The Great British Splat Off Event Report (Summer of Splat/Splatoon Fan Fest UK)


Conor’s Report
Opportunities don’t come up like this very often. A chance to go to an eSports arena for an event focused on one of your favourite games, play in the tournament, watch top-ranked players show their stuff for the audience and live viewers, and – if you’re me – take part in some awkward commentary segments.

I was able to do all of these things at the British Splatoon Fan Fest on Saturday 27th August, and it’s a day I won’t forget for a very long time.

There were mistakes, and there were some organisational mishaps, but most of that can be forgiven. This kind of event isn’t offered for many games. It’s the first dedicated to Nintendo’s latest competitive game, which has a dedicated base of players that almost always compete online in their own homes. The recent Splatoon tournament held in Chicago, ‘Squidstorm‘, was an indicator of how a live Splatoon LAN event can be successful.

Nintendo teamed up with Gfinity for this event, and the Gfinity arena was a pleasant setting for the proceedings. There were minor complaints when it came to setups as players couldn’t use their own Splatoon gear, and a sense of a lack of ‘Splat’ knowledge from Gfinity staff. If future events are held, it would be nice to see these small issues resolved. This event, for me at least, was about Britain’s Splatoon players and fans – some travelling from overseas – coming together for a live event. For that, it was perfect.

My one-off team managed to qualify for the Octo League, and we had to recruit a friend last-minute after one member of our team sadly couldn’t make it. That friend was none other than our co-writer Mätti! Thankfully our quarter-final wasn’t the first game up, so I was able to prepare for a quick pre-match interview with Nintendo’s stage host Alex without having a nervous breakdown. Our opponents Sick Squid proved too much for us and we crashed out after one game, but I came away fairly happy with my own performance. Getting a 6-1 K/D on my favourite map Port Mackerel was enough to keep me satisfied!

Nothing could quite prepare me for what was to come, however. Thanks to a quick conversation with Alex, I found myself put in front of the camera to commentate the rest of the games alongside Gfinity’s presenter Chris. I have had thoughts of what it would be like to cast at some point for Splatoon but perhaps later down the line, when I’m more familiar with the competitive scene and more knowledgable of the metagame. So to be thrown straight into the midst of a livestream being broadcast on Nintendo’s official Twitch channel was overwhelming, and that’s an understatement. I was also following on from ThatSrb2DUDE (aka ‘DUDE’), one of the most recognised Splatoon players out there. No pressure, then!

I was nervous, especially at the start, made mistakes, and there was plenty of cringeworthy discussion (trying to chat between games was a nightmare), but it could have been worse for a first performance. With proper knowledge and preparation for what I was getting into, I’d feel much more confident to step up and take that role. In the end, I don’t think I regret commentating. A chance like that won’t come again for a while though – if at all – so for now I’ll just focus on improving my Splatoon game and learning!

Proceedings after the Octo League were less intense, with the Inkling League and Squid Kid League taking place. Not only were there some incredible cosplays present but a young Callie also proved to be a brilliant player, leading her team to victory in the Squid Kid League. The Octo League wasn’t the only tournament that showed exemplary plays!

Would I like to see more events like this from Nintendo? Absolutely. With a little more organisation and staff knowledge of the game, and the offer for players to bring their own gear, this could be improved even more. Perhaps this is what we can expect to see from potential live ESL-supported tournaments coming up in the next six months. Either way, this was a fantastic event and I’m so glad I attended.

 

Mätti’s Report
Hello squids it’s your good pal Mätti here to bring down your good times once again! No but really, this event was unlike anything I’ve ever been to before. I’m extremely happy to have been able to attend, and I really hope we can see not only more Splatoon events in the future, but even more Nintendo focused events here in the UK. That being said, Conor has detailed most of what has happened to us that day (on the positive side) so, as I usually do on Nintendo Scene, I’m going to once again use this article as a platform to address some issues so they might hopefully be fixed and the organisers may be better equipped to perform at their full capacity next time they create something like this.

Issues started before the live event begun. The event was officially marketed under three different names by both Nintendo and Gfinity (The Great British Splat-Off, The Splatoon Fan Fest, and The Summer of Splat). Those running it didn’t seem to actually know much about Splatoon, and one of the first red flags was halfway into the qualifiers being told new match rules that weren’t previously written (a DC in the first 30 seconds means you have to replay the match, despite the rules prior being teams MUST continue playing regardless of any DCs), when it was brought to their attention multiple times another team in the previous rounds had a DC in the first 30 seconds it was ignored and no match replays needed to be had. Emails to participants were somewhat avoidant of issues brought up and were written as if they’d been copy pasted from a Call of Duty tournament rulebook only to replace “CoD” with “Splatoon”. Teams weren’t notified that some of them would be interviewed, and were given repeated contradictory information by mail and staff about when and where they should be. Even Gfinity’s own website had typos and misinformation and while typo in itself doesn’t destroy an event (far from it as far as I’m concerned) it still looks very sloppy and lazy when the information you’re putting out can’t even get the names right of the places you’re directing people to when the logo with the correct information is right next to your text.

