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First to Ten exclusive with everything about Florida weekly: Juicy Game Nights

Welcome back everyone!  

I know we’ve been on hiatus for a few weekends but we’re back in full swing just in time before Frosty Faustings.  I hope everyone enjoyed the Thank You NetherRealm video I was able to put together with the community.  Every time I watch it I think of how amazing it is when we all get together to do something powerful.  A video like that is positive power to show everyone else how our community loves our games, regardless of the occasional salt we see online.

Anywho, I did a poll recently and noticed people want to see more artists in the community featured. PLEASE, if you have any in mind feel free to tweet them at me during the week before Thursday because i’m always taking new suggestions.  This week I wanted to use this platform to help put eyes on a weekly called Juicy Game Nights that takes place in Florida.  We know our community has a strong presence in Florida so I’m hoping this will help spread the word about what they’re doing and have more people check them out.

Arris Whittaker is VP and co-founder of Juicy Game Nights and will be representing them in this interview.  He’s someone who’s always seems to be kind and supportive of what people are doing in the fighting game community. Interviewing a TO was really fun back when I did one with Wafflez of GGA, I feel this one will be informative and fun as well.  With that said, let’s get the ball rolling.

1. Hey! Thanks for doing this F2T.  For those out there who don’t know you, tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re from.

No problem! My name is Arris “Blacky” Whittaker, I’m an NRS head from Kissimmee, Florida. I’ve been playing video games since I was a wee lad (GameCube days) and since then I’ve been a hooked gamer! Over these past couple of years, I’ve grown more and more fond of fighting games and so I want to do what I can to contribute and help the community thrive.

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FLBlacky himself at CB 2017.  Photo by Robert Paul.

2.  How did you get started in the FGC?

I have been involved with the FGC since late 2015 when my partner Alex “Duelist” Pesante was running a small local called Eccentric Emporium. After that, I went to my first major CEO in 2016 and since then I’ve been an addict.

3.  What is Juicy Game Nights and when do they happen?

Juicy Game Nights is an organization that hosts local FGC tournaments twice a week (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) as well as larger scale tournaments once per month.

4. What was the most difficult part of starting a weekly and how did you overcome that?

One of the biggest obstacles for not just our weekly but with the FGC as a whole in Kissimmee was convincing venue spaces to allow us to host and stay at their location. Consistency is key for a local but after nearly a year and a half and 3 venues later, we went from a hookah lounge to working with a world renowned franchise, Buffalo Wild Wings. In order to overcome those obstacles, we had to stay patient and have confidence that our community will come out and showcase their skills, and they have definitely done that.  

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Juicy Game Night set up in Bdubs.

5. What is one of your favorite memories from a tournament?

As a TO/bracket runner: Being able to work with Kitana Prime and Gweedo at CEO to run Top 48 for Injustice 2 (that was extremely behind schedule) and finish it with nearly an hour to spare.

As a player: playing against Nivek at Combo Breaker and doing a Raiden ditto against him in tourney. Got bodied but it was worth it.

6.  Why the NRS scene?  What games and characters from these have been your favorite?

The NRS scene knows how to bring the hype. A great example is when Slayer was able to defeat Sonicfox at CEO. Mortal Kombat X has been my favorite thus far. As for my favorite character, I have to pick Tremor because his Aftershock variation makes it look like he needs some SERIOUS Vaseline on his chest!

7.  What is your favorite part about the Florida scene?

We’re all lab monsters and not afraid to share knowledge on characters in order to raise the bar for the competition.

8.  Who is somebody that inspires you and how do you apply that to what you do with JGN?

The Hadou. That man is tireless at making sure that the people and the community are taken care of first. I want to provide the best for our community as we move forward into 2018 and my partner, staff and I plan on doing everything in our power to accomplish that.

9.  What other games can people attending play at JGN?

In addition to Injustice 2, we have Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, DBFZ, Super Smash Bros  Wii U and Melee, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, and Rivals of Aether.

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Photo from Juicy Game Night of some other games being played.

10.  What tournaments can we see you at this year?

If everything goes according to plan, I’m hoping to attend Combo Breaker and CEO. If you see me, don’t be afraid to say hi!

 

If you’d like to keep up to date with Juicy Game Nights or FLBlacky himself please feel free to follow them on twitter and twitch:

FLBlacky Twitter: https://twitter.com/flblacky
Juicy Game Nights Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuicyGameNight
Juicy Game Nights Twitch:  https://www.twitch.tv/juicygamenight

 

There you have it!

If you are near the Florida area and are looking for a fun weekly for Dragon Ball FighterZ  coming up as well as these other games – you gotta check out Juicy Game Night.

Never forget that First to Ten is about the community as a whole.  If you’re someone with a weekly you run that you think not a lot of people know about, let me know.  I’m more than happy to signal boost or help promote you and your scene.  The only way we can keep growing as a community is by supporting each other.

Trying to find some artists in the scene we’d like to see on here.

If not artists let me know some of the people who you’d like to see interviewed!

A look at the Galloping Ghost Arcade and the Chicago NRS scene with GGA Wafflez

Happy Sunday to those in the NRS community and FGC.

I wanted to take this week to go back and interview another T.O. in the scene. If you recall, First to Ten’s first interview was with Chyna who helps run a weekly in her town in Tampa, Florida. This week I decided to show you all a man who’s involved in the Chicago local scene who’s’ been around for a long time, GGA Wafflez.

As you all know, many names in NRS’ past have been associated with the Galloping Ghost Arcade. Some who were even associated with the name currently work at NRS such as 16 Bit, Dizzy, PPJ, and SaucyJack. I reached out to Mr. Tommy Wafflez for him to give you all the scoop on the Chicago NRS scene.

I had the pleasure of officially meeting Tom about 2 months ago when I went to my first GGA weekly. I had wanted to go for a while, but schedule had restricted me a lot. But honestly, I am glad I went. Tommy and the other GGA gents like Jeremiah, Max, and Fillpops are all very kind and excitable individuals. They continue to run this weekly in the suburbs and it has a pretty decent turn out as well. It also peaked my interest to interview Tom because I still haven’t gotten to learn much about him even with spending some time down at GGA. First to Ten gives myself and all of you in the scene a chance to learn more about everyone though, so let’s get to it.

1. Tom, thanks for joining us this week. Please start out by telling everyone a little bit about who you are, where you come from, and what you do.

Glad to be here! My name is Tom, but most know me as Wafflez. I’m an original member of Team GGA from Brookfield, IL (Western suburb of Chicago), was actively competing and traveling from 2011-2014, and now run Ghost Battle Series at Galloping Ghost Arcade every Thursday evening.

2. When did you start going to GGA and what made you want to stick around most?

I found out about Galloping Ghost in late 2010, shortly after they had opened. I fell in love with their Street Fighter IV cab, and played it as much as I could when I was there with one of my best friends Fil Pops. This inspired us both to pick up the game on Xbox, buy our first fight sticks, etc. We later transitioned to Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which they had a cabinet for as well. Finally, in April 2011, Mortal Kombat 9 was released. The owner, Doc Mack, decided to put a team of strong local players together for one of his favorite game franchises. The game took off (within the FGC, being at EVO and all…), and our team of sponsored players started grinding it out, as our first tournament was Seasons Beatings later that year in October. I had always been a competitive person when it came to video games. Like many others, I was always dominant or at least strong among my group of friends. I was immersed into a scene where I was nowhere near the top. It was new to me, but I was determined to play everyday, travel where I could, gain as much exposure to the game, to become the best I could possibly be.

