The Oral History of Ozhadou Nationals: OHN Takes the Next Step

POSTED BY Chee Seng Siow September 13, 2017 in EsportsFeatured, Features, Top Post,
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Ozhadou Nationals (OHN) is the longest running fighting game tournament in Australia. Founded by two fighting game players from Wollongong and Canberra, OHN together with its mother site ozhadou.net helped birth the Australian Fighting Game Community (FGC) as we know it. From its humble beginnings in 2002 at Playtime arcade to its current iteration at the Hilton and being part of the Capcom Pro Tour and Tekken World Tour, we talk to the organisers behind its proud 16 year history – all the hype, near-catastrophes, rivalries, karaoke and arcade cabinets. This is the story of OHN and the people who bled sweat and tears to bring it to life.

The Timeline


OHN14: The Menzies

Ziggy:

The next big milestone was the next turn of team members that took us to the Menzies, bringing in Smash for OHN14 and trying to grow for the first time since starting OHN in the Red Room, that has been another huge milestone. That is by far the biggest event we’ve run.

The thing that excites me the most about that: I believed that it was possible to take it to the next level, but I was no longer – after EVO APAC – motivated to do what had to be done to get it there. So it was waiting for the team of people to come along who wanted to take the risk and put in the work to see if we could actually grow ourselves to the next level.

Xharmagne:

The year after that Spencer stepped down from organising OHN. Henry organises sponsors and the Capcom stuff and he told me one day that we were in for Capcom Pro Tour for the next OHN. I was just wondering that we’re not going to fit into the Red Room anymore in the old venue. And out of curiosity I started checking other venues – and they’re really expensive by the way. It’s not like we want to fit in say 4 times more people and it’s 4 times more expensive. It’s not, it’s 4 times more people and 10 times the price. (Laughs.)

Because this was the year Spencer was gone, and we were all used to Spencer doing everything. All these changes at once with the team doing completely different responsibilities. All the decisions like the times that we were deciding “oh should we upsize or should we just stick to Red Room”. That part was hard.  So I just helped up with that (Finding the Menzies venue for OHN14) and with graphics and bit and pieces of different things.

Ziggy’s fabled mathematics helped a lot going through the numbers and the possibilities. We sat down in December or January 2016 and Jonno (Jarop) had to contact Smash and see if they were interested. And then we had to sit down with spreadsheets and numbers and run through what would happen and figure how much are we comfortable risking and how much we think YSB can help us. Since I was looking at venues I realised that a lot of them were already booked out and this was really early on so I told them we had to decide soon.

Luckily we have a Ziggy who takes care of us financially and helps us look at the numbers and figures out if we’re ready to go. The challenge was that we had so much stuff, it wasn’t one big challenge, it was all of them put together that made it challenging at the time.

Jarop:

So the Consouls sponsored OHN14 last year and one of the prizes for winning a tournament – you got a shirt.

Itazan won Virtua Fighter and he immediately put the shirt on. After the Street Fighter top 8 was on he wore the Consouls shirt. I went up to spoke to him: “Hey man. Hope you like the shirt.”

He’s like: “Cool, what is it?”

And I explained to him what my band was and he was clearly not understanding and he wore it all the way through karaoke. Yesterday at Japan Cup I walk in a year later and what’s Itazan wearing? The friggin’ same shirt.

Didn’t remember me. Still doesn’t know what the Consouls are. According the Japanese FGC when he’s “off the clock” and he’s not repping his team, that’s his go-to FGC shirt. I just think that’s so funny that he’s repping Consouls and doesn’t know who we are.

Xharmagne:

Last OHN Yang came to help and we had this full schedule of timetables of this hour to this hour, you’re TO1 and TO2 – we had it planned. Yang came in and he was sick. He had the flu and and he had his black ninja flu mask. He blitzed through the SFV pools. He just led the TOing for that entire day. He had a packed lunch – he was fully prepared! He just sat down for thirty minutes to eat and he went back in. And he was sick. He’s MVP.

It’s funny and amazing even all these years he still does it.

Muttons: It’s not like he stayed around to play casuals or even go to the afterparty.

Xharmagne:

Yeah he just went to do his job and he left.

