See also:Fighting Game and Useful Notes/Fighting GameTournament Play, though it has been around for a while, has only recently reached the mainstream spotlight. For some titles, such as Starcraft, the rise to prominence is truly remarkable. The rise of Major League Gaming has made strides to legitimize videogames as a sport, and it's not uncommon to see game tournaments awarding cash prizes in the upwards of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
However, this rise in popularity has not gone evenly across the board. Completely distinct from MLG or "E-Sports" is the Fighting Game Community—a niche which is slowly but surely becoming more "mainstream", changing the community quite a bit.
History of the FGC
In the beginning, there was Street Fighter II, and it was good.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior was released in 1991, and was a critical and commerical success. Though fighting games had exist before it, this game was the Genre Popularizer and the Trope Codifier for nearly everything that fighting games possess today. Players from all over showed up with full wallets at their local arcades and took turns beating the crap out of each other to prove who was better. Naturally, people began to ask the question: just who is the BEST?! And thus, the Fighting Game Community took its first steps.
Years prior to the advent of YouTube, gaming competitions were extremely obscure and insular events that were entirely self-perpetuating. In short, if you played the game, and you were good at it, chances were you would go to an arcade (or to someone else's house) to play against someone who was equally skilled or better. The only way to experience better competitive play was to see it, and face it in person (or, if you were lucky, on recorded video).
All of this began to change with the internet, starting with message boards. On various disjointed forums, players of any particular game (or subsect of games) could meet and compare notes with other players and mutually try to improve. This made it easier to organize gatherings and compare "technology" (gamer jargon for improved playing methods). Of course, being a competitive community, where nearly all players were striving to one-up the other, this inevitably meant that Flame Wars were near-constant.
In 2000, Shoryuken.com (of course named after the famousStreet Fighter attack) was born and became the go-to forum for Street Fighter competitors. Other fighting-game sites were also in use, such as Virtuafighter.com and the (now-defunct) Soulcalibur.com (both of which were actually founded before shoryuken.com), but Shoryken.com in many ways became the "face" of the FGC. The creation of Shoryuken.com can be marked as the end of the "First Generation" of the Fighting Game Community and the beginning of the "Second Generation".
With this new hub, the fighting game community quickly began to pool together to create "major" tournaments that would gather the best of the best from all over the country (and the world) in order to compete with each other. The "Evolution Championship Series" (or "Evolution 2K") was created in 2002, evolving from the previous "Battle by the Bay" tournament, and became their flagship tournament. In the earliest incarnations, BbtB and EVO were Street Fighter-only affairs. This quickly changed in 2003 with the addition of several additional series.
About the same time, video footage of tournament events and combo exhibitions became commonplace. This footage became one of the major ways for players unfamiliar with the FGC to become "hype" for these events; either after watching other players better than them perform amazing feats, or after watching and deciding that they could do better themselves. However, this was a double-edged sword: the ability to watch footage online meant that players could copy others without the Meta Game context that went into their decision-making, causing them to mimic what they saw without truly understanding it. This only grew more pronounced as YouTube began taking off in popularity, with more and more FGC content ready and available for viewing by any interested parties.
However, in the middle of the 00s, the FGC began slowly fading in popularity. There are many factors which have been blamed, but all had a hand to play in it. The dwindling arcade market, the increasing complexity and thus bar of skill required for new players, the (alleged) unfriendliness of experienced players toward newbies, and ultimately, the dwindling of fighting game sales and their subsequent lack of profitability. Of the aforementioned problems, some are subjective, but all created a particularly vicious circle.
Even worse, it became increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain the machines that ran these games. Some games were never ported to a console, or even if they were, were not "arcade perfect" or were not available on a next-gen system. As new game technology was released, players were still forced to bring old systems and cabinets, controller adapters, and jury-rigged setups to every tournament, and these had a habit of being unreliable. Many of these problems, however, came to an end in 2009. And, ironically, it would come back to Capcom and Street Fighter.
In 2009, after positive reception to Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting on X Box Live Arcade, Capcom announced the development of Street Fighter IV. As this was the first new Street Fighter title in over a decade (not including various crossover fighters), the FGC highly anticipated the new game—particularly when it was announced that the game would be highly modeled after the most-popular Street Fighter II and not the Alpha series or III series. This meant that both old-school players and new players would be able to play on fairly equal terms.
