First off, my experience at the Texas Gaming Championships was lit AF.

I had been to a few smaller gaming tournaments in the city, and even held one alongside the homie MegaRan; TGC, however, was on another level. Held in a Testmasters with what I could presume housed roughly 100 televisions and consoles, ranging from N64 to PS4’s and over a thousand people gaming, you can say I was right at home. I have honestly been wanting to get more into the gaming community in Houston and — spoiler alert — it’s huge.

Photo courtesy of Texas Gaming Championships.

I was going to enter the Tekken tournament, but felt I wasn’t in the correct mental or physical state to compete, so I decided to observe my possible future competition. Obviously, there wasn’t a single scrub in the building. Talking about scrubbing, the stereotype about gaming competitions smelling like gym socks is true. But who tf has time to shower when there is training to be done? Watching two athletes of the joystick compete at such a high level was astounding. The 10 hit + combos that I find to be impossible to memorize were effortlessly pulled off. I was also impressed with the amount of shit-talking from the side lines, as each player was accompanied by friends and supporters. I’m sorry, but nobody taunts better than gaming nerds; it’s generally somewhat of a really bad joke, but also stings the ego with ferocity.

Photo courtesy of Texas Gaming Championships.

At some point, I stopped watching the matches to smoke a joint with Jordan Lewis and “Kilisto,” two dreaded, black anime nerds like myself (#RealRecognizeReal).

I wanted to dig deeper into the lives of an aspiring pro-gamer, basically enter the mind of two individuals attempting to achieve “God Mode” status of the thumb. I queried Kilisto, “What does it take to become a pro gamer?”

“Stay plugged with the new tech, patches, read, framework, videos, practice 2-6 hours a day and maintain your perfect gaming figure by executing 300 push ups, 300 sit ups, and run a 5K everyday,” he said as he passed the canoeing joint and stared me right in the eyes.

I made the last part up, the part about maintaining the perfect shape, but the dude was hella serious about everything else.

The Grand Finals of “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate” was incredible, and it came down to two players in a 300 person draw. The energy was infectious. They even had a guy playing live keyboard to the match in the background (dude was honestly a BEAST). The two players battle back and forth in a total of “best of 5” rounds, twice, until the mild mannered but deadly “Trela” took the W in the final round.

Apparently, this guy isn’t a noob to winning, and he even acted like it. Total cool dude, like the ones in the animes. (If I was the best of 300 players in a tournament, my celebration dance would have probably gotten me penalized.

Photo courtesy of Texas Gaming Championships.

Random takeaways from the event:

The diversity among the community was insane! Strangely, I hand-counted 62 afros, which is more afros than I saw in all of 2018. Basically, this is a community of trendsetters.

Some people may not considered pro-gaming a real sport. But those who believe this, I challenge you to try and count the frames on a punch from Tekken’s Steve Fox and time out a perfect counter, or do an air parry into an Ultra in Street Fighter.

There are many examples of impressive physical feats involving intuition, reaction, hand to brain coordination and intelligence. I can talk about it all day, but the best advice I can give is to go check out the gaming community in your city for yourself.

For Houston, I would recommend following @SmashUnited and @TheSlurredNerd for local gaming tournaments. Or on Facebook, Houston Fighting Game Scene.

If you run Tekken on XBOX Live, my gamer tag is “Guilla713”. Come catch an L.