So my life always tends to take weird bumps and curves. I’ve kind of grown to accept that as common fact and take life by the seat of my pants and see what adventures I get out of it. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it turns into things that I shake my head about, but at least I have stories to tell in case I ever end up on Jeopardy.
This one might fit both categories.
Long story short: I just came back from Nexon E-Sports Arena in Gangnam, Seoul, Korea, where I was taken to a green room, had my hair style, wardrobe changed, and make-up applied, to be thrust in front of a camera for principal photography. This is the start of me doing eSports commentary, as I, along with several of my friends, will be the English commentators for SpoTV’s Street Fighter V Crash.
For those who don’t know, because they’re not as nerdy as we folk, this is a huge deal. Last year they did the same thing for Tekken, and it was a massive draw. I remember being in Gangnam seeing people lined up for the event. This is a big deal for Street Fighter to get featured in this way over here, one of the meccas of professional gaming.
While we won’t be on the Korean TV side, we will be on Twitch streaming for all the English speakers in the world to see. We’re talking thousands upon thousands of people will be listening to us. I can’t be any happier, but I can’t, as the analytical and poetic guy I am, go without collecting my thoughts and thinking how fortunate and, let’s face it, lucky I am that this is even something I get to talk about.
So backtracking to the beginning: I remember the first time I saw Street Fighter II. I was 7, and in Evansville, Indiana at a mini-golf course. I remember seeing a massive line around a cabinet. Not even for hit games did this happen. So we just naturally lined up. Then I got my first glimpse of Street Fighter. I remember barely seeing over the control panel. And it was certainly a short glimpse, since I lost pretty quickly.
But that was enough to leave an indelible print in my mind, that I began playing it after it hit the SNES and Genesis. Enough that 24 years later, I’m still playing it in some form or another to this day. And enough that I talk about it, on microphone, almost weekly over here in Seoul.
When Street Fighter 4 came out, that was it. That was my, “no messing around” moment. There was no more “casually playing.” There was getting better, and getting better, and helping others do the same. Enough that I was going to tournaments, hosting weekly matches at my apartment, the works. Like there was life outside of the game, but to say I breathed the game and other fighting game variants? Yeah, that’s accurate.
Living in Qingdao kinda a put a damper on it. No one within striking distance to play with. The local arcade was 2 hours away on bus, and after Ultra came out, there was no local comp unless you had a PC that ran Steam. I didn’t.
Then, I get to move to Seoul. My friend, Hyounoo “Drakefang” Sung pretty much gave me a random opportunity I thought nothing of. This is what I call dumb luck, being in the right place, right time. In June, we talked about who could do commentary in English for his monthly tournaments. I volunteered for July, since I’d finally be in Seoul, I speak English, and know Street Fighter. How hard could it be? Pretty hard, but apparently I did well enough that he kept sitting me in the booth time and again. Doing this not for anything but to have fun and to share this awesome game and tournament series with the world. Through commentary I’ve met awesome people, gotten the chance to interview world champions of the game, and met some of my close friends, such as Etienne “Cpt Maumau” Maurin, and Ryan “Wood” Underwood who will be joining me in the booth next week at Crash.
Then suddenly this gets dumped in my lap. Drake literally put me on the short list, enough that the producers bypassed an interview with my to put me in the booth for this. Without the chance to do so at ArcadeStream, this never happens. This was truly a moment of being in the right place at the right time. I can’t be thankful enough. Thankful that I saw Street Fighter II the first time, thankful that I poured my heart into Street Fighter 4 enough to know what I was talking about in the game enough to commentate, and thankful that Drake gave me that first opportunity on the microphone.
And now, apparently, (this wasn’t fully discussed yet, but regardless, I’m doing this for the awesome opportunity more than anything) I will be paid to talk about a game I love. Because of all these circumstances that gave me the chance to do so.
So seriously, I’m floored. If I could tell 7-year-old me this would happen thanks to that $0.25 token I fed that machine back so long ago, I might have believed myself that it was a possibility since I was crazy enough to dream about fun stuff like that, but I don’t know if I would’ve bought that this would be real. This a huge deal for me, and I’ve been on adrenaline since like 3:00 pm over this.
Seriously, I’m gonna give some special thanks already: Thank you Mom for tolerating my love of video games for this long, for buying my first NES and teaching me how to play, thank you to all my friends that I’ve grown up playing these games with, thanks to my crew, Allan “ThisBurger” Edwards, Kyle “RFK” Cox, and Jonathan “SajiNori” Buckman for showing up so many weeks to lab with me, thanks to my Korea crew, Mullen, Dasai, Drake, Etienne, Chris, Samson, RSX, MrMrBungle, Gerald, you guys have made this more fun than I can imagine. Another double thank you for people who have encouraged me to keep honing my craft behind the mic, Etienne, Sam, Jarrett, Jen, Guy Citron: you guys can’t be thanked enough.
So without anymore words from me, time to Rise Up!