Street Fighter IV was a tremendous success and is credited with resuscitating the FGC almost overnight, creating a new boom of fighting game popularity in the Seventh Generation. Thanks not only to a welcoming community but extremely successful marketing and support from Capcom, SFIV took the fighting game world by storm and became the new de-facto main event for most major tourneys. It also brought and influx of new players and Fighting Game afficionados into the mix, and has explosively increased the number of competitors. It has even brought players who had retired from the community back into the fold.
The FGC has rolled with this new momentum and has expanded its curriculum to include new tournaments, including more Majors and local events as well as live-streams to allow fans to watch these events in real time and hear commentary which explains the matches as they happen. Sponsorship became a reality starting in 2010 with franchises like Evil Geniuses, Broken Tier, Mad Catz, and others paying players for free advertising. Daigo Umehara, a legendary Japanese player pictured above, even makes a living by Beta Testing games and merely stating that he likes it!
Not everything is well in this new community, however. As mentioned before, other events such as Major League Gaming have outpaced the FGC's growth. While not necessarily less demanding, MLG games have a larger fanbase to pool from as most of them also come from series which benefit from a robust Single-player campaign. Also, it has been noted that many of these games cater to PC gamers as well as those with a higher level of income due to the expense to play them at a competitive level. Thus, the model which has worked for MLG does not carry over easily to the FGC, which although doing well, has yet to reach its potential.
Further, the FGC is still very much a "boys club" and remains crass, rude, and boorish at times. Turn on any popular tournament stream and it's likely that you will hear something not suitable for small children of the faint of heart. Female fighting gamers, though increasing in number, are still fairly rare. This has led to accusations of sexism and harassment from more outspoken and vulgar members of the community, most notably on the controversial Cross Assault reality web series.
The FGC while still going through growing pains, is very much alive and healthy for the moment. The years 2011 and 2012, in particular, have seen a resurgence of the fighting game genre, with the release of several new titles: Soul Calibur V, The King of Fighters XIII, Mortal Kombat 9, (Ultimate) Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Tekken 6, Skullgirls, Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown, Street Fighter X Tekken, and many, many more.
With the explosion of live-streaming on sites such as Twitch TV and U Stream, many local fighting game events have sprung up which can be viewed at their respective channels.
The 2014 Evolution Tournament series reached its close with Evolution 2014 on July 11-13, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. As usual, Street Fighter IV was the marquee title. The winner of each respective tournament has been crowned "Evolution World Champion" until the next tournament in 2015.
2014 EVO Tournament Season
EVO 2014 Champions
Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Twitch | JDCR - South Korea (Armor King/Heihachi)
Street Fighter 25th Anniversary Tournamentnote For the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter, Capcom managed an officially-sponsored tournament series including every post-SFII entry in the core series, as well as new titles.
SEGA Cup 2014note An official SEGA-sponsored annual tournament series for Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown.
1st Place: RZR|Fuudo (Shun, Lion)
2nd Place: RZR|Itazan (Shun)
3rd Place: Rocket (Brad)
4th Place: ChofuK·K Sarah (T-Arashi)
5th Place: Renzo (Brad), shidosha (T-Arashi)
7th Place: AyuFanb0y (Kage, El Blaze), Kamais_Ookin (Pai)
Tropes Common To This Community
The Ace: Quite a few of the FGC superstars far outshine their peers.
Daigo Umehara (pictured above) is considered, pound-for-pound, the greatest Street Fighter player that ever lived.
At one point in the Marvel vs. Capcom community, the question wasn't who was going to win. It was who would place second behind Justin Wong.
During Marvel vs. Capcom 2's lifetime, there was a trio of aces: Justin Wong, Sanford Kelly, and IFC Yipes. They eventually came to be known as the three gods of MvC2. Their dominance is nicely covered in this article.
Poongko "The Machine" is a Korean player who is well known for his brutal rushdown and high-risk/high-reward gameplay that involves impossibly difficult execution and amazing guesses. He disappeared from the competitive scene in 2013, and briefly made a reappearance (although not performing to the level he once had) before vanishing yet again.
Alex Valle (sometimes called Tio Valle or Uncle Valle), former US Champion of Street Fighter and owner of Level|Up. Considered one of the "O.G."s of the scene and well-known for being Taught by Experience with very little technical data of the game system but an uncanny ability to make correct decisions.