(Daigo nearly got disqualified by Yang because he was late) That was kinda sad and also kinda funny. I was like 50-50: it’s like a gift to Yang who stayed the entire day to get to DQ Daigo but at the same time it could have been bad PR!

Jarop:

There’s been a lot of high moments like KG vs ToXy but OHN14 is the highest point for me. When I started in 2011 we were doing OHNs out of the Red Room. In 2017 we’re doing the monthlies at the Red Room and as the same size at that OHN. And then you walk into the Menzies you got 600 people you’ve got preview builds for Tekken, you got all these international players coming out and saying how good our event was and how great the community was. And the afterparty was…

It was a really sobering moment as a member of the community and a TO just to see how far we’ve come while keeping the community spirit. You had all the top players come through but it was still all about the Australian scene and I really liked that about last year’s event.


The setups are not booting up

Youssef:

Last year at OHN14, you know how Tekken 7 wasn’t out yet? Thanks to Steve from Bamdai Namco he helped us get two builds of Tekken 7.0 on the PS4. And that’s what we were gonna run the tournament on. And Extra helped us get a one build of Tekken 7 FR which we had on the big screen just for a casual setup.

On the morning of OHN, Friday morning of OHN I get a text message from Steve. “Hey we got a small problem. The 7.0 setups are not booting up.”

I’m like “Steve do not fuck with me – OHN is on today. You CANNOT tell me that my tournament setups – the only two setups that I’m having at OHN – aren’t fucking booting up. He goes “No, I’m serious. They’re not actually working.”

I’m like: “Oh. My. God. Steve.”

Steve: “Look, I’m going to call a technician down now. I’ll get him on it as soon as possible.”

I go: “Look, anything you want me to do I can send down a couple of guys who are very tech savvy and they know a lot of shit about stuff like that if you need help. Just let me know.”

I spoke to a couple of guys and told them to please not tell a fucking soul because this is as bad as it gets! I tell Steve that people are coming, and I need this to get sorted out.

Mind you he sends me this just before 8AM. I told him: I’m giving you four hours – till mid-day. If it’s not sorted out by mid-day I’m actually going to tell people that we’re not having Tekken at OHN. Because I want to give them a few hours to fucking prepare themselves – because a lot of people are going to be on fucking suicide watch and I’m not sure how they’re going to take it. Some people might get so shitty that they actually want to buy plane tickets and go back home! I’m being dead honest with you. I cannot wait till doors open at OHN and tell people: hey sorry I know you paid for Tekken, but no Tekken.  

Steve replies “Alright, no worries.”

Of course this is OHN Friday morning and I got a million and one things to do. We’re working, I’m setting up at the venue. It hits about 11:50AM and still nothing from Steve. I’m messaging Steve and he says they’re still working on it, nothing yet.

I go to myself: this is the darkest timeline. I’m gonna be THAT guy that tells the people who are coming for Tekken from all around Australia that hey guys…no Tekken.

I write up an actual long post explaining to everyone what happened and how there’s not gonna be Tekken. I have it sitting there ready in the Facebook group. I tell everyone “Just give me five minutes.” I sit down and it was five minutes to twelve. I tell myself, alright five minutes. If I don’t get a message from Steve as soon as my watch hits twelve, I’m posting it.

Muttons, I shit you not. I shit you not. At 11:59AM I get a text message from Steve: “They’re working.”

For these four hours – he honestly shaved off about twenty years of my life. I’m not even exaggerating.

Talking about shit going wrong and losing hair (of which I already don’t have much of anyway) and losing years of your life and stressing out…

The Tekken family, OHN14


Why is OHN special?

Kyokugen:

It’s in Sydney.

Youssef:

I feel we still have the strongest foundation of any tournament in Australia. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing I don’t know- but I’m saying that’s what we do different. Our focus is more steady and growing slowly but surely instead of booming out of nowhere.

This is me being hella biased, but I’m gonna go for it. As someone who is born and raised in the Middle-east in a religious Catholic household, family is a very, very, very important thing for me. The term family, the concept of family, everything about family. I never never ever feel more surrounded by family anywhere at any tournament Australia wide or internationally than when I am at OHN.

