In a time where esports events are being cancelled left and right due to coronavirus, one fighting game legend had no choice but to continue on and host his tournament.
Alex Jebailey, host of the renowned CEO fighting game tournament series, was in a tough spot as news of the COVID-19 began to escalate. By March 11th, many people had withdrawn and asked for refunds from CEO Dreamland, the Smash-specific edition of the series set to be held on March 13th through the 15th.
This left Jebailey stranded, as he had already spent a massive amount of money confirming orders to make sure the event would be as grand as can be. He couldn’t cancel the event outright (and there had been no official orders to cancel large gatherings of this size at the time) so he went ahead and ran with the tournament, as well as setting up a PayPal for any generous community members to help offset the costs.
But he also got a major surprise from tournament attendees.
As the Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments played out, multiple top players announced that they would forego accepting their prize money, insisting that Jebailey keep it to help deal with the costs of running the event. Examples of such generosity included:
- n0ne, the melee Falcon legend, who placed 3rd overall with around $260 dollars in prize money.
- Samsora, the winner of the Ultimate singles event, had over $2,000 in prize money that he gave an undetermined fraction back to Jebailey.
- Kola, a rising star in Ultimate who finished second in Ultimate doubles, gave his half of that prize money back to Jebaily (around $150.)
The weekend was pretty successful overall, despite one awful case of a couple attendees spreading a rumor that they had contracted the coronavirus, which led to a mild panic until it was determined that it was a hoax (they have been banned from attending CEO events for life.)
Major tournaments are very expensive to run; TorontoJoe, the head organizer of the annual Get On My Level tournament, said that the 2019 edition of the event cost over $200,000, with only around $15,000 in profit after all was said and done. Sponsorships help offset this a lot, but without official developer support from Nintendo (unlike other games such as Street Fighter V with Capcom and Riot Games with League of Legends,) this means that many tournament organizers are on their own to figure out how to host these events.
But as it’s been for a long time, the community will rise up and help their own in these dark times. The future of CEO may still be up in the air, and who knows when fighting game tournaments will be safe to resume, but it’s comforting to know that when things get as bad as they have, the FGC will make sure their own are taken care of.
You can donate to help Jebailey deal with the costs of CEO Dreamland over at his PayPal here.