Admins of Dream Cancel and Orochinagi interview MLG
At the table: admin of Dreamcancel, Desmond Delaghetto, admin of Orochinagi, Alan “Gunsmith” Francois, with the MLG Community Manager, Carlos Arvelo, and Stream Producer, Arturo Sanchez.
Alan: Hello Carlos, was good to speak to you the other day. It’s been a while since we first made contact. How have things been since Anaheim?
Carlos: Thanks, I appreciate you reaching out to me after all. I’m sorry it took this long to get things worked out so we could do this interview but it seems we’re on the right track now. Anaheim was huge for us in a lot of different ways and it was the biggest event I have ever been to as a gamer – including Evo 2012. I have been working on figuring out a plan to have everyone play nice in the competitive gaming space since there are so many opportunities for all the players out there.
Desmond: I think we should formally introduce you to the community, please tell us who you are and what your role entails!
Carlos: My name is Carlos Arvelo I am from Long Island NY. I grew up in local arcades and later played at Chinatown Fair like most guys my age (29) so I guess you could say I’m old enough to have seen the rise and fall of arcades lol but young enough to help the culture stay alive. I am the fighting game community manager for MLG in their partnership with the Sony PlayStation brand. I am sort of a liaison to both companies that MLG would consult before making final decisions on what directions to move with the league in regards to titles, event dates, and what would be the best way not to step on anyone’s toes. In other words I’m asked what games might currently be popular enough to be included in the season, or what the community might like to see in the way of exhibitions, online tournaments, Sony kiosk events, etc.
Alan: The communication between MLG and the KOF community went a little awry, to say the least. But I’m happy to report that’s all been cleared up!
Carlos: Yea that was REALLY unfortunate because I love KOF with all my heart. It’s easily one of the best games in the past 15 years and that was easy to see if you watched the KOF tourny at EVO this year.
Arturo: Eyeah It was a blow up lol. Sorry I didn’t get back to you Gunsmith I was in esports limbo for a while lol. I’m sure later on it won’t be such a big deal to get back to you.
Carlos: My Fault! -___-
Alan: I have to apologize as well for letting my emotions get the better of me. We all love games, so it shouldn’t be so hard to work together!
Carlos: Fighting game players get hype, it’s whatever. I get that way too when I was expecting to get some butt and it falls through lol. I definitely play well with others so I think now that everything is straight I see a beautiful future for everyone!
Alan: We should also take this time to clear up a few things, for example, the role of the Stream Producer. Criticism was levied at Arturo because he streamed the games he liked to play rather than the games he was in charge of at events. That’s not exactly fair, is it?
Carlos: Well strangely enough a stream producer is exactly what it sounds like! Arturo was hired as a director to oversee the streams and communicate with the on air talent (yes they wear headsets for a reason). So in the case of Columbus we had Arturo glued to his streaming station with the rest of the team making sure that we had matches ready to keep the stream going with matches. Strangely enough that ended up with a few problems due to issues with commercials, and delays in matches. We were lucky that MLG was willing to adjust those things on the fly during the event and subsequently becoming more and more flexible as time has gone one. I think in the future the streams will get even tighter with the production values thanks to Art’s input. Art isn’t under any kind of contract that prohibits him streaming any games on his personal channel. Like most people Art plays the games he competes in or personally likes the most. Arturo really likes KOF but last time I checked his execution was ass and never played the game on any serious competitive level. This coupled with the netcode being notoriously difficult I can understand why he wouldn’t stream certain games. I doubt there is any malice involved in the decision.
Arturo: Yea so I was a director when first started, but recently I have been given a lot more freedom and moved into a producer role. It definitely makes things easier since I get to work directly with guys like Chris Puckett who has been with MLG forever so I learn a lot, and try to put them on to what’s going on in the FGC. I never intended to give the impression that I didn’t like any of the games on the MLG circuit but I just don’t play all of them on a professional level. Like I’m not a KOF player so I wasn’t going to front on my stream with my low level gameplay the fans deserve better.
Alan: So what’s next for MLG and KOF? Considering the turnout at the last two events and the amount of money spent, would I be correct in assuming that’s a wrap?
