Unsung Heroes is our series about the many members of the Fighting Game Community who work behind the scenes to make our community a vibrant, positive, exciting place to be. If you would like to submit your own Unsung Heroes, contact us here or @toptiergg.
Running a fighting game tournament is a devilishly complicated and highly demanding thing to do. Most tournament staff and volunteers also carry an extra burden: invisibility. With the exception of a few celebrity Tournament Organizers (TOs) such as Alex Jebailey and Rick “The Hadou” Thiher, the people who make our events happen are largely unknown to the community.
Sometimes, though, an unsung hero is hiding in plain sight as a competitor. That’s the way it is with Ben “metalqueersolid” Rogan, a high-level F.A.N.G. player from the UK who also happens to run a local tournament in Newcastle and assist at larger events throughout the country. Thanks to his skill as a player, Rogan is more of a household name than the average TO. Just last fall, he earned a few moments of fame by beating one-time Evolution Championship Series winner Olivier “Luffy” Hay in the early rounds of the Capcom Pro Tour’s European Regional Final.
Yet even though that event took place in the UK and even though both commentators for the match were also from the UK, neither mentioned Rogan’s work behind the scenes. Such is the duality of the Fighting Game Community: in one person, we can have both a widely praised competitor and an unsung hero
Newcastle For Life
When Capcom released Street Fighter V, Rogan and a friend named ShaunJS knew that their area was in need of a new local tournament. Northeast England had once had a living scene, but it “was based 30 miles down the road” and, by 2016, “it was very much dormant.” Together, the two started Newcastle Fight Club, and then, when other events took priority for his friend, Rogan took the mantle fully upon himself.
As NFC grew, Rogan pulled together a team of five other “regulars who wanted to help.” His group now holds two tournaments each month, for which he runs brackets, manages equipment, does marketing, and troubleshoots. On top of that, he does similar work for other UK events, including Reflect, Celtic Throwdown, and the late, great Hypespotting.
At heart, though, he’ll always be true to his hometown of Newcastle. His goals for the Newcastle scene are threefold: “I want a place to play. I want a place where people can hone their skills. I want people to see we aren’t s**t.” Naturally, the third is the hardest, but Rogan, fellow Street Fighter competitor Calum “Soundboi” Souter, Under Night In-Birth player Fernando “Forges” Macedo, and other NFCers are doing their part to put northeast England on the map.
The People’s Champ
The more that the broader FGC learns about him, the more they’ll see that Rogan is a man of the people. When asked which games he has his eye on, he simply answers, “everything. I make a point of keeping my finger on the pulse of the FGC.”
And that’s not just hot air. Where other competitive communities are controlled by large corporate interests who are happy to ignore their fans, the FGC is innately community-driven, and Rogan is no exception. That’s why NFC runs one event for “in-vogue” fighters and another for smaller titles and classic games like BlazBlue: Central Fiction, Vampire Savior, and Sailor Moon S. Between his willingness to listen to his community and his team’s technical wizardry, Rogan manages to not only keep these games front-and-center but to run them on the “proper hardware” so that their fans get the best possible experience.
Rogan’s respect for these “passion projects” is pure FGC. His character choice is, too: he says plays F.A.N.G. because “he’s f*****g annoying to fight against.” Yet Rogan is no mere troll. “My goal is primarily to take my character to his logical limits,” he says. “I want to go as far as possible [and] I want to win and prove the character is viable.” It’s taken him some time to hone his skills, but his work is paying off in more ways than one. In addition to his victory over Hay at the European Regional Finals, Rogan was voted into the Goodwill of Orange County’s Street Fighter V charity invitational. “This fits [Reason Gaming,] the team that sponsors me, because they’re kinda known as the people’s champs across a bunch of esports titles in the UK.”
By now, it’s clear that Rogan will always be the people’s champ. Thanks to his efforts, his scene is growing into a potent presence in the UK and seems poised to take the next step. To learn more about him and his work with Newcastle Fight Club, follow him and his organization on Twitter, join the NFC Discord, or, if you’re in the area, stop by NFC on the first or last Sunday of the month. And the next time you see him on stream, cheer him on, both as a beloved competitor and as an unsung hero!
Eli Horowitz (@BODIEDnovel) would be lucky to take a round off of Luffy. He lives in Pittsburgh and works in software, and his first novel is set in the FGC.