The event itself was in a small venue, which wasn’t too much of an issue in terms of the main attraction, but it was very dark. Understandably in order to see the screens somewhat this needs to be the case, but breaks were small and sudden and there was no interval so many attendees ended up sitting in a bleak space for hours on end with little variation in what they could do if they didn’t want to miss anything. The stage looked more like a set, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and while the lighting rig was simple, I most certainly appreciated it. In terms of hosts there was barely a minute gone by without a mishap, they were clearly very nervous. One of the casters sounded like he had been given a link to the Splatoon Wiki and just told to read off that and while he wasn’t really wrong in his regurgitated information it did just sound like that, repeating Splatoon information for the sake of it (and not paying much attention to the matches). Technical difficulty after technical difficulty had staff running around between booths and this meant the hosts had to prolong the time between each match by a couple of minutes almost every time. The audience was small and quite low energy. No one of course there was obligated to whoop, applaud, and scream for 7 hours, but this became a vicious cycle of a flaccid crowd response, then people getting upset that the event was so low energy and boring, meaning they didn’t want to participate…and this just becomes a slippery slope into a dark hole. Moody crowds are an issue with any event though, it’s just a shame that on top of all the existing problems this event ended up sucking itself into a spiral of misery with an increasingly unengaging audience.

In terms of personalising I felt this event did a pretty good job in not just making it look like the standard venue. There were a handful of large signs and posters. A small but a little out-of-the-way display showcased some of the prizes, and then a more standout display case showcased what I think were some absolutely fantastic bits of merchandise (many were Japan exclusive imports); of which ended up being handed out to winners of the tournaments, fanart, and Cosplay competitions. Speaking of merchandise, a complaint I heard a fair bit about was the lack of, as in there were no on site purchasables relating to the event, I’m not sure why they didn’t do this but it does feel like a missed opportunity. I was very surprised to see a (huge) Splat Roller replica AND four 3DS console stands in the hallway, but the Roller was very innacurate and looked quite lazily put together, and the console stands were of Metroid Prime: Blast Ball. So that was. Yeah.

gbspimage02

Enjoy these bad quality iPhone images regarding a shoddily run event. The irony isn’t lost on me, I assure you.

The main event was the Octo-League. This (surprisingly) ran first and was the only part that was streamed. After that followed the Inkling-League, and the Squid-Kid-League. During the Octo-League the team colors kept getting switched around meaning people were in constant confusion as to who was who. Facecams had team color outlines that showed the wrong color of the team member, and the screen would every now and then switch to another player for what seemed like the sake of it, rather than to capture the action. What made this worse was when the camera switched to someone who had been told to turn color lock off, so instead of Orange Team using blue ink and Blue Team using orange ink, we now had certain players showing the action as only green/purple ink. This did not help the already huge confusion. There was a small break where the fanart and Cosplays were judged, the room it was done in was small and thus, overcrowded. It felt quite rushed and then we were sent back on our way to the matches. By the Inkling-League it looked like whoever was in charge with showcasing the action had just given up. Cameras stayed on one player during almost the entire match and sometimes the facecam border just sat there overlaying the screen with no footage inside whatsoever. The event ran over by about an hour, with the promise of a quiz keeping a fair few people, but because of the overrun it was very rushed and we weren’t really given time to get into the spirit of things, with papers being quickly marked, prizes given out, and then us being sent on our way home.

It wasn’t all bad. Genuinely. I tend to use Nintendo Scene/my reviews as a platform to alert game developers/companies etc of some issues they may not be aware of in hopes it might help them out in the future, so that’s what I’m doing here. I think the set was excellent for such a small venue. I think the venue was mostly fine. I think the prizes were both excellent and extremely generous (New 3DS’s, etched trophies, limited custom jackets, imported and rare merchandise) with almost every winner of something being handed a lot of stuff. Despite his clear detachment from the game I think one of the casters did a more than passable job at talking about it. Despite his never casting before and being thrown in last minute and not given clear instructions on how to interact with the other caster I think Conor (yeah Conor, not even you’re safe from this list) did a good job for what he was working with. I think the stream setup at it’s core was excellent- the graphics, the videos shown during the break, the music. It’s just a shame it wasn’t utilized to the best of its ability. And of course that we had some kind of Splatoon themed big event was more than I could have ever hoped for. I can only hope those who attended had a good time and enjoyed themselves. I know this most certainly isn’t the case for everyone (as always is) but hopefully for the most part attendees found the experience overwhelmingly positive. I also hope that if we get something else like this (and please, give my sorry squid-loving ass something else like this), it will be improved upon from this one. I know a lot of these grievances are minor and on their own they wouldn’t be such a big deal as far as I’m concerned, it’s just on top of the larger issues and then being piled up with lots more smaller issues it doesn’t end up looking good overall.

I understand a lot of people don’t realise just how much time, effort, money, and squidpower goes into something like this and if one little thing doesn’t go to their liking that means the event overall is just disappointing and irredeemable for them, but this also doesn’t mean any criticisms should just be written off (especially if the attendees are paying customers). Events like this are still very much appreciated but empty promises will undoutably lead to disappointment and sometimes the first impression will unfortunately be the last. I genuinely don’t believe either Gfinity or Nintendo UK to be overwhelmingly incompetant and it’s a shame so much ended up going sour. Should they bless us with something else like this, I want them to blow the negative criticism (mine included) out of the water.

 

Did you attend this event? What were your experiences of it? Were you surprised to hear some people found it to be overwhemingly disappointing? Drop us a comment below, or tweet me @MattiasMay. Thank you very much for reading!

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