A motley crew of battle-hardened crusaders vie for victory under the critical gaze of their fervent fans at the IGN Convention, as Alvin Thomas watches.
Sweat is trickling down their cheeks and the tension is visible in their eyes. After all, this isn’t your average gully fight. This is a battle scripted from the far corners of the universe. A confrontation between Goku, an extra-terrestrial warrior hailing from the race of Sayyians; and Sasuke Uchiha, one of the last members of the infamous Uchiha clan of ninja warriors from Japan.
Hundreds of spectators are standing outside the arena in anticipation of a fair yet gruesome fight. The crowds aren’t exactly what you’d call “regular” either. Among the many who have gathered are supervillains such as Bane and Catwoman (from DC Universe), Daredevil and Wolverine (from Marvel Universe) and even some unearthly characters from the Tekken Universe such as Ling Xiaoyu and even their god, Gin.
This is truly a mix of the world’s biggest clan of superheroes and supervillains – and they are a part of the Imagine Games Network – better known as the IGN. Their battleground is the mammoth Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre at Azaiba, which was playing host to the inaugural edition of the IGN Convention (held on December 9 and 10), in the Sultanate.
It doesn’t take long for a fight to commence and the crowd to go wild. Sasuke is seen taking the defensive early on, as Goku goes into a fury with super-fast punches and kicks. But the Sasuke modus operandi is quite drastic and cruel: he waits for his opponents’ energies to drain before striking.
And wait, he does. Soon, Goku is seen catching his breath; he is desperately in need of some energy. Sasuke’s tactics give him the upper hand yet again, and he goes on the offensive, sliding and kicking Goku from every possible angle – and he has no answer.
By now the crowd is in a frenzy, and Sasuke is on a roll. In less than two minutes, Goku is on the ground and gasping for mercy. Soon, the match referee and commentator decide to give Sasuke the match, and he is seen pumping his fists in the air. After all, he has defeated one of the strongest warriors in the known universe.
Meanwhile, Bane is also seen having a friendly encounter with Catwoman for the first time ever. It’s a pity Batman isn’t around to whoop Bane for stealing his rival.
But the crowd that has gathered around the fighting arena doesn’t hang around for long, as settling into one of the corners of the large auditorium is Kristian Nairn, better known as Hodor from the medieval fantasy epic TV series, Game of Thrones; Adam Harrington, the voiceover artist from games such as The League of Legends, The Godfather, The Walking Dead and Rift, among various others titles; and finally, Dave Fennoy, the legendary video game voice actor from game titles such as Batman: Arkham Knight, The Walking Dead, The Fallout, The Metal Gear series, World of Warcraft and many more.
A sizeable chunk of the audience is also taking this as an opportunity to score selfies with the celebrities but only the true fans are patient enough to actually stand in the long queue.
Others are seen scurrying to various live Counter Strike (tactical warfare game) and FIFA 17 (football game) tournaments that are taking part in other locations around the convention.
Talking about the inaugural edition of the IGN Convention in Oman, Hitesh Uchil, the sales manager of tbreak Media, and one of the organisers of the convention says: “Our aim is to go to different countries, form partnerships and try to bring the IGN convention to various parts of the Middle East.
“The reason why we’re here is because when we conducted our events at Dubai and Abu Dhabi recently, we had a lot of people come in from Oman as well. That, motivated us to come here for hosting the event.”
Hitesh also says that this is one of the largest IGN Conventions to be carried out in the region.
“I cannot confirm an official number to you, but this is definitely up with the Dubai and Abu Dhabi conventions. Given the chance, we will be coming back here too,” he says.
Talking to a group of cosplayers (people dressed as characters), we learn: “We have been lacking an event of such calibre.
“I think it is amazing that the IGN convention is here in Oman. For the past few years, we have had to settle for watching comic conventions on television. So this is sort of a dream come true for all of us.”
The group’s members all happen to be students at an engineering college in the capital.
And just before leaving the convention, we catch up with Goku to persuade him to pose for a post-fight picture. And with a smile on his face, he poses for our camera. There’s no hint of disappointment in his face.
“After all, it’s all about fun and games,” he chuckles.