They rose, they rallied — and now the time has come to conquer.
Top regional fighting game champions from 15 U.S. cities and online will face off in one final battle at the RED BULL CONQUEST National Finals in Washington, D.C. November 16-18 at the brand-new Entertainment and Sports Arena. Bringing together America’s top fighting game contenders in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Tekken 7, and Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, one region will emerge victorious and claim victory as the best in the nation.
Since April, Red Bull Conquest has challenged over 3,000 competitors to represent their local fighting game scene and embark on the journey to RISE: RALLY: CONQUER. The top regional competitors descending on the nation’s capital to conquer all are listed below. (Competitors are listed in the following order: Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition — Tekken 7 —Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2)
The big event will see a Last Chance Qualifier tomorrow (November 16th) to form the Washington, D.C. team, with the main event kicking off on Saturday, November 17th. The competition starts on noon ET both days! The North American Regional Finals for the Capcom Pro Tour will finish off the weekend. Head to the official RED BULL CONQUEST page for details.
Just ahead of the big finale, Shoryuken got the chance to ask for a few more words from RED BULL CONQUEST’s National Tournament Director, Jimmy Nguyen. We also got a few questions in with three of the circuit’s hosts — Tasty Steve, Persia, and Vicious! Check them out below.
Zavian “mushin_Z” Sildra: What were the challenges of bringing this cross-country circuit together?
Jimmy Nguyen: Aside from the standard logistical ones that go into creating a circuit, determining which additional regions to include was one of the challenges. While we had a baseline from previous years, we wanted to choose regions that 1) needed the opportunity most, and 2) had the most outreach in their region and surrounding ones. We couldn’t include all regions, but we believe we chose the right ones for this year of CONQUEST.
mushin_Z: There are some very well-known names in