Vandy’s KiT 14 Retrospective

Now that KiT 14 is in the books, it is time to take a moment to reflect on how we got to where we are, reflect on the tournament itself, and then take a look toward the future. I would like to thank Larry Dixon (ShinBlanka, organizer of Final Round) for much of the philosophical ideas of running a tournament. When I decided to go big with KiT, a two hour conversation on the phone with ShinBlanka helped to shape what we would become.

The mantra that shaped this past KiT and our motto going forward:

If you take care of the players, the players will take care of you.

It really is that simple. Players are under no obligation to attend tournaments. It is up to us to create an event that is worth coming to. That is why we decided early on that we would take care of every game we had at KiT. From stream time to payouts to casual setups to signs and posters around the venue, everyone would be included. Every gamer should feel welcome at KiT.

If you are reading this, it is very possible you had never heard of KiT before out last event. Before this year we were never a 3 day event. Flash back to January of 2013 and we had just completed our latest successful tournament. We attracted 64 Tekken players along with around 40 players for other games. We had reached the limit of what a big one day Tekken tournament could be. Being fans of every fighting game, we knew we could be much more. It was at that point we decided to go big or go home.

I have traveled all over the country for the past 12 years entering tournaments. I loved the games and I loved being with the players. I have never been a top player or won any tournaments – I just wanted to compete. When I became older I started to enjoy tournaments less – not because I enjoyed the games or the people any less – but because of the way they were typically run. Times have changed and the biggest tournament have embraced better scheduling, but I remember well the days of everything being 3-4 hours late, no room, and no games. It is the negative experiences I have had that drove me in planning KiT as much as the positive ones.

I knew I had the ability to plan and run a 3 day tournament logistically – I have a mathematical mind and understand the things that potentially delay a tournament on game day. What I did not have was much presence in the FGC as a whole. I am an introvert and do not naturally have an outgoing personality, but if I was going to raise the profile of KiT I knew I had to raise my own profile – to break out of my shell and get out of my comfort zone. I was willing to do what I had to do to make KiT great because there was nothing I wanted more. KiT needed a face and it had to be mine. KiT was going public and so was I.

Because we went from a one day event with essentially one main game to a three day event with 10 main games, we had to do things to accelerate our growth that not many tournaments do. We had never done online pre-registration before so we did pre-registration raffles. We updated our website and our forum announcements frequently months in advance of the tournament. I talked to players from every game and joined their communities. For a long time it did not seem like there was much response, but I knew the players had to get used to seeing my name and face. Especially with “new” events there is an inherent distrust in the FGC, and early on I got the questions I knew would come: Is this tournament really happening? Is the money really guaranteed? These are questions the big established tournaments do not have to answer, so I had to go out of my way to build trust.

About two months before the tournament all of our hard work started to pay off. Players began to notice what we were offering. Top players announced their attendance. Excitement and buzz began to build as players recognized us. Our handmade trophies we showed off were a hit.

It might seem strange to say, but from the start we viewed KiT 14 as a showcase for KiT 15. The world would be watching and we had one shot (one opportunity!) to not only show the hundreds of players in attendance what we could do but also the thousands of viewers who would watch on stream. If we were to be recognized as a major for years to come we simply could not whiff on this one in any aspect.

When tournament day came I will admit it was hard for me to see the forest through the trees. I noticed every small and minute thing that was going wrong or not up to the plan I had so carefully set out. The doom clouds were in my head and it was not until my wife snapped me out of it that I could see it and turn around my mentality for the rest of the tournament. All of the players are happy! None of them think there is a single problem! This is the event you’ve been waiting for! Snap out of it and enjoy it!

We made minor adjustments Friday night and everything on Saturday went extremely well. Every single game ran on time (with the exception of Injustice, but that was intentional) and I got to see the good results of the pool system I had spent a long time on. I hung out with every community I could. It was one of the best days of my life and one of the greatest feelings I have ever had.

Top 8 Sunday did not disappoint either. We started a little late because of some setup issues (I tried to keep myself from freaking out too much) but every community showed up to support their game. The matches were full of hype and drama and good times were had all around. We got to recognize some of the community members who had gone above and beyond for KiT (Milln and Big Jio).

Being the co-tournament organizer for KiT, a lot of people naturally asked what I thought of the event and the turnout. I will not grade myself except to say this: KiT 14 was an amazing event that made a lot of players happy, and I am very pleased with that. But asking a TO what he thought of the turnout is a loaded question: we always want more. I will not be satisfied with stagnation. I will take KiT as far and as high as it can go. I am relentless and hungry for success. The question I will constantly ask and attempt to answer: What more can I do for the players?

As you may have seen, we announced our date for KiT 15 already. It will be January 23-25, 2015. It will be big. Start planning now for your attendance. One thing I will announce now is there will be no onsite registration of any kind for players. That is not conducive to the level of professionalism I seek to attain. If you want to get involved or partner with us, contact us now. We made a highly successful major tournament this year selling a bucket of hope. Imagine what we will do with KiT 14 as our ammunition and an entire year of planning and hype. I am going to the top, and I am taking Beely Bounedara and Jonathon Oudthone with me.

