A year ago at the Battle Royal 2016 finals Team NINJA Creative Director Tom Lee said, "Next year's Battle Royal event will be an event you don't want to miss." As the year went on, members in the community couldn't help but wonder due to the intonation of Tom's speech if something big was planned or if it was just generic hype for a year long event filled with amazing competitive matches.
The journey to the Battle Royal 2017 finals was eventful, filled with upsets from South Killy defeating XCalibur BladeZ at Final Round, previous Battle Royal 2015 winner JC Akira taking the EVO Japan Pre-tournament, XCalibur BladeZ getting his run-back on Battle Royal 2016 winner Rikuto at Summer Jam 11, Hoodless finally taking the win after his die-hard training at The Fall Classic, and Snow defeating previous European champion Gehaktbal at the Republic of fighters.
The world's eyes were on Team NINJA as we rolled into NEC18 for the Battle Royal 2017 World Finals event. A day before the event they posted on twitter and Facebook that the team would have an announcement after the finals. Coupled with Tom Lee's comments at the previous Battle Royal finals, gaming news sites and fans around the world began to speculate an announcement of Dead or Alive 6 to be given. Especially due to the previous announcement of new DLC content for DOA5 ending in 2017.
After the finals, Tom Lee took the stage with community manager Emmanuel Rodriguez and aired a "message from the team." In the message, Team NINJA's brand manager Yosuke Hayashi thanked everyone for their continued support of Dead or Alive, including a specific shout out to tournament organizer Eric "Big E" Small of Big E Gaming. Hayashi went on to state that their support for Dead or Alive 5 is now at an end, "but the Dead or Alive team is very active.". This line was the closest to a Dead or Alive 6 announcement that the video gave. The remaining video had Art Director Yuta Saito and Game Director Yohei Shimbori talk about their passion both for fighting games and for Dead or Alive, and also gave thanks to those who have helped pull off such amazing tournaments over the past five years. As a competitor himself, Saito enjoys watching the players play the game and have exciting competitive matches. Shimbori talked about his passion for fighting games, and while the DOA5 support has come to an end, he expressed his excitement in seeing everyone again someday.
After the video finished, another short but emotional video was shown giving spotlight to our own community's dear Christopher "NinjaCW" Harris who passed away last year due to heart complications. Tom Lee took to the mic, after a pause of reflection on NinjaCW's goals and aspirations for this community, to tell how Tom came to be a part of not only the Dead or Alive community, but the Fighting Game Community as a whole.
Since the event wasn't a Trade Show, or some Game Convention, but a tournament event, this video package had a specific audience. Throughout the video Hayashi, Saito, and Shimbori are talking directly to the competitive players in attendance. They directly refer to Big E as a tournament organizer. This was not a sending off for the DOA series, but a big thank you from the team for all of the support the competitive community has done in the past five years in showing why DOA5 can be put up there as one of the best fighting games.
So in the end, the message that we should be taking from this video is that Team NINJA wants to continue working on Dead or Alive 6whatever game the Dead or Alive team is currently working on, and for us to please be patient for the time when that game is ready to be revealed. That reveal date could be as close as E3, or it might be longer. There is no way we will know until Team NINJA feels it's ready to be shown off and probably at an event fitting its debut.
There will continue to be Dead or Alive 5 Last Round tournaments next year, just none being sponsored by Team NINJA themselves. The only ones who can kill DOA5LR is the community itself. It's tournament scene survives only due to your passion, participation, and attendance. If you don't want it to end, keep showing up to tournaments and events, and continue to promote the game that you love to play. We have Kumite in Tennessee going on in January, the next Winter Brawl (Pennsylvania) in February, and Final Round (Georgia) in March. So there's still plenty of competitive events for us to enjoy in the coming year.