3. I know you really loved Mortal Kombat 9. Who did you main and what did you love most about that character?

Yeah, it’s easily one of my favorite games of all time. There is a ton of nostalgia attached to it for me, which is probably why. I mained Smoke. I won’t lie, I started off because he had MASSIVE damage when the game first came out (and even after they patched it 🙂 ). I thought he was a cool ninja. His color, his HAIR, his schtick, his name is Thomas. He was just really cool, had great tools, and I just clicked with him. Not many people played him either, which I like. I definitely used people’s lack of character knowledge against them in tournament often.

For some video of Tom’s Smoke:

GGA Wafflez vs. DR Gross

4. When did GGA begin to change and what caused that change? What do you miss most about those days?

Our scene had a lot of really good players back in the day. At the tail end of MK 9 and into Injustice, everyone on our team (Jeremiah, Dizzy, Fil Pops, Hahn, Saucy Jack, PPJ, MAX, SOONK, MOE, myself) was able to play at a high level, and that helped draw twitch viewers, as well as out of town guests, especially during Chicago based tournaments. One player in particular played a big role in creating the monster scene GGA was, and that was 16 Bit. He is a hype man, and with a strong team to back him up, he was able to create tension between other local scenes, and in the end, create really strong rivalries between regions. People wanted to be where he was, he always had something spicy to say. We would easily get hundreds of viewers for GBS (which started during Injustice: Gods Among Us).

I miss the camaraderie we had built in grinding the game almost every single day in preparation for tournaments. This was in a time where playing online was not optimal, and we would all meet up at the arcade to train. Offline/local scenes were valuable, and we had arguably the best. 2 AM trips to Tony’s, the all day breakfast place across the street from the arcade. Going on road trips to Ohio, Indiana, and all the way to Georgia for tournaments. Talking matchups, the blowups, researching opponents, looking at brackets and figuring out every possible scenario on who we could play. It was all really fun.

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Group photo of Team GGA

5. Who would you say was your biggest rival as a player during the peak of the weekly tournaments at GGA? What is your opinion on rivalries?

I am a very competitive person, and generally don’t take losing lightly. I’d say 16 Bit and Fil Pops were some of my biggest rivals locally. Fil, because he is one of my best friends. There’s always pressure when playing him for some reason. He plays weird characters usually, that for some reason always do monster damage. He also likes command grab characters which is a style that is hard for me to play against. When he puts time into a game, he gets really good. He has a win over a Glass Sword I remember. He had come in from Atlanta, and Fil played out of his mind and won (it’s on YouTube go check it out). 16 Bit, because we had always gone toe to toe for the most part. He had more major tournament success than me, but I was able to keep up with him because I knew his play style, and vice-versa. Our matches were usually very close. These rivalries never ended with shit talk though. They were friendly, and after 5 – 10 minutes of salt, everyone is cool and we’re back to just playing the game. Rivalries in general are great though. They are what the fighting game scene was essentially built on. It’s head to head competition. The person on the other side is not your friend for those 10 minutes you’re playing in tournament. They make things interesting, they stir up hype. Everyone wants to see the pop off, the blowups.

6. What are some of the struggles you face with running a weekly tournament?

Attendance is probably the biggest issue with our weekly. We lost a lot of our big players, who had really good pull for the tournament. With a larger average attendance, we’d be able to put more resources into our tournament. Pot bonuses would be a nice thing, though it’s not what this tournament was ever built for. The idea of this tournament is to encourage more nearby players to make it to offline events, support their local scene, and meet other people who have similar interests. I highlight people, because what we try to do is provide a social aspect to video gaming. It’s not just playing faceless players on the internet in ranked sets. We try to bring people together who would have never met each other otherwise. I think we have done that part well, as we have created a small, but strong group of players who come out every week after work or school, to hang out and play the game. It also serves as a means to improve the level of local Injustice 2 competition.

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Photo with Tom playing with others at GGA weekly.

