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Basic Tournament Etiquette Fouls

Recently there’s been some discussion over why it’s considered okay for international players to taunt and counter-pick, while American players receive criticism for doing those things. The truth is, it has nothing to do with nationality.

The rules are simple: Taunting is bad. Picking counter-characters is allowed.

Someone like Tokido only gets away with showboating during major tournaments because he has a natural talent for stage comedy and winning over audiences. You have to admit that Tokido’s conduct indicates creative planning – not impulsive emotion. It’s always risky though. Instead of cheering him on, the crowd could just as easily turn against him. It’s a fine line.

I’ll never understand why certain unpopular players continue to take the risk of taunting, then resort to complaining when it backfires. It’s very easy to avoid that risk. All you have to do is stay classy. No one in the history of tournament play has ever been criticized for acting classy.

Counter-picking has a slightly different dynamic. Everyone who knows how to play multiple characters is expected to pursue the most convenient matchup available. That’s our current status quo. Now obviously when somone accepts the challenge of a tougher matchup, they earn bonus points with the audience. How is that in any way surprising?

There’s no double-standard in either case. All other things being equal, audiences will gravitate toward charismatic underdogs in virtually any form of competition. People like winners and people like likeable people. It’s common sense; there’s no reason to make it any more complicated. Don’t taunt and don’t listen to spectators when you need to counter-pick.

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  1. June 18th, 2011 at 22:48 | #1

    And yeah, it’s pretty lame that i had to write this in the first place, but sometimes common sense is worth restating. Anyway i got tired of seeing the same misguided comments on twitter and needed more than 140 characters (but less than half an hour) to respond.

  2. June 18th, 2011 at 22:53 | #2

    Very bold and on point Maj. I think the line between liking and disliking a showboater lies in the respectability they bring to their peers. SOME cultural differences apply when you have Tokido, who is respectable, well mannered and kind, is loved when he infact did that bold taunt on the big screen. Then again, not the same can be said for Marn, and although people don’t know him, just like people don’t know Tokido, the way they express themselves to the public is all it takes for this kind of outcome. Marn, although I do not know him, people find it hard to like him because he’s apparently, and it’s not my personal thought, rude and obnoxious. It’s hard not to find anything appealing about a person of those features when they sink to a new low. And again, this has nothing to do with how I feel about Marn, for I do not know him, nor do I take any side in anything. It’s simply a matter of what I have observed and read from the social norms I take part in every day. And I also do not partake in any offensive behavior to hurt anyone. Nor would I ever taunt. :)

  3. June 18th, 2011 at 22:56 | #3

    Oh, and by Cultural differences, I mean, that through my experience, people seem to be raised better in most other countries. America is cocky in my opinion, for the most part. Man, I feel like I’m just saying stuff that’s gonna get me yelled at. :(

  4. June 18th, 2011 at 23:02 | #4

    Well, i didn’t really have anyone specific in mind because this applies to everyone. But i’m pretty sure JWong was trying to defend Marn at Tokido’s expense. Personally i think the problem comes from a lot of newschool players hoping to make a quick name for themselves by pulling something shocking on stage. That usually backfires for obvious reasons.

    In Marn’s case, i think he’s had some success playing Dudley. If he wants to improve his reputation, he should stick to repping fan-favorite characters and focus on winning as much as possible. It’s pretty obvious that talking trash and insulting Daigo hasn’t really worked out for him.

  5. June 19th, 2011 at 06:47 | #5

    May I add… It seems as of lately this has been happening since the “popularity” of SF4. Its like the sudden rock star mentality. I know I got way back to the B series and I don’t remember the taunting and actions pre/post match. I remember excitement for winning, I remember the crowd taunting and shouting to assist you in a win (which is frowned upon now?), and I remember Japan being the silent super humbled player and barely breathing a word unless you forced it.

    Guess I am just old but its a new generation thing. They have things to do to try to stay relevant instead of playing to make themselves known. Lose a match, throw a stick, taunt your opponent regardless your known now. Animated ultras allow you to time and perform antics with the characters now thus you gain notoriety for actions first… gameplay last. I guess since everyone has a ‘posse’ now I guess its ok to perform antics and such cause you better bet it will be up on youtube or some media outlet in 24hrs or more.

    Last I rather you’d not explain Maj… your a vet as well. I always say some people need to learn the hard way. Then again this is a new generation from what we so the game literally has changed.

    srk’s og

  6. Pokey86
    June 19th, 2011 at 08:52 | #6

    I do think it’s dependant on who does it & how the players are percieved. Afterall Tokido for the most part comes off as very humble. & such an elaborate taunt was clearly thought out, not spur the moment & emotionally driven. I doubt anyone looked at that, including his opponent & thought he was a prick for doing it.

