I was asked to write down my thoughts about heading to the recent edition of the Chicago area winter tournament stalwart: Frosty Faustings.
Traveling from DC headquarters up in the Twin Cities, MN to Chicago twice annually (for both Frosty’s and Combo Breaker) is a time honored tradition now for the members of the KoF scene in Minnesota. We drove down Thursday morning so we’d have lots of time to settle in and find other players to get games in with.
For its entire existence Frosty’s has been one of the premiere national tournaments for anime players, especially Guilty Gear, but it has also for many years attracted Midwest KoF scenes (MN, Chicago, Indiana, Ohio etc) to meet up and duke it out. Over the last three years, tracking with the overall expansion seen in other FGC events, Frosty’s has gone from being run in medium sized bars to full blown majors-sized venues. Last year there were definitely struggles seen in venue size being too small, split areas of where brackets were run, as well as some very late running brackets. We chatted about these issues on the way down and hoped the move to an even larger venue would improve the tournament experience.
The venue opened up on Friday and we made our way down from the also crowded overflow hotel just down the street. Already a testament to the increased popularity of the Frosty’s event was that the venue hotel had sold out Saturday night sometime just after Thanksgiving. We were not accustomed to having to be worrying about getting a room at this normally modest sized regional event, so we late to booking a room. Getting to the venue the scope of why this happened was clear.
Four years ago Frosty’s was being held in a moderate sized bar/gaming space called Game Pazzo in a strip mall. We walked into a venue that was at least as big as the old UFGT/first Combo Breaker venue, which is to say a large sized major tournament. It was quite impressive that they’ve managed to evolve this far! Across the board there was a electrifying atmosphere all weekend as news of Xrd Rev2, the first major US tournaments for both SFV season 2 and BlazBlue CF happening here and a bevy of top players in each game traveling to the event, brought a truly majors-tournament level of excitement.
Having traveled to CEOtaku in October this was the second major I have attended for KoF XIV. Friday I spent all my time in the venue getting games in with players from Atlanta, Michigan, San Francisco and lots of other places. Outside of the first UFGT during the KoF XIII era, I have never attended a tourney that matched this one is the amounts of different KoF scenes that have been able to make it to a single event. It was very heartening and fun to get so many matches in with so many different people. We tried to go to sleep early, but struggled to leave such a lively venue.
Saturday for tournament day the heavy hitters showed up. Top players El Rosa, Violent Kain, Kusanagi, Goichi, KCO_Pedro and KaneBlueRiver all traveled to the event, as well as local area gods James Jr., Mario E and Mooney Blues. It was a stacked tournament and I was sad to miss quite a few great matches in pools that could easily have been a grand finals at a lesser tournament. All told more than 70 people registered for the KoF XIV tournament.
Top 8 was the most exciting I’ve see live so far for a XIV tournament. With the absolute thriller being Mooney Blues v Goichi from Japan which I won’t spoil for you. As a game XIV seems to be developing a fun to watch ‘high stakes’ sort of meta with people fishing at mid to long range into Max Mode or baiting movement at close range. Violent Kain was especially good at punishing people for ill timed movement options.
(Top 8 as streamed by RSBlackrose )
After the tournament was complete everyone stuck around the stations to get in more casuals even though most were exhausted at that point. Violent Kain and El Rosa recorded a FT10. KCO_Pedro got lots of games in with anyone willing. But, one of my favorite moments of the event was late on Saturday night as a dozen or so of us just stood back and looked at the character select screen explaining our thoughts on various characters and where XIV might go in the future.
As me and the other Minnesota players were leaving the venue to pass out in our hotel room we ran into Kane Blue River who showed us the amazing prize each person in top 8 got:
LET'S GO MAMAHAHA pic.twitter.com/xrRuaxiYZ6
— Nicolas Gonzalez (@KaneBlueriverCL) January 29, 2017
He also gave us great advice in that whenever we can do this (meaning travel to tournaments) we should. Kane said there were a couple players back in Chile that we easily as good as him, but simply couldn’t travel. Solid advice and motivation to try to get to as many events outside your scene as possible. We drove home Sunday with hours of discussions about where XIV is headed as a game, which characters need more exploration and of course what we can do as a scene to improve our play.
To end this I really need to say what an amazing job the TO’s of Frosty Faustings did this year. They have evolved so far in the nine years and this tournament ran as smooth as any I’ve ever been to. If anything they may have already outgrown the size of their event again by next year. Hope to see everyone again at Combo Breaker in May.