Chris G has yet to be dethroned as the pound-for-pound best Marvel player. In the 2013 tournament season, Chris G became as dominant in the Marvel community as Justin Wong was about a decade earlier, only failing to take first place in four major tournaments (including, ultimately, EVO 2013). Despite his EVO loss, Chris's reign continued during the 2014 season as well. He's so dominant that New York's weekly "Big Two" tournament has been jokingly referred to as his "weekly paycheck", and side betters at events close the bets when he steps up to play. Chris G's prowess has extended to other games, as well, such as Street Fighter IV, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and The King of Fighters XIII. At the moment, he's considered the USA's most consistent player.
Filipino Champ has been dominant on the US West Coast, particularly in Marvel vs. Capcom 3. A battle between himself and Chris G was considered Combat by Champion between the two rival coasts before Chris G moved to the West Coast himself.
Chi-Rithy is the most dominant player in the Canadian scene, and has won decisive matches against top American players as well.
Infiltration is a Korean player who completely dominated the Street Fighter scene from mid-2012 to mid-2013, only failing to take first place in a few tournaments during that time period. He won both EVO 2012 and the Street Fighter 25th Anniversary tournament. And in the latter, he did it by completely shutting down Daigo Umehara 6-0 in Grand Finals.
Ryan "Prodigal Son" Hart is considered a sheer force of nature within the UK Tekken and Street Fighter scene, and he's been at it even longer than Daigo. Seen by many as the best overall European player.
France's Alioune, aka "The Professor". Some would argue he has perfected how Cammy should be played — aggressive, in your face and with non-stop and sometimes unfair "unblockable" mixups.
GamerBee is the single best Adon player on the planet. Period. He is the most dominant player in Taiwan, and has also taken international majors such as Community Effort Orlando in June 2012.
Japan's Tokido is called "Murderface" due to the Kubrick Starehe often gives◊. He is an amazingly versatile player—being good at many, many types of games and placing high in most of them.
Another of the Japanese "Five Gods", Sakonoko (Sako) is famed for routinely amazing executing combos - they're simply called "Sako combos" by commentators.
Puerto Rican (PR) Balrog is a West Coast player with the exceptional ability to switch between orthodox and unorthodox tactics at any given moment. He has developed a very impressive portfolio in much shorter time than most Aces, including an absolutely amazing run at EVO 2013 for Street Fighter IV, defeating Infiltration in Winners' Quarters and nearly defeating him again in Losers' before losing to a risky Hakan pick. He is also a top Marvel vs. Capcom 3 player best known for defeating Justin Wong and getting second place to Viscant at EVO 2011. His unique "random-but-not-really-random" playstyle has caused IFC Yipes to call him "The Daywalker" (A term taken from the film Blade) for having "all of the strengths of a UOP (see below), but none of their weaknesses."
Singapore's favorite son Xian, known for his ability to dominate with Gen, a character that was considered by many not to be championship material due to his high execution barrier and low damage output. His crowning achievement was winning Evolution 2013, taking out top players such as Infiltration and Tokido in the process.
Ken (SephirothKen) Hoang is called "The King of Smash" for absolutely dominating the Super Smash Bros. Melee scene during his prime (2003-2007), traveling internationally and defeating top-ranked foreign players, inventing the metagame for Marth in the process. Although he was retired for years, he has recently returned to the scene and is looking to return to his former glory.
Mew2King (Jason Zimmerman) is often called "The Robot" due to his unfailingly precise knowledge of Super Smash Bros. mechanics and methodical playstyle. He is the only player in the scene to play both Melee and Brawl at a top level, causing many to regard him as the best overall Super Smash Bros. player. His peak in Melee was considered to be during 2007-2008, while his peak for Brawl was considered to be 2008-2010, though in 2013 he's made a comeback for both, in particular having won 2 major tournaments in a row for the former.
Mango (Joseph Marquez) is the EVO 2013 Super Smash Bros. Melee Champion and the best player in the United States since 2008.
Armada (Adam Lindgren) is without a doubt the best European Melee player, having defeated Mango on multiple occasions, went 4 years without dropping a set in Europe, and is universally recognized as the best Peach player to ever touch a controller.
Combat by Champion: Whenever the top player from one region/nation plays the top player from another. In particular, some tournaments have 5 v 5 team battles or "Money Matches" to proclaim one region officially better than another.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: This was called That Damn Ken at some point for a reason. (Although, that strictly came from the Xbox Live community rather than the FGC.)