I genuinely feel I’m amongst my people when I’m at OHN. I’m amongst brothers, I’m amongst sisters, I’m amongst people who I’m willing to do anything I can to keep them happy,  to keep them moving forward, to keep them strong, to keep them positive and full of energy and full of life. It’s just a feeling that I cannot replicate or duplicate anywhere else. The others of course give me the same warmth and the same happiness, but just when it comes to just standing and going: Yo. This is the place I belong. OHN is the place for me.

Xharmagne:

It feels like the friendliest major. You’ve probably seen our marketing for this year which is “Our OHN”, our family etc because of the feelings we get from it. And for me it does feel like friends and family just hanging out and playing fighting games. You feel how close the communities are at OHN compared to the other majors.

I also met Henry at OHN…

Ziggy:

The open entry principle. Anybody can sign up and play.

Anybody who wants to have a crack and is prepared to bring their controller and turn on time and pay their money is allowed to enter. So this is not esports where everything is organised by committees, and you have to be on the payroll of a company…none of that garbage. You walk into the arcade and you put down your dollar and you’ve got next.

That’s what the bracket is supposed to like, just an organised version of that.

And what goes hand in hand with that: there must be casual play. I don’t think of OHN now as a special event in an arcade. I think of it as the arcade. It’s a travelling arcade that materialises once a year for three days. Yes you have to pay ahead of time like a supersession rather than a pay per play. But you’re booking some time to play some fighting games with people. And whether you’re in a bracket, as long as you paid your money to play games, you should be able to play some games. And even if you went 0-2 you shouldn’t just be playing 2 games you should be playing lots of games.

So an absolute hallmark of OHN: there’s got to be chances for people to play games. That can include games outside the tournament lineup. But above all other things as a tradition it should be wall-to-wall fighting games. There’s plenty of places in the world to play all those other games.

Kyokugen:

I always want to have to have good eats but it always fall by the wayside because something needs to be done. What I want to be a tradition is to duck out and to have the fried ice-cream at Holy Basil.

I want to take people to Cow and Moon in Newtown. It won the best ice cream in the world sometime.

Most of my OHN goals are ice-cream related.

OHN is also unique because Spidercarnage doesn’t have to bring any supergun setups.

Jarop:

There’s a lot of cool storylines because you can walk into a venue and see a bunch of people yelling their arse off and everyone’s so friendly all it takes is:  “Yo man what’s going on” and they’ll fill you in and all of a sudden you’ve got a vested interest in what’s going on. So I think the community is so passionate and it doesn’t take much to see that as a spectator walking in.

As a player it’s cool, (and I can really speak to this after going to Japan cup) everyone is so goddamn friendly. Whether you’re going to level up or to make friends – you will walk out of that venue with a ton of names to faces. Everyone is a big family, and whether you’re in it just for fun or to get good you’re gonna get it. And I really dig that about OHN and Australian majors.

Xharmagne:

It brings the rivalries out of people especially with the history of OHN starting with Melbourne vs. Sydney and “Come prove yourself”. I feel that’s still there – the hype of rivalries is still there at OHN.

I have memories of standing in a giant crowd and people are screaming into the ears of the players (Laughs.) Even back then when I didn’t know most of them, just watching people become hype over it gets you excited.

There was this one time during Tekken finals watching Rame in the crowd stand up slowly and do a deathfist, that was cool.

Another one was when OHN was still in the Red Room and after everything was almost done, suddenly there was a Beyblades match. I think Baraa called Erks out but he lost, and it was even streamed for a bit. I think the thing about fighting games is that everyone’s competitive for anything; sometimes there’ll be arm wrestling, sidebets, beyblades. Because OHN is a gathering of friends and family, we just find other common interests to compete in…weird things come up like this and it’s normal and it’s fun.

Kyokugen:

I’m sure Youssef said something about El Jannah right?

Joey:

I remember: OHN2 Marvel and I was the best player in Australia. I got to the grand finals. And I don’t know if I dropped a game prior…but I lost six straight in the grand finals.

It was devastating.

You can feel it coming…you feel the doubt coming and I just had to sit through it.

Everyone’s like: what’s going on man?

And I don’t want to talk to anyone…I still have to play the rest of these matches but I already knew I was gonna lose.

In the end I viewed it as a lesson I could learn from. Ultimately there are a lot of lessons to learn from playing these games. Sounds corny, but there’s a lot of lessons about how competition can bring people together. Going through and having a mutual shared experience can develop very deep relationships. I would say there was an animosity between me and Trickster before OHN2. After I lost to him 6-0 there was never any animosity between us ever again.