7. What advice do you have for those looking to start a local scene/tournament in their town?

Patience is virtue. Make sure to greet those who are new, and try to be as a friendly as possible (give yourself 10 minutes after losing a match haha). You need to put time into these things, and I’ve been slowly learning, season after season, what I can do to improve. This means things such as match videos, streaming on twitch, promoting it through Facebook, Twitter (something I’ll be working on for next season), Testyourmight.com, etc. I was lucky to take over something which had already started. Going out to your local GameStop fighting game tournaments, or your local monthlies and promoting. Talk to people, gauge interest. Also… CONSISTENCY IS KEY!

8. Do you play any other games in your spare time? Any that you are looking forward to?

I play a gross amount of League of Legends and like to pretend I’m good. I’m looking forward to Vanilla World of Warcraft.

9. What would you say is the best part about being at GGA?

I have been given insane opportunities through GGA. They have been able to provide me with things I would have never dreamed of when I was a sponsored/active player for them. I’ve met a lot of really cool people who are now my friends, traveled to places I wouldn’t have, and have accomplished some great goals I set for myself as a player.

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Tom and a bunch of NRS familiar faces such as Kitana Prime, Noobe, DR Gross eating at GGA local diner, Tony’s.

10. Do you have any plans in the future for your weekly? Also, are there anything you’d like to see specifically?

I want to buy more setups and promote more through Injustice centric websites like Testyoumight. I’d like a little more professional commentary for our viewers. It’s tough being a small, local, casual scene though. I want to see more players come out. I think people think we can’t provide the level of competition they’re looking for. I think we provide pretty good competition for those looking to get involved in the tournament scene. We’re a great stepping stone for that, but provide more than just tournament experience.

Shout out to Doc Mack and the Galloping Ghost Arcade group for all that they do.

And also people can tune into the GGA stream: http://twitch.tv/gallopingghostarcade
Don’t forget Thursdays around 8PM Central time is when the weekly begins there!

You can also stay up to date with GGA and Tommy at the following:
GGA Wafflez Twitter
Galloping Ghost Arcade Twitter

It’s always really interesting to hear the perspective of others in this scene and what they do.  No two players are identical and I think that’s a beautiful part of our scene. This guy started awhile back loving the NRS scene and is still around to date making it so players young and older have a place out here to play each other and have fun.

I hope you all enjoyed this segment.

As always I’m very interested in feedback.  I don’t know what content to keep providing other than what I think wants to be scene without it. If there are certain players you really want to see get the spotlight for this let me know. Next week we will have an artist interview mid week as well as Canada’s own, Biohazard. Please remember as always to tune in next Sunday for that.

F2T goes down under with Injustice 2 Superman, Badge3d.

Hey everyone.

Thanks for tuning in for a fun mid-week special.  I realized there’s a whole creative side of our community and it’s casual and competitive players.  I wanted to start sharing that through cosplay and fan-art in our community each week to keep you excited while waiting for Sunday’s weekly interviews.

I feel the creative side is under looked a lot because some aren’t always the ones you see on stream competing.  But unknowingly they are doing us all a service.  The creative people doing fan art or costumes for example, are putting our game out there.  They’re servicing to all other audiences our competitive streams may not reach.  It’s a beautiful thing that only has the potential to allow our community grow. I would like to introduce my first guest on this feature, Badge3d.

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Badge3d’s Injustice 2 Superman by Snappy Happy Ian

So Badge3d, I would like you to welcome you as a guest to our first creative feature.

Here at First to Ten we typically interview the players and various persona in the NetherRealm Studios fighting game community.  I saw your Superman cosplay in a post on Derek’s twitter and really thought it would be awesome to feature you as a mid-week mini session First to Five.  We will keep it to 5 questions but they all should be able to explain about who you are and your work you’ve done on this cosplay as well as any others you may have done related to the games.

  1. Tell us about yourself first.  Who are you?  Where are you from?  What was the first NetherRealm game you fell in love with? What do you love most about Injustice 2?

