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LONG BLOG

The Joy of Dead or Alive Tournaments

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Battle Royal 2016

[Last year, I made a blog about the joys of watching/participating a Virtua Fighter tournament. This year, I figured that it would be a good time to talk about another community in the FGC. This community is part of another 3D fighter scene that is placed between the levels of Virtua Fighter and Tekken: the Dead or Alive Community.]

Now that the Battle Royal 2016 series has officially started since Final Round 19 back in March, I’d thought it would be a good time to talk about the joy of competing and watching DOA tournaments. Luckily for me, I’ve been involved in several DOA tournaments since 2013 when I first competed in The Fall Classic for Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate. And for those who are wondering, no I will not mention the DOA Xtreme series because DOAX is a different genre.

I first got into DOA back when I was nine years old. It was at the time while I rented DOA2 for the Dreamcast at Blockbusters. I remember how much this game reminded me a lot of Virtua Fighter mostly because I’ve spent most of my time playing Virtua Fighter 3tb. The game felt similar in some aspects, mostly in terms of controls because it uses three buttons like Virtua Fighter. The gameplay, on the other hand, is insane. Normally, some 3D fighters like Virtua Fighter and SoulCalibur usually end their rounds via ring out. However in DOA, if you knock your opponent off the ledge, he/she will take damage, but the match still continues. That mechanic originated from Samurai Shodown 64. I thought that was pretty interesting in a fighter and it really keeps the flow of the match going.

From 2001 to 2011, I’ve played and owned DOA2 Hardcore, DOA3, DOA Ultimate (which introduced me to the Saturn version of DOA1), DOA4 (didn’t play much of it), DOA1 for PS1, DOA++, and DOA Dimensions.

I think the first time I’ve watched the competitive DOA scene was when Dead or Alive Dimensions was coming out. In Japan, there was a 5v5 USA vs. Japan Exhibition for DOAD featuring MASTER, Vanessa, Chosen1, Swoozie (who is now a YouTube personality), and Japanese player Mochi-A. USA defeated Japan 5-0 that day. Man, I thought that was hype.

A year later after the release of DOA Dimensions, Dead or Alive 5 was released. Of course, if you read the first blog I’ve done on Destructoid, you already know how I ended up getting involved with the community from joining FreeStepDodge, to meeting Matt Ponton, to entering my first major tournament which was The Fall Classic, etc. I don’t need to tell you guys what you already heard from me so many times because I don’t want to be too repetitive. However, I would love to talk about the fun and joy of being part of the offline DOA community, as well as competing in tournaments. But first, a little history lesson.

It’s really hard to tell how the DOA scene started. DOA Ultimate is what started the competitive scene for the community in USA, while the competitive scene in Japan started with Dead or Alive 2 Millennium for the arcades.

Now, DOA Ultimate was the first fighting game that I’ve played online, and I remember it was the only game I played online for the Xbox when I was in the 8th grade. In between 2004 and 2005, the DOA community played DOA2 Ultimate and Dead or Alive 3.1, which was the Japanese release of Dead or Alive 3 that came out in February 22, 2002 (only four months after the North American release complete with balance changes and an CG intro). Guys like Perfect Legend, Tom Brady, MASTER, and Matt Ponton (known as Sorwah) were trying to make a name for themselves. Not to mention, there was also DOACentral, a website dedicated to the competitive DOA scene. This was before FreeStepDodge was a thing.

By the time Dead or Alive 4 was released in December 29, 2005 for the Xbox 360, it gained the attention of eSports. It appeared on CGS (which was televised only on DirecTV if I recall correctly), EVO 2006, and many others. On top of that, Winter Brawl was originally a DOA-exclusive tournament right until Street Fighter IV came along. I think the only match I remember watching was Swoozie vs. Kasumi-Chan at CGS. I’ll be honest, I didn’t meet Kasumi-Chan until Summer Jam. She uses a decent Kasumi. Another match that I recall watching was Perfect Legend vs. MASTER back in 2008. Match was hype, but the commentator was pretty damn annoying.

While casual fans enjoyed DOA4, there were competitive players that didn’t enjoy the game’s changes. A couple of them went back to playing DOA2 Ultimate or DOA3.1. I believe DOA4.1 was the most hated version compared to 4.0, but I need to ask the OG DOA players about that. That’s for a different blog.

Then DOA5 came out, and the rest is history. If you want to watch more about the history of the DOA community, Silent Legend and DrDogg put together a nice documentary mini-series about the DOA community, from the origins to player rivalries.

