From April, the Red Bull Gaming Sphere becomes the new home of Winner Stays On, the UK’s largest and most celebrated Fighting Game Community event. Every fighting game player in the UK knows about WSO events and streams, with top player performances and expert commentary being staples of the stream.
If you’re not already familiar with Winner Stays On then don’t worry, we’ve spoken to a bunch of players from the UK FGC to help drag you out from that rock you’re under and immerse you in the high octane world of competitive fighting games.
What is Winner Stays On?
“I just started it as somewhere for the community to play games offline together, and it has always remained that at its core” Logan Sama, the founder of WSO and iconic FGC commentator, told us. “Playing fighting games together in person is without a doubt the best way to improve your game and with the decline in arcades, finding new ways to achieve this is vital.”
The efforts of Logan with WSO definitely hasn’t gone unnoticed by the wider FGC, with Marcus “Packz” Parker saying: “Logan has almost single-handedly built the London Street Fighter community (from 2010 onwards) from scratch. Selflessly.”
WSO is the kind of event that some UK players deem to be essential to their growth. Claude-Eric “Hurricane” Diboti told us: “Every time I attend a WSO event, I come out with something new, I learn, I share and try my best to apply that during tournaments.”
WSO is the kind of event where new players can go in order to learn how the upper echelons of the FGC play, but it’s also a training ground for players on the world stage, as Logan Sama explains: “Seeing guys like Problem X consistently making it to Capcom Cup and even finishing top eight this year is amazing.”
Whether you’re a player going against the pros, or a fan sitting at home, WSO offers an entertaining and exciting look into the FGC players that so many learn from and admire. The stellar performances from players and from commentators like Tyrant, F-Word, Jammerz and Logan Sama all make WSO what it is, a celebration of the wider FGC that everyone is welcome to revel in. No matter what your skill level or involvement with the FGC, WSO is an event that offers something for everyone to enjoy, as fan YeenMachine states simply: “I just enjoy the relaxed vibe of pro players playing sets.”
Everything players need
With the decline in the arcade scene, local multiplayer gaming needed a new home, and the UK FGC found it in Winner Stays On. Now, with Red Bull Gaming Sphere, organisers like Logan Sama have a venue that can properly facilitate all of the players and equipment necessary for tournaments and events. “My favourite thing about the Gaming Sphere is how versatile it is. We can hold 100 man bracket top level competitive tournaments in there or we can run a community night based on casual play and friendly atmosphere. It has all the tools needed for a venue.”
Winner Stays On is just one of the events that will be taking place at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere. Gaming centres like this give more room for new and existing players to learn and flourish. The Gaming Sphere includes PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch and Wii U consoles, in addition to a fleet of PCs, virtual reality headsets, and an impressive racing simulator. You’ll be using all of those systems alongside brand new Samsung screens, with Hori RAP 4 Kai fight sticks, while sitting in comfortable Noblechairs gaming seats. Fighting Game Community nights like Winner Stays On and other game tournaments are a natural fit for the Red Bull Gaming Sphere.
Jon “Tyrant” Parkes is just one of the many players and community figureheads who feel empowered by Red Bull’s involvement in the scene: “I love the fact that we are getting these centres focused on gaming opening more often. This means more chances for events, high-level and casual sessions, or simply a place to gather with friends and watch tournaments! The possibilities are endless, and very exciting.” Tyrant even leaves us with a small tease on what we can see from him in the future. “Packz and myself actually have some exciting content in the pipeline we hope to produce alongside the Gaming Sphere so keep an eye out for that!”
Winner Stays On: Where legends are born
When it comes to the best moments at Winner Stays On, it’s difficult to pick, especially for the community members who live and breathe events like this.
For Jamil “HDJammerz” McKenzie, it’s being humbled by up and coming players. “My favourite part of WSO is probably talking to new/upcoming players and hearing their general opinions about Street Fighter V and the UK scene as a whole. Sometimes I'll hear 'Jammerz I need help!' and other times it'll be, 'Jammerz what do you think of this?' These type of things are a friendly reminder of how I started out, so to be to in a position that allows me to provide knowledge and advice is definitely something I cherish.”
Other players, meanwhile, love using it as a barometer for their skill and growth, like Shivan “Shivryuken” Dass. “My favourite part of events like WSO is being able to see everyone take the tournament seriously despite it being a local event. It can really be used as a performance indicator in knowing how you're improving compared to some of the consistently top performing players in the community.”
Picking a favourite moment is harder for Logan Sama than anyone else though. “Oh wow, I really couldn't tell you just one," he says. "We have been running events on and off since 2010, sometimes twice a week! That's a lot of memories.” But as in any community, when the games are finished, it's the people met and relationships built over time that are the most important part. “Some people have become great personal friends to me," says Logan. "It's been an absolute pleasure to help facilitate that alongside other event organisers and community leaders.”
Logan isn’t the only one who values the relationships WSO has helped build, as many players we’ve spoken can’t say enough about the positive impact it has had on their lives, including Packz, who when asked about his favourite moment, replied simply: “Aside from potentially winning? Easy. It's being able to chill with my friends from the UK community and joke and debate with them. That's the best part of most events I attend.”
Winner Stays On is more than just a highlight of the FGC, but players and fans alike view as being an integral part of their social lives, proving that the friendships we make and challenges we overcome don’t dissipate just because we’ve unplugged the controller, as Gino “GinoDacampo” Christoforou shares: “I actually love it so much that video gaming has grown into the industry it is today. It's like a childhood dream to have it as an open field for new people to join. It's even better for me specifically as it gives you an offline place to practise and play with people who otherwise you'd only be able to play online. But really what I love is how it validates the hobby as more of a social thing; it gets rid of that old broken stereotype and brings more people together sharing a mutual hobby.”