With one the largest most spectacular events Smash has ever seen taking place it might surprise many that right in the very same venue another Smash tournament was taking place. In many ways it is similar to any other tournament: the room is filled with friends being reunited after such long spans apart, the clicking of buttons pierces the air, and the venue is packed to capacity with people who love Smash. The real difference was the event took place at Further Confusion 2016, the furry convention right next door to Genesis 3.
At the last minute upon learning a Smash tournament was taking place at the event I reached out in hopes of attending and was surprised to not only get a response but was offered free entry into the event with a media badge. I not only entered the tournament myself but decided to take the opportunity to learn about something I had never seen before to try and see what I could bring back to Smash. Come and see all that I learned.
To say my welcome was anything less than the most warm one I have ever received would be criminal. I was met at the entrance by Bliz Fox, one of the many people that make FurCon so successful. He took me to get a badge, made sure the fee was waved, and then proceeded to give me a tour of the entire venue so I could know where everything would be.
He introduced me to top organizer at other conventions so I could ask questions about how the events worked all while explaining the furry culture so an outsider like me could understand. We passed by a photo shoot with at least fifty suits by the same maker and was told how most suits cost at least $2,000. I was surrounded by $100,000 of fursuits. The quality was impressive.
Everywhere I went every single staff member already knew my name and what I looked like before I managed to say a word, they really wanted to go out of their way to make sure it was an incredible experience. After our tour I was given free reign for reporting which I later learned is incredibly rare in the community. Most reporters are escorted, as many show up to events having been specifically paid to try and get footage that can be edited in a bad way or used for a biased reporting which hurts their community. I was honored to have that trust from my first time attending.
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ToaEnemis stands on a chair directing the crowd. This is second time working on Smash at FurCon. Last year he was co-host but now it's his time to shine all on his own. While many people had asked me if the tournament would be casual before I went in, I quickly found it was not. The only things different in the event were that Castle Siege and Delfino Plaza were legal (still not too uncommon at events) and that the event was single elimination due to time constraints.
Vespa26 and Reep, two volunteers for the event, are forced to turn away people at the door: the room is already packed to absolute full capacity. A few players are no shows and everyone groans at the thought of taking a free match . Nobody just wants to win, so I take one of the spots (replacing Lupo) and decide to enter the fray.
The first matches are already bringing on the hype. A last minute Bowser up-b takes out a Wii Fit trainer and everyone cheers. A Fox gimps a Lucas player then a spectator exclaims “YOUR MOMMA WOULD BE PROUD SON!” and the room erupts in laughter. In full suit Rithuld goes around entertaining players and volunteers alike.
Just as the players play under a professional ruleset some of them are very skilled. I managed to take a match but was eliminated by ParanoidPimp, a Pikachu main with agility skills to rival ESAM. In the end I take 17th place. With so many people and being a bit rusty it's a good performance. Plus it's hard to be mad losing to the player who eventually got 4th.
The matches continue and top 8 is set on a projector so everyone in the room can see. Lenoh, the man in charge of the game room, booms out the names of the final two competitors in an impressive fashion. Ben The Dragon vs Shikan grand finals. Two players who did incredibly well during the event, honestly being capable of breaking round one pools in Genesis 3 here at its next door event fighting for first prize.
The first match is on Smashville, some things just never change. It's a Saturday night and KK Slider plays, a fun coincidence everyone points out from the crowd. Shikan's Greninja manages to take game one but Ben The Dragon brings it back just as quickly changing to Bowser and using his newfound throw combos to take the next match. Shikan being knowledgable on many characters makes a switch to Duck Hunt which proves to be just the right counterpick for another win.
With the Bowser proven to have issues Ben The Dragon pulls out his last hope: Yoshi. Shikan yet again makes a change switching to Fox and the match to determine Ben The Dragon's tournament life begins. While he tries his hardest it was Shikan's day to shine, and in the end he would be the Further Confusion 2016 Smash 4 Champion.
The Night: Further Confusion 2016
This wasn't the end of my adventures at the convention however. With a full day pass for Saturday it seemed silly not to use it to attend some panels and enjoy some of the events. I was able to talk to fiction writers and pull some heartstrings at karaoke singing Johnny Cash's cover of Hurt. Everyone continued to be incredibly friendly, and then on Twitter I was offered a chance to have the full "furry experience" by Toby and for the sake of reporting (who am I kidding, I was curious and it sounded fun) I decided to head over for a party and a chance to try on a fursuit.
Thanks to Tav I was able to try on a partial suit which I learned included feet, sleeves, paws, tail, and a head which was all worn with regular clothing. The suit was old but trusted and true and was surprisingly comfortable. The head even had the ability to let me open my jaw if I was clever. It wasn't easy to see and talk at first but I was able to get the hang of it and soon found myself headed towards the dance party they hold every night.
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Other than the amazing dance (which was incredible to say the least) I got to learn how to use a straw and get drinks while in a suit (very difficult) and learn the general ethics and etiquette that goes along with fursuiting. It's a good thing I was a quick study, there really was a lot to learn.
It really is hot in suits and I was only in a partial, I can't image some of the full suits I saw walking around so I was shown the room that was a safe haven for those in suits where they could take off their heads without ruining the magic for others and cool down. The place was set up brilliantly with lots of fans and a special homemade device used to cool off the fursuit heads. I met with many other people in suits and was amazed at the modifications I saw from led lights hidden with fur to full electronic muzzles capable of moving quite realistically.
Unfortunately the party cannot last forever. I had Genesis 3 top 8 to cover the next day and the others had to prepare for their own final day of festivities so we headed back to the room, I removed my suit, and headed back to regale friends with the stories of the night.
Many Smashers, me included, went to Genesis 3 knowing that the FurCon would be taking place next door and all came in with expectations, biases, and stereotypes, but almost every Smasher I talked to had them broken just as I had. It is hard to meet kinder people and seeing how open they were to show the outside world just how great they are to just one member of the Smash community was awesome.
I learned a valuable lesson: it is smart to expand your horizons and not judge others for what they enjoy. No matter what, there are always commonalities that bind us. In this case it was Smash but for other times it may be something else.
There are many things we could learn from our furry neighbors next to Genesis 3 and one of those things was how to better our own events. Did you meet new fluffy friends at the event? Surprised to see a Smash reporter in the suit? Leave a comment below and stay tuned for part two here we'll talk on what Further Confusion 2016 taught me on how to better run Smash events!