Now that the history lesson is over, it’s time to talk about the joy behind competing in DOA tournaments. Unlike the VF scene in Japan because the majority of players met up at arcades, most DOA players either met up online or at a gathering with a local scene (ex. A friend’s house, or a game center). These players spend time leveling up their game in order to be ready for the next upcoming tournament, whether it is local, regional, or major.

I’ll be really honest with you guys, I rarely play DOA online because I am too accustomed to be playing the game offline since I have a scene to go to. Every Tuesday, me and a couple of guys would meet up at Matt’s house and we end up playing sets in DOA, Street Fighter V, and Pokken Tournament. On top of that, we played some DOA3.1 and DOA5 Last Round that one night. I usually don’t stay long because I have work in the morning. Since Summer Jam X is coming up on August, I need to focus on leveling up my game because I need to make a drastic improvement in my play style. There are some characters that I do have trouble fighting against, so I need to figure out what to do against them.

However, the offline DOA community still share that same passion that other fighting game communities have. Just like the VF community, I enjoy watching these players use the characters they want to use and show major support for their community. On top of that, it’s even better when you are watching Top 8 with other players around you at the event instead of watching it on Twitch.

Another thing worth mentioning is the people that you hang out with in the DOA community. You get to meet players from different states, as well as different countries. Some of them are OGs from the community like Shade Swifteye, Awesmic, Lopedo, and Allan Paris, some are well-known like Kwiggle, XCalibur BladeZ, and SonicFox, and others are trying to make a name for themselves like Blackmoonrisingx, HaijinShinobi, and Jaegar. Hell, even the female players like Vanessa, Kasumi-Chan (aka Kasumi-Sama), MissMaia, MzHoodless, and Shazzmatazzles showcase their skills to the community. And I can’t forget about the international players such as Gehaktbal, TeruRock, AKA, Shiorojika (シオロジカ), and JC Akira. I have a feeling we’re going to see more international players coming to the states now that the Battle Royal 2016 series is underway.

Shiorojika [middle] won the 2016 Japan e-Sports Championship for DOA5 Last Round back in March.

But that’s not even the best part about meeting other community members: you get to meet some of Team Ninja’s representatives like Creative Director Tom Lee and Community Manager Yasushi Tani. They go to tournaments to watch the action, as well as listen to player feedback. Team Ninja really tries hard to support the tournament scene like many other companies, which explains why we got the Battle Royal series in the first place.

Don’t get me started with the Japanese DOA community. While they do have a few gatherings online, most of the community meet up in arcades in order to play Dead or Alive Ultimate Arcade, which basically shares the same update as Last Round. I know some of these guys came from a Virtua Fighter background, but they pretty much can adapt when they play each other.

As for the costumes… I know the gaming media is known for blowing the whole costume soft-ban thing out of proportion last year because no one actually know the definition of the term. A soft-ban is basically a restriction not enforced by TOs or the rulebook, but is done by player agreement. In other words, players agree to not use those costumes without any official enforcement. I’ve talked about this before in a previous blog, but I did made an error considering which tournament used that ruling last year, which was Final Round 18 in March and NEC 16 in December. The other tournaments at last year’s Battle Royal series didn’t use it. To be fair, I rarely see people use those costumes during Top 8 (except the Japanese players that use them).

If you guys never seen a DOA tournament before, I suggest you guys check it out. There are some videos that you can find on YouTube such as a-cho replays of DOA5 Ultimate Arcade (which is currently updated to match Last Round), replays from tournaments in the US (such as Final Round, The Fall Classic, etc.), and Japanese DOA tournaments streamed on NicoNico. On top of that, watch Battle Arena Melbourne 8, which is not only the second tournament in the Battle Royal 2016, but it is the first tournament in the series that is taking place in Australia this weekend.

We may not be big as other communities, but we do bring the hype in our own way. We do whatever it takes to show other communities how we play our game and hope that they are inspired in what we do when we play on stream. Not to mention, the community finds several ways to help players meet up locally, thanks to Sly Bass’s DOA Player Map that he created. Who knows, a DOA player might be near your neighborhood.


Until then… Keep training, fighters!

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About Virtua Kazamaone of us since 12:55 PM on 07.05.2014

DOA Player and Fighting Game Researcher. I play games: mostly fighters, platformers, beat em' ups, Japanese, Retro, and Modern. I do videos. That's all.