Queens of Quarantine: Passing An Important Message In Bleak Times
In these dark times, finding competition that wasn't only empowering, but entertaining was a surprise I didn't know I needed
2020 has been quite the year, hasn’t it? We all know all the stuff that has gone down this year already. It’s so bad; I don’t think I can remember it all. With all that has happened, despair is an easy route to take, and I must admit that there have been times I have felt pretty bleak about everything.
However, in the midst of all the madness, I have come to appreciate the little things a whole lot more. I am grateful for the neighbors that bring me missed bills. I am grateful to the grocer for the extra lettuce she places in my plastic bag when I’m done shopping. I’m grateful for the lengthy voice notes I receive on WhatsApp from friends. But, most of all, I’m grateful for streams.
In recent months, there has been something of an explosion in the gaming space as more people are stuck at home and interested in gaming content. Therefore, gaming companies are raking it in as more consumers flock to their arenas for some form of entertainment. Thankfully, this has also trickled down to smaller games and creators. Competitions like CPT Online have been a joy to watch, and discovering smaller scenes with more obscure players has been incredibly enlightening.
Enter Queens of Quarantine
One such tournament that I normally wouldn’t have noticed was the Queens of Quarantine. This is a monthly tourney that is by women, for women. For me, this was a novelty as I have so far never witnessed a competition made up entirely of queens. Now, there are various reasons for this (however, I am nowhere near qualified enough to talk about them) but, it was with great interest that I settled in with a shawarma and some water (I’m cutting down on the sugar) on October 3, to watch the stream. Hosted on the Reddit Fighting Twitch channel, with commentary by @TheGayAgenda69 and @Baitelephone, the fighting began. I remember watching with keen interest, and then I let out a chuckle. This was a common theme for the rest of the tournament as I watched various women in the FGC clobber each other with fictional characters on the screen. The level of competition was quite high, which was, of course, not in the least bit surprising. But, since the competition was open to women of various skill levels, there were some matches where the skill disparity was apparent. So, I saw a few dropped combos; some missed confirms, and some sloppy executions. But, I found my smile growing wider and wider. Why? Well, the last couple of months has seen me catching every CPT and Street Fighter League stream available that I had forgotten how it felt to watch friends play the game. The air of camaraderie that comes with a happy atmosphere devoid of the electricity that comes with high-level competition.
But, make no mistake, this was a competition, and some matches really had me at the edge of my seat. The duel between Vega user Tatsunamilani (who said she picked Vega because of how gorgeous he is...she was kidding, of course, :D) and Madame Bison (her character choice should be obvious) in particular had me holding my breath. The fight was unrelenting, and while it ultimately finished 3-1 in favor of Tatsunamilani, it had not been an easy journey at all. Tatsunamilani lost to Nuggy Bunny in the next round, but the elegance of her Vega stuck in my mind, and soon I was searching for her matches on YouTube and checking out her Twitter.
Eventual winner @Mira_MKE was also incredible to watch as she used Laura to devastating effect. Subsequently, it was no surprise to discover that she is a three-time winner of the tournament. More impressive still is Mira’s ability to switch between characters with relative ease (though she seems drawn to grapplers), and this is evident in her streams, which she embarks on with her boyfriend, @EliTheCurry1.
By the end of the tournament, I was buzzing; the Queens of Quarantine deserve more attention, right? I could do some research and write all about them, right? Well, yes and no. You see, writing about a female organized tournament without the input of the participants seemed...well, wrong. So it was with great trepidation that I reached out to a couple of the participants. I didn’t know what to expect; there was no way they would respond. For the next 24 hours, I checked my phone obsessively, the pessimist in me certain that I would get nothing. But, to my utter delight, I got responses from Mira and Tatsuna. I understand this might seem normal and unremarkable, but as an introvert who finds himself in a career that requires a level of reaching out to strangers, I felt so much less anxious and relieved. The ensuing conversation was energizing, and the love both players have for the game and the Queens of Quarantine platform was palpable.
