Interview with Climax of Night director Shinobi

An interview with tournament organizer Shinobi at Climax of Night. How to be a tournament organizer, his experiences as a TO, and more!
On Stream players at Climax of Night. Photography: Albert Tran
On Stream players at Climax of Night. Photography: Albert Tran

Shinobi has developed this tournament and event in Atlanta, Georgia, over the past five years. This event spans three days and covers a variety of games. I was able to sit down and have a nice conversation with him after the finals took place on Sunday. Below is the transcription of the interview with photography provided by Albert Tran.

Rina: I am here at Climax of Night in Atlanta, Georgia, with the director, Shinobi. Thank you for sitting with me today and doing this interview with me; I only have a few questions for you, so let’s get started.

Shinobi, could you tell us about yourself and what got you into being a TO for such a niche community?

Shinobi: Yes, thank you. I got my start in 2006 with Guilty Gear and started traveling in 2007, where I traveled to Final Round, an older FGC tournament in Atlanta. We started to work on a Melty Blood tournament around 2008, and around this time, I started to become interested in more of the air dashers and anime-type games. They were really interesting to me. It pretty much defined who I am as a competitor in the community. Most people know me for those smaller, niche fighting games.

And with Melty Blood, especially in the South, we did not have that many events to go to, especially back in 2008.

How did you get your start as a TO (for Climax of Night)?

Shinobi: My starting as a TO came out of necessity. We needed more people to come out and help support the game in other ways outside of playing it.

So, there were a lot of player TO’s, player producers, people who edit videos, and all that kind of stuff.

We needed all those people in order to make games look more presentable, even back in 2008-2009. This was the age before Twitter, where all we had was forums and such.

Being able to be in that organizing space is what got me to be able to enjoy doing that.Over the years, I have kept trying to develop my skills as a TO and to keep supporting the games that I do enjoy playing.

Games that I do enjoy give me that yearning, that drive to be, and to ask that question, what else can I do? What more can I do to get these games more well known?

You got your start in the air dashers community and the Melty Blood community. What’s your favorite fighting game, and why do you play it specifically?

Shinobi’s Favorite Game:

Melty Blood (Actress Again) Current Code. The most recent version of the 2D Melty Blood from the early 2000s.

Shinobi: I think I’ve had the most success as a player and as a TO in that game.

I really enjoy the gameplay, the mechanics of the game, which were completely unknown to me at the time.

On top of that, the community was very close-knit and welcoming. People that I still make content with to this day, some of those people are actually here at Climax. Watching it all grow and stuff.

It’s just a testament to how close-knit the community was even back then (in 2008) because even after all these years, people moving on with their lives, doing all this stuff to advance their lives, they can all at least come back for one weekend (at Climax) to enjoy the communities that we have grown up with.

Who do you play in the game?

Shinobi: Half-Moon Arc and CL (Also: Alcove, Kouma)

How long does it take you to plan your events?

Shinobi: For Climax specifically, it would take about 2 months pre-planning, and then once we make the announcement, that is when we start to do actual planning-planning. For instance, this year, we started talking and bouncing around ideas, then by May, Combo Breaker time, we announced it.

And that is when we were officially getting ourselves into the meat and potatoes of getting the planning and getting the hotel and stuff together for the event.

So, altogether, it would be around 8 or 9 months to put together something like this.

Rina: That is a lot quicker than what I thought it would take.

Shinobi: Really?

Rina: Yeah, I was figuring it would take about a year, year and a half, to get really going on starting a tournament like this. So that is amazing that you are able to get things done so quickly and efficiently. It seems like you have a really strong team with you.

Shinobi: Mhm, yes, yes. The folks at Team Data have been very, very, very good. They are a production company based here in Atlanta.

Most, I would say, 90% of the staff here is all southern grown. I’m from Alabama, but most of Team Data and our other streamer are from Atlanta.

You built that up over time from 2008-2009?

Shinobi: Yeah, so over time, and I didn’t realize this, until like, maybe last year, that all of these connections I’ve had, and all of these people that I’ve talked with. All these paths that have crossed with me throughout the years of playing just one game of Melty Blood all culminated into what we have here with Climax of Night.

It wasn’t something that was done overnight. I’ve always had an idea to do something like this.

But the state of the community was very undetermined at the time. It was like, how many people could we get to come down to Atlanta to play these games?

I would say it took about 5 years, as one of our biggest Melty Blood turns out period, happened at Final Round, actually, which was in Atlanta.

For me to imagine an event with this one game… it’s a very scary concept on paper, but once you have the connections and you know the right people, I felt like it could be done.

