Fighting chance

SFV was first launched in 2016. — Filepic

First released by Capcom in 1987, Street Fighter started out as an eight-bit arcade game where players get to play as Ryu or Ken and fight their way through a series of opponents before taking on the final boss.

One of the newest and most well-known modern reiterations of the game is Street Fighter V (SFV), which was released in 2016 on the PlayStation 4 and PC platform. Players get to choose from 16 characters at launch and then unlock more characters as they progress through the game.

SFV is also played as an eSports title with the Capcom Pro Tour being one of the official tournaments.

How to play?

The rules of a fighting game like SFV are simple – players win by depleting their opponent’s health bar, which can be achieved by throwing punches, kicks or using special abilities.

According to general tournament rules on the Capcom Pro Tour website, a competitive game between two players is set at 99 seconds with three rounds to play.

When players have made it to the Top 8, they will play a game with five rounds.

Players must stick with the same character throughout the match and are only allowed to change to a different character when they lose the game.

Passionate local fanbase

According to an industry insider, the fighting game eSports scene in Malaysia is rather small compared to mobile games and PC titles.

“Mobile gaming offers more convenience as people can play both on the go and with more affordable devices, hence not a lot of investment is required.

“For fighting games however, you may need a TV or monitor connected to a console or PC. Then you need a gaming pad or arcade stick, plus wired Internet connection just so you have the guarantee that the line will be stable,” says Johnny Tan, the founder of the Malaysia Fighting Games Community on Facebook which currently has around 5,000 members.

He adds eSports tournaments for mobile games are also more lucrative thanks to its huge following. Nevertheless, the fighting games scene continues to thrive due to its loyal fanbase.

Tan explains that SFV is an example of a title with a strong fanbase as Malaysia has hosted the Flash Vision Major and Cup events for the past five years.

“It’s one of the qualifying events for Capcom Pro Tour. A number of international players such as Hajime ‘Tokido’ Taniguchi (three-time Evo champion) and Naoto Sako (widely considered one of Japan’s “fighting game gods”) have attended the events here and fans get a chance to meet their fighting game idols,” he says.

Evo Champion Series is an annual eSports championship event for fighting games that feature players competing in titles such as Tekken 7, The King Of Fighters XIV and SFV.

IT consultant Quah Ban “IamChuan” Chuan, 35, has competed in SFV eSports tournaments both locally and internationally in the past few years.

“I started playing in arcade centres as a kid in Penang and then when I was 12, I begged my dad to let me join a King Of Fighters competition at a mall,” he says.

Quah says playing SFV has led him to compete at tournaments in countries like Singapore, Taiwan, China and the United States.

Most recently, he came in second in the Evo 2021 Online SFV Asia South Tournament held in August, earning US$1,350 (RM5,653).

In July, he participated in the Intel World Open 2021 Street Fighter Regional Finals South-East Asia competition where he won third place and scored US$3,000 (RM12,574) in prize money. Intel World Open is an eSports tournament supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

“I compete as (character) Guile most of the time. For Evo, I trained on the PC for 21 days straight where I dedicated two to three hours a day for practice,” he says.

As for Tan, he is so passionate about building the local fighting games eSports scene that he also organised mini tournaments during the movement control order period and offered RM100 cash prizes out of his own pocket.

“It’s mainly for fun and also to give local SFV players a platform to learn from each other,” he says.

He adds the tournaments also help to attract more people to join the fighting game community and connect them with other community leaders.

“Together, we could work towards organising more fighting games events for the local fans,” Tan says.

Meanwhile, Quah is setting his sights on the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China where SFV is one of the eight titles in the eSports medal event.

“I really want to be able to represent Malaysia for the event. Hopefully, we’ll get to see some details about qualifying events soon,” he says.

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