Going video tournament wild
by Neil Bui
Four frames per second. 15 hit combos. Each kick blocked. Moments like these in fighting games are what cause spectators to go wild.
The emergence of eSports, a classification for specific video games, has happened in the last decade through the benefits of increased Internet connectivity, television coverage, growing tournament sizes, and companies acting as sponsors. There are now annual tournaments held across America, Canada, Europe and Asia. Participants compete for money that could very well supplement incomes for those who go professional and dedicate countless hours towards practice.
Nik Lee, a senior computer science major, compares the role of games in his life to be akin to sports or music for others.
“I don’t think any of them really believe they’re going to be in the NBA or play music professionally, but they still want to strive for a higher ability,” Lee said. “It’s the same for fighting games and eSports. It’s competitive and you want to get better.”
Riley Mathis, junior computer science major, is the president of Mash Harder, a student organization at Chapman with a focus on fighting games. Popular fighting video games, with titles such as Ultimate Marvel Versus Capcom and Street Fighter 4, have escalated to being the featured activities of large weekend-long tournaments at convention centers. One such event is called EVO, an annual competition held each summer at Las Vegas since 2005. Mathis and his friends, Lee and Jimmy Lindsey, attended the most recent EVO competition.
Jimmy Lindsey, senior business administration major, describes his experience at the tournament to be better than expected.
"Being at EVO is really fun. You come thinking it's going to be a little fun, but it turns out to be a lot because there's always something going on. You crowd someone you've never met playing a match," Lindsey said.
Riley Mathis has been a strong follower of fighting games since 2008 with the realease of Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the Nintendo Wii, but EVO 2013 was his first mainstream fighting game tournament.
"You can get emotionally invested sometimes. That's the fun of going," Mathis said.
William Levine, senior public relations and advertising major, is the founder and president for Chapman eSports, currently an unofficial club on campus that he plans to officially establish in the spring.
Levine’s hope for the club is to become competitors to bigger schools with eSports more established amongst their students, such as Berkeley and USC.
Since becoming immersed in the world of eSports, video games have become more serious for Lee.
“You’re not playing for fun anymore, you’re playing to get better,” Lee said. “You schedule practices. It’s no different from a real sport.”
Richard Nguyen, an alumnus of University of California and Orange County local, has made a name for himself in the fighting game community. Lee can attest to Nguyen’s talent and skill.
“He was my favorite player of all time. I respected Richard more than any other player,” Lee said. “Every time he played, I’d be rooting for him. He committed a lot of time to learning combos. When you see his combos, even from his YouTube tutorials, you’ll notice a pretty distinct style and say, 'this is the guy who knows what he is doing.'”
Even as a local well-known player, Nguyen would not call eSports a sport.
“Some people call chess and spelling bees a sport as well, but I personally would not classify any of these in the same category as basketball or football,” Nguyen said. “The word “sport” to me relates to some physical aspect.”
Contrary to what Nguyen said, Levine does believe that eSports is a sport.
“It’s a sport in the sense that there’s a lot of strategy involved,” Levine said.