Believe it or not, the concept of this site has lived in my head for upward of a decade. Most of you probably don’t know me. Some long-time fighting gamers may have seen me on the old Shoryuken forums as Vermilion-GA, or more likely as DarkCatalyst following the great SRK forum apocalypse of 2002 (or over at the Gamespot community of the time). As someone with a deep-seated love of the fighting game community, I still never carved out a very large niche in it for myself either competitively or socially. As a result, it was always very easy to feel pessimistic about the prospects of launching a community hub of any kind. As times changed, though, so did the prevailing mentalities surrounding the games, which opened up a space for a site like this to sneak in. Hopefully.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Something I couldn’t help noticing in the years that followed the release of Street Fighter IV in 2009 is that the community at large started to embrace a “revolving door” mindset when selecting games to support on a year-to-year basis. While this is, to a point, unavoidable with the stream of high-quality titles being produced these days, hotshotting those games to prominence at the expense of established traditions that have stood the test of time has become an issue. 2011, for example, was the first year Evo featured no games at all from the first Evo back in 2002. To some, this may be an unavoidable sign of the times indicative of a wholesale changing of eras in the genre. To me, it always felt tantamount to suggesting, “you know, this whole Hockey thing is played out, we’ve been doing it since the 19th century, can’t we contest the Stanley Cup some other way now?”
By moving on from the foundational games of the modern fighting scene, the community has effectively severed the competitive lineage binding the past and present. I’m not suggesting that Ultra Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition shouldn’t be played and celebrated (in fact, what happened to USF4 upon SFV’s release was downright criminal), but rather, that playing them and celebrating them alongside the likes of Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha 2 would only make for a deeper, richer community that traces its history all the way back to the beginning.
IT’S ABOUT LEGACY
This ties into my own personal story of arrival and eventual disenfranchisement from the community at large. As noted previously, 99% of you reading this probably wouldn’t know me from Adam, but I’ve been here and involved in some way or another for years. An active player throughout the 90s, I discovered the centralized fighting game community out of Shoryuken in late 2000 and latched on right away, working to grow a local scene out of Northern Utah just as quickly. Although the latter provided only mixed results for a number of years, great gatherings were had, and I became increasingly inspired by the top players of what was then both the present and the not-so-distant past – guys like Tomo Ohira, Thomas Osaki, Mike Watson, Jeff Schaefer, Alex Valle, Jason Cole, John Choi, and David Sirlin provided my primary source of motivation. I wanted to grow as a player to the point that my name would belong on that list.
Without going into great detail, let’s just say that the years we may now collectively regard as the Super Street Fighter IV years (that is, SSFIV, Arcade Edition, and Version 2012) were not good ones in my life as a whole. What was worse, where Street Fighter had at one time been a great source of escapism and social interaction, the then-current title was one that would constantly test my love of the genre and of the community rather than affirm it. This, combined with the fact that my own games of choice had all but completely fallen off of the competitive landscape, brought forth a realization that would drive me off for years: There was no consistent lineage tying the fighting scene of the late 00s/early 10s to that of the 1990s. Everything I had been working for as a fighting gamer was no longer available. No matter what the degree of talent on display, even being among the most dominant Street Fighter IV players of its entire run would not be enough to put someone in the same company as the OG pros of years gone by. This realization would ultimately drive me into three years of fighting game retirement and effective departure from the community.
I came back for three primary reasons. First: local interest in Street Fighter started to increase and I definitely wanted to be there to foster a scene if there was real potential to make it happen. Second: Street Fighter V, throughout its beta and into its launch, may not have been a perfect game, but certainly bore enough of a resemblance to traditional Street Fighter in its overall feel that it was a better substitute than I ever could have hoped for previously. Third: You’d simply be amazed how boring life can be once you’ve removed an effective centerpiece from it. The world is a vast place, but nowhere did I find anything that could give me the charge I get from playing a good Street Fighter set. Now in my mid-30s, no longer was I determined to put myself among the best, but at the very least, that deep-seated desire to make a contribution to a history-wide competitive continuity still burned, which brings us to the present.
So that solves the problem of anyone not knowing who I am.
THE TIME IS NOW
The current situation makes Capcom’s announcement of the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection a critical one. Every important Street Fighter release will be available on PS4 and PC. All but one will be available on Xbox One. This means that every tournament setup can be a comprehensive Street Fighter machine. A tournament setup for Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting is a setup for Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is a setup for Ultra Street Fighter IV, and so on. There will be no excuses about availability left. Show up for your game(s) of choice and be a part of the rebirth. If we play our cards right, whenever the next Tomo Ohira, Jeff Schaefer, or Mike Watson emerges, it will be into an environment where we’ll all know it without question.
I look around at the community today, and I see plenty of desire to revitalize the classic wing of the fighting scene. Sites such as ST Revival, and events like its Tournament of Legends series and Next Level’s 2 Old 2 Furious, as well as a host of grassroots Facebook groups dedicated to individual games give me a great deal of hope that there’s fertile ground for a full revival of the classic scene. As this plays out, and communities for classic Street Fighter titles become healthier and more unified, there are absolutely plans in place to expand to other foundational games of the 90s and early 00s.
With that having been established, I decided it was very important to bring Ultra Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition along for the ride. What happened to Ultra Street Fighter IV, especially after the Evo top 8 and Capcom Cup finals we enjoyed in 2015, was unacceptable. No other game has been dropped as quickly as Ultra Street Fighter IV in our entire history as a community. You don’t cut the legs out from under a game when it hits such heights, and what it did with its nearly eight-year run at the center of the fighting landscape cements it as a game that should forever hold a place for itself on the biggest stages we can provide. As for Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, while it has its critics and there’s no point pretending otherwise, it is still very much a worthy holder of the Street Fighter name, and supporting it is a necessary endeavor in order to reconcile the scene’s past and present. It is as vital a tie to the present as Hyper Fighting and Super Turbo are to the past.
A RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL SHIPS
That can’t be understated, because this has to be about the present as much as it’s about the past. The rapid fire dismissal of classic fighting games in the years after Street Fighter IV landed robbed us of seeing an influx of new talents join in long-running competitive pools, and its inevitable effect on the games’ respective meta. In turn, these decisions robbed those talents of getting to experience the amazing competitive foundations of our community at their finest.
Back in the early 00s, it was a joy to watch Justin Wong, starting out as a 14-year-old Marvel vs Capcom 2 prodigy in the NYC scene, embrace games like Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, and Capcom vs SNK 2 during his meteoric rise in the ensuing years. His success in virtually anything he played cemented his status as every bit the generational talent his initial 2002 run implied he could be. Today, however, even if another Justin were to emerge, we might not know that because the most prominent measuring sticks we once had have been removed from the largest stages.
In that spirit, I would love to personally invite any Street Fighter players and fans brought into the fold by Street Fighter IV or Street Fighter V to join us – here at World Warriors at our official launch this Spring (and right now on our message boards as we work to grow our community right away), and on all applicable gaming platforms this May with the release of the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. Who knows what effect might be had on the ever-evolving meta of the classics, by the droves of talents that have joined the fighting game community merely in the last decade? We can find out by moving forward as a house united. We are the OG pros and the New Generation alike. We are Fightcaders. We are tournament pioneers. We are 91ers, 99ers, 09ers, 16ers, and everything in between. We are Street Fighters, Darkstalkers, anime fighters, and much more. We are the products and the stewards of the original esports legacy.
Executive Editor, World Warriors