Normally they are used to taking the blows. This time, the fighting game pros couldn’t avoid the knockout inflicted by an opponent too strong for them: the Covid-19. The relative rise of esports during the pandemic has not benefited experts from: street fighter† to draw Where Super Smash Bros. ultimate† While the online tournaments held on other games drew limited spectators, they remained dormant, devoid of competition and the social aspect dear to the discipline.
Like EVO, the fighting games high mass held in Las Vegas every year, most “face-to-face” esports events were canceled with the advent of the virus. Other games like counter attack Where League of Legends, quickly switched to online formats and benefited from the increase in viewership, estimated at +12.4% between 2020 and 2021 by Newzoo. the versus fightingfor his part, struggled to do the same.
Legitimacy and “frames”
“There have actually been no more tournaments since 2020. There have been offline invite events with a handful of players. Other than that, we had almost two years without competition,” said Olivier “Luffy” Hay, who has one of the best French records on the franchise. street fighter† “Historically, the versus fighting is a scene offline, he continues. When we do a match, we really go to the place of the tournament. The online mode will serve as training, it does not remain very legitimate. When we talk about pure and tough competition, it is offline that will prevail. †
The reason is mainly technical. “When you play online, there is always a minimum of delay,” specifies “Luffy”. This delay, the experts of the versus fighting respect him frames : understand, to put it simply, the number of images emitted by the game every second. “A loss of two to three frames, outrageous to the general public, can be very impactful for a professional player,” added the winner of the 2014 EVO, the equivalent of the world championship. “These are games that require extreme precision,” said William “Glutonny” Belaïd, the current best French player on Super Smash Bros. ultimate† When I press online, my shot can come out up to twice as late as usual. It changes the whole game.”
“More tournaments, more visibility…”
Who says fewer tournaments means fewer opportunities to earn a living for these players, who depend as much on sponsors as they do on prize money offered in case of victory. Some have lost a lot, as explained by Marie-Laure “Kayane” Norindr, historical player of the French scene and event organizer: “Players were thrown by their team. AS Monaco, for example, banned its players from fighting games. They said to themselves: “No more tournaments, more visibility, so we stop everything” »
“I lost contracts because of Covid-19 and my value as a player went down. Why invest in a fighting game and not rather in? LOL, where can we continue to maintain our visibility? asks “Luffy”. Before insisting on the relative uncertainty of the versus fightingcompared to other disciplines: “We do not have the same salary as” LOL Where counter attack, where it can go up to more than six digits. A fighting game player maintains a normal salary. †
The importance of community
However, the loss is not only economic. It’s also social, as the community aspect is important to the fighting game scene. A tradition that probably dates back to the era of arcades, even if their impact was less in France than in Asia.
“A lot of people go to a tournament to see their friends, for the atmosphere. You go there to play, but also to meet people, loose “Glutonnie”. It would be a shame to lose this family side. “Kayane” emphasizes the “associative” aspect: “The community of street fighterwas born, for example, thanks to associations and the organization of local tournaments, and not thanks to Capcom, the publisher of the game”.
‘We see that the weather is gone for good’
To be convinced of this, just look at the atmosphere of the first post-Covid competitions, such as the historic Stunfest in Rennes, and the recent edition of the “Kayane Sessions”, organized by the French champion in Paris. The May edition was the first since December last year, when it was held in smaller numbers. “We were able to accommodate a hundred players. They enjoyed seeing each other again. We see that the weather is gone for good, and we feel that there is a craze. †
This enthusiasm should be continued, in the opinion of the actors of the scene. The resumption of tournaments (including EVO, which will be held from August 5 to 7 this year) and recent good French performances, such as the victory of “Glutonny” over an American Major (more or less the equivalent of a Grand Slam in tennis ) , shed light on the versus fighting† “Nothing, the Covid-19 frustrated all players for two years. Fighting game revival is coming, with new episodes of street fighterfrom to draw, predicted “Luffy”. I’m pretty sure the tournaments will be full. The second round is over.