I didn’t hate him for that, for what was essentially humiliation. Instead both of us immediately after the game just gave each other big hugs. We just came through this emotionally exhaustive intense thing. And we both respected each other off the back of that.

Justin:

In team esports, you’ll go in and come out as a team…but in fighting games you come in as yourself. You’ve got your posse and your crew who are also playing and competing. And you come in and it’s you and the other guy, sitting next to each other. You’re in each other’s space and in each other’s heads. And when you’re playing really well, you are in the other person’s head. (Yomi.) It does become intimate, it’s not the punches and kicks on screen. It’s like the mindgames, the footsies, argh how did he know that the cheap bastard…

That forms that weird bizarre yin-yang connection for the duration of the game. And when the game is over…ah jeez. That was just something. You’ve had this personal experience with someone else. Whether it was good or bad or you won or lost it almost doesn’t matter. Because at the end of the day you had that connection, you even enjoyed for whatever reason – let’s go eat.

Jack:

OHN was what started me to play the game not just passionately, but semi-professionally. All the way from 2003 I was running tournaments up till Street Fighter IV and I only phased out when my daughter was born in 2012. I handed everything down but it was really hard for me to let go because I was so attached to the community. I tried to hand it over a couple times but it didn’t work out. In the end I moved to Hong Kong.

OHN is so special to me because it drove me. That brought me from just playing casually to be passionate about it and to search online and learn more about the game.

Ziggy:

Something that I said at OHN9: people will often look at things like majors and scenes and think “why can’t I have this where I am?” Or why can’t this game be run.

In the beginning there was no OHN. There was nothing. And out of nothing people that wanted to have something made something. And they were just players, like everybody else.

If you really want it to happen, and there’s more than one of where you are, and you’re interested in doing this and you want to reach out and find more people, you’ve just got to try. We started with twenty guys in a CVS2 bracket at Playtime arcade. And last year we had over 500 people competing at OHN in a ballroom. And that’s just because we did what we thought we wanted to do. You start little and you keep building. And don’t think esports, don’t think big, don’t think Capcom Pro Tour. Think running brackets with your friends and having casuals after. Concentrate on the fun stuff. If you’re doing the fun stuff that stuff will come later, but if you’re no longer having fun it’s not gonna last.


OHN15

We’ve only covered the tip of the rich history that is Ozhadou’s 16 year existence and the countless moments that made OHN so unforgettable and addictive for the players and organisers. I hope you’ve enjoyed all the memories and tribulations of the amazing organisers who have given us so much over the years.

OHN15 will be the biggest OHN yet: a Capcom Pro Tour and Tekken World Tour event held at the Hilton Sydney on 15-17 September with a main games lineup consisting of Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Injustice 2, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros for WiiU. There is a wide range of medal games with the likes of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Third Strike, The King of Fighters XIV, Virtua Fighter 5 and much more.

Register now: http://ohn.ozhadou.net/

For all things Ozhadou go to: http://www.ozhadou.net/

Follow Ozhadou at: https://www.facebook.com/Ozhadou/

Hope to see you there!

-Muttons


A big thank you to the following people for contributing:

Andrew “Ziggy” Ziogas (Ozhadou co-founder, Bracket Overlord/Tournament Director 2001- current)

Justin “Final Atomic Buster” Hogie (Ozhadou co-founder, Event Director 2001-2011)

Joey “Ekin” Nguyen (OHN Tournament Organiser, Marvel vs Capcom legend 2001-2010)

Jack Luo (Ozhadou Third Strike Community Leader 2001-2012)

Yang-Yang “Hebretto” He (OHN Tournament Organiser 2001-current)

Spencer Wu (OHN Event Director 2011-2015)

Youssef “FaYd” Faddoul (OHN Community Manager, Tekken Tournament Organiser 2005-current)

Henry “Genxa” Sham (Ozhadou Brand Manager 2005-current)

Phrances Xharmagne C “pxc” (Ozhadou Webmaster and Events Coordinator 2011-current)

David “Kyokugen” Lee (Ozhadou MacGyver 2008-current)

Jonathan “Jarop” Gamra (Ozhadou Editor-in-chief/head streamer 2011-current)

Kevin “Leia” Lui (Good Games)

Kunal “KG” Grover (Sydney OG)


Extra: Youssef introduces the OHN staff!

