Gene Angel at ESFI World suggests that Street Fighter IV move to the team format as a tournament standard. It’s a bold suggestion. If this topic interests you it’s worth a read.
The time for this change is now. These are tangible benefits that SF4 could gain today, and I know I’m not the only one who thinks SF4 could do with a boost of enthusiasm. I no doubt expect there will be some opposition to this idea, but I challenge those readers to enter the dialogue and articulate their reasoning. I would welcome opposing thoughts other than “Well Street Fighter is always traditionally played as a singles game”. That line of thinking is boring and trite. It’s time to make this change for the better of our community, our game and our industry.
Briefly, I’m going to present the opposing side; why singles should remain the preferred tournament format for fighters, and especially Street Fighter IV.
Really I only need one argument here. Singles is by far the more respected format by the players and fans. Nearly all of the most dramatic and memorable moments in the history of Street Fighter IV have happened in a singles tournament. Justin’s dramatic comeback vs. Daigo in Evo 2009, Gamerbee’s surprise run in Evo 2010, the incredible Daigo vs. Infiltration sets in Capcom’s 25th anniversary tournament are all examples. While team tournaments are great, they just don’t hold the same weight in the minds of the players and those watching online. This is true for all kinds of competitions (Starcraft, Tennis, Golf, etc), so it should come as no surprise.
That enough is reason to stick with singles, but I’ve got more. The team format goes against the grain of Street Fighter IV, both in terms of the game’s aesthetic appeal and it’s cultural significance. The mystique and lore of Street Fighter is centered around one fighter taking on all comers and coming out on top. It scratches the same itch as Bloodsport and The Karate Kid (the first movie, not the Jayden Smith remake). On top of that, Street Fighter is probably the most famous 1 vs 1 video game of all time. Defaulting to a team format for this game, more than perhaps any other game out there, is just….weird.
More importantly, the team format ignores Street Fighter’s significant and unique 25 year legacy. When you see two players on stage competing, you can draw a straight line back through history to kids pumping quarters into the arcade machine, winner stays. A one on one match taps into fans’ nostalgia for Street Fighter in ways that the team format, with it’s longer format and sometimes-confusing rules, cannot. This is especially important when capturing new fans who may be watching online for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong. Team tournaments are a lot of fun and have their place. At Evo we’ve done plenty of team tournaments and will certainly do more in the future. I just think that singles is by far the superior format for standard tournament play, for the players, the audience, and the long-term health of the competitive scene.