Carlos: If you would have asked me on Monday after Anaheim I would have said that not only wasn’t KOF 13 coming back, but KOF 25 would never be on the circuit either! It was really disappointing for everyone at MLG to see the turn out because we had such high hopes for the event considering it was held in the U..S. KOF communities’ backyard. With that said I believe that like any other tournament organizer the games that run are based on interest and I feel the level of hype and competition surrounding KOF 13 is building after every event. So in this case I personally have not given up on KOF and if the opportunity ever comes up for games to recommend it’s always on my list. I have even taken it upon myself to attempt to throw a side tournament at our MLG Dallas event for people in that area, and anyone is welcome to come. People are saying it’s a good effort and they appreciate it, while hinting that they want a bigger pot, but the reality of the situation is I can’t throw 20K at it simply because I don’t have it. Let’s not forget the initial pot MLG offered up – $16,700!!! We’ll need to raise attendance before the company will raise figures like that again. I do think I can spare 500 bucks for top 3 though I guess. There is no entry fee so it’s not so much of a risk lol.
Alan: Your own money? Now that deserves respect. The problem still remains in getting people to turn up. Hopefully this news will spread! I know this has been mentioned over at our US counterpart, Dreamcancel, now has it been posted anywhere else? SRK perhaps?
Carlos: Yea that esports money!! HAHA I appreciate the respect but it’s not that big of a deal. It’s almost like I’m using this as an excuse to have all the great KOF guys I’ve met along the way to come out and play again. Although I do agree as always you can’t really secure people turning up which is why I decided to run it at MLG Dallas. As of right now we have NO conflicts with any other tournaments or events so everyone’s calendar should be empty to come and take my money! I’ve mainly posted on Dreamcancel and Orochinagi simply because thats where the players are! I used to go on the forums at SRK but thats kind of a dice roll nowadays. I don’t mean that to say SRK is a terrible site by any means I just like to focus on the audience I’m trying to appeal to and I don’t feel I would get that with my experience with SRK from before I signed up with MLG (I’ve been banned from SRK twice lol). We always post up our events on SRK and respect their efforts for the community but this side tournament is mainly for the real KOF nerds..
Desmond: Speaking of SRK, EVO was truly hype. What were your favourite moments?
Carlos: Easily the KOF 13 tournament, top 8 was a dream match if I’ve ever seen one. The hype was tangible in the ballroom, fans supported the players and the players gave everyone a fucking awesome show. I also personally enjoyed watching MAMESpider in UMVC3 but after he was eliminated I lost interest and pretty much went about my business with the people in Vegas.
Arturo: Yea the KOF 5 on 5 was super hype Korea on blast, then they come back and put Bala on notice during finals!
Desmond: EVO took place from Friday to Sunday. I find most events still suffer on a weekday, compared to the weekend. What is your experience with this (does it depend on the game)?
Carlos: Personally I’ve been attending multiple events a year since SF4 brought everyone back. I really don’t think that the Fri-Sun format is a problem at all. I think that if you take yourself seriously enough as a player then you should respect that it’s going to take a level of commitment that will ask 3 days out of your life per event and will 9 times out of 10 ask you to leave your comfort zone and, sometimes even your country. Looking at it strictly from a tournament organizer standpoint people have to remember those are community efforts. This means volunteers, expensive overages for ballrooms for late brackets, and little or no gratitude to the people busting their ass to run things on time. In MLG’s case you might comment that money, man power, and resources are infinite but that’s obviously not realistic either. If anything it’s actually a compounded version of the grassroots problem. We pay our staff, we have a pre-determined show plan that tells each player who they are playing and at what time that match will happen. We have partners, sponsors, and a much bigger overage charges on our venues. To put things into perspective in the case of Anaheim if you had to work on Fri and wanted to participate, the 3 months notice should have been enough to swap a day at work, or request the day off. I am only mentioning it because it was a regular part of my work life before I got hired at MLG. The only reason it tends to depend on the game is simply because of what are considered “Poverty Games”. Those guys love their titles but usually don’t have the funds to travel. The argument can be made that Capcom players travel more but that’s not fair either. Anyone that pays attention sees the same consistent 50 top guys that regularly turn up and the rest are locals and semi local players that make it their priority to support local events. It really is just a matter of Capcom games penetrating the mainstream to the point where no matter where you have a tournament there are enough players willing to attend the event to fill out the bracket.
Arturo: Yea it’s hard because a lot of players aren’t sponsored so it’s harder to travel and make all the events you want in year. Obviously everyone wants to go to Evo so sometimes they sacrifice other events just to do that.
Desmond: How do you guys feel about the criticism from the players about the continuation rule for the losers bracket? Ever thought about changing to just fighting game community standard?
Alan: Well let’s hope for the best. KOF is on a high right now, with lots of people interested in the game. Let’s hope the community can turn this around and get KOF back on the main stage again with those super pots! Now, thinking of that stage and all the bright lights, MLG has been likened to a spectator sport, however, one of the draws of an FGC event is the chance to play casuals, and I think this is one of the things that turns people away from MLG events. Has MLG considered catering for this?
