The first majors


To fighting game players in the west who remember the battles over so many years to even get acknowledgement from game companies and the gaming media, major sponsored tournaments, seem like a very recent, and hard fought for development. Even after the huge boost that the creation of in 2000 gave the fighting game scene, there were times in the late 2000’s when the future of even their own Evo (previously ‘B’ series) tournament was in doubt. In Japan however, things were very different. Officially run, nation-wide tournaments were a feature from almost the very beginning of the fighting game scene in the early 1990’s . Capcom ran prestigious tournaments for the all 3 of the major home releases of SF2 (SNES) that included national qualifiers and big stage grand finals, starting with a World Warrior tournament in 1992. The event was briefly covered here in Electronic Gaming Monthly:

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In 1993 Capcom held the second major, this time for SF2 Turbo (Hyper Fighting), covered here again in E.G.M from 1993, and a snipet from the japanese Street Fighter Final Challenge artbook. The EGM article states that 6000 players attended the finals (half coming from regional qualifiers and the other half from mail entries who had to play immediate elimination rounds) and even lists the winner, Takahiro Nakano playing Sagat, defeating the previous years World Warrior champion, a Dhalsim player by the name of Hiroshi Ishikawa  :

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This and the subsequent event for Super Street Fighter 2 in 1994 were filmed filmed for Japanese TV, complete with frantic commentary and post match analysis by a cartoon head!:



This scan from a Hong Kong Street Fighter Comic (Manhwa) appears to show a Street Fighter Champion Edition (notice the blue Blanka) arcade tournament, presumably in 1992 . The coverage, scale of the event and the large character cardboard cutouts seem to suggest this was officialy sponsored. If anyone can help with translation, please comment below:

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In 1993 SNK (now Capcom’s main arcade rival), partnering with magazine Arcadia, held a national tourney for Fatal Fury 2. The event was used to reveal their upcoming Fatal Fury Special, (the first game along with Samurai Shodown that was seen as a real competitor in terms of quality to SF2). The event featured a cosplay competition, and was filmed for Gamest Video. *The description says that this is the 3rd Gamest Tournament, the 2nd may have been the small SF2 Turbo (arcade) tournament that is featured on their SF2Turbo Gamest Guide Video and the first for their SF2CE guide:



In America Capcom USA finaly got in on the act in 1994 by first sponsoring sponsoring a tournament for their Wrestling game Saturday Night Slam Masters, known as the ‘BAMMA Tournament’, and then the Super Street Fighter 2 Midwest Championship in Chicago. While the MWC was just a regional tournament held in an arcade, it was covered nationally in the excellent ‘Fighters Edge’ section of Gamepro magazine (written by top competitive players like Tomo Ohira and Jeff Schaefer). and was one of the first times that top players from opposite coasts had travelled to compete, this was the beginnings of the East coast vs West coast rivalry that is contested to this day. Also of note is that the event was used to preview Capcom’s upcoming SSF2 Turbo in the US. The winner of the event, L.A’s legendary Mike Watson now runs his own arcade, ‘Super Arcade’ in Walnut California, and still holds an open challenge on his SF2 Hyper Fighting cabinet!!/superdojo

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The event was also one of the first to be recorded by a community member, 2nd place finisher Jessie Howard and friends, who managed to lug around a, no doubt gigantic, VHS camera for the entirety of the event, capturing all the fantastic 90’s fashion and the very first coast to coast smack talk and hype!

Although this brief foray into the competitive scene was unfortunately the last official involvement by game companies and the gaming media at large until the late 2000’s in the west, it has been amazing to see things come full circle at time of writing.
2012 saw the first fighting game reality web series, used to promote Capcom’s SFxTekken release,  MLG have announced a $33,000 prize fund for this years Mortal Kombat events andalso for the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter (1987 to 2012), Capcom is putting up $500,000 (yes half a million!) of prize money for tournaments accross its range of fighting games! All this combined with the fact that Evo 2012 will feature tournaments for Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and and (finaly) an SNK game, it really feels now how the future looked in 1993, back before the dark times began.
Right now is a second golden era for fighting games to rival the early 90s heyday, and its been great to see that the gaming companies have learned again that the energy created by their competitive core fan-base  is an invaluable part of their, and the entire fighting genre’s success.


2 Responses to The first majors

  1. fluxcorenz says:

    Crazy that the first Capcom events for Street Fighter were played using the console versions of HF and Super!

  2. Daemahnic says:

    Sick bro.. Hopefully soon you’ll be writing an article about our NZ scene! 😉

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