Ian “Vandy” Davis

After such a great event like KiT 14 ended, I’ve finally been able to sit down at a computer for the first time to type out some of my thoughts and thanks. I still need to catch up on a few days of sleep but all the tiredness is completely worth it. First I need to thank those involved with running KiT. An event like this doesn’t happen without several great people putting in some serious time and going above and beyond all expectations. Of course with a list like this I am sure to be forget someone – I apologize in advance and please point it out so I can give you your credit!

To my co-Tournament Organizer
Beely Bounedara (BeereeVit): This is what we dreamed of and it only goes up from here. Our synergy is an unstoppable force.

Our Art and Technical Director
Matt DiModica (oldschooldimo): Everything you had a hand in looked amazing. From the trailer to the stream schedule to the stream overlays everything looked professional. You are truly a skilled artist and we could not be luckier to have you on board at KiT. Just please stop including lightning in everything you do!

The Game Directors
Jason Wilson (DreamTR): Thank you for providing us with systems, monitors, games, and anything we needed. You are the best in the business at getting through a big bracket in a tightly alotted amount of time. Thanks also for playing the exhibition match, I know a lot of local players who wanted to see it.
Marqus Dawson (potatosalad): Thanks to Team Marq for coming in force and not only running Marvel for us, but also providing multiple setups. It is difficult to have to drive from out of state and still be responsible for so much, but I knew I could count on you.
Josh McWhorter (Icege): You are the Tekken enforcer I only wish I could be. You ran through the bracket in a long game like a pro. Also, thanks for doing top 8 commentary. I am calling you out at Final Round for a first to 5. I just hope I don’t get DQed.
Jonathan Conaway (Milln): Like we said at the venue, there has not been anyone more committed to helping us than you. I hope what little public recognition we gave you shows you how much we noticed and appreciated it.
Matthew Cronnon (KOkingpin): It was great partnering up with you again after so long. Thank you for running a successful Smash tournament for us and we hope to have you back for Smash 4. The KiT mod for Project M was sick!
Nick Guajardo (Gweedo): The Injustice community brought the hype and you were at the center. Thanks for all your help with connections and expertise in a community that did not know as much about us before this tournament. Because of you they do now.
Richard Smith (SlowJamzMixtape): Thank you for stepping up and running Killer Instinct. It really helped me out!

The Streamers
Jonathon Oudthone (pandaxgaming): This was a huge event for both us, and I could not be happier with how the stream turned out. You are able to solve technical problems quickly and you keep everything so professional. Who knew this would be the way things turned out all those months ago when I first came down to Arkansas – I didn’t know you were a streamer and you didn’t know I was a TO. I look forward to what the future holds for us.
Patrick Smith (sixfortyfive): Excellent stream, I was very impressed. It was a pleasure to work directly with you and even hop on commentary briefly during DOA.
Evan Holland and Onish Jain (smashstudios): Thank you for being so easy to work with. We were glad to have you on board. You run a crisp show.
Zack Pleiman (kitrevival): Sometimes we throw you to the wolves and tell you to defend for yourself, but you always do a great job with our local stream.

Sponsors:
Vera, Sebastien, and Sherry (GamesterGear): It has been a pleasure working with you from the start. You committed to us early and were great to work with. I am so glad GamesterGear was able to have a presence at KiT.
Jeff Smith (Game Trader): The plaques looked amazing and the giftcards were appreciated. I heard a lot of thanks for the extra cash our players saved. I was blown away by how much helped us at the venue staying up late with us to do whatever was needed,
Zach Edwards (The Score): The badges were beautiful and we would have never been able to run as efficiently and smoothly as we did without everything you provided to us. Your monitors really did blow the rest away! Thank you too for being at the venue so much helping out.

Booths
Corey Wall (That 8 Bit Guy): Thanks so much for the KiT necklace! The players enjoyed having you there for sure. Next time I’ll pause for a second and get a custom made game character.
Shadi: I appreciated your artistic presence and hope to see you again next KiT.
Meredith Kearny (Lolita Bot): Awesome cosplay! Keep it up in Tekken. We need to get a few games in next event.
Matt Gummo: You were a hard working man over the weekend, and I know a lot of players appreciated having you there.

KiT Staff
Jessica, Kenny, Justin, Jeremy, Jonathan: None of this is possible without people working so hard in the background!

KiT Legends
Charlie (CodEZ): Happy birthday! I’m really glad you came to hang out with us and even stayed hours and hours after you said you were leaving lol
Shaggy (KDX): Finally made it back to one, good to see you again
Matt (Tricky): Thanks for the last minute help with setups and games. It was cool you made it out to see some of the finals.

Lastly, and most importantly to my wife, Alette. Without your support none of this would have been possible. You encouraged me to take the tournament to the next level and then helped us out during crunch time at the door. I love you baby!

I will post my thoughts on the event as a whole, how we got to where we are, and the future of KiT tomorrow.

Ian “Vandy” Davis

We would like to thank everyone who attended KiT 14 over the weekend, everyone who watched us on our streams, and all of our sponsors! You made it an incredible weekend.

Final Results are up at Event Hubs.

We would love to hear about your experience at KiT – what you liked and what you think could be improved for next year. Email us at kumiteintn@gmail.com