With just a few weeks of downtime since Combo Breaker, the FGC got right back into the full swing of the summer tournament season with CEO 2022, and with it came the full spectacle that’s come to be expected from a CEO event. From expanded casual spaces to more games’ finals taking place in the arena (starting Saturday), the event itself was a natural evolution of the combination Major and borderline convention experience that CEO brings. The weekend also had some wind behind it being timed with other fighting game releases; Capcom Fighting Collection was released during the weekend and had its own setups in the tournament hall, while DNF DUEL was totally still under wraps and nobody (officially) managed to snag a copy early to bring to the event.
DNF Duel at CEO. Lets gooooooo. pic.twitter.com/Tew0obyTKx
— RKE || SouTo🇵🇪🇧🇷 (@LatinoTechnique) June 25, 2022
The weekend also raised the bar in its presentation for side events, with many side tournament finals being featured on the Red Bull Community Stage in the Jebaileyland arcade with stream support and interviews. In terms of celebration of the community, there was once again nothing held back by Jebailey and the CEO team. Even with challenges brought forth by the surrounding area (the Florida locals here at toptier can vouch) the positivity and community efforts present during the event remind us why it’s so worth going to CEO.
While a bit less of a hotel takeover like other CEO events, and more of a contained all-weekend convention, things were certainly still bustling early in the weekend with everyone getting situated and set up for the event to come. As mentioned earlier, there were some new expansions to the casual space, with both a trading card game vendor and demo room as well as a TCG free-play room for attendees to set up however they chose. These were welcome additions and expanded on CEO’s non-hardcore FGC appeal while also providing space for hobbies that have notable overlap among fighting game players. Along with the rest of the 24-hour venue, these spaces also provided a change of pace and some reprieve from the often-busy Jebaileyland and gave attendees something to do if they were looking to take a break from grinding out intense sets over the weekend.
The excitement amped up into Saturday and Sunday, where tournaments were in full force and intensity was rising. The event started getting down to business Saturday, where pools gathered their spectators looking for intense early matchups and a whopping 14 games were making their time to complete pools with 5 top 8s to be held that day, and just because some top 8s were being held on Saturday didn’t mean those games didn’t get their chance in the limelight. As many games as Jebailey and Tong themselves could fit were crammed into the arena’s schedule, with arena usage starting as early as 11 AM Saturday for Granblue Fantasy Versus, giving as many games as possible the full send of a CEO organized tournament. The arena aspect is a huge part of the culture of CEO events and giving as many games as possible a chance to experience it really bumped up the experience both for spectators who just wanted to see what was happening in the arena and members of each game’s communities getting to literally prove themselves on the big stage. As the weekend progressed and more brackets were reaching their conclusions, the arena lit up even more. KOF XV and DBFZ closed out the arena on Saturday, and Sunday brought its own excitement with awesome gameplay and no shortage of unique entrances signature to every CEO.
THIS IS HOW YOU WALK OUT LIKE A KING 👑
— CLG (@clgaming) June 26, 2022
Guilty Gear -STRIVE- closed out the weekend with an insane top 8 filled with a Red Bull player sponsor reveal, cosplaying-Razzo’s message to the people, and no shortage of action and high-level gameplay to show off the newest patch. Jonathan Tene came out with a win to end the weekend and excitement continued as players now set their sights on EVO and CEOtaku. With the only stage bigger than CEO fast approaching and communities looking to make CEOtaku a next level showing, CEO 2022 showed that fighting game fans are hungry for the lights and spectacle of the big stage once again.