Combo Breaker had the glow up of the year, with the venue expansion plus the cinematic release of Mortal Kombat 11, all headed by The Hadou.
Combo Breaker 2019 was home to some of the most exciting fighting game matches of the year so far!
There was the hypest first-to-10 win in Mortal Kombat 11 between Texas and Florida. Florida eventually won thanks to Andrew “Semiij” Fontanez” but not without Julien “Deoxys” Gorena putting up a fight.
Then Goichi “GO1” Kishida with the comeback in DragonBall FigtherZ after falling to second place to Dominique “SonicFox” McLean last year, well, this year he took it all.
Can anyone watching forget about the most amazing Tekken 7 gameplay performed by Hoa “Anakin” Luu, where the whole Mega Center gave up their energy to help him win! He may not have won, but that was some GOOD-ASS TEKKEN!
Last but certainly not least, Brad “Scar” Vaughn runs SonicFox his fade in MK11, leaving Scar the first MK11 champ. Which still leaves SonicFox clutching for victory in an NRS game at Combo Breaker!
Even beyond the incredible on-stage matches, this year’s Combo Breaker was the biggest yet.
Combo Breaker is a midwest tournament featuring Capcom Pro Tour, Ultra Killer Instinct Tour, and Tekken World Tour, and it usually debuts the newest NetherRealm Studio games. It’s hosted every year in St. Charles, Illinois at the Pheasant Run Convention Center by Rick Hadou, or “The Hadou,” and team plus volunteers.
Combo Breaker sold out for the first time ever with a whooping 4,800 attendees. The main tournaments are in the Mega Center, a massive banquet hall, and side smaller tournaments are held across the way in the Amphitheater. Plus, there is always room for Bring Your Own Console (BYOC) where people host any tournament.
With these types of numbers, no wonder CB is so hype.
This is where the first official Mortal Kombat 11 tournament was held and the production value was high! They brought back esports Host, Joshua Gray who is known for hosting events like the Injustice 2 Pro Series held in Chicago, watchable on Disney XD. He introduced players of the Top 8 matches like it was the WWE Money in the Bank match. Including a stage in MK11 resembling CB’s main stage which we saw a glimpse of in early May.
I asked The Hadou if knew about the stage from the early developments of MK11, and he said he did not. NRS has officially immortalized CB by including this in their game while showing respect and gratitude of this tournament.
This year CB used at least 70,000 square feet, all for the enjoyment of the attendees. This tournament expanded all the way into Pheasant Run Inn Resort.
Let’s run these rooms real quick:
The Mega Center where all the main tournaments and streams happen. Many people were bodied here bracket after bracket.
Then we have the Amphitheater —Lots of anime fighting games in there.
If you haven’t been invited to the 10 AM Pool Party on Sundays at, you haven’t been to Combo Breaker. Leading to the New Orleans Room, there is a corridor next to where the pool parties are held, and it was filled with the BYOC section, filled with players waiting to play side tournaments like Mystery Game and Windjammers.
Then we had this room filled with arcade games like Street Fighter arcade and Galactic Battlegrounds.
After a quick trip down Bourbon Street —be careful of the pile, it used to be ice cream! — We end up in the Old Man Room, known for having games like Street Fighter Turbo and lots of the old school Fighting Game Community members.
According to Rick, the purpose of expanding the rooms and placing certain games in each room is to create a personal experience. Rick said he and his team knew exactly how they wanted to organize the expansion.
“We organized games by attendance, attendee overlap, and broadcaster relationships,” said Rick. This helps us plot competitor flow throughout the resort and worked around staging requirements from the Pro Leagues Combo Breaker is partnered with.”
While this was an amazing glow up for CB and the Hadou himself loves that his attendees are making memories for years to come Rick did express how he felt about selling out the venue.
“It creates a disappointment overall,” he said, “The event reaching cap represents our team admitting we can only serve a set number of attendees. At heart, that doesn’t align with our desire to showcase fighting games to as many people as possible, but it is a necessary limitation since we want to run a satisfactory experience at CB each year.”
Although CB sold out, The Hadou has thought about expanding the number of attendees, but he doesn’t see it lining up with the core values that created for this community.
To all past and future attendees, Rick says: “Play games, find rivals, make friends, reach your potential.”
Combo Breaker never ceases to amaze the attendees whether it’s money matches, watching the pro players or newcomers. I cannot wait to see what next year brings. Until then, the next fighting game tournament on this scale is CEO is Florida.