked SFxT so am glad to see it dropping off UK tournament lists, as it means all the more that KoF can be put in.
Personally I am going to be playing KoF13 first and foremost but I’m also going to put a good amount of time into the new Guilty Gear release playing Baiken and P4U where I really enjoyed the Tetsuo character (whose name I’ve forgotten, but it’s as blatant an homage as K9999 was).
T: I don’t see SSFIVAE, UMVC3 and KOF going anywhere. I do see TTT2 making a brief appearance, I’m not sure how strong the Tekken scene still is though so I don’t know how long it’ll last. I’d like to see P4A getting a good look in too, but again I’m not up to date on the scene. Personally for me, I’ve moved back to competitive PC gaming. So for me I foresee a lot of Guild Wars 2, League of Legends and DOTA2.
Did you try that thing where the sheep pushes back harder because it’s on the edge of a cliff?
T: You mean you haven’t?
R: All day e’ery day.
Many thanks to Dan Yuill and Gareth Clews, looking forward to PG3! Keep an eye on the following pages to stay informed!!