Staging the Showdown – Part 1

This week marks the beginning of a multi-part article written by Loki, co-founder of both the Couchwarriors website and the Battle Arena Melbourne (BAM) tournament series. After his hard work as Tournament Director for Shadowloo Showdown 2012 (SS2k12), Loki kindly took the time to put together a detailed guest article for Bracketed documenting how he and his teammates made SS2k12 a reality. Loki offers useful insights on the decisions they made and reflects on opportunities for future improvements.

In part 1 of this 8 part series Loki provides some background on his history with the Shadowloo Showdown tournament and how he set forth as Tournament Director for SS2k12.


There are a lot of things to learn about hosting tournaments, and through the Bracketed series Ziggy has provided a wealth of knowledge on almost every topic I can think of related to becoming a good organiser. I’d been considering writing a guest article for this series for a while but I think Ziggy has covered most of the important things so fully that I don’t have much to add. With this in mind, what I want to do for my contribution to Bracketed is a little bit different. Rather than explain how to use my particular method of this or that, I’d like to give a real life case study on how all of those lessons actually come together to create an event.

Throughout this article series I’ll cover the decisions myself and the other Shadowloo Showdown organisers made when putting on Shadowloo Showdown 2012 (SS2K12), how they affected the outcome and, most importantly, why they were made in the first place. Hopefully this will provide an insight into how a larger scale international tournament differs from local majors and monthly meet-ups. If nothing else I hope it will offer a few lessons that can help improve other events of all sizes.

Approved for Syndication
Around the start of this year I officially volunteered to be the Tournament Director for Shadowloo Showdown 2012. I’d been involved in the previous 2 events of course, but not in such an “official” sense. For the first event I was there to impart my knowledge on the entire running of the event, and it was simply a coincidence that I ended up doing the brackets on the day. The second year however I took a deliberate step back from the event, not because I had anything against it, but because relatively small communities like the Australian fighting game community (FGC) have a limited number of people experienced enough to put on a major. In order to spread that knowledge around and help SS2k11 to succeed I left the rest of the Shadowloo crew to organise the finer details of their own tournament while I simply turned up as an official volunteer. Unfortunately I feel that, as a result, we as a community learned a valuable lesson in tournament management: always over-prepare.

What some people might not realise about Shadowloo Showdown is that, from an organiser’s perspective, the tournament doesn’t actually run for 2 or 3 days; it runs for 2 or 3 weeks. What I mean by this is that while the organisers have to do all the normal tournament stuff in terms of venue, brackets, timetabling and so forth, we also have to deal with the guests. Now of course it’s possible to run an international tournament and simply let the guests manage themselves, but when you add in the element of players qualifying at international tournaments, for whom you also plan to organise accommodation and transport, what you get is guests turning up a week before the event and leaving a week after.

Of course this model makes for some incredible experiences, but what it also does is take up a huge amount of the event organiser’s time, and if you’re not very, very careful, that can impact on the running of the actual tournament. Those pre-registrations you were going to process a few days before the event? Those few things you needed to pick up to be ready for the weekend? Those extra t-shirts you were going to get made up? Forget about it: you have 8 people to pick up from the airport, so all of that stuff is going to have to wait, or… you’re going to need some help.

With this in mind, I approached Ali (EXC335UM), who is undoubtedly the heart of Shadowloo Showdown, and offered to split the burden of running SS2k12 between us, and thankfully he happily agreed. Ali would handle the guests, the venue, the over-all existence of the event, and still be the very epitome of the Event Organiser, while I would focus on the core of the weekend itself i.e. the Tournaments.

Directing for Success
The first thing I did as Tournament Director was look at last year’s mistakes. I think this is an important lesson and I can’t stress enough that if your event is going to improve, you have to be humble and take your whacks. Now honestly, this can be a frustrating process because more often than not, what people are saying is often something you already know, or something you have practically no control over. Once you take all of these things out, what you’re left with are a few things which are impractical to actually do, and perhaps a few genuinely good suggestions which may help you change the way you think about your event. Even if you don’t get any good suggestions, you can still think about what you did and start with those things you know you did wrong, or not as well as you hoped you could, then start to brainstorm ways which you can do them better in the future.

So what was the biggest problem with Shadowloo Showdown 2011?

The biggest issue was that we were caught off guard by our own success. Now some people may disagree with that statement, but the truth was we expected a lot less competitors than we actually got in 2011, and while that’s not something you can always fix, there are ways to make sure you’re as prepared as you can be, and unfortunately we didn’t do any of them. We tried to run Shadowloo Showdown the way we’d run any local event and it blew up in our faces. We got through it of course, thanks to a bunch of incredible and dedicated individuals who worked like machines to get our tournament done, but at the end of the day they should never have been put in that situation.

This is where it becomes a numbers game. In 2011 we expected about 160 competitors for Super Street Fighter IV. This may not sound much to the international scene but keep in mind that our majors in Australia usually have around 100 competitors maximum for each game, and we thought that, given the few internationals being added to the heap, this was a reasonable estimate. What we actually had was somewhere over 260 competitors, we don’t know the full number for certain as we had to cap it at 256 in a bid to get out of the venue on time.

– Brendon “Loki” Watson

Next week Loki will discuss attendance estimates for SS2k12 in further detail, including how this impacted the tournament schedule. Loki will also explain the pool structures that were employed at SS2k12.

Photos from SS2k12 courtesy of Shadowloo’s photostream.
Photo of Loki courtesy of muttons.
Photo of Ali courtesy of

Feedback and Future Articles
If you have any feedback about this article, or would like to request a subject for a future Bracketed article, you can send me a PM or an email, or make a post in the Bracketed Feedback thread on the OzHadou forums.

]– Ziggy –[