For Tatsuna, her last tournament was her first full-on experience after hearing about it from a certified Street Fighter junkie, Thomas Winkley. “Unfortunately, due to scheduling complications, I wasn’t able to attend the first time I heard about it a few months ago,” Tatsuna said. But she suddenly had a tonne of fun, quipping, “Everything that went into it was as fun as it was hype! The organization, the matches, the commentators, the competitors, and especially the viewers!”
As mentioned earlier, one of the results of everything moving online has been the emergence of competitions and players that were unknown to me before. Asking the ladies about this, I realized that the same has been true for everyone else; according to Mira, “I’ve seen players compete at a high level that I never heard of before, which is pretty awesome.
“Online tournaments have taken more prominence, so it was great to see that great online events like RedditFighting and SaltMineLeague were getting more recognition.”
Tatsuna has a similar view, responding to my question about online competitions and the emergence of formerly obscure names, “Oh, for sure! With online tournaments happening left and right, more people having the time to stream, and many of us being on the internet more often, the diversity of lesser-known faces and niche scenes are getting to become a much more common sight in the FGC.”
As Tatsuna also pointed out, Queens of Quarantine is also a big example of this. For me, a competition like QoQ is quite significant as it has the potential to reach so many people. What’s more, entry is free, meaning that there are even fewer barriers.
Understandably, the online space is not without its problems, including lag and the faceless nature of the opposition. But, due to sheer size, competitions such as QoQ has enabled players to meet even more people. Tatsuna was keen to stress this point when she said, “We meet new people and admire new players through events in-person, but when you get the chance to play against more people, you get to know a lot more players you wouldn’t know and appreciate otherwise.”
Mira echoed this sentiment, stating that since she moved to the online space, she has also met a lot more people.
Fighting games have always been about community, and it is why I personally consider the FGC one of the best communities in general. From the days of the arcade to the current climate, fighting games have been defined by its stakeholders, the people who trained to become better and compete to see who was the best. Queens of Quarantine is all about that. It’s something that goes way beyond the games but rather focuses on the individuals, the sense of community, especially among women. Its impact has been felt by many of the players and is set to positively affect more people with further editions. For Tatsuna, it has been a refreshing experience. “Hearing about an event that was exclusive to women like myself made me feel like I had to be there to represent. There was some really tough competition! The tournament as a whole made me feel empowered, humbled, and motivated. I felt so out of practice, but to compete and be cheered on by so many people, including the best Vega in the world, it truly pushes me to be the best I can be. I hope it had the same effect on the other competitors as it did on me.”
Strengthening a community
Apart from community and camaraderie, the QoQ tournament is also an excellent avenue for players to improve by playing with stronger opponents. Mira best encapsulated this when she talked about the impact the tournament has had on her, “QoQ has given me an opportunity to play some really strong players I’ve never competed against, so I always appreciate that.” But, for Mira, it doesn’t end there. For her, QoQ is also a great avenue to improve players in the sometimes unforgiving FGC scene. “I try my best to share any knowledge about my characters or the game that I can to try and improve the scene. People need events and hunger to strive to improve.”
Mira makes a great point as newer people in the scene need competitions like the QoQ to better hone their skills. This is so important as high-level competition comes with nerves and anxiety, a situation that even great players like LetCindersBurn have experienced. So, with QoQ open to all female participants, competitors can improve in a more accomodating and friendly environment, which will, in turn, enable them to take more risks and ultimately make them better players.
More people should know about Queens of Quarantine, and with another competition coming up next month, it is expected that more women will partake. I am excited to meet more talent and watch more women kick ass in Street Fighter V. If you are a woman looking to try your hand at Street Fighter V, might I recommend Queens of Quarantine to you? And if you are scared or worried about anything, in the words of Tatsunamilani, “It’s free, there’s literally nothing to lose!”