The OzHadou Nationals: Hype, Street Fighter, And A Boy Named Arnold

I'm sitting in an empty function room surrounded by hundreds of empty chairs. Next to me, a small team is bustling energetically, drawing measurements and fine-tuning their floor plan. One of them is in the sound box checking switches; another is marking out the available power points around the large space. They take to their work with such enthusiastic fervour that I am content just to watch them.

What were they working so hard on? They were planning the tenth run of Australia’s longest running Fighting Games Tournament, the OzHadou Nationals (OHN), and they intended on making it the best one yet.

Nothing creates hype quite like fighting game tournaments. Fast paced and flashy, the effects on the crowd are instantaneous. Even those unfamiliar with the genre are able to quickly grasp the premise, and it's testament to the excitement leading up to the event that registrations sold out and had to be closed early as interest in the event surged.

Fast forward to February and I’m in the very same room - this time joined by over two hundred competitors and a hefty amount of spectators. Rows upon rows of consoles loaded with various fighting games lined the room, flanked by large projectors for spectators. The titles with the largest amount of sign-ups included Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

As a competitor, participating in a tournament that runs smoothly is a dream. It is no longer just about playing games; competing possesses a certain thrill about it, a rush of adrenaline as you feel the spotlight center on you. Failing that, watching high-level players duke it out in front of a crowd is always enthralling.

However, the real highlight of the event went to player Arnold “ArnoldDesu” Samau – victor of the Ultimate Marvel Versus Capcom 3 (UMVC3) tournament. A relatively unknown player from Sydney, Arnold astonished everyone when he took out experienced competitors Michael “ToXY” Guida and Thomas “Nefelious G” Body. His incredible win was accompanied by an eardrum-bursting explosion of cheering from hundreds of spectators, many of them wanting to know - who was this new player and where had he come from?

When I sought out Arnold to answer these very questions, I found him relaxing and playing a piano in a quiet corner with a friend. He was soft-spoken and nervous, smiling shyly as we talked about his victory. He revealed that it was quite a surprise for him to win the UMVC3 tournament and that he had entered with the last of his money.

Had he learnt from the professionals?

"No, no."

I asked who taught him how to play the way he did - executing impossible combos and performing moves with incredible accuracy.

"Me?" He replied, shy smile back in place. "I just play with my nephew at home."

My mind was boggled.

"I’m really happy," he said politely, "I’ve been saying this a lot and even now; my experience with the top players is very limited"

Placing first in the UMVC3 tournament was no small feat, and the talented player is sure to have a enthralling run ahead in the competitive scene. Whatever happens, all eyes will certainly be on ArnoldDesu as he carries the hopes of Australia on the international stage at EVO 2012.

Meeting fellow players like ArnoldDesu is one of the many factors that make tournaments appealing; players travel from interstate as well as internationally to participate. You have the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

The event would not have run as smoothly as it did without the direction of Andrew “Ziggy” Ziogas – one of the founding fathers of OzHadou and long-standing respected member of the community. When I sat down to speak to him, Ziggy admitted to being very meticulous and prepared for the worst case scenario.

"We’re a pretty pessimistic bunch," he joked. "We certainly weren’t expecting to hit the levels we did"

It was easy to see how prepared they were – even at the admin table I was surrounded by endless spreadsheets and charts. Some laptops sat amongst the papers, one with multiple tabs of social media open and the other displaying player brackets and tournament progression.

It was evident that an incredible amount of effort had gone into planning. Ziggy further explained that each console was tested prior to the event – DLC content, live streaming, patches – all components were made ready for the OzHadou Nationals weeks in advance. This team had tournament organization down to a fine art.

Unfortunately, some technical and timing difficulties occurred on the day which delayed the Tekken tournament, much to the disappointment of the Australian community. The results prompted a back-lash that was addressed by the organisers themselves, who were quick to respond to all player feedback.

It is efforts such as these that contributed to the success of the OzHadou Nationals. With their sights set on higher goals, one cannot help but hope that the hard work of the communities combined will grant the eSports scene in Australia the much needed growth it needs and launch us to an international level of representation.

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Comments

    As awesome as OHN was, I think we can all agree the high point is the cap in the bottom left of the second picture. Saw that on stream and knew that nothing was going to beat it for sheer awesomeness that day.

      Preferred facepalm girl on the very left of the first picture, myself.

      I was sitting behind that guy -- he got so excited during the grand final that his hat comically bounced off his head several times. :D

        I wasn't jealous of you before. Now I am.

        Damn you.

    Not really my cup of tea, but a good article none the less. It's good that you can get interviews with the high tier players, unlike with the larger scale competitions where the top teams are typically pretty jerky.

    I REALLY have to get into fighting games. I miss the thrill of watching people compete in fighting games. More importantly, i miss the days when i was better than everyone i knew at them.

      Prior to attending this I had *no clue* how Marvel vs Capcom worked... I always thought it was an epileptic fit-inducing combination of bright lights on a screen. But then I watched a few matches played at a high level and I was blown away. These people seriously know what they're doing and it was so much fun to watch them play. I would definitely recommend heading down to watch some of these tournaments. The next big one is Shadaloo Showdown in Melbourne, which we'll post about in the lead-up to it. :)

        If i had the money, id be buying a hori stick, but sadly not going to happen. The other thing that turns me off, which i have complained about many times in TAY is the capcom happy-urber-ultra-rainbow editions. I dont buy many games, so i really begrudge buying ultimate editions, and that limits my access to online game play, and my ability to grow. :( of course, i could just hang with Puppylicks more often and let him teach me how to have my ass handed to me.

          The guy who won the MvC final played with an Xbox controller! Another bro played with a keyboard. Although yes a hori stick would be cool.

            I am extremely unco, so anything that simplifies my button mashing is only a good thing :P

            I wasn't too bad at SFIV with a controller, mostly because you do pick that one character and absolutely cram those combos into your brain with no possibility of getting it wrong.

            But with (u)MVC memorizing 3 characters for your preferred party seems to confuse me :P

            My first question was going to be about if the winner was using the xbox controller. I'm impressed and curious as to how he will go o/s.

            Do they post the games on youtube or is it just a steam?

            Once SFVT drops I'll dust off the fight stick.

              They were streaming on Twitch.tv so you can rewatch the stream over on the OzHadou channel.

              Unfortunately, it isn't segmented so you have to skip forward a lot to try and find the content you're after.

    Nice article Zorine! I really need to get into fighting games - I don't think I've played one since Killer Instinct on the SNES.

      I was playing Killer Instinct (fulgore <3) and Super Street Fighter 2 turbo on my SNES emulator today W00T

      My first time being at OHN and i have to say it was very impressive! crowd was going bonkers at Marvel vs Capcom lol ~

      Great article Zorine! Keep it up

    It was an awesome event, and it was great to see everyone in the room erupt when Arnold won, even those who were there to support ToXY.

    Great job on the article Harli :) It was cool meeting you and Tracey. It was extra cool seeing you get caught up in the excitement.
    It was an awesome weekend, had a great time. Glad the interview with Arnold turned out so well, he's a modest champion :)

    Great article and awesome to see Kotaku still showing their support to the competitive gaming scene in Oz. Hopefully we're slowly catching up to other nations!

    Was a great event, well done to the OHNX crew and it was great to catch up with old friends and foes as well as make new ones.

    See you all in May for Shadowloo Showdown, sh-- is gonna go off! Practice up cause there is an international invasion coming!

    It's always encouraging to see more exposure to the Australian fighting game community. Great writeup and look forward to the scene getting bigger and better from here. In particular, it was good to see so many media folk coming and checking out our event!

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