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CEO 2021 wildly reaching its attendee cap in mere hours proves the FGC is hungry and ready to return to offline events

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • June 7, 2021 at 7:22 p.m. PDT • Comments: 34

The global COVID-19 pandemic essentially wiped out all offline fighting game tournaments (and pretty much every other in-person get-together) for over a year now, which had many wondering if players would be hesitant to return to events after the world got turned on its head. We apparently had no reason to worry, however.

Community Effort Orlando 2021 launched its registration for the planned tournament in December yesterday, and the floodgates were immediately blown off with a level of support that we haven't seen in a long time, and certainly put smiles on our faces.

Due to continued restrictions ongoing from the virus, player attendance was capped at 2,500 registrants while spectators were limited to only 500, and they didn't last very long at all.

In less than 15 minutes, over 1,000 players registered to head down to compete in Florida, and very shortly after that, Guilty Gear Strive became the first game to reach its player cap of 512.

A few hours later, that number grew to over 2,000 with more titles reaching their limit as well, and then CEO reached its maximum capacity in the same night.

"This has been the craziest three and a half hours of my life as an event organizer," wrote CEO creator Alex Jebailey on Twitter. "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."

It's great to see that so many within the community are already ready to jump back into pools because this scenario certainly wasn't a given.

The way cancellations went down and how quickly they hit last year put tournament organizers in financial jeopardy, and if the players weren't willing to take the trips anymore, we wouldn't be seeing most of them return.

What we've seen in terms of support here, however, will likely inspire more TOs to pick the flag back up and bring us all together once again, especially once 2022 rolls around.

It'll probably take a while to get more of the mid-level events back in full swing, but the way things are going, tournaments like Combo Breaker, CEO, Evo and NCR could have some of their biggest years ever if left uncapped.

Another good sign of offline support and want still being high came from the Super Smash Bros. community this past weekend where over 500 players signed up for InfinityCON 2021, which also happened to be taking place in Florida.

After the year we've all been through personally and as a community, we'll hopefully soon be able to have a sigh of relief and breath of fresh air by getting to see our old compatriots again, make some new friends and cheer on hype matches from the crowd or watching at home.

It's still going to take time to get back all that we've lost as a community, but the steps being built are being placed faster and a lot stronger than I had previously imagined.

As for where CEO is at now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Skullgirls 2nd Encore, Mortal Kombat 11, and Dragon Ball FighterZ also reached their entry caps with Tekken 7, Street Fighter 5, and Granblue Fantasy: Versus not being too far behind.

Jebailey said on the most recent episode of the JePodcast they hope to increase the player caps by 500-600 attendees and potentially bump up the full games, so make sure to keep an eye out for more openings in the future.

"Attending CEO in December is completely voluntary, but it shows people are ready to get back out there with how the insane numbers went," said Jebailey during his podcast. "It's just really exciting to think about."

The fighting game community is here. The fighting game community is ready. The fighting game community is hungry. The future is looking brighter.

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