Mar 10 2014 - 2:59 pm

Capcom to launch year-long 'Street Fighter' pro league

The world’s top three esports have a few million things in common
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

The world’s top three esports have a few million things in common.

League of Legends, Dota 2, and StarCraft 2 have all benefited from multi-million investments from the games’ developers. In turn, this has helped transformed those games into massively popular international phenomenons.

Now, developer Capcom plans to replicate that success for one of 27-year-old flagship franchise. Capcom announced today it will fund a year-long league for Street Fighter 4 called the Capcom Pro Tour (CPT). Along with partner Twitch, Capcom will run 11 events around the world that will culminate in the 16-player Capcom Cup in December.

The fighting game scene as a whole long provided a stark contrast to other, richer games. While the top esports hand out prizes of over $1 million and sell out major sports arenas, most big fighting game prizes are closer to a few thousand dollars. League of Legends has given out over $10 million in prizes since its 2009 release. Street Fighter 4’s prize money tallies in at a tick under $200,000.

That means that top esports stars in other games make a healthy living and travel the world. Many fighting games stars aren’t so lucky.

"The fighting community has always been a huge part of the world of competitive gaming, but has lacked global leagues and structure which other esports communities have benefited greatly from,” said Victor ‘Victheslik’ Denchartphan, Twitch’s fighting game specialist. The goal is to “change the face of the fighting game scene.”

But how much will the Capcom Pro Tour change those realities? Many of the details remain unannounced. The prize money and ranking system are two conspicuously absent details that will be announced at a later date.

The tour will exclusively feature Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition and then transition to Ultra Street Fighter IV after it is released in June. The tour kicks off this weekend and extends through November. It will feature two tiers of events: Premiere and “ranking." The seven players who win a premiere event instantly qualify for the Capcom Cup. Premiere events kick off this weekend and extend through November. They are:

• Final Round (March 14-16 – Atlanta, GA, USA)

• NorCal Regionals (April 18-20 – Sacramento, CA, USA)

• Southeast Asia Majors (June 20-22 – Singapore)

• Community Effort Orlando (June 27-29 – Orlando, FL, USA)

• Evolution Championship Series (July 11-13 – Las Vegas, NV, USA)

• The Fall Classic (October 10-12 – Raleigh, NC, USA)

• DreamHack Winter (November 27-30 – Jönköping, Sweden)

The remaining nine invites will be decided based on points gained by placing in the top 16 finishers at premiere events and ranking events, including the SoCal regionals from two weeks ago. The ranking events are:

• SoCal Regionals (February 28-March 2, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

• PAX East (April 11-13 – Boston, MA, USA)

• E3 (June 10-12 – Los Angeles, CA, USA)

• San Diego Comic Con (July 24-27 – San Diego, CA, USA)

Several unspecified online tournaments are also going to be included in the ranking events.

With the CPT, Capcom says it aims to build a professional infrastructure to support tournament organizers in delivering “increased production values, supplementary video content, and new opportunities for players, content creators and sponsors." Tournaments organizers will remain mostly independent, Capcom and Twitch can enable them to take their vision to a “grander” scale.

But how substantial is the investment from Capcom? What is the final product going to look like? Can we expect the CPT to return in 2015? The company left these, and many other, questions unanswered.

If the CPT does deliver on its massive potential, the Pro Tour could change the fighting game community forever.

Photo by Campus Party Brazil/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jan 22 2017 - 9:12 pm

Hearthstone's NA vs CN event ends in controversy

The Chinese players were coasting to victory, but their final win provoked minor outrage.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

China's best Hearthstone players turned back a team of the best North America had to offer—but the event did not end without controversy.

In the final game of the event series, China's "Lvge" made a play that seemed to defy logic. He played Dirty Rat on turn two, risking pulling a hugely advantageous early Tomb Pillager or Gadgetzan Auctioneer for his opponent Keaton "Chakki" Gill.

However, according to the American players the Chinese casters and Lvge's teammates were screaming to play the Rat when he picked the card up, and with no white noise in the player headsets Lvge could likely hear the noise and take the cue.

The play promoted a furious series of tweets from Tempo Storm founder and Team NA player Andrey "Reynad" Yanyuk—though the tweets were later deleted.

Chakki and other players have also commented on the controversy, claiming that they raised the issue of players being able to hear the casters. The other members of each team were also watching the stream of the game, meaning they could see the hands of the opposing player.

There was little that could be done to address the controversy unless the admins immediately halted the game in progress, as the game was tournament point for the Chinese side.

Despite the controversial finish, team China had run away with the tournament to get into that position. Thanks to two wins by "OmegaZero" and "Lovelychook" over the two day event, Lvge was left with only Chakki left to beat.

China had also won the first of the three showpiece events, before Canada's Julien “Cydonia” Perrault had single-handedly won the second for team North America.

