#FightFriday: Is The Price of #eSports Too High For the #FGC To Pay?

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From the outside looking in, Capcom Cup 2019 seemed pretty hype and awesome. Idom won it (which, who would have guessed that?) and a Rashid player didn’t! Then again, it just goes to show that not every top tier character can take a major just because they’re top tier. But when you get into the various tweets about the events and even some stuff that DID get outside…this was not a smoothly ran event. For starters, the Last Chance Qualifier wasn’t streamed this year. In previous years, the LCQ had some of the hypest matches in all of Capcom Cup. They’re the last chance of the season to see some of our favorite players…but nope.

[Editor’s Note: Redbull Gaming was able to give some people backpack cams to livestream the LCQ but the quality was less than stellar.]

There were also reports of laggy setups that caused a lot of problems for pros that are used to certain timings. So between “logistics” keeping the LCQ and loser’s bracket from being streamed, bad setups, some weird…Pocky K.O. thing that really seemed to just appease that sponsor, and the player reception I think its safe to say that Capcom Cup 2019 did not go exactly as planned. And this isn’t the first time this happened. I won’t talk a lot about it since we talked about it plenty during our latest podcast, but DOA Festival was littered with as many problems. Matches not being streamed and general disorganization plagued that tournament, upsetting some pros and making a few of them not even want to play the game.

Now, I’m no expert or Tournament Organizer. I’m just a guy with an opinion. I’ve also been to some tournaments; both local and major. I usually frequent Frost Faustings and Combo Breaker, and the experiences there have been amazing. And you know why? They are ran by people who love fighting games and know the community. Of course, Combo Breaker is now at the cusp of eSports territory as it becomes sponsored by big companies such as Samsung and Geico Gaming, but it’s still ran by people who know what they’re doing. There’s no logistics problems for streams, bad setups, and organization that I can tell is kept down to a minimum.

But as the eSports scene grows more, those growing pains become way more apparent. You start to notice more and more how much space things like the Samsung area takes up. You start to see the ads pop up more. You look at your badges and see “sponsored by…” and it gets a bit weird. We’ve already gotten used to the absolute strong arm of Red Bull take over. I bet you don’t even notice the Red Bull coolers in most of the shots of the commentators anymore. Especially since you never really see the commentators drinking it. Hell, I bet you hardly noticed the Red Bull cooler in the DOA picture up there. Though…now it seems that some sponsorship are getting even weirder.

Aside from the numerous sponsorship and ads and products, we also have companies learning on their feet how to properly make a good eSports experience for players and for people watching. We see how many experiments Capcom ran: ELeague, that reality show for ELeague, Street Fighter League, Capcom Cup airing on ESPN, taking part of the 2020 Olympics, and that’s just what I can remember from Capcom. There’s still ArcSys with ArcREVO, the Tekken World Tour, DBFZ World Tour, MK11 Pro Kompetition…it’s a lot that gets split up, yet combined? Despite all of these tours, a tournament can happen and it will be a premier for all of these events. Thinking about it, it seems weird. But it shows how everyone is out to strike that eSports gold.

However, these events need people. Commentators are usually a lock, as they’ll get people who’ve always been commentating these games. But what of the venues? The equipment? The logistics team? All of these things that are usually handled by people with experience now have to have people who know little to nothing about it. Another likelihood is that companies have begun to pick and choose which events they go all out for. It was speculated among all the CPT2019 discourse that Capcom cut corners so that they can go all out for France. Not impossible, nor would that shock me. Their games only make so much money. They’re fighting games, after all. They don’t always have the most mainstream appeal among gamers. Sure, they’re fun to watch, but some of these games can be daunting to play for newcomers.

Worst of all, to me, is the reliance on sponsorships not only for tournaments, but for players. Mostly by all of these esports teams. Yes, sponsorships are helpful and can get players out to tournaments that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to. But those teams can be unstable and dissolve or fire players for weird reasons. Firing them because they were showing their asses on social media? Sure. Makes sense. Getting rid of fan favorites that do nothing wrong? Why? The whole sponsor thing just seems so unsure that it’s hard to 100% trust it. Take a look at EchoFox: one of the most beloved teams, now just…a name. And that can happen to any team.

There’s plenty more to cover, from the esports voucher situation happening in some countries to how esports has been affecting game design. but I’ve said enough for now. How esports plans to become fully integrated into the FGC is not yet concrete or certain. We only know that it’ll happen sooner or later. For now, we’re in the middle of it as those who participate or watch the tournaments. Seeing how a local tournament works vs an esports tournament seems to grow more and more different every year. I just hope everyone can find their footing soon so players can make that League of Legends money. What do you guys think? Has esports helped or hurt the scene? What do you like about it? What do you hate? Let us know in the comments.

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