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Tournament Spotlight: Marvel Mayhem

The Struggle of Playing an Obscure Fighting Game Locally

One of the biggest struggles of playing multiple fighting games is trying to find offline tournaments for an obscure one. You won’t be hard-pressed to find tournaments for popular games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or Guilty Gear Strive, but for lesser played games, finding a tournament is like finding a needle in a haystack. There are always online tournaments, but they don’t have the same feel as a local experience — especially if the game has a poor online reach.

For me, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid (BFTG) and the Marvel vs. Capcom (MvC) series are some of my favorite fighting games to watch and play. These are some of the most action-packed, broken tag-team fighting games in history. However, they don’t see a lot of tournament presence in weekly locals. Usually, I have to wait until a major tournament such as Combo Breaker or Frosty Faustings to get my fill.

One of the tournaments that scratch this itch for me is Marvel Mayhem. This is a monthly tournament that hosts Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid. When I saw this lineup, I knew I had to give this event a whirl.

Hosted by BDE Gaming, Marvel Mayhem takes place in a gaming lounge called BHOP Esports, located inside Hawthorne Mall. The lounge is in the corner of the mall near a food court on the second floor. This venue is located in Vernon Hills, which for many Chicagoans, means they have to take a one-hour trip to make it there.

The venue itself is smaller in comparison to other venues like Ignite, meaning the tournament took up quite a portion of the venue. The area was filled with monitors and PS4s ready for tournament play.

When I talked to some of the attendees this was a common complaint as many of them live in the Chicagoland area. Is the trip worth it just to play a niche number of games?

Marvel Mayhem #3

Well, if I based that decision on my first trip there, I would say yes. For context, this was one of the first offline tournaments to host BFTG and the MvC series since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first event I went to, Marvel Mayhem #3, had a turnout of 29 attendees with an average of ten players participating in each game. The venue fee is $15 with an additional $5 to compete in each game.

Now the turnout sounds low but you couldn’t tell if you were there. I wasn’t even aware of the turnout as there was inexplicable energy emitted by the dozens of people watching the stream and playing games.

Table of setups in front of the tournament setup

There was a chill vibe to the location with a couch, a couple of chairs, and a few tables to play some matches. The confined space worked to the event’s advantage as it felt like everything had a local feel to it. Even the commentators were sitting on a couch near the location of all the spectators are.  As I waited for my match, it was nice to just sit there and watch others play Marvel vs Capcom 2 on original hardware. It all had a very grassroots charm to it.

In the BFTG tournament, I was the first person to be called up to compete on the stream. There was a large projector that showed what was being streamed to everyone in the audience. The energy in the room was amazing and this felt like a true return to form. It’s been more than a year since a tournament for this game was held offline. Tensions were high as I figured for many of them this set would be the first streamed match they would have seen since the start of the pandemic. And this turned out to be true as other players were verbally upset that I skipped the intro cinematic at the beginning of the match.

The set was very intense seeing how the match went all the way to game five. My opponent and I won 2 matches each and we needed one more game to win the set. We were down to our last characters, and in a cavalcade of misplays on both ends, my opponent made it out on top. I choked at the last minute, but the strange thing was: I wasn’t upset. All the cheering and compliments the crowd drowned out any pains I had in losing the match. The support I got from the crowd made this one of the most memorable moments I’ve had playing BFTG. You can watch the match here.

What is the biggest choke you’ve had while playing a set on stream in any game? I’ll never forget dropping a game-winning combo at Marvel Mayhem 3. — Ferns (@FernsComm) October 21, 2021

One of the best parts of participating in a tournament is playing casual matches with strangers. After I lost, I had the opportunity to play some matches with other players in attendance. The interesting thing about a small event like this is that it attracts some of the best competitors in the game. Since BFTG is a smaller community compared to other games, I actually got to meet some of the players I’ve previously played against online. Meeting these players offline felt surreal, but I quickly got over that as I took the opportunity to catch up with the community and learn new strategies to improve my skills.

