Before next generation consoles and before the PC master race, there were arcades. In the early 90s arcades were home to one of the first competitive video games – the Street Fighter series.
It was one of the only games where you actually played with your opponent standing right next to you instead of fighting the computer or hoping to beat RNG.
Like other fighting games, Street Fighter is also one of the simplest games to understand: knock out your opponent and win. The concept is so simple it gathers new players constantly and gathers crowds from far and wide across age ranges. While it might sound easy enough to play, the higher the level of competition the more complicated the game can actually be considering the amount of possible combinations. Reaction in mere milliseconds can decide victory or defeat.
Street Fighter tournaments began to emerge in the heart of gaming arcades, before the Super Nintendo and before esports on consoles and PCs became mainstream. As gaming evolves those grassroots values have carried over with the latest edition, Street Fighter V. While it remains easy to follow and simple to understand it’s one of the most difficult to master. You’re playing completely alone – solo. You don’t have team members to lean on. The result is entirely up to you and your decisions. While this heaps a lot of pressure on the player it makes the scene much more personable. You’re not following a team, or an organisation, you’re cheering for a person, a player, a fan of the game just like you.
Street Fighter tournaments don’t have massive prize pools like other games, but this is an individual game meaning all the prize money goes to one player. The Capcom Cup and EVO are two of the biggest FGC events in the world. In 2017 the Capcom Cup boasts a prize pool of $600,000 (£482,500), a huge rise from the old arcade tournaments with prizes in the hundred dollar range.
While small tournaments are still run in local game shops across the world, Street Fighter has grown to extreme proportions. It has recently been nominated for the AMD esports audience award “recognizing and acknowledging games that have captured the hearts and imaginations of players and audiences over the past year in the esports space”. SFV is nominated alongside the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Overwatch.
It was also just announced that popular CS:GO league operators, ELEAGUE, will be holding a Street Fighter V invitational with 32 of the world’s top pro players in March. Once the season starts in April coverage will extend to TBS.
Fans aren’t the only ones noticing the progression of Street Fighter. In the past couple of months numerous big name esports organisations have signed up SFV players to represent them. Most recently the likes of Echo Fox and Mousesports have got involved.
The Street Fighter community isn’t going anywhere. Regardless of subtle changes and evolution, year to year and with every new release, the FGC is amongst the strongest esports communities around and nothing’s going to change that anytime soon.
Esports Insider says: The FGC in general is a refreshing community to witness. The fans are dedicated to an extent that exceeds that of most other esports. In this next generation of gaming, Street Fighter is getting recognition it, and its community, deserves.