Abridged Arena Array: Mostly within the Super Smash Bros. community, due to Smash having stages of various size with a number of hazards, unlike most fighting games where the only difference between stages is the appearance.
"No Items! Fox Only! Final Destination!"note A common stereotype regarding the rulesets used in competitive Smash Bros. play, which strive to eliminate 'randomness' in any one given match. Ironically, Final Destination is not considered an ideal stage for Fox (or even his clone Falco) in most matchups.
"What are you standing up for?" note Spoken by commentator UltraDavid after the player Wolfkrone stood up and cheered in the middle of an animation for an Ultra combo, despite not having won yet. His opponent, Ricky Ortiz, promptly finished him off.
"Five golden letters!" note During Seasons Beatings Ascension, commentator Neo thought "perfect" was spelled with five letters, not seven. Since then, it is now the way of referencing a perfect, as opposed to the old "Seven golden letters!"
"RUSSIAN SKIES PROTECTED" note Zangief player AquaSilk is well known for always trying to land Zangief's Ultra II, Siberian Blizzard, as a crowd/stream monster pleaser. The english ultra flash has Zangief say "I am the protector of Russian skies!" AquaSilk has been known to not end matches right away or even throw rounds in order to land it at least once.
"When's Marvel?" note As arguably the most popular game to watch, it's not uncommon for stream monsters to ask "When's Marvel?" It has lead to permutations such as asking for a game that is not shown (sometimes poking fun that said game is "dead"), games that are not even fighting games, or asking "When's Marvel?" when Marvel is already on stream. Popular choices include "When's Ehrgeiz?", and "When's Bible Black?".
"Haishina!" note Doctor Doom yells "Time to die!" when he uses his Level 3 Hyper Combo. In Japan, this sounds vaguely similar to the phrase "Haishina" which means "I am streaming now". The Japanese players tend to shout this whenever a Doom player uses the attack.
"Download Complete!" note Adapting to an opponent's strategy is known as "downloading" them. When a player goes from struggling with an opponent to overwhelmingly dominating, commentators and watchers will often recite this line.
"Got Pee'd On!": note When a Perfect is achieved on players in games like Street Fighter III and IV, a "P" icon appears to indicate it. Combined with a full bar (which is yellow), this create the "Pee'd On" meme. Also known as the "R. Kelly", thanks to the singer's infamous sex video that involved him urinating on an underage girl. Some streamers, viewers and commentators even sing the lyrics to Chappelle's Show's famous parody.
"Put_Sagat_in_X": note Stream Monsters have made Sagat an Meme God by putting him in everything, ranging from Put_Sagat_in_UMVC3 to Put_Sagat_on_the_Fiscal_Cliff.
"Wombo Combo" note Mainly used within the Smash Bros. community, but occasionally seen elsewhere. Used to describe a brutal yet flashy combo, generally able to take down an undamaged or lightly damaged opponent with style.
"PS3 LAG" note ChrisG posted on Twitter during the NorCal Regionals 2013 tournament that he only lost a match to a relatively unknown player because of alleged slowdown on the PlayStation 3 console being used at that time, which prevented him from blocking the opponent's randomly thrown out super move, with other top players defending him as well. Since then, a Dark Horse Victory or a random super that connects may be blamed on "PS3 lag".
"Check out my Dormammu, dawg!" note A line making fun of player Filipino Champ, who plays one of the best Dormammus in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 but his overconfidence causes him to not pick the character in some tournaments, often leading to his downfall. "______, dawg!" has become a memetic Verbal Tic when making fun of Champ.
Grandfather Clause: Many of the traits of the community are things which subsist from the old arcade days, as well as the early days of Shoryuken.com.
No True Scotsman: Expect to see many arguments over whether some games count as "true" fighting games. This was commonly levied against the Super Smash Bros. community, prior to EVO 2013, to the point that SSB was rarely featured at an event, and even SSB players often think of themselves as a completely separate community. Fortunately, this has begun to die down as of late, in large part due to Super Smash Bros. Melee's run at EVO 2013. Nowadays, Melee, Project M, and even some Brawl events are featured at both weekly and major tournament events with their fellow fighters.
Player Archetypes: Uses a rather different listing than what the trope itself states. Some types overlap, and some players specialize in only one.
