COVID-19 has been wiping out all offline fighting game tournaments and every other in-person event for over a year now. The question was whether players would turn back to events after the world got put on lockdown. Evidently, there was no cause for concern.
Yesterday, Community Effort Orlando 2021 (CEO) opened registration for the tournament planned for December. There was no way they could have predicted how successful it would be. This event literally sold out and proved that the world is ready for the FGC to return in full force.
CEO creator Alex Jebailey described the feeling on Twitter:
"This has been the craziest three and a half hours of my life as an event organizer, still trying to keep up with dms/emails and the like. But I live for this and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for always trusting and supporting me all these years. Best is yet to come."
As a result of ongoing restrictions from the virus, player attendance was capped at 2,500 registrants, while spectator attendance was limited to 500. Over 1,000 players registered to head down to Florida in less than 15 minutes, and shortly after that, Guilty Gear Strive reached its player cap of 512 before any other game.
The number of registered attendees increased to over 2,000 a couple of hours later, and more games reached their limit as well. Finally, CEO reached its maximum capacity that night. This scenario certainly wasn't a foregone conclusion, but it's wonderful to see so many people already jumping back into conventions and competitions.
Tournament organizers were financially vulnerable last year because of the way cancellations occurred and how quickly they occurred. If the players didn't want to take these trips anymore because of COVID, the FGC scene would have died. I have no doubt, however, that what we've seen in terms of support will encourage more tournaments to sprout and bring players back next year.
Until then, it's great to watch CEO as an example of gamers returning to the events they love.
Games that will be featured at CEO 2021: