(Street Fighter V top 3, from left: 1st Xian 2nd Aziz XIV 3rd Ryan Hart )
On the weekend of April 28-30, Fikra held Kuwait Battle Royale 2016 at the Millennium Hotel & Convention Centre, and yours truly attended it in order to do decently in Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator and Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round, but really not do well in Street Fighter V.
The event featured plenty of international players. On the Street Fighter side, Singaporean EVO Winner Xian, Ryan Hart from the UK (a now almost regular at the Kuwait Battle Royale events), and Gootecks (of Cross Counter TV fame) came to the event. While on the Smash scene, D1, Mr R, and Vishal attended. And finally on the Guilty Gear/Blazblue side, Japanese player Abegen, who is primarily known for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 as the top Thor player, attended. In addition to visiting players, commentators James Chen and David Philip Graham (AKA Ultradavid) came in as guest commentators, although oddly enough they weren’t doing commentary on Street Fighter, their forte fighting game series, but they did a good job commentating on other games, especially Guilty Gear.
Tecmo Koei and Square Enix took the stage each to announce some stuff on the first day. While it’s great that Tecmo Koei sent out their EU representative to the event, he honestly didn’t have much to show beyond stuff that’s already been announced and shown before. He mostly just announced the localization of their new Attack on Titan game, and also showed off Nioh, both of which aren't really new news. But it was still nice to have official representation for Dead Or Alive 5 Last Round at the event, and he did get to talk to fans of the series and other KT games about what they want off of future KT games, so maybe something will come out of this.
Square Enix, on the other hand, just sent a video for the event, which was…well…pretty weird. The video was about the Dissidia Final Fantasy fighting game (which, coincidentally, is co-developed by Team Ninja of Tecmo Koei), and it had the producer of the game talking about wanting to support the Middle East gaming community with better localized games and stuff like that (and to their credit, Square Enix games do have some of the better localized games out there, mostly their western developed titles like Tomb Raider and Just Cause, with full Arabic dubbing etc). Then the video goes to what seems to be just a trailer of the Dissidia Arcade game, but it didn’t really overtly announce that it is coming to consoles, and it didn't have a date or time frame of release. But I assume this is a console-announcement in everything but name since, well, Kuwait doesn’t really have a thriving arcade market, and KBR2016 is a console-only tournament. I wish it were a real legit explicit console announcement but I guess Square Enix might be holding that for a "bigger" event.
Xian playing an amazing FANG:
Aziz XIV vs RZR Xian Kuwait Battle Royale 2016 Street Fighter V Grand Final
Xian has now made a name for himself in Street Fighter as a player who uses unconventional and hard to use characters (that, uh, wear purple). He won Evo 2013 with Gen, and now he is proving himself again with FANG in Street Fighter V. Coming hot off his showing at Red Bull Kumite, he managed to win KBR2016, dazzling us with FANG’s tricky zoning and setplay. Personally, I initially thought FANG was the least interesting of the Street Fighter V newcomers, but Xian has definitely changed my perspective. FANG is just so fun to watch.
Dead Fish vs Abegen Rematches:
Dead Fish vs Abegen Kuwait Battle Royale 2016 Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator Grand Finals
Dead Fish vs Abegen Kuwait Battle Royale 2016 Blazblue Chrono Phantasma EXTEND Grand Final
Local Kuwaiti player Dead Fish proved himself to be one of the more formidable and versatile players in the region. Starting out as an Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 player, Dead Fish is now primarily known as one of the top Guilty Gear Xrd players in the region. But at KBR2016, Dead Fish showed that his prowess is not exclusive to Guilty Gear, taking second place in Guilty Gear Xrd and Blazblue AND Pokken AND reaching top 8 in Street Fighter V. It takes a lot of innate fighting game fundamental skills to be good at so many very different fighting games. And it takes endurance to compete and progress in so many fighting games throughout 3 long days, in addition to helping with the organization itself.
But one of the highlight of the events was the Dead Fish vs Abegen matches. Within a span of about one hour, these 2 players competed on stream across 3 different games as grand finals in both Guilty Gear Xrd and Blazblue, and as one of the later pool matches in Street Fighter V. Abegen did manage to win the tournaments of Guilty Gear and Blazblue, but he finally lost to Dead Fish in Street Fighter V.
Overall it was a well organized event, though they were few quibbles; Day 2 ran till past 2AM in the morning, and while sure this is expected when you have an event with so many games, I don’t really understand why on Friday and Saturday (which are non-working days in Kuwait), the event still started at 5PM. Sure, it’s understandable for Day 1 (Thursday, which is a workday) with people with jobs, or maybe people traveling to Kuwait at that day, but it’s baffling they kept the late starting hour for the two other off days. Having said that, I really did enjoy my time in Kuwait and at KBR2016 specifically. And I'm looking forward to coming back for KBR2017.