Names like Justin Wong, Filipino Champ, Combofiend and ChrisG mean nothing to most people. But to a growing community of fighting game enthusiasts, these guys are known as the best of the best. Maestros of the arcade stick if you will. They are truly masters of execution. Watching them do what they do is not only fun to watch it’s also extremely impressive.
These are just a few of the guys that are bringing this scene into prominence. This past weekend the largest fighting game tournament basically in the world took place in Las Vegas. The Evolution Championship Series is a culmination of about a dozen smaller tournaments that all leads up to this. The best of the best from around the world converge to see who has what it takes to become the champ in their respective games. Soul Calibur, King Of Fighers, Virtua Fighter, Tekken and a host of other smaller games are represented here. However, the leaders of the pack for the last few years have been Super Street Fighter IV and Marvel Vs Capcom 3. These are the games that pack a football field sized ballroom full of people to watch two players go at it one on one in a best of 5 series.
To the uninitiated, one may ask WTF is so special about this, it’s two dudes playing a video game. While that person is 100% correct in their assessment, it really is so much more than that. As an avid gamer and lover of fighting games I will tell you what these guys do is not even remotely close to an easy feat. It takes years of practice and dedication not unlike any physical sport one may play. Imagine the pressure you would feel knowing you've got over 10,000 people in the venue itself and the thousands of people watching you on a stream online. To be quite honest with you, I would consider this a sport in and of itself. Not only that, I would also argue that it is one of the best spectator sports to watch PERIOD (thanks Micah). There is no shortage of genuine excitement and drama during each match leading up to and including the finals. The crowd roots for their favorites. There’s national pride as you have people from all over the world competing and of course you’ve got people you don’t like. Then there are times you get teammates facing off against each other as demonstrated here. This is a match that took place this year.
It’s got everything any other sport has, and it’s just as hype if not more so than any NBA finals or Stanley Cup or World Series (baseball sucks BTW). It just happens to be on a much smaller scale. You really don't even have to know what the two opponents are doing to appreciate these matches. All you need to know is they pick there characters and they fight till there's only one man standing. This is why they are so fun to watch. Couple the apparent simplicity of what you are watching with the excitement of the crowd and you get a certain energy that many other events can only wish to replicate. I truly believe that given enough time and growth, we will see these tournaments eventually televised. I for one cannot wait for that time to come. With that being said I'll leave you with a classic moment in Evo history.
image via gamefob.com