Fighting game tournaments are always exciting events. When attendees aren’t being wowed by the amazing announcements or stellar combos on display, they can enjoy the parade of copious controllers people bring to compete in their favorite games. Such controllers often have interesting artwork or other cool details, but few are as attention-getting as one seen this weekend in the UK, when a competitor came through a Tekken 7 tournament wielding FF7 pretty boy Cloud Strife’s big-ass buster sword as a fight stick. This bad boy is apparently made of steel and weighs some 50 pounds!
VSFighting X is an annual tournament in Birmingham that takes place every August. It’s open to everyone and features an assortment of fighting games, from the usual suspects like Guilty Gear Strive and Street Fighter V to some old faves such as Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Virtua Fighter 5. Of course, Tekken 7 was also on the tourney’s stage. So too was some stiff competition, with notable pros including Arslan Ash and JoKa all vying for first place. Vulpine Esports’ Syn, a UK player who mains the rikishi tank Ganryu, was at the tournament as well, equipped with the only controller any weeb should own: An $800-$1200 custom Final Fantasy VII buster sword fight stick designed by arcade controller manufacturer Fightstick Guy.
As you can see, it’s huge! Coming in at over five feet in height, 50 pounds in weight, and made of legit steel for some reason, Fightstick Guy’s full-scale replica of Cloud’s buster sword looks silly as a damn controller. I mean, never mind how big it is. That it’s made of steel and you’d carry it around a two-day tournament hurts my back. But that’s what Syn did during this weekend’s VSFighting X, which drew a lot of attention. Syn didn’t make it that far in the tournament, getting eliminated before making it to the top 24, but the audience loved his performance, apparently “humming the Final Fantasy VII victory tune” after he won his first game against Negan main Es.
Kotaku has reached out to Fightstick Guy for comment.
Syn told Kotaku over Twitter DMs that the buster sword’s build is “mechanically pretty simple.” Because it’s a solid piece of steel, it’s got just a few holes cut out for the fightstick and its buttons. The wiring is then glued and soldered inside the metal. Syn did make one adjustment to it, though.
“I have [screwed a] strap so I can wear it Cloud Strife style,” Syn said. “I’m planning to wire some green LEDs under the buttons so they glow like materia. Hopefully I’ll have it done by Halloween.”
The look is one thing. How it plays is another. While Syn said the buster sword fight stick is “perfectly accurate at registering inputs,” he pointed to its overall impracticality at tournaments. As Syn put it, there are a lotta people moving around you at these public events and pools, the general areas where people compete to qualify for the top spots, are extremely cramped, which makes navigating with such a massive controller a headache. There’s also the matter of placement, with the buster sword fight stick being so long it forces you to play on the two-player (right) side of the screen or at a weird angle, both things Syn had to do while making his way through VSFighting X.
Unfortunately, Syn was knocked out by “the last surviving Scottish player in the tournament,” Xiaoyu main Kaka, landing him in 49th place overall. That didn’t bum him out, though. In fact, Syn spoke rather enthusiastically about the rest of the event, highlighting players such as Kaka and Sync for their impressive skills. While he may have lost, he was just stoked to be in attendance.
“Really enjoyed my tournament run, but also seeing multiple guys from my own scene in the top 16 battling it out for top 8 made it special too,” Syn said. “Especially seeing JoKa get all the way to winners side grand finals. Beating Arslan Ash? Unreal to watch how well he played.”
While it seems Syn had a great time just watching the action unfold—and watching Arslan Ash in particular, who wound up winning VSFighting X’s Tekken 7 tournament—he did have one sussy encounter with police.
“What was really awkward was being stopped by two police officers in the City Center and having to explain that it was a controller, but that was the only trouble I had,” Syn said. “And yes, on Saturday I had that thing on my back for about 14 hours. I woke up on Sunday to see the top 24 feeling like I’d gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson and my legs still hurt. Worth it, though.”