Not only did Capcom announce the Street Fighter V tournament held at this years Tokyo Game Show will be a Pro Tour premier event, but if any Japanese players place in the top eight they will have the opportunity to receive a pro-player license courtesy of the Japan eSports Union. As the first year under the new pro license, the prize pool for the Street Fighter V tournament has also been raised to ¥10m (£68,000).
While Japan has a heavy influence in esports and gaming titles the country continues to struggle to thrive in gaming compared to other Asian countries. Until this year, the Japanese government has limited esports prize pools to ¥100,000 (£680) in the country due to gambling laws. The Japanese e-Sports Association, eSports Promotion Organization and Japan eSports Federation all combined in February of this year to form the Japan eSports Union. The Union worked closely with the Japanese government and came to an agreement to issue licenses to pro players which would bypass the prize pool cap and allow for larger tournament pools, such as those at the Tokyo Game Show. Niconico Tokaigi 2018 held in Chiba, Japan in February was the first tournament under the new ruling and issued the first pro-gaming licenses to the top finishers.
It’s not clear what the specific requirements are to receive a pro license throughout the games featured in the program, other than approval from the game developer. As this recent announcement comes directly from Capcom itself it most certainly cements the developer’s support of esports growth in Japan.
Esports Insider says: Ever since the introduction of the pro player licenses we’ve seen further efforts to develop a stronger esports community in such an influential country as Japan. Some may find it strange the lack of support in the country but thanks to organisations like the JeSU and support from developers like Capcom Japanese players will be able to compete fairly in their home country like every other player.