On May 30, 2015, PlayBook Video Game Lounge and Bookshop held their Ultra Street Fighter 4 tournament called "Cross Up". Players all around the Philippines joined the competition, displaying a great variety of matchups and different skill levels. The competition was fierce, the turn out was more than what I was expecting, and it's safe to say we finally have a place for the Philippines' Fighting Game community down south.
I kept my distance at first. I knew PlayBook existed at Pergola Mall in BF Homes Paranaque, but didn't have a clear picture on their direction as a video game and book rental store. Since it opened, tournament events started popping up for different kinds of fighting game titles - Guilty Gear Xrd, Super Smash Bros Wii U, Mortal Kombat X, just to name a few. At this point, it's clear that they're reaching out to the communities of each game. So it got me curious. Their latest tournament, Cross Up for the Street Fighter community, is my first event to participate in PlayBook, and it made me realize, this is the place many have been wanting for years to show up down south...well for me at least, and it came at no better time.
Street Fighter Down South
I have not competed in Ultra Street Fighter 4 in years. I deeply miss it - The pressure of two loses and your out during tournaments, the intimidation of skilled players, the atmosphere of players cheering/shouting for the ones playing, the little tricks and matchups you learn from playing different players, and the interesting people you meet. It's an environment I wonder to this day why I abruptly stopped attending.
When I joined last Saturday, I had no real game plan - No practice. I just want to join in and experience PlayBook's event as a newcomer. To my surprise, I got all that I mentioned above and realized the Philippines' Street Fighter community has grown. It never died down apparently. Players that I recognized from before, and that I have so much respect for, got even better at the game. And the new faces I met during the casual matches before and after the tournament were all formidable players adding variety to the game. It was amazing to be around it all again, and all I wanted after I left was to get better at my game. With me getting that kind of mindset after leaving the tournament, it's a clear indication that PlayBook is doing things right with their events, at the same time giving the kind of support the fighting game community needs in order to grow.
The event had players from all over the Philippines. They had players from Davao, Cebu, Pampanga, Cavite, players from Megamall, Fairview, all with amazing skill and knowledge. They invited players from what felt like the best the Philippines has to offer, and it was a pleasure watching them compete. I went up against some of them and feeling the level of skill first hand got me excited. This is definitely another venue where players need to go in order to get better. We need these kinds of places.
When I was finally removed from the tournament, I stayed and watched the top 8 players duke it out. It was intense match after intense match, making it worthwile to stick around and see who comes out on top. PlayBook had a good setup with a TV, speakers, and a few chairs for those willing to watch the matches outside. That same match shown on the TV display outside was also being live-streamed via Twitch.tv, giving anybody around the world a chance to watch the event. What's surprising was their smooth connection for the live feed. This was not expected since the Philippine ISPs are notorious for bringing horrible online connections, especially when it comes to live streaming a video game. So kudos for the PlayBook team for making it work, giving the impression that they tend to provide the best coverage of their events.
If you've been following Ultra Street Fighter 4, then you'll have a treat with the last matches of Cross Up. Again, intense. The Winners Finals, Losers Finals, and even the Grand Finals got me glued to the screen. Also being there as it unfolds made it extra special. Have a peek for yourself below.
This is yet another good sign that the fighting game scene is growing in the Philippines. If their future tournaments for other games is somewhat similar to Cross Up, I look forward to their next set of events. PlayBook Video Game Lounge and Bookshop is turning out to be another place in the metro for current and upcoming players planning to hone their skills in the fighting game scene.
Imperium e-Sports bar and Video Game Lounge opened more than a year ago and we got excited on its role for e-sports in the Philippines, especially for the fighting game community. Now, we have another venue that aims to provide the same kind of support, but this time down south.
PlayBook Video Game Lounge and Bookshop can be found at the second floor of Pergola Mall in BF Homes, Paranaque.