Woah hello wow-wee !!! So many questions !!! I am the badge aka Lucas Pearson and I’m a cosplayer, gamer, movie/comic buff gym junkie from Melbourne, Australia. To be honest I’ve known Mortal Kombat for as long as I can remember, although, to answer your question ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’. The game just had such an awesome take on a story from the DC universe that was separate to the main continuity whilst having the classic 1v1 gameplay style from Mortal Kombat. To be straight up with you, the graphics and AMAZING costumes and character skins is what I love most about Injustice 2. A massive upgrade from the first injustice game, it really gave many cosplayers a challenge to meet the mark on bringing their best to the table with injustice 2 cosplay builds.

  1. How long have you been cosplaying for? What was the first cosplay you created?

I’ve been cosplaying now for about 18 months now and the first cosplay I did was a Deathstroke hybrid across a few different universes. The first I ACTUALLY created myself was an Arkham Origins Deathstroke which was entirely 3d printed and finished in 3 months. I still to this day have no idea how I accomplished this !

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Deathstroke cosplay mentioned above.

  1. I see that you do 3D printing which is becoming popular very quickly as a medium in cosplay.

Absolutely, I could talk all day about this. I build my first 3d printer from a kickstarter kit (not recommended) about a year ago and started from their, I’ve now got 4 printers and honestly it’s so exciting to see the community begin to dabble in the magic of it for making prop weapons and armor. As time goes on it’s much easier for people to get into 3d printing as technology advances and becomes more affordable with the Chinese cloning top end printers. The future is definitely bright for the cosplay industry with 3d printing as a tool.

  1. How long do prints normally take for you and how long did it take to make the pieces for your Superman?  Did you use a program to 3D model them yourself?  Where / how was the suit you wore under created?

So the printing part is quite easy for me. Their is some expertise that is required to run a 3D printer in both the software and hardware, although, I feel I’m quite adept after 12 months. To have all the pieces printed it took me around 2 weeks allowing margin for error with failed prints (it happens). On top of the print time, a lot of body work i.e sanding is required to perfectly smooth out and prep a 3d printed part for painting which took a good month to get to a level I was happy with. The 3D model itself was commissioned by a 3D CAD service as I’m still in the early stages of learning 3d modeling programs such as Zbrush. The undersuit was a screen printed spandex suit on top of a latex muscle suit which was glued together in order to show the muscle definition as such.

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The under suit with some armor for the Superman cosplay.

  1. What was PAX Aus like for you?  Did you have fun seeing the tournament there? What future cosplays will you be doing and are any of them Mortal Kombat or Injustice related?

PAX Aus is by far my favorite convention to date as it’s so different to what other conventions have to offer. To be able to go in play your favorite games as well as new releases and meet game designers like my new friend Derek, is just wayyy to cool. We also met Tom Taylor who writes the Injustice 2 comics which overwhelmed me as I just love the story. The tournament was absolutely surreal to see one of my favorite games being battled out by the pros on a massive screen ! We didn’t enter it but we played Derek and he absolutely smashed us with Cheetah and Poison Ivy whilst having a general chat with us about life !

I’ve had friends tell me I’d be a great Kotal Khan so perhaps I should go for it ? Otherwise I was thinking either a Green Lantern, Jay Garrick Flash, Deadshot or even my own version of a Cyborg Superman using parts from both Cyborg and Superman respectively!!!

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Yellow Lantern edit of Badge3d’s epic Kal-El.

You can stay up to date with Lucas at the following:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/badge3d/
Twitter – http://twitter.com/badge3d
Instagram – http://instagram.com/badge3d_

Thank you so much Lucas for your time! Your Superman is absolutely amazing!

I hope you all enjoyed this new mid-week feature.  I’d like to keep doing this for fan art etc. as well.  I’ve been collecting some from artists in the community for future features.

This Sunday tune in for the story of Decay! You won’t wanna miss it!

Article written and published by Romanova.