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The Growth of Fighting Games in eSports

SANTA ANA, CA - eSports are a growing sensation. Fighting games as a genre have started to make its mark in the eSports scene. Wednesday Night Fights is a weekly gathering in Santa Ana for fans of the genre to enter the eSports community. While many believe eSports to be a great way for the fighting game community to grow, there are others who are worried about the negative effects on the players.

Video gaming is a large market. Global games markets estimate gaming to make over $137-billion in revenue in 2018. After its humble beginnings in the arcade - competitive gaming has started to grow as a market as well. The term eSports is used quite often in the competitive community and the term has started to spread to the general populace as well.

ESports has grown tremendously over the years. Revenue jumped from $493 million in 2016 to $655 million in 2017. Economists estimate that total revenue could exceed $900 million by the end of 2018.The fighting game community is just one branch of eSports, and a relatively recent addition too.

“Fighting games is probably the last competitive genre to go into the eSports direction,” said Alex Valle, the founder and CEO of Level Up LLC. as well as a veteran of the fighting game community.

The fighting game community started as a grassroots organization. Veterans of the community talk all the time about how they started competing in someone’s garage. It’s evolved to the point where players are competing for hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars. That doesn’t come without its issues, however. Many players are scared that eSports could have a negative effect the community.

“There comes with that a risk of alienating your core audience” said Konrad Pinheiro, a Street Fighter commentator.

History has shown that many organizations lack the ability to cater to their audience. Players are regularly disappointed at the inability to connect and engage with the community they’re working with. A Dreamhack tournament in 2011 is regularly brought up within the community as an example of inadequacy in eSports. A more recent example is a TBS Street Fighter invitational called Eleague in 2017, which members of the community called “sterile” and not representative of the community. Others, however, see eSports as a great chance to grow.

“It enables these players,” says Jake Ryan, a Dragonball Fighter Z commentator. “Enables this talent to come out, shine and actually thrive in an environment where they are supported.”

Sponsorships are a big part of eSports. Companies invest money into events like Wednesday Night Fights in Santa Ana. Larger events such as Evolution and Capcom Cup bring even more sponsors to the table. These sponsorships help fund the events, as well as provide cash prizes to the players.

“I think eSports brings structure,” says Level Up COO Jimmy Nguyen, “ prizing, sponsors, where you do events and how you do events.”

Wednesday Night Fights is a weekly gathering of fighting game players run by Level Up LLC. It happens every Wednesday evening. Players from all across southern California gather every week to compete for a cash prize. Level Up also runs larger events like Southern California Regionals.

By Demothy Tien with contributions from Forbes, Newzoo and Shoryuken


Video, Hold Black to Block, Demothy Tien


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