Final Round tournament marred by organizational, technical issues
Saturday was supposed to be a day of hype at Final Round, one of the most storied tournaments in the fighting game world. Instead, it was a day of headaches.
Final Round was headlined by the Street Fighter V tournament, which served as the first Premier event on the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour. It was also the first major competition for Pokken Tournament and Mortal Kombat XL, as well as stops on Tekken 7’s Tekken Tour and Dead or Alive 5’s Battle Royale. Yet the action was marred for both participants and viewers by multiple technical and organizational issues throughout the day.
Problems began with the creation of the tournament's pools. Event organizers decided to use smash.gg for the tournament brackets. The page is popular among major Super Smash Bros. tournament organizers, but most other fighting game tournaments have opted to use Challonge to manage brackets.
Over 860 players pre-registered for the Street Fighter V tournament, a number two-and-a-half times greater than the largest tournament at last year's event. Other games had their pools released on Wednesday on various Google spreadsheets, but Street Fighter V's pools were made visible on smash.gg on Thursday morning.
Once organizers began to add players who registered for the event at the door on Friday more problems arose. Many of the pre-registered players were moved to different pools because of the late additions and weren't able to see which pool they were actually in, and what time they were scheduled to compete, until they were finalized late on Friday night—just hours before the tournament's 8am start.
More issues became apparent once the tournament started. Several players were in different pools than the ones they were listed in on the website, and organizers were unable to update the groups. They were also unable to run the brackets through the website, as changes were not saved for unknown reasons. Pool listings were taken down on the website while the site's support team worked with organizers to fix the issues.
While the issues impacted all games the organizers appeared to prioritize Street Fighter V over the others. SFV‘s pools were finally visible on the smash.gg site at around 9pm EDT, but only one of the 12 other games listed on the tournament's page had visible pools at that time.
"We should have never tried a new pool system [...] during a major event [like] FINAL ROUND," wrote Larry "Shin Blanka" Dixon, the event's lead organizer, in a post on his personal Facebook page. However, he did not blame the site itself for the tournament's issues, noting that there was "nothing wrong with the system as it was our first time using it. Every time we think we have updated every thing and press go it would not take all the additional data we add."
Apex and CEO, both of which will feature Smash and traditional fighting games, will use smash.gg for brackets this year. Both events used Challonge in previous years.
Pool issues were far from the only problem at Final Round.
Schedule issues were rampant at the event. Street Fighter V fell behind schedule throughout the day, meaning that pools ended after 1am instead of its scheduled ending time at midnight. Other games, including Killer Instinct and Pokken Tournament, saw their tournaments start significantly later than scheduled. Additional time for pools were added for the Mortal Kombat XL tournament, but Killer Instinct's pools were condensed the day of the event.
Multiple games ran into issues with patches. The event’s Mortal Kombat XL team tournament ran into delays when they needed to download a patch for the game the day of the event. Killer Instinct players also reported issues with DLC on certain consoles. One Street Fighter V player allegedly found out that their matches were played on a console that did not receive a day-one patch for the game, although these reports have not been confirmed.
Viewers had issues to deal with as well. The problems with the pools forced fans to piece together results on Twitter and Facebook. Some games got less stream time than advertised, as last-minute changes meant less time for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Several of the games that were shown suffered from stream lag at various times due to internet issues at the venue and site-wide Twitch issues. An event schedule for the tournament’s final day wasn’t announced until after 2am Sunday, when it was posted to Final Round’s Facebook page.
The tournament's issues detracted from a day of incredible action across multiple games. Street Fighter V saw several big names fall into the losers' bracket, including four players who qualified for Capcom Cup last year: Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis, Momochi Yusuke, Hayashi “Mago” Kenryo, and Zeng "Xiaohai" Zhuojun. Guilty Gear Xrd saw young American prodigy LostSoul go toe-to-toe with several of Japan’s finest players. But perhaps the most memorable moment of the event thus far was 17-year-old Killtron’s victory over Kyle “DR Viking” Fernandez in Mortal Kombat XL.