On Sunday, 28 May 2018, Battle Arena Melbourne 10 (BAM10) proved to be another great chapter in the fighting game scene in Australia. We saw the top 8 players for games like Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, Dragon Ball FighterZ and Super Smash Bros 4 battling it out after the pools and semi-finals held on the previous day.
The crowd was a mixed bunch of players from all over Australia and beyond. There were casual players who seemed to be there for the atmosphere and the love of fighting games as well as the seasoned pros and the next generation of eSports athletes.
Australian eSports has experienced phenomenal growth in just the past couple of years and this can be seen in BAM10. Whilst matches were streamed and displayed on big screens in four separate areas of the venue, the most impressive of these would be the area that had a screen above a caged mini arena with red and blue lighting; it’s visually striking spectacles like these that help convey the excitement of eSports to a wider audience.
BAM10 was not without its grassroots charm though. BAM was created by CouchWarriors which was started as an informal community group. CouchWarriors has grown and so has BAM but there still remained the distinctly casual atmosphere so typical of community-run events: the plethora of plastic chairs in every area; the edges of walls used as makeshift storage zones; the freedom to eat and drink wherever you please; the carefree way groups and individuals interacted with each other.
Cosplay has become a key part of the video game and pop culture scene and BAM10 was no exception. There were some highly ornate costumes, such as the one for Hakumen from BlazBlue and unusual ones like the one for Mr. Televisor from the upcoming indie platform fighter Dimensions VS. There was also Elphelt from Guilty Gear, Valentine from Skullgirls, Kasumi and Ayane from Dead or Alive and many more. Seeing some of the talent makes me wonder if some day cosplay will become a widely accepted event theme for mainstream fashion runways, much like how eSports is becoming an accepted form of mainstream sports, but I digress.
The most enthusiastic crowd by far was the one for Smash. There were loud cheers, collective sighs and cries of encouragement much like what you would see from a traditional sport such as soccer. There was a real sense of team camaraderie. Street Fighter V, Tekken 7 and Dragon Ball FighterZ were followed with a slightly different crowd dynamic: the crowds were generally more reflective in nature and were fervent at precise moments in ways very similar to the crowd behaviour at a boxing match.
There were also other games like Pokken Tournament, Splatoon 2, Arms and Nidhogg that you could play casually with friends or other fellow BAM10 spectators. Rows upon rows of tv monitors in all shapes and sizes were used to play anything from the classic Street Fighter II to the hyper-gory Mortal Kombat X.
It’s at events like BAM10 that you see the more niche side of gaming culture which can be overlooked by mainstream media who tend to favour triple A titles and games designed for the western market. Unlike Street Fighter V or Tekken 7, BlazBlue is a 2D anime fighter and one of those games that is hugely popular in fighting game circles but may not have been heard of by the general public. There were also other anime fighters like Guilty Gear.
If you're into fighting games, BAM10 was the place to be. It's the major event that fighting games fans in Australia look forward to each year. You can see the matches online but it's not the same as being there because the streams don't capture the big crowd moments in all its raw glory.
It was nice to see BKSAMA, the winner of the Street Fighter V tournament at Expand Gong 2 last year, at BAM10 playing for The Chiefs eSports Club. There were also many other familiar faces from the fighting game community. How many of these faces will become pros and join Esports clubs by the time the next BAM comes around? Who knows. Until then, polish up your arcade sticks, sharpen your reflexes and work on those combos - it'll be BAM time before you know it.
Dragon Ball FighterZ:
1. 1 @HAM_Baxter
Street Fighter V:
1. Echofox | Tokido
2. Razer | Xian MSG
3. Fursan | Verloren
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