Carlos: I believe anything that involves thousands of people watching others perform a task they probably couldn’t for lots of money could be considered a sport lol. I watch more competitive gaming streams than I do professional sports if that means anything. I’m sure you could think of a few exceptions but you get my drift. FGC events pride themselves in being the “trenches” when it comes to competitive gaming. The top stars aren’t assholes that tell fans to wait on a line for an autograph and are willing to money match anyone with enough cash to cover the bet. This atmosphere is condusive to having casual setups and in this case it could even be considered our communities’ answer to actual arcades dying in the U.S. Taking away casual stations at a major is pretty much like closing down an arcade for all the local players that look forward to testing themselves against the best players in the world in their favorite games. There are a lot of misconceptions about what MLG is and what our goal is with our events but with that said I do want it to be known that the casual stations will be present at MLG Raleigh and should be there for the foreseeable future as long as I have anything to do with it. It just makes sense especially when we are trying to effectively build on a community that already exists and has customs. Things like this are the main reasons Arturo and I were brought on board to sort out and comment on.
Desmond: MLG is spending a lot of money on trying to incorporate fighting games. What has been the response from the Starcraft community? For example KOF is quite popular in Korea, did any of the SG players take any interest?
Carlos: It’s important to note that PlayStation as a brand is one of the driving forces in keeping fighting games alive in the competitive gaming space, and for them it was an easy choice to go with MLG in bringing it to the professional level that a company as large as Sony would need to justify the amount of capital going into this kind of project. Strangely the only thing Starcraft players want to know is “Where is Street Fighter?” (is that a pun on their accent?! careful!!) lol. All jokes aside I think the FGC has gotten so used to being outcasts in competitive gaming that they have this strange notion that people have no idea what these games are that we are playing. It’s exactly the opposite! To put things into perspective how many people on your boards or on SRK know what SC2, DOTA 2, and LOL are? If you know the acronyms then you have already proven my point and our worlds aren’t that different after all. I never got a chance to speak to Korean SC players, I apparently wasn’t cool enough and their translators asked me to kindly allow the players to concentrate haha.
Arturo: MLG Carlos blown up by Starcraft monsters !!
Alan: Soul Calibur 2? Dead or Tecmo? Laughin – nevermind. That’s a good point, there have been mentions of those games on the forums. Strange days eh, who’d have thought people play more than one genre of game… Ok, so what else in general has been planned for the next MLG event? Any other fighting games?
Carlos: We have a lot of great things coming down the pipeline for MLG Raleigh. Obviously we touched on a few of the changes we are making to the broadcast for fans, casual setups, and exhibitions. In the way of games I have been actively been pursuing as many developers as possible. I was lucky enough to get to speak with the guys over at Tecmo for DOA5 and I hope we can come to an agreement with them. I recently began bothering Hector Sanchez over at Netherrealm studios about trying to get preview builds of Injustice, and we still have a strong relationship with Namco Bandai and they are preparing to release what I think will be the best game of this console generation with Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Currently we have 2 exhibitions lined up that will be at Raleigh that being Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown, and Skullgirls. My personal goal right now is to get Persona 4: Arena on our circuit but who knows ;-P Obviously all these things are subject to change but I think it’s fair to try give an accurate idea of exactly what we are trying to provide at our events for the fighting game monsters.
Arturo: Yea so we are also working on making sure the stream is better than ever with better ad runs, and tighter broadcasts overall. I think we even announced that HD stream will be free for everyone so that’s definitely a step up too.
Alan: Sounds great! I really do hope this works out for the community because at the end of the day, if people don’t play the game, the game dies, and KOF XIII is a classic, we’ve all seen the hype it brought to EVO. Last year, we all had our doubts, but the future is now! For those fans trying to help promote the event, do you have any tips?
Carlos: Yea I totally agree KOF deserves better, and so does their community. As a matter of fact I think fighting game players overall deserve some shine! Overall I think it’s most important to support your local community and try to make it to the events you feel will benefit your game the most whether you want to go pro, stay local, or be a NAH 4 Lyfe. Any fans interested in information on our events or league can get all their information from MLGPRO.COM, Follow us @MLG, Me @illanswerthat and Art @NYCfurby
Arturo: I feel like a weight was lifted off my chest now that this interview is finally done! Thanks for the run back on this Gunsmith maybe you can make it to one of our events soon.
Alan: Indeed! We’ll have more news on MLG Raleigh as it happens – stay tuned to orochinagi.com for FGC news on KOF and selected titles like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Persona 4 Arena and even a little DOA5! Follow us on @orochinagicom / Facebook