East Coast Throwdown 4 is officially a wrap, leaving enough salt on the floors of the Hyatt Morristown to prevent New Jersey from the next three winter’s worth of snow. Every minute of the event was incredibly exciting, from the all-around fantastic play in every game to the trash-talking pop-offs that have come to define the east coast scene.
Though this was only my second major, it was easily the most memorable one. Main pools all took place inside of a single conference room and were relatively well-organized, minus the occasional player name misspelling and waiting for top players to borrow sticks… haven’t they won enough money to buy their own?
Though I got thoroughly bodied in my three games of choice (SF4, SFxT, and Marvel), there were some personal highlights. One was getting to play Combofiend on stream, and managing not to get triple-perfected (I landed about 5 hits all set, ha). Though my headphones were on and I simply sat and smiled as Combo nailed what seemed like endless She-Hulk combos, there were apparently small chants of “FYR! FYR!” from the crowd, which is awesome. Playing on stage for the first time was exciting, I just hope next time I’m better prepared for it.
Fate must have wanted me out of the brackets early, as my first SF4 match was against Aquasilk, one of the best Zangiefs in America. Fortunately, months of trial-and-error have given me the patience to understand the Guy/Geif matchup, and to my personal shock I was able to steal a single game on him. He ended up winning the set, but to see the frazzled look of surprise on his face after we shook hands was all the motivation I needed to keep improving at this game. Hopefully we meet again at Big Two sometime soon, and things go differently.
The true apex of the event for me was Saturday’s exhibitions. Just like a boxing or MMA event, two major money matches were scheduled for ECT4; IGT Unknown vs. OMG Itz Andre, and the headliner: a $5000 RayRay vs. Fanatiq bout. The former was a personal rivalry that needed to get settled, the latter was a pairing of one of the west coast’s most legenday players against one of the east coast’s most prodigal.
Unknown vs. Andre absolutely stole the night. The tournament room turned into a mini-arena, as attendees stood on chairs, held out cameras, and gathered their friends to witness our equivalent of a pay-per-view. Every knockout was met with a raucous crowd reaction, especially during Unknown’s two perfects. When Unknown dealt Andre the final blow at 10-9, I truly thought the two kids were going to drop the controllers and swing real fists, as they yelled in each other’s faces for a solid minute before being separated. Andre asked for a runback in the hotel suites later at night. Even if he won then, New Jersey had already witnessed a close, but telling victory.
Finally, it was time. After almost two months of hype, southern California’s Fanatiq (no stranger to money matches) took the stage to face off against RayRay, a relatively new face who has been absolutely dominating in the NY Marvel scene. As an east coaster myself, I couldn’t help but be slightly invested (though not monetarily, I’m not a betting man) in the outcome of the fight. When RayRay swiftly went up 2-0, I thought we were all getting set to witness one of the bigger upsets in recent FGC history. However, as I mentioned, money matches are Fanatiq’s playground, and the longer the set went on, the longer Fanatiq adapted, and eventually dominated. The final score was 14-5, leaving Fanatiq with over $5000; Only about half of the money he would go on to win in grand finals the next day.
It was during these exhibitions that I was reminded why I love this community. Hearing the crowd scream “You are defeated!” during every Magneto Gravity Squeeze, or chiming in to Ryu’s hyper combo with a collective “SHINKU HADOUKEN!” sent the nerdiest of chills down my spine. There’s nothing quite like being in a (sweaty) room full of people that love what you love, and the energy that those matches created cemented my adoration for this genre.
ECT4 was a fantastic event, and definitely the first of many majors I plan on attending. Maybe I’ll win some more matches next time. Maybe I’ll truly master that Gief matchup. But regardless, I’ll be having a great time with tons of passionate people, and that’s all that really matters.