Even though the 2020 pandemic put a stop to in-person fighting game tournaments, the fighting game community (FGC) came together to compete online to keep things flowing. Two years later, the FGC has banded back together to put on the most hype-inducing matches across big tentpole events such as EVO, Combo Breaker, and CEO. Speaking of EVO, it was announced in 2021 that Combo Breaker's organizer Rick 'TheHadou' Thiher was given another major title as EVO's newest General Manager. And based on the amazing turnout, hype announcements, and amazing sets played between the best of the best at EVO 2022, it's evident that Rick's handiwork paid off in full. As we look towards EVO Japan 2023 and the next domestic installment of the world's biggest fighting game tourney, join us as we have a conversation with 'TheHadou" himself.
Rick 'TheHadou' Thiher is EVO Personified
ONE37pm: So what made you turn into such a huge fan of fighting games?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: It was the genre I could beat my brother in. Beyond that, there is something deeply satisfying to me in learning characters and exploring matchups.
ONE37pm: What would you say was your first exposure to the FGC?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: In the tourney sense, a small Street Fighter IV bracket at a Games N Go in Minnesota. In a deeper sense, getting invited to run sets in a packed apartment until the sun came up some weeks later.
ONE37pm: A lot of the FGC recognize you for your work as the Event Director for Combo Breaker. What would you say is the hardest and easiest part of bringing that event together on an annual basis?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: Ha. That's an entire interview disguised as a single question. For the hardest part, it's not one specific thing. Each year, there are things you get conditioned into expecting standard output from that go sideways. Whether a knowledge gap materializing, a trusted vendor underperforming, a bandwidth limitation getting exposed, or something else, these disappointments show up like a dropped combo you didn’t think was missable. It can take you out of the flow. The easiest part is uploading the event trailer.
ONE37pm: Congrats on becoming the General Manager of EVO! This year's event was awesome, by the way. How would you rate your experience during your first time overseeing that event?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: Thank you. I'm refinement focused, so I'll always rate experiences pretty harshly. I think we have a strong team though and successfully laid down the bones of the experience we're aiming to establish. I’m excited about what we can improve on for next year given the positive response to 2022's show.
ONE37pm: What would you say are some of your favorite moments from this past EVO?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: A lot of moments battling for favorite, but some include LI Joe bringing out the pink backpack, Markman watching attendees get excited about the arcade stick museum, the custom Top 8 songs coming together, seeing row after row of candy cabs in the arcade, iDom’s run making me believe again, Sharpie and Kai getting to commentate Skullgirls Top 8, Shola showing up with "Moment 37" kicks for people, the new tournament staff largely rising to a monstrous task right out the gate, and even just resetting chairs at 2 a.m. with a new co-worker. A lot of interpersonal moments, really.
ONE37pm: EVO is heading back to Japan in 2023, which is super dope! Are there any additional tasks that go into making sure that event goes off without a hitch?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: Yes. We're working through cataloging many of them right now to make sure the experience in Tokyo is both unique to Evo Japan but still delivers on what is expected of an Evo event.
ONE37pm: Based on all the new fighting games that are coming our way in 2023 and beyond, are you excited about how they'll impact the FGC landscape?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: Extremely. Many tentpole franchises of the genre are entering new eras alongside some significant new IPs emerging. That’ll force attention and opportunities, both of which should benefit the community overall.
ONE37pm: Alright, last question! What do you consider to be the best fighting games of all time?
Rick "TheHadou" Thiher: Whichever ones I’m inspired to play tomorrow.