"Turtle"/"Lame": Playing incredibly safe and low-risk. Turtlers often attempt to bait the opponent into making mistakes so that they can move in for a quick punish before going back to playing defense. They either gradually grind the opponent down or wait until a specific condition (such as Time Over) gives them the win. Maintaining a life lead and meter advantage are crucial to their strategy. Often derided as "boring" or "cheap", but still considered valid.
"Rushdown": Using heavy offense to defeat an enemy quickly and decisively, often including multiple angles or methods of attack to force split-second guessing or indefensible scenarios upon the opponent. The opponent is thus defeated before they ever have a chance to fight back. What type of offense qualifies as "rushdown" is debated, but it usually involves at least a small amount of risk. Usually considered very exciting to watch.
"Random"/"UOP" (Unorganized Player): Uses unorthodox or unrefined methods of play to confuse players who have practiced basic strategy to the point of muscle memory. The more you've practiced to make your fighting style refined and polished, the harder it is to fight a UOP (pronounced "YAHP"), thus giving an edge against "skilled" players. There is no risk that they won't take. Often derided as a scrub, though most UO Ps usually acknowledge the superior skill of the opponent while some truly do possess real technical skill.
"Execution Monster/Training Mode Monster": A player who has an extraordinarily high level of technical skill and has a greater arsenal of options at their disposal because they can do almost anything. Difficult but Awesome is their bread-and-butter. Any hit leads to an optimized combo, resulting in huge damage and (in some games) instant death. Every attack their opponent tries can be countered. On paper, they are perfect. However, their major weakness is their own bar of technical execution—becoming frustrated with an opponent, having an "off day", or dropping difficult maneuvers at the worst moment makes them a sitting duck for a player that can capitalize on their mistakes with easy but effective punishes.
Scrub: Perhaps one of the most (in)famous uses of the term comes from David Sirlin's Playing To Win article, which defined the player as someone who will always complain about losing to something "unfair".
Shoto Clone: Any character with a projectile and an upward attack will invariably be considered a "shoto".
Some Dexterity Required: The longer a game is competitive, the more it will fall under this trope. Eventually, to stand a chance even against intermediate players, you will need to pass the execution barrier. This can be daunting for new players. However, as pro gaming has taken off and more players have joined the scene, anyone with the dedication can learn to train their muscle memory. It just takes time and a love for the game.
In the last few years, the FGC has began policing its own more. For example, as a part of "geek culture", it's been common to see gamers with poor manners, hygiene and social skills do some uncomfortable, offensive, or annoying things. Becoming more and more mainstream has forced much of the community to clean up its act, although many complaints are still levied.
In 2014, PR Balrog had an interview which berated the US community for not doing enough to help each other and grow together. He said that Japanese players play for "quality", not just results. Each player is encouraged to refine their play to become better, even if what they do is currently working. US players are Competition Freaks by comparison, and maintain a Darwinian "Every Man For Himself" attitude.
"Stop Having Fun" Guys: Commonly levied against the community itself due to some condescension from its ranks. You will often hear complaints from professionals that a particular attack, character, or strategy is "bad" or "worthless", even if they're simply average.
Every single new game, patch, or re-release gets this at some point.
Deliberately defied with Ultra Street Fighter IV. Capcom Community Manager, Peter "Combofiend" Rosas, specifically stated that the reason players can pick any past or present version of an SF4 character in Ultra is to avoid this trope. You can't complain about your character being changed if you can play whatever version of them you want.
However, after the release of the final build of Ultra, "Version Selection" has not yet been declared Tournament Legal. Thus, this complaint still stands with some characters.
Vitriolic Best Buds: Pretty much describes most rivalries. In particular, the East Coast and West Coast are particularly harsh toward each other. So Cal vs. Nor Cal is also a notable rivalry. However, they will opt for some Teeth-Clenched Teamwork when facing off against "outsiders". For example, Nor and So Cal will team up to fight the Midwest and East Coast. The various coasts will team up to fight Mexico and Canada. The Americas will team up to fight Europe. And the entire "West" will team up against Japanese (or Korean) players.
As Mexico rises in notability in the scene, a similar effect has happened. There was also USA vs The World at Seasons Beatings 2012.
And now that Canada has finally shaken off the "free" jokes....
You Fight Like a Cow: In US competition, trash-talk is considered healthy and encouraging (in most cases), especially in the Marvel vs. Capcom community. Players often even make whole wrestling-style promos to berate their opponents or rival factions.