Meet Baby Seal, NorCal’s Newest T.O.
For a local fighting game community to thrive, it needs passionate leaders with the desire to connect people. In this case, it’s NorCal’s own Archie Utama (better known by some as “Baby Seal”) who has started his own weekly series for Bay Area competitors to meet up and share their love for Tekken.
After an emotional trip to South Korea, Utama returned to the United States willing to explore new things and meet people. Learning about a PC cafe named Cyber Racoon through a board game event, the idea of a new local tournament spawned in his head. “In the process, I met some new people and was able to discuss details about running tournaments to the owner, in which he was very receptive. He had no idea that Norcal had quite a bunch of competitive players.”
Following the closure of Sharkade in late 2017, the South Bay area had been lacking a weekly tournament venue. One of Utama’s goals with the Cyber Racoon weekly series is to solve this issue, no longer forcing Bay Area players to choose between WNF Oakland and GG Esports monthlies as their only options.
Becoming a tournament organizer, Utama’s primary goal is to ensure players feel comfortable and welcome in the competitive environment. This includes running a smooth and timely event, as well as a quality broadcast on Twitch. “Instead of showing the “good” players every time, I’ll make the guys in losers round 1–2 play on stream to give them the opportunity to help themselves, so they can later go home and look at their matches”, said Utama. By giving his attendees the spotlight, he hopes that they can grow as competitors and see development in their gameplay.
Comparing his own local scene to those found in Asia, Utama’s exposure to foreign mentalities has put American Tekken communities in perspective for him. “I’ve traveled to Asia (both Japan and S. Korea), and I’ve observed that they play A LOT. Asia simply has better opportunities to play more than America due to better internet combined with smaller geography.”
Utama’s own progress as a player may also seem like a product of a strong local scene, but he understands that there’s more to it than just playing with veterans. “People seem to have the misconception that just playing two of the best Norcal players [Bronson and Jimmy] is enough to get better, or that they’re the reason why I learned faster compared to many newcomers. My point is that it’s important to be able to play with players from ALL skill levels for maximum growth.” The Cyber Racoon weeklies make this a reality for players in the Bay Area, being welcoming to beginners and veterans alike.
Starting a new tournament series has taken effort, but is already proving worthwhile for Archie Utama. After the search for a new job and a struggle with depression left Utama feeling drained of energy, eventually moving to the Bay Area helped him bounce back and have a brighter outlook on life. “It took more than a month of feeling down, but I’m glad that I could make it happen at the end. I feel like I have more things to look forward to now.”
Now that Tekken at Cyber Racoon is a reality, Utama wants to maximize the potential of the idea. While sources like social media and even the help of Bronson Tran have done much to spread the word about the weeklies, Utama is aiming even bigger for long-term growth.
When considering partnerships and community outreach ideas, he stated: “My ideas for growth, and this goes to more than just my future tournaments, but for myself and the community, are to reach out to local businesses near the venue and give people more opportunities to play.” Intending to grow Cyber Racoon as a Bay Area Tekken hub, Utama has a clear vision for a thriving local scene.
Through the encouragement of NorCal’s veterans and a personal drive to succeed, Archie Utama’s Cyber Racoon tournaments are a product of his mental fortitude and willpower. “I’m looking forward to how this experience will help me grow as a person and brand. As of now, it just feels good to feel like I’m doing something good for other people.”