September 11, 2021 marked the 20 year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in America. The participants of Riptide felt the impact of the event as they enter with a 15-minute line for bag check/temperature check. Although the constant checks are an inconvenience, attendees are happy to pay the price to be able to experience what Saturday has to offer.
Pool Play for the four games started at 10am and with it came the nearly forgotten feeling of hope. Hope that one will rise above the rest. Hope that all the practice put in during COVID-19 will pay off. Even though most participants know defeat is on the horizon, it is a relative success that is sought after. Top 8? Top 32? Top 64? Of the thousands of participants, top anything is a happy achievement. The constant droning sounds of “Doomslayer123 please report to station 6” is something attendees didn’t know was a necessary component of life. The common sounds accompanied by a referee with a clipboard was a sight for sore eyes.
Not shortly after pool play begins, whispers of “man… I need to learn to edge-guard better” and quiet expressions of happiness are felt and heard in the lobby. The lobby has a lot of old signs a gaming tournament is taking place: lines around the corner for the men’s restroom and nearly no line for the women’s is a common sighting, extremely slow venue internet and the chill of air conditioning in the space itself. Day 2 surprise standout, Erick “Flash” Washington, stated he “was proud with his performance” and when asked about the event “it’s been amazing.”
As the games progressed to the likely top players a neglected activity began to take place – gambling. Cash can be seen exchanging hands at the friendlies as well as in the stands. Whether it’s Melee, Ultimate or a general spectator, cash flies around the audience to reflect the obligations made prior to a match. Many of the gamblers are some of the most ardent fans. Screams and passion are displayed proudly for many of the matches taking place. As the day progressed, so did the stakes, both monetarily and ego related. The sweet taste of victory is only made possible by the crushing defeat of another player.
Saturday was marked with the creation of the top 8 for each game at the cost of thousands of competitors. That said, everyone in attendance is anxiously awaiting the bright lights of Championship Sunday. It has been far too long for one of these types of Sunday’s.