Players who have always wanted to be the best in the world at something got their chance last week at the Street Fighter IV HD LG Cup Championships, though many probably didn’t expect that their shot at glory would be on a smartphone.
The South Korean electronics manufacturer, LG, teamed up with Capcom, iam8bit, Twitch TV and Level|Up (teamed with Cross Counter TV) to put together a tournament in Los Angeles' Belasco Theater to promote their new Android-powered smartphone, the Nitro. The Nitro boasts HD and the capability to run versions of Street Fighter IV HD seamlessly.
While handhelds and smartphones are booming in the gaming market today, they are not typically the weapon of choice for a tournament. Those thrown off by the “LG” in the tournament's title were probably a bit surprised when they realized how things were going to go down, but love it or hate it, a $10,000 cash prize and a free trip to Korea was sufficient motivation for this group of gamers to fight and claw their way to victory.
While DJ R-Rated, a favorite for Capcom fighting events, played his sets on stage, gamers played both Xbox 360 and Android versions of Street Fight IV in qualifying rounds. When a player's gamer tag was called they would join their opponent on stage where their game would be displayed on a huge overhead screen and commentated by Level|Up — talk about pressure.
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The main portion of the tournament was played on the smartphone version of SF IV. Although it lacks the polish and depth of the console incarnations, SF IV HD is more accessible and put the competition in anyone’s hands, which came as a relief to casual competitors.
Main event aside, the camaraderie and social aspects of the tournament were its real strengths. Gamers spent a good hunk of the day (or days, depending on how long they waited in line) to participate, all while sharing their passion for gaming with their peers, which is the true purpose of the competition and, really, that makes everyone a winner.
The actual winner was Mad Catz sponsored player WOLFKRONE, who will be sent off to Korea to join the US in facing off against players from Japan and Korea, aaaaaaand we wish them luck with that (cue Joe Esposito).