Youssef:

Ziggy is indirectly the head. OHN is his baby.  Although he’s more behind the scenes…he’s still the guy that has final say on everything.

Muttons: He’s the Godfather.

Exactly. I’ve been saying that for years, Ziggy’s the Apocalypse to [our] X-men. He was the first one, you know what I mean? (Laughs.)

From Ziggy, we all came. He’s number one.

He’s also our seeding and bracket overlord. No-one in Australia does a better bracket than Ziggy. Period.

So Ziggy’s at the top and he kind of oversees everything else. He also used to help out with the blog, he also looks after money and expenses…

[Myself?] Community manager, TO, you know… most lovable guy ever (Laughs.)

Henry is the Capcom guy. He’s also the PR guy. Anything Street Fighter/Capcom Henry is in charge of. Most of our sponsors and our relations with outside people are through Henry. He’s the one that helped get Daigo to OHN last year and this year.

Xharmagne is the web overlord. She made the OHN website and is also the one in charge of looking after and finding a venue. She is also our go-to person for SmashGG, anything webbie or techie she’s the one. Xharmagne, what’s this? How do I do this, how do I do that? 9 times out of 10 she always has the right answer to give you.

People don’t know how much she helps. Every year I try to tell people – she’s a fucking workhorse.

We got Gamrah – Jonathan (Jarop). He’s our producer, he is our Blog Lord, our social media guy and he also helps with ST but he stepped down from all things TOing when he started streaming. It was just too much for him to juggle because he also competed in so many games like ST, SFV, dabbles with VF. Has a love-hate relationship with anime. Also in charge of all things DIY for OHN.

We have Gilbagz – Aaron our NRS dude. Anything NRS he’s the one to make it happen be it MK or Injustice. He’s also our…architect? All the floor planning, floor designs, shuffling of setups, shuffling of chairs. Streams, stages, it’s all on him. He’s the one that makes it happen; he’s the one that makes OHN from the ground to life. He studied at uni – he’s an engineer.

After that we got Kyokugen. Darve of course. He’s the guy that…he’s probably the biggest unsung hero in my opinion. Because Darve is the guy where it’s like…you know as a TO there’s a million and one things that will go wrong every time you run an event?

But because we have Darve around it’s like: oh a million and one things have gone wrong. But Darve has the solution to a million of these things. So only one thing went wrong.

Muttons: So he’s the OHN MacGyver.

Yes. He can conjure up a solution to anything from nothing. If it’s something as simple as “Darve I need an HDMI cable” or “Darve the stream broke down”. He has everything; he’s so good at problem solving. He’s got the Supergun for ST; he also runs ST and KOF. Just an infinite hardware guy, infinite solutions problem-solving guy. That’s Darve, Kyokugen.

Also, the latest acquisition to the team, Firery – Dennis. He’s the anime guy. We needed an anime representative for a while – we’ve been working with him for last year but he wasn’t officially a full capacity Ozhadou member, but this year he’s officially on board. He’s the eighth and final member of the core OHN team. He does all things anime, he looks after Gundam as well and organises that. He was the one that was in charge of all qualifying events for OHN this year, he was the one who organised them all around Australia, making sure everything ran smoothly and on schedule for all states and events.

We have also the Smash people. For Smash4 we got Hans (Julian) he’s at the moment the Smash 4 TO. For the Melee side we got two people actually. Alex and Yannick. They’re the two melee guys and run stuff for YSB. For OHN we talk more to Zorsky who was our Melee TO last year but we’re still in contact with him. This year we brought on none other than your guy, monsieur Darren Taing aka Dreadtech (CouchWarriors vice-president). He’s graciously offered to help run Melee for us at OHN. So he’s pretty much our number one guy when it comes to Melee this year for OHN. Hopefully someone steps up to be a dedicated Melee TO in Sydney.

Luke (MadeMan) is our Virtua Fighter guy, because we have a great VF scene in Sydney and Luke is definitely the pioneer of that scene.

Our OHN TOs: (From left) Xharmagne, Jarop, Youssef, Henry, Aaron, Ziggy, Kyokugen

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