Jan 21 2017 - 5:09 pm

UFC champion Demetrious Johnson on video games, investing in esports, and why Infiltration is his favorite player

He's the best MMA fighter in the world, and esports has his attention.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via UFC | Zuffa

Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson has a nickname worthy of esports. Which is good, because it turns out the number one pound for pound fighter in the world is a fan.

In between defending the UFC flyweight championship, something he has done a near-record nine times, Johnson chills out the way he always has—playing video games. But now he does that while streaming to an audience of over 82,000 fans on Twitch.

Gaming and online broadcasting has become a massive part of Johnson's career. We spoke to the champ about gaming, esports, and how his two passions have aligned to make him one of the most unique and engaging athletes on the planet.

Obviously we will mostly be talking about gaming, but were you happy with how things went for you inside the octagon last year?

Hell yeah. I had an injury to overcome and got two fights in. Two wins, one finish and one pretty decisive war against Tim Elliot, so I'm pretty happy about that.

Your fighting career and gaming passion have intersected before. In the past you were the only combat sports athlete sponsored by Xbox. How did that come about?

It came about because of my gaming connection, and Microsoft were very passionate about getting behind athletes and Seattle, which is where the Xbox was originally created. I'm a huge game player, so the two brand just merged so well. I know people who worked at Microsoft at the time. It wasn't revolutionizing sports, but it was the first time they ever sponsored a fighter, and the first time ever the UFC was going to be streaming live on Facebook. That was pretty much the first livestream for the UFC. They don't do Facebook anymore, now we have UFC Fight Pass. 

Obviously I fit the brand really well but especially with Xbox, I was passionate about video games before Xbox was around. Back when it was Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Dreamcast, I was in love with that stuff. I played a lot while doing sports. So when the UFC was going to merge with that and doing Facebook live streaming, Xbox saw that as an opportunity to get their name out in the sport of mixed martial arts.

What games and teams are you following in the esports world?

The biggest ones that everyone follows, League of Legends, Dota 2, CS:GO. But I really like to watch the fighting game events, like Evo. Razer have an esports team, Red Bull have an esports team, but the one I really like to follow is Infiltration who plays for Razer, he uses Nash on Street Fighter V. I know I watched Northern Gaming in the World of Warcraft tournaments, but that stuff gets too stressful man! You about to kill a guy and next thing you know he gets healed all the way and I'm like "fuck!" It takes forever. I'm a big WoW guy, but I do wonder why I play it sometimes. I love the game but when it comes to streaming, it's not the most entertaining game to watch on the stream unless you're really really into it. But I love WoW. 

I watched Echo Fox compete at the H1Z1 Invitational, I competed against them. So if there's a game I like, I'll see if there's an esports scene and see if there's a player I like. But the one that really sticks out to me is Infiltration.

Have you ever made it to an esports event in person?

I have not. The only event I've ever went to was the H1Z1 Invitational when Echo Fox were playing, but I was in it. 

We'll see which ones are going on, I know TwitchCon has already been announced and I'm probably going to go to that. H1Z1 is probably going to have an Invitational there. I'm sure Echo Fox will be involved there. I know they have the Dota 2 event at the Key Arena in Seattle.

Right now, traditional sports figures are lining up to get involved in esports. Do you see yourself turning esports from a passion into something more?

Yeah, hopefully. I'd love to sit down with them [UFC owners WME-IMG] and see how the business side works of an esports team. I haven't really had a chance yet. One of the Echo Fox managers used to manage [former UFC champion] Rampage Jackson, and he talked to me about potentially looking into it and seeing if I wanted to get involved. But at the same time it's got to make good business sense for me. I don't understand the logistics of it. You buy an esports team, what's your return, you're hoping that your team wins? There's a little bit more that I need to understand.

Now being a commentator? Whatever the game, I'd absolutely love to do that.

Do you think these people from traditional sports are doing the right thing, investing in esports? Is it the next big thing that they need to be a part of?

If the people are passionate about it and follow it absolutely. It depends on what the investment opportunities are and what the payout is. It's a little bit difficult. Guys like Rick Fox, they have other things and they've made millions and millions of dollars. I heard someone say an esports team costs at least $40,000 or something to get started. It all depends on the opportunities. You got to look at all of the logistics of it. It's a cool idea and a badass thing to be apart of, but it's got to be more than just thrown in for me. We'll see what happens.

Is there any game that isn't currently a major esport that you would love to see on the big stage?

Oh man. If it's an esport, it has to be competitive. I would say Dead Space multiplayer. You would have to fight each other, and also have the necromorphs coming at you as well. Almost like a free-for-all. The one I would really love to see make it as an esport is H1Z1, but there's just so many variables and things that don't work out. Everybody doesn't get a fair chance to start out, so I think it will be hard placed right now.