A Place for Anyone in Japan to Call Home

Finding a space to meet others from similar backgrounds can be challenging when you move to another country. Tatakai Tuesday, an offline event at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere in Tokyo, Japan, hopes to be that place for everyone, regardless of their familiarity with fighting games. We spoke with the event founder, Andrew “Jiyuna” Fidelis, about his inspirations for the event, the transition from arcades to consoles, his new life with parenthood, and establishing a legacy for others to keep the spirit of Tatakai Tuesday going.

Tatakai Tuesday is a BYOC semi-weekly event (leveling back up to a weekly format) that is free to enter. There are numerous setups with the latest games and controllers to use in case you don’t have your own. This goal isn’t to create a competitive event, however. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to play, connect, and build friendships.

The origins of Tatakai Tuesday came from a personal place for Jiyuna. He took his experiences from his early days of living in Japan and set out to create a space he would have wanted when he first moved there 14 years ago. Jiyuna would attend an event in Japan called Final Round Bets, an extension of Final Round in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The spirit of Tatakai Tuesday is a continuation of the experiences he had at those events.

“You know, being a foreigner in Japan can be kind of lonely if you don't know people,” said Andrew "Jiyuna" Fidelis. “So you want a space for people to meet like-minded individuals and also a lot of people that travel. You want to meet the local players to come hang out. So just providing a space; that's the big motivation for me.”

The opportunity to create that space presented itself in 2018. There was a need for a place to play games released directly on consoles. In earlier years, major fighting games started in arcades in Japan. With the growing popularity of consoles, online play, and direct-to-consumer updates, arcades became a less essential experience.

“DRAGON BALL FighterZ came out in 2018, and that was going to be the first big fighting game that did not have an arcade release,” said Jiyuna. “So me and Majin Obama were like, ‘Hey, Red Bull just opened up this cool new venue. We’ve got some time. Let's see if we can start something. It's BYOC. So it grew from an original Dragon Ball Fighters event to an overall fighting game event.”

Jiyuna didn’t want to replicate the arcade experience, however. From his interactions at arcades, players didn’t see it as a place to socialize. Arcades were for competing, getting better, and playing against different kinds of players. Jiyuna wanted Tatakai Tuesday to be where people who enjoy fighting games come together to make friends. Competition is at the core of fighting games, but Tatakai Tuesday focuses more on fostering friendships, introducing others to fighting games, and having fun.

Tatakai Tuesday isn’t just for players from outside Japan. Japanese community leaders have joined to support the event and share the space. There is an active Japanese competitive scene for UNDER NIGHT IN-BIRTH II Sys: Celes and MELTY BLOOD TYPE: LUMINA that sees the opportunity to grow alongside Tatakai Tuesday. Thanks to the size and support of the Red Bull Gaming Sphere, Tatakai Tuesday can hold 200 competitors with ease.

“Local TOs have stepped up and taken care of their communities, but the main issue is definitely space,” said Jiyuna. “Japan is a small country that is very crowded, so finding a venue that can fit people and has equipment is difficult. We're very lucky that the Red Bull Gaming Sphere allows us to use their spot.”

A favorite memory Juyina experienced at Tatakai Tuesday was rallying the community to send the then eight-year-old Tsuyoshi to Evo 2019. Tsuyoshi was an incredibly talented DRAGON BALL FighterZ player making waves, especially considering his young age at the time.

“This was our first time seeing a very young kid play,” said Jiyuna. “We had like Kazunoko, world champions training and teaching him with his dad. Watching him improve and care about the game, and we had a fundraiser. So we got enough money and sent him to Evo Vegas, and he did well. Everybody has their kind of fighting game origin story, and I feel like we're a part of his.”

The impact of Tsuyoshi’s journey to Evo went beyond his early and promising FGC career. He had an assignment for school to share what he did over summer vacation. Tsuyoshi’s “I went to Evo Vegas” report was complete with photos and stories from his experience. No matter where Tsuyoshi goes in life, he will always have that experience of the community coming together to support him in starting a dream they all shared.

While Jiyuna has cherished his time with Tatakai Tuesday, he has a new purpose: being a father to his child. He took some time away from the event to focus on his family, and in that period, the event continued to grow. Now that he has returned, he feels the tournament organizers and community can take Tatakai Tuesday and other offline events in Japan to new heights.

“When this event started, I used to be at the venue from 11 AM until 11 PM setting up, breaking down, buying all the equipment, and doing everything by myself,” said Jiyuna. “Then, Obama would come to help when he could. Now, we have an entire community helping us out, and it's like a self-running event, which makes me very happy.”

Jiyuna is grateful for the opportunities he’s experienced for himself and created for others through Tatakai Tuesday. It carries the spirit of the competitions he attended and drives them forward for new generations, as seen through its support for players like Tsuyoshi. No matter what direction Jiyuna’s life takes from here, he knows the future of the community he built will continue to grow and inspire others to keep the dream alive.

“I won’t always be here, but I know they can grow even bigger without me,” said Jiyuna. “When I started, people ran the events for me to play. Now, I run the events. In the future, I want the people playing my events to run the events. Keeping the fighting game tradition alive is my motivation.”

With Evo Japan starting soon on April 27-29, 2024, Tatakai Tuesday could be your perfect place to train, meet new people, and prepare for the event. If you’re still in Japan after Evo, Tatakai Tuesday will hold an event the next day to keep the energy going. Tune into Jiyuna’s Twitter account for updates!