While it’s no secret that Urien’s fighting style was inspired by the Olympic Games of ancient Greece, it looks like the Street Fighter franchise is finally headed to the biggest athletic competition in the world after 32 years. The 2020 Olympics will feature Rocket League and Street Fighter V, but what does this mean for the fighting game community, and esports, moving forward?
On September 11, technology giant Intel announced its second partnership with the International Olympic Committee as a prelude to Tokyo’s 2020 Summer Olympics. The Intel World Open, as the tournament is so named, will feature both Rocket League and Street Fighter V in its lineup, awarding $250,000 per game. Needless to say, this presents a major opportunity for aspiring competitors: while the Open isn’t strictly part of the Olympics themselves, it puts a major spotlight on the competitive gaming scene, giving players the chance to represent their country on one of the world’s biggest stages. But how does one qualify for such an important tournament?
In keeping with the international spirit of the Games, competitors will be fighting in nation-based teams, with individual players being decided via online qualifying tournaments. A final qualifying event will be held in Katowice, Poland, in June - a competition that will officially establish the Open’s participating cast of players.
As Street Fighter V boasts fighting games’ traditional 1v1 format, seeing it take on a team-based system for such a massive competition will undoubtedly make for unique viewing and competitive experiences - but with the Street Fighter League already pitting six teams against each other in two separate seasons, it’s not completely new territory for players and fans, alike.
Being part of the Olympics, however, isn’t part of the usual fighting game fare: and top players are already gearing up for a chance at making a splash in this momentous development for one of the FGC’s most celebrated titles.
Olivier “Luffy” Hay is one of them, Tweeting out his excitement for the upcoming competition in wake of the announcement.
Jesse “Commander Jesse” Espinoza is likewise pumped about the opportunity to “heat up” international competition.
While Street Fighter has existed at the forefront of modern fighting games as a premier title for some time, seeing a fighting game take center stage at the 2020 Summer Olympics is truly nothing short of “groundbreaking,” as Jesse claims - but for Intel’s director of business development for games and esports, the franchise’s “clear, rich history” made for a perfect addition to the Open.
Although not truly part of the Olympics themselves, the Intel World Open marks a crucial moment for the fighting game genre in light of esports’ substantial growth in recent years, with Street Fighter executive producer Yoshinori Ono himself claiming he could “finally breathe” after announcing the partnership.
Now I can finally breathe! :D— Yoshinori Ono (@Yoshi_OnoChin) September 11, 2019
Today we could make announcement about "INTEL World Open in TOKYO 2020"
We can receive good feedback.I'm so relieved...
We're making preparation for TOKYO GAME SHOW event stage in tomorrow.
Thanks for your support! pic.twitter.com/YboTR34mdP
With Street Fighter having made appearances in popular apparel lines like Forever 21 and even getting a shoutout in IT Chapter Two, it seems like the franchise’s legacy is experiencing a significant cultural renaissance outside of the SFIV revival era - and will hopefully pave the way for the FGC’s growth in esports, for the future.