Pretty much the stars aligned for how the first Climax worked out.

And the trajectory has only gone up from there.

That’s amazing. So is Final Round the reason you chose Atlanta for your major since you’re from Alabama?

Shinobi: Yes, so there were two things. One Final Round was in sort of like, a limbo thing, but Final Round was a big major. It had every game under the sun there. When it left, there was a void in the south, specifically in Atlanta, where it was known to be such a cornerstone in the FGC when it comes to offline majors.

Because of Final Round, they had all these little regionals surrounding it, but now that it was out, it was kind of tricky trying to host something in Atlanta without losing the vision and losing the identity of what I wanted this event to be.

But having people who understand that, and understand, like, the vision of what I wanted to do to help build up the communities that do deserve building up, that do deserve to have their own major.

With that first year, I definitely have accomplished that.

And, like I said, it’s only been going up from there. 2022 was a very big year for us, this was a milestone year. (Year 5) You can’t really take 5 years lightly.

If I was a new player, what would you recommend I start with?

Shinobi: In 2022, you can basically play anything. The resources that are available are so broad, they are so diverse, and they are so that you can learn anything.

Fighting games these days are just amazing; there is something for everybody.

So like, just starting out? It’s like, pick your poison, pick your candy. Whatever you enjoy doing, whatever you can imagine doing, there is a game for it.

Rina: I definitely recommend Poyo Poyo Tetris.

What advice would you give to aspiring TO’s or event organizers that are looking to get started but really have no idea besides just meeting people?

Shinobi: The first step is easily social interaction. I would not have gotten to the place that I’m without having the respect for my peers and without having the respect for those in the know.

Be nice to people, get to know people.

You never know who will approach you or you will approach them. You have no idea what they’re doing, whether they have a stream or what they’re doing.

I think that kind of interaction comes first.

That when you want to invest something that is like super important to you:

Say you want to run a 10-man tournament; how did that start? Did you interact with people? Well, of course, you did. Well, now you have 10 people that can help you run things. So, from there, it just keeps growing.

Number 1 Advice: Be social. Say hey, say what’s up. Be a community.

Cyberbullying has been a thing across the gaming community as a whole, no matter who you are, where you come from, I feel that everyone has experienced it. Even you, yourself have, as a TO, how do you handle it?

Shinobi: As a TO, you go into it knowing that being a TO (tournament organizer) is a thankless job….. In those times when I feel like nobody really understands or nobody really knows what I go through as a TO? Over the years, I have met people who have been in my situation and have given me this experience.

There isn’t much weight to what they (the online bullies) can say because I know there are at least 10-15 people that I know that will outweigh whatever they said.

But the main thing is you should always focus on the people who have given you the support. That was like an old thing that one of the older TO’s told me. He told me Two Things. One, if you have a table, and you have the space, and if people know, people will come to play the game.

Back to the original point: Do it for yourself, or do it for the community, your family, whatever. Have a reason. That is what I have learned the most out of TO’ing that I have put into my own personal life.

Thank you so much Shinobi for speaking with me today, is there any last or final words you’d like to share today?

Shinobi: Buy a shirt! (Link here)

But no, seriously, you should never forget who you are doing this for.

About Climax of Night:

Climax of Night was established in 2017 by Shinobi in Atlanta Georgia for the French Bread community. Climax of Night has moved to Norcross Georgia in 2022 for a larger venue. It’s a thirty-minute drive from Atlanta now to better serve the local South FGC community.

The games they focus on are:

  • Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] (PS4)
  • Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax Ignition (PS4)
  • Melty Blood Type Lumina (PS4)
  • Melty Blood Actress Again: Current Code (PC/Steam)
  • Gundam Extreme Versus Maxiboost ON (PS4)

Photography
Provided by Albert Tran (GoonPNW)

Glossary:

Air Dashers: A term commonly used in Fighting Games to define a specific style. An Air Dash is a technique used in gameplay. Games include: DragonBall FighterZ, Guilty Gear, and Melty Blood.
TO: Tournament Organizer, a title for a person who organizes tournaments.

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Rina Abbott
Rina Abbott

Rina is a professional writer with a background in digital marketing and social media management. They have a B.A. in communications and public relations from Eastern Washington University.

Rina's passion for gaming started in 1995 with the SNES and Zelda: A Link to the Past. From there, Rina has grown and evolved with gaming moving from console to PC.

Rina is passionate about traveling, making TikTok's and vlogs, and cosplaying in their free time.
You can connect with Rina on Twitter, TikTok, or LinkedIn!

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