Community Spotlight - Texas Showdown
How Texas Showdown Grew From a College Arcade to One of the Largest Events in the Region
Photo by Nouvel Photo & FIlm - Nouvel.co
The next stop on the Community Spotlight tour takes us to Texas Showdown, an FGC event in Houston, Texas, that has thrived since 2000. Texas Showdown is one of the largest events in the United States, but you might not have ever guessed that its humble beginnings took root in a college arcade. We spoke with TXS co-founder Javier "Javi" Moreno about its history, what it was like to see the FGC grow from arcades to arenas, and the importance of guiding the next generation of the FGC to take these events into the future.
Javier “Javi” Moreno is an original member of the FGC. He frequented alt.games.sf2, a USENET discussion board dedicated to Street Fighter Alpha 2 long before the days of social media. He also competed in the B4 and B5 Championships, the precursors to the Evolution Championship Series. Javi was also friends with Evo co-founders Tom and Tony Cannon during the early years of the fighting game news and info site shoryuken.com, as he assisted with the page’s HTML while also writing articles as a contributor.
Javi started traveling to compete in fighting games in 1998. During this time, he knew his home state and the states surrounding it needed something like this for their players to flourish. He figured, why wait for someone else to get it together when he could do it himself?
“People would travel to the West Coast or over to the East Coast, like for the East Coast Championships back in the day,” said Javi. “I was just asking myself, why don't we do one for Texas? So I hooked up with Chris Chou, and we were able to start up Texas Showdown.”
What did starting a local look like in 2001? In the beginning, all they needed to get started was permission to use their local college arcade. As they gained traction, the TXS duo took their competition to the Stargate arcade, which was founded by a mutual friend. Between word of mouth and personal invitations, Texas Showdown became a recognized name in the region.
This was no small feat. Houston is one of the largest cities in the United States in terms of population and overall square mileage. For some, just getting from one point in Houston to another could take up to an hour. Regardless, players throughout the state were determined to gather with their newfound community.
“We were able to grow our local scene, but at the same time, we started to invite people from other cities, like Dallas and San Antonio,” said Javi. “From there, we were able to gain a little bit of a reputation where other people would come and play us.”
Many factors lead to the continued success of Texas Showdown. From the initial college town community, to the growing reputation among neighboring cities, Texas Showdown was a force to be reckoned with. There was one thing that stood out to Javi more than anything else, however, and that was the willingness to learn and grow from change.
“I think the key to our legacy is our resiliency and ability to adapt to the times,” said Javi. “After Texas Showdown 5, we noticed that the shift was going to console. The Stargate itself started to shift its resources to consoles. At Texas Showdown 6, I left the scene for a while, but they were able to make the transition into convention-like tournaments with the ballroom layout, players staying at the hotel, and so on.”
Texas Showdown grew to give their players the experience they expected from major events at the time. While Javi shortly left the team, he was back in action in 2012. To pause his time with the fighting game scene and return during the resurgence of the Street Fighter IV era, was a sight to behold.
“I was aware of what Street Fighter IV was back in 2009, but I didn't expect the explosive growth that I saw at Evo 2012 at Caesar's,” said Javi. “I was a part of the staff for the first EVO back in 2002 at UCLA, so when I returned to see at least a thousand people play and cheer like it was nobody's business, my mind was blown. When I came back to Houston, I was like, well, why can't we do this again for Houston?”
Javi is constantly encouraging others to create events in their area. Starting a fighting game event is not without its challenges, though. Finding a place for players to gather is one thing, but having the setups for them to use is another matter entirely. For those who are hoping to start their own local competitions, Javi recommends collaborating with the community itself to get things going. Create a trusted group of individuals who want the same success you do.
“One of the main challenges that we're going through in this current generation is equipment,” said Javi. “What you want to do is rely on the community to help provide setups. Make it community-based so that members of the community have a vested interest in what you're trying to do. So long as you have similar interests, then this thing can organically grow.”
For those who already have a growing established event, Javi recommends expanding beyond your typical competition. Make it a place for friendships to flourish. Your event is only as strong as its community, so give them the opportunity to have fun together.
“You’ll want to do things other than tournaments, too. Maybe you could have a night of casuals, or maybe a viewing party for a major tournament such as Frosty Faustings, COMBO BREAKER, Evo, or CEO. Think of activities to get the community together. The more the community hangs together, the more friendships are made, and the more bonds that are made. Then the community can grow.”
As Javi continues to focus on Texas Showdown, he knows he can only do so much on his own. This is why he’s building up the next generation of event organizers in Texas. He hopes to leave behind a lasting legacy in offline events in the future.
“I feel a sense of responsibility to at least bring a major event to Texas,” said Javi. There's been a real shortage of offline events since the pandemic. I can continue to make things happen because I'm not just looking at it for myself. I want to establish some sort of legacy where people can draw upon and maybe take it upon themselves to be the next generation to do what I do because I can't do this forever. I'm gonna be 50 in about three years. I think the younger generation should take note and take the reins. At one point because it's gonna be up to them.”
The fighting game community is stronger now than ever before. Thanks to numerous strong titles with dedicated player bases, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. All it takes are leaders to step up. If there’s not a local event where you live, be the one to make it happen.
“I think we need to enjoy what we have and try to make the scene grow bigger than it's ever been before,” said Javi. “I am confident we have a vibrant community and leaders who are willing to step up and contribute to Texas Shodown. I can't wait to see what they'll do in a couple of years or even sooner.”
Texas Showdown 2024 returns to Houston, Texas, in a brand new location on April 26-28, 2024. Learn more about Texas Showdown, sign up to play your favorite games, and become a part of their ever-growing community.