CEO returns to the Ocean Center on June 28-30, 2019 to celebrate its ten-year anniversary!
One of the most amazing events in the fighting game community - and all of esports as a whole, one could argue - came to its conclusion in Daytona's Ocean Center last weekend.
The brand first launched in 2010 in Orlando, which naturally played a part in how the event would be named Community Effort Orlando. It symbolized the Florida community's collective efforts to bring together hundreds if not thousands of gamers who relished in the feel of competition, and more importantly, the sense of community that being around like-minded enthusiasts provides.
But Alex Jebailey, co-founder of Community Effort Orlando, was not content to have CEO be recognized as nothing more than a party in a warehouse. Not in the least. When it came to his work, he aimed in only one direction: skyward.
And so it was that CEO found its home at the celebrated Orlando Wyndham Resort. 2011 saw a tremendous spike in its growth compared to the year before, but at a monstrous rate that even Jebailey himself is astonished by. The trend continued with more and more players and spectators pouring into the Wyndham each year, and eventually the CEO team felt the weight of pressure whilst hastening to meet everyone's needs.
Along with CEO itself, a series of sibling events was spawned, each of which would cater to different factions in the fighting game community. For instance, CEOtaku, which regularly takes place in the fall season of every year, celebrates the anime titles in the fighting game community. With the release of Dragonball FighterZ this year, it is without question that the successful title will find its way into CEOtaku's lineup this year.
Other events sprang up quickly, and soon, CEO itself was no longer just a yearly event to celebrate. In fact, so drastic was its growth, that it soon dawned upon Jebailey that the Wyndham Resort would no longer provide the space necessary to accommodate everyone. And so it was time for a change in venue.
As finals day for CEO 2017 raged on in Orlando, an announcement trailer concerning the location for the next CEO was dropped. Daytona Beach's Ocean Center, a 205,000-square-foot venue consisting of a convention center and a vast arena able to seat up to 10,000 people, had been designated as the next destination for the successful event. In addition to the Ocean Center, attendants would be exposed to a beautiful beach-side resort that curved the Atlantic Ocean at a nearby hotel called the Hilton, along with an amusement park, a concert stage, a collection of restaurants and so on. Even at night-time, Daytona Beach left bystanders spellbound by its beauty.
However, 2018 also marked the first occasion in which CEO ventured outside of its home territory of Orlando. And so many were skeptical if this bold move by Jebailey would reap its rewards.
Fortunately, it has. In doing so, expectations were shattered beyond recognition. Up to over 7,300 gamers and spectators alike converged upon Daytona to partake in not only a celebration of the growth of the fighting game genre, but also a connection between different universes...that is to say, the ultimate crossover between gaming and - get ready for this - wrestling.
Those who follow Jebailey regularly will know of his affinity towards wrestling. That much is indicated by the inclusion of a wrestling ring on which players would compete for their shreds of glory. But for 2018, that same ring would include gamers and actual wrestling icons brought to you by New Japan Pro-Wrestling, a Japanese promotional wrestling company stationed in Nakano, Tokyo.
Up to sixteen pro wrestlers, Kenny Omega among them, would be invited to a special crossover event called When Worlds Collide. This event would unfold in the Ocean Center's legendary arena on Friday, June 29th, in front of thousands of gamers, many of which also happened to be fans of the sport themselves. The crossover would mark a historic fusion between two different communities whose similarities are far too numerous to count. In spite of concerns, the success it saw was overwhelming, and many walked away with a renewed interest in wrestling to go hand-in-hand with their love for esports.
The energy felt from attending this event firsthand is something that cannot be replicated. If you weren't able to make it out, you can catch up with both the CEO tournament finals and When Worlds Collide at CEO's official YouTube channel.
But perhaps the most notable factor of this year's CEO is that Jebailey endured a leg injury consisting of a broken tendon all throughout the weekend, just to ensure that it would meet expectations! Even better, the injury did not stop Jebailey from jumping right into the wrestling ring himself! If that is not the biggest example of what it means to have the heart of a champion, then we do not know what is!
Undoubtedly, years of enjoyable CEO events have been made possible by Jebailey's endless dedication, along with those who worked alongside him. If we ever had to recommend a means of spending your summer vacation, we would not hesitate to point a finger towards this event.
Now that CEO 2018 is in the books, the question must be asked: when will we do this again?
Fortunately, as the Sunday finals ran their course, Jebailey dropped that answer straight away.
That's right: we're going back to the Ocean Center next year on the last weekend of June to celebrate the event's tenth anniversary! From a warehouse convention to an amazing arena housing esports champions and pro-wrestling icons, we stand on the edge of celebrating its first decade of life!
From all of us at StreamMe, we send our thanks for another great chapter of CEO to enjoy in our memories over and over. Before closing this article, however, we'd like to point out yet another instance where the fighting game community and the pro-wrestling community crossed paths.
As a tradition for the finals of each tournament game, the finalists make their way to the ring in a stylish entrance customized to their liking, complete with soundtrack, costumed actors and more. Naturally, this paved the way for moments that would never leave the back of anyone's lids, such as K-Brad's entrance in 2015 that emulated a similar stunt made by a professional wreslting icon named Stone Cold Steve Austin, who posted a video response to this entrance.
See below to check out K-Brad's WWE-styled entrance along with Steve Austin's response.
Three years after K-Brad's tribute to Steve Austin, history was repeated by Panda Global's Infiltration, a renowned competitor in Street Fighter from South Korea. As the Street Fighter V finals kicked off, Infiltration made his way to the ring while paying homage to a historic entrance made by Val Venis, a former WWE superstar. And yes, that entrance included a towel.
As if the entrance was not shocking enough, you will never guess who else saw the intro when it happened. We'll give you a hint: it involves the very icon to which Infiltration's entrance was dedicated to.
Shortly after this post was made, a brief interaction between Val Venis and Infiltration followed. Check it out.
Thank you again to CEO 2018 for these amazing memories.
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