Get out of the pool: Why are we still running hours and hours of pools at events?

A brief article about my opinions on pools at fighting game events.

There are few things better than high level competition. There is just something fantastical about seeing people at their absolute best going at it. Think of the early 2000s Lakers with Shaq and Kobe or the currently constructed Golden State Warriors team. You’re left in awe and wonder as you watch them play. Whether Shaq was slamming another dunk or Steph Curry was draining another three from thirty feet out. But there is something less exciting about watching the Knicks play the Magic. Now while I’m sure that comparison was lost on some of you, I say it to say this: Why are we still streaming hours of boring low level play at fighting game tournaments?

But Sean, why do you hate pools? I don’t really hate pools. They’re just boring to watch. Usually one player is much better than the other and it’s a one sided affair. Nothing about that is very entertaining. You very rarely even ever see a newcomer make it far in these events. You see the same usual suspects in almost every top 8 with rare exception.

But Sean, this is people’s chance to be on stream! Yeah, well you can also make it on stream by getting better and getting out of pools. You also have your locals if you want to do that. Again, these tournaments should show the best level of play possible.

But Sean, what are tournaments going to do with all that free time now that pools have been axed? Well, for starters, I think these events need interviewers for pre and post match interviewers. These help create story lines and provide a personality to the faces behind the fight sticks. Most events are go up, play, sit down, repeat. I feel no real investment in what I’m watching. There isn’t someone who I’m like, “Wow, that guy sounded like a real asshole and talked a lot of shit during his interview. I hope he gets destroyed in this set.” It gives you a villain to hate and a hero to root for.

But Sean, wouldn’t it be bad to interview people after a loss? Any interview can go poorly for numerous reasons. I don’t think we should not do something because players COULD respond poorly. I think we are putting the blame in the wrong spot. Instead of going, “Oh, this interview went poorly. We shouldn’t do these.” We need to hold players accountable for their attitudes. Losses are meant to be growing experiences that you can reflect on and become stronger. A lot of these players want to be professional and represent teams/sponsors. If you can’t do a simple post-match interview then you aren’t ready to be a pro.

But Sean, it’s not like you can only do interviews. What else can events do? In my opinion I would like to see more video content. Player backgrounds, highlights, getting player opinions on their upcoming match ups, just some sort of build up before the match. Especially for things like top 8s. There are plenty of great people that could be hired for events that could make these things happen. You could also do things like show matches for fun.

I think there is a lot of room for improvement within the current landscape for how events are run. I don’t think we should do away with it all together. I think if you have a great player playing you should show it for sure but you don’t need to stream every single match possible. I also think there should also be more invite only tournaments. Will these things happen? I remain cautiously optimistic but only time will tell.

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