I also had the chance to see some Marvel vs. Capcom action. While I personally don’t play Marvel vs. Capcom competitively, I love watching it. Every entry in the series evokes a type of energy that hypes up any crowd watching it — and the Marvel Mayhem crowd definitely didn’t disappoint.

The first Marvel Mayhem was a great event with a decent number of players. The event felt like the community was returning back to its roots after a pandemic stripped local tournaments away for a year. Sadly, not every event can replicate this kind of energy.

Marvel Mayhem #4

Marvel Mayhem #4 took place on September 18 and had 21 attendees. Unlike the previous event, which had an even spread of players for each game, all but one game broke double digits. The one game being Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. BFTG and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 had four and seven players, respectively, which forced the organizers to create a round-robin. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite didn’t even have a tournament since only two people signed up, in comparison to the ten from the previous event.

This marks a grim reality that comes alongside hosting less popular fighting games: the turnout. While many of the games in Marvel Mayhem have a cult following, they don’t attract the most attention in comparison to other games. This isn’t the fault of the tournament organizer, as there’s nothing notably wrong with how their events are managed. If anything, the low attendance shows why Marvel Mayhem is one of the few local tournaments to host MvC and BFTG — the lack of demand.

Tournaments need players to keep their events going, so it’s a safer bet to host games that are guaranteed a high turnout. As a fan of these lesser-played games, this poses a serious problem since competitors usually go out of their way just to play one game that is hosted by no other tournament.

I have the same issue finding tournaments for the game Under Night In-Birth (UNICLR). There’s a weekly tournament managed by UGS Gaming called Tripoint that hosts UNICLR as one of its side games. It’s one of the few weekly tournaments that host UNICLR every week, making it a consistent source to play that game competitively. However, being one of the only tournaments to host UNICLR also means people that want to play it locally may have to go out of their way to get there.

UNICLR tournament at Tripoint 101

When I went to my first Tripoint event, I asked the organizer why he was hosting UNICLR. He responded to me saying that he hosted UNICLR because he likes the game, and that’s where I believe the core of these types of events lie. These events may not attract the most attention and they may not break double digits, but the reason I stuck around for both was because I liked the games and the people that play them.

Going back to Marvel Mayhem #4, even though there were only 4 people, I still had a great time. I spent most of my time playing casual matches with the other attendees and the experience I got was invaluable. As a competitor, I want to improve; taking the time to compete against players that are better than you is a great way to hone your skills. Even though there were 4 of us, we made do with what we had and played as many matches as we could.

Additionally, the benefit of hosting multiple games in one event is that one game can carry all the others. For Tripoint, Smash Ultimate is what carries that event. For Marvel Mayhem, it’s Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. UMvC3 is one of the most hyped games in existence; that isn’t an opinion, that’s just a fact. Watching the game as a spectator was one of the most entertaining takeaways from that event. It had the highest turnout, so the it made it feel more like a real tournament.

All in all, I enjoyed my time in both Marvel Mayhems. I’m glad it takes the risk of hosting more obscure games instead of defaulting to more popular ones. As for whether it’s worth your time, well that depends on your dedication to these games.

I enjoyed my time with the first event because of the turnout, but the second event left me a bit disappointed. I’m not sure I would’ve gone to the second event if I had known only four people would enter BFTG. Simultaneously, I didn’t feel like it was a waste because my passion for the game allowed me to play casual matches with others, and the venue provided that opportunity for me.

It all depends on how dedicated you are to these games, but that goes for any event. Aside from the turnout, the event was well-run and had a grassroots vibe. I hope this event can gain a larger audience in the future, and I’m glad it takes the risk of hosting all these games.

If you have a strong passion for any of the games these tournament hosts, you should give them a shot. Even if the turnout is low, you’ll come face-to-face with some of the most dedicated members of that community.

If you want to be updated on when the next Marvel Mayhem is taking place check out their Twitter and Discord.



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