    To a degree same can be said for Juicebox (Abel) to whom when he lands an Ultra proceeds to make himself look like a dick-head. Sure it’s a taunt, but in this case because in the end most tend to agree JB is more about the giving to the community he comes across as someone you’d “allow” to do that because you know there’s no malice in it.

    Other instances are very ambiguous. A recent tourny showed Gootecks have a pretty foul rant at someone who instigated the whole thing. Sure emotions were flared. I don’t blame him for getting his “retribution” after he won. That said him staying silent would have been a taunt in itself at that stage. After the rant he never shook his (offered) hand. Had he simply not shook his hand when it was offered. It would of clearly marked his point in the situation without stooping to the lows of silly insults.

    Some are outright stupid however. None of us “know” Daigo but without a question he is a person of incredible integrity. I understand why some might feel beating him is a feat in itself. But certain players seem to feel that Daigo seems to warrant being barrated. Marn calling Daigo a “Bitch” after Marn won was disgusting. It’s dissapointing that in such a closely-knit community such as this someone as respectful & humble as Daigo has to put up with silly shit like that.

    At the end of the day 95% of us should go a get a f****** life instead of wasting our time on a video game. We could all probably achieve better things if we put half the effort we put in fighters, in to something more productive. Rather than a video game that most likely will profit us very little. Don’t get me wrong, i don’t really regret it, but i don’t “Showboat” because a little sense of clarity tells me i’m not “winning” on something that benefits me in any meaningful way.

    It’s the same for any “sport” i guess. There isn’t a competetive outlet out there where everyone is kind, decent & respectful.

  7. Tarnish
    June 19th, 2011 at 11:43 | #7

    It’s definitely new territory for many players, new and old. When were fighting games ever this big in the manner we see now where the competitive nature of the game isn’t something that is utterly looked down upon? I know a few folks playing with the intent to just be a name/famous, and the reality is that you really just have to put in work to be good and then hope you’re more skilled and you stand out.

    Barely related: I really liked what Watson said about the kind of dancing that Juicebox does, even though Juicebox gets a lot of notoriety for it… I don’t think of Juicebox as a champion, I just think of him as that guy who does those stupid dances that I wish I could ignore somehow. Like, do you really want to be that guy? It’s like aspiring to be the next Urkel laugh or some shit.

  8. June 19th, 2011 at 12:20 | #8

    I feel kinda bad for bringing this up, but i always assumed that Juicebox kept doing those dances mainly as a way to get himself (and his sponsor jersey) on stream camera. Otherwise he probably would’ve gotten tired of it a long time ago, wouldn’t you think?

    Anyway i suppose it’s not hurting anybody, so it’s alright. On the other hand if i was playing against him, i’d probably get a little annoyed the third or fourth time he did it. Opponents have to remember to give him lots of extra chair space i guess.

  9. Pokey86
    June 19th, 2011 at 12:57 | #9

    i aimgine he did it at first as a kind of response to a succesful read or w/e god knows i’ve done thing simmilair occasionally (On my own of course)

    That said yeah, when things get to the point people recognise, he could easily be doing it because it’s “expected” There is the chance he’s just trying to get more visual appeal to keep his sponsors happy. Who knows.

    I forgot you’re other discussion point, counterpicking etc. In my opinion this just goes down with the whole “no throws” or Styles of play. Some people might feel that Throwing is unfair or turtling isn’t the way the game should be playd. That said you should be able to pick whoever you want.

  10. XSPR
    June 19th, 2011 at 17:45 | #10

    Classy you say?

    I’m all for more classy in the fighting game community, and I think it’s great that people are at least discussing it. But far too often, in preaching classiness to the American fighting game scene, you are made to feel like you are wearing a tuxedo, asking a bunch of Dwight Schrutes, “yeah. But is it _classy_?” and they all just scrunch up their brows trying to make sense of it all, and often react by just saying “fuck” more often on streams. http://akamai.paramountcomedy.com/cc/videos/office/Office_520_classy.jpg

    Tokido’s act is not that typical in Japan. I saw one other 3S player kinda do stuff like that at this one tournament, after winning a game with Necro’s super. My friend was introducing me to him before this and in this guy’s joking-around attitude, went to grab my friend’s nuts or made some similar kind of gesture. I thought he was going to get his ass kicked right then and there.

  11. June 19th, 2011 at 17:56 | #11

    When Maj said “Classy” I immediately thought of Jim from The Office, my all time favorite show. XSPR, I <3 U. :)

  12. Tarnish
    June 19th, 2011 at 19:04 | #12


    Yeah, that ST thread… that was pretty ugly. Glad I just started reading those passively instead of participating in the madness. It seems, again, like this kind of exposure is new for everyone and it’s still a hobby that has to deal with the adolescent demographic that is still a legitimate target audience.

  13. Persona
    June 20th, 2011 at 00:33 | #13

    Nice article. Makes me happy to realize that I play my fighting games in Asia where everyone pretty much acts like a Daigo without the need to taunt and cause drama.

