ESL is expanding its commitment to the fighting game genre beyond Mortal Kombat X. The eSports company is hosting an open $75,000 Street Fighter V tournament called “The Brooklyn Beatdown” as part of its ESL One New York Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. This marks the second competition to be showcased from October 1-2, 2016 in New York as part of the ESL One tournament series, with the possibility of expanding one of the East Coast’s largest eSports events.
Home to one of the largest fighting game communities in North America, the state of New York and its surrounding areas present a perfect fit for what will be ESL’s first major fighting game tournament. The Brooklyn Beatdown will be an open bracket tournament with space for 1,024 players. A series of online tournaments will be hosted in the lead-up to The Brooklyn Beatdown on ESL Play, with prizes that include flight and hotel support for the main event to ensure that competitors from all over the world are able to attend.
Registration for The Brooklyn Beatdown at ESL One NY is now open on Eventbrite with a $10 registration fee. Gamers will still need to purchase a spectator pass for the event to enter the venue. Tickets to are available through TicketMaster and start at $39 for a standard weekend ticket.
Stuart Ewen, product manager at ESL, explains why the Capcom fighter could pack some serious punch in the eSports ecosystem in this exclusive interview.
Why did you decide to pair Street Fighter V with CS:GO in New York?
The decision to include SFV at our Brooklyn event wasn’t due to the game titles that would appear there. We actually made that decision before we confirmed which big eSports title ESL One would host. For me, the motivation was based on the community. I’ve been in love with the fighting game community for a number of years now, and while the community in New York is one of the biggest in the US, it also suffers from a bit of a vacuum in terms of major events being hosted there. I’m thrilled to be able to help change that and I’m excited to see how it takes shape.
How much crossover do you see between the two games with ESL fans?
With ESL fans in particular, I don’t think there is much overlap. We’ve only recently started doing fighting game events with the MKX Pro League, so for those who do follow the scene, this is a great chance for them to expand their horizons and experience CS:GO live. There are, however, a lot of people from fighting game communities who watch “traditional” eSports events and I believe this event is a chance to bridge that gap; we get to expose CS:GO fans to SFV and vice versa.
What has Street Fighter V, which was designed for eSports, opened up for the level of competitive play?
What do you feel separates Street Fighter V from other fighting games out there?
Street Fighter V’s success is a result of the infrastructure that has been built around it. The game itself isn’t a massive departure from previous versions of the game, but Capcom’s support with the Capcom Pro Tour has done a lot to increase the prestige, prizes, and excitement around the game and its top players. Other fighting games are incredibly popular on their own, but most lack the structure and continuity that regular tournaments and a unified ranking system can bring to the table.
Can you give us a sense of how popular Street Fighter V is in eSports today?
Compared to previous iterations, tournament registration numbers have done nothing but go up this year—viewership and exposure have also increased a great deal in and outside of the endemic coverage outlets. Mainstream celebrities are taking part in a lot of fighting game tournaments this year of their own accord, and as a result, the entire scene has been gaining some much-needed exposure to a bigger audience.
What have you learned from working with Capcom in the past that will be applied to this open tournament?
This tournament is new ground for ESL. We’ve worked with Capcom in the past on other titles, but nothing on this scale. Capcom has been very supportive so far, providing feedback and advice, and I’ve been supplementing that with learnings I’ve taken from personalities and organizations who are very active in the fighting game community. I’m always looking for constructive criticism and ways we can improve our event and make it the best it can be.
What will it take for the average gamer who thinks he’s good at Street Fighter V to compete in this tournament?
A controller and some motivation: anyone who wants to can enter the tournament and compete (as long as there are tickets left). The thing I love the most about fighting game events is that even if you’re a new player, there’s always someone there who can give you some tips to improve your game, even if you’re in the middle of competing. I’ve found myself in situations where I’m struggling against an opponent, and they’ve given me tips on how to beat them. Even if you think you’ll go 0-2 in pools, it’s a great learning experience that shouldn’t be missed.
What role do you see open style tournaments playing for ESL in helping to further grow the eSports audience?
Open style tournaments give attendees of an event a chance to be involved in the outcome of the tournament. Whether you beat someone in pool play, or get eliminated in semi-finals, you’ve had an influence on the flow of the competition and, indirectly, the overall winner. That interaction is one of the reasons people get so excited about open style tournaments. It doesn’t work for every eSports title or every event, but for fighting games it’s a natural fit.
How do you feel this double bill will impact attendance?
CS:GO has proven itself to be a crowd pleaser time and time again, and with the enormous Tri-State fighting game community, I’m very confident that we’re going to set new records in Brooklyn this year for overall attendance at our New York event.
Will this event also have additional kiosks and activities for fans like IEM events?
Yes! We’re currently planning on having casual setups for people who aren’t competing at the time: side activities, contests, and more. There’s going to be much more than just eSports at this event, and I can’t wait to share what’s to come.