The 2021 CEO Fighting Game Championships tournament last weekend had plenty of surprising announcements, but nothing quite as surprising as the participation of Tinker and Arachius. Tinker and Arachius are a senior couple who competed at CEO to understand how a professional fighting game tournament was run so that they can improve their own upcoming tournament.
While the fighting game community has been known to host a wide variety of players, very rarely do tournaments have entrants at the age of Tinker and Arachius. The duo, real names Kim and Craig Cutchin, are 62 and 71 years old respectively, and have been married for more than 30 years. Kim and Craig are making preparations for Southeast Mayhem, an Esports community event in Tifton, Georgia, alongside their son Zachary and a couple of their friends, in advance of the event’s debut next year.
Southeast Mayhem will take place from February 4 through 6 and will feature games like DragonBall FighterZ, Nickelodeon All Star Brawl, and Smash Bros. Ultimate. Despite their age, the senior couple aren’t entirely noobs when it comes to video games and fighting game tournaments.
“Our children grew up with Game Boys, PlayStations, and Xboxes, and as parents, we played alongside them,” Kim told Kotaku. Kim said gaming has been a great activity for her family because it’s brought them together and challenged their minds and reflexes.
“Today, our family often plays Smash for an hour or so after dinner, and just recently we started playing Marvel Vs Capcom,” she said.
Kim must’ve felt confident enough in her reflexes, because she entered CEO 2021 and competed in a Marvel Vs Capcom 3 tournament. In one of the Twitter videos from the event, Kim can be seen playing a set against RamBam, a professional MvC3 player, who was clearly fighting for glory rather than fun against the 62-year-old. He even went so far as to utilize a lightning loop against her poor Sentinel, Modok, and Spider-Man.
“We clearly expected to be throttled in our first match, and we were. Yet everyone—including the staff, volunteers, and attendees—were welcoming, courteous and a real pleasure to engage with,” Kim told Kotaku.
Kim was so over with the crowd of onlookers that they booed RamBam any time he landed an attack on her, which was a lot. Craig admitted that he wasn’t certain if Kim’s team of fighters was the one she intended to play with because she was a bit nervous during the setup for her match. Sadly, Kim and Craig can’t call Johns for their placement in the tournament. Craig competed as Ryu, Ironman and Akuma and lost in a very close 3-2 match, and Kim ended up placing 97th out of the 161 players with one win and two losses, totaling out to a 33.33% win record, according to Smash.gg.
“We are both still learning each character’s strengths and how to mesh them to enhance team performance,” Craig said. “Next tournament we will likely play different teams, and who knows what might happen with more practice, experience, luck, and Red Bull.”
The two felt sorry that the people they competed against had to endure jeers from the crowd for their sake, but were thankful for how gracious their opponents were at the end of their matches.
“RamBam was very polite, and even apologized to Kim for having sent her to the loser’s bracket,” Craig said.
Despite their losses, the couple’s bouts at CEO weren’t entirely fruitless. Experiencing the event as competitors allowed them to take notes on how a professional and “well-run” tournament was organized so they could make their own fighting game tournament a success.
“We felt that an esports tournament in Tifton would help bring together the region’s gaming community and expand the many opportunities available in our hometown,” the couple said.
They hope that the esports community in Tifton will help support the event, adding that if they do, the couple should receive a senior discount as penance for their brutal defeat at CEO.
As strange as a senior couple showing up to compete with fighting game players and running their own tournament might seem, Kim and Craig have prior experience with fighting games and know a couple of people in the industry. Although CEO was their first major esports event, in the past, they have competed in smaller tournaments hosted by Mad House Gaming Lounge, a gaming storefront in Tifton owned by their Southeast Mayhem partners, Johnathan Day and Heather Pacheco.
Liam Young, public relations for Southeast Mayhem, spoke highly of the couple and their passion to use fighting games to help instill a newfound closeness within the South Georgia community.
“They wanted to pool their knowledge together and create something special for the FGC in South Georgia, a region that is otherwise overshadowed by the looming North Georgia [and] Metro Atlanta scene,” Young said. He added that the couple have been so dedicated to helping out wherever they can that they’ve been unlocking all the characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate on everyone’s Nintendo Switches.
It was through the couple’s event partners that they heard about CEO 2021. After being told that Alex Jebailey, CEO’s founder, always puts on an “exceptional event,” it became a necessity for them to learn via trial by fire.
Among the benefits of seeing CEO firsthand was understanding how things like vaccination protocols and mask mandates can be effectively implemented at such an event. Aside from the event’s organization, what stuck with them the most was experiencing how tight-knit and welcoming the FGC community can be.
While preparing for his first Marvel Vs Capcom match, Craig enjoyed a brief conversation with Just Hamster, a Tatsunoko Vs Capcom player and the person who would soon send Craig to the losers bracket.
“We learned about each other’s family, hometowns, food likes and avoids, and we left friends with a fist bump,” Craig said.
The CEO’s event staff, volunteers, and attendees felt like a huge family that the couple always wanted to belong to, because of how everyone seemed to get along and their willingness to help each other out.
“Neither Kim nor I expected the overwhelming, positive feedback we received from it all,” Craig said. “Clearly this community is supportive of each other and of those just joining it—no matter what age.”