  14. June 20th, 2011 at 01:54 | #14

    I very much agree with the ‘Let them do as they please but they’ll have to deal with the backlash.’ sentiment. Personally, as someone that doesn’t watch streams too often (I live in the uk so they’re on at ridiculous times) and really doesn’t have any face to face scene (I live in the middle of nowhere, my mates don’t play fighting games) I always look forward to seeing a bit of ‘character’ on streams and other internet sources, as it’s what is lacking when I play. So I enjoy Marn’s antics and Juicebox’s dance and FilipinoChamp getting angry, but maybe that’s because I’m isolated from it and have limited exposure to it.

  15. June 20th, 2011 at 02:44 | #15

    If someone consciously wants to play the villain role and accepts the consequences, that’s fine with me. It can be fun having someone to root against. I don’t think any of those players wants to be the bad guy though. They just want to get famous for being edgy or whatever, but they still want to remain popular. Generally you can’t have it both ways.

    However, i will say one thing: The villain role only suits top players. Someone who’s consistently getting like 9th place in tournaments has no business trying to instigate drama. Only someone who’s a legitimate threat to win every tournament can pull off the rotten bastard routine. Everyone else would look foolish for talking trash while struggling to make top 8.

    Lastly, quick reality-check here. I never expected this thing to draw so much feedback or to end up on SRK. Seeing those twitter comments, mulling them over, and writing this piece all happened within the span of one hour.

    So yeah, this isn’t a big deal to me. Everyone’s free to make their own mistakes. Hell, part of the reason i posted this was to put some text filler between videos, with the Seth TACV coming up. I don’t really care whether anyone takes my advice or not. This is just one random dude’s opinion.

  16. N00b_Saib0t
    June 21st, 2011 at 09:30 | #16

    I always thought of Juicebox’s little “dance” as an exaggerated nod of approval when he sees his ultra activate, at least thats how it felt when he face f***ed my Balrog in casuals. He seemed like a cool guy, I don’t think he’s trying to taunt anyone. He even explained all my mistakes to me and why Balrog doesn’t have any safe anti-wake up tools against Abel in Vanilla (possibly Super and AE as well, but this was quite a while ago), I don’t see why he would even be brought up.

    Anyway, I get the tweets. There are guys out there (mostly on eventhubs) who trash non-Japanese players for switching characters, but they praise Japanese players for their ability to play multiple characters. No respectable community player cares about counter picking from what I can see, its considered part of the game. I think JWong’s tweet was aimed more at eventhubs than anyone else.

  17. June 21st, 2011 at 15:20 | #17

    I agree, Juicebox doesn’t quite fit in the same category, especially since everyone who plays against him on stage knows what’s coming.

    Maybe a good analogy is the Dikembe Mutombo technical rule. Basically he used to wag his finger at opponents after blocking their shot, but the refs started calling that as a technical foul. So he started turning away from the player and waving his finger at the crowd instead.

    At least that way it’s kind of an indirect ceremonial routine, rather than straight up talking trash to someone. Obviously there’s a way to twist any rule into something offensive, but the general guideline of “don’t target the opponent directly” might be a good rule of thumb.

  18. Tarnish
    June 21st, 2011 at 22:04 | #18

    Whoa, I brought it up as “barely related” because I saw a post by… I believe it was koop, talking about players trying to be famous through SF. Which is why I mentioned it about being recognized for being a champion rather than “that one guy who you know is gonna do that one thing (then possibly lose!)”

    Yeah, they know what’s coming now because he just keeps doing it… but I can’t imagine it was too fun to be the new guy on the receiving end of that, but I knew a player who used to arc his hand after hitting Splendid Claw with Vega and it was actually just his way of “trying to get some fun out of a dry game.” I think Juicebox being on Camera and then Watson’s comment worked with what Koop said earlier.

  19. June 22nd, 2011 at 00:47 | #19

    I guess it depends on how he responds to an opponent who (politely) asks him not to dance during a match. I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later, if it hasn’t already. Until then, it’s probably best to write it off as harmless.

  20. azarel_7
    July 22nd, 2011 at 08:55 | #20

    “People like likeable people” – definitely true…

    There seems to be this misconception, at least from what I’ve seen on forums, youtube etc. that its a good idea to bring a “tough guy” culture into the game or the tournaments.

    That somehow its ok to curse your opponent, taunt them both on screen and off screen, not shake hands after a match, basically just be a douche and somehow it is manly and should be accepted. If you say that that behavior is out of place, they say that you’re soft and that you need to be a man, get a pair etc.

    The fact is though, is that most people don’t like that behaviour…so its impossible to convince other people that being immature should somehow be the new norm…people like likable people…period…

  1. June 18th, 2011 at 20:38 | #1
  2. June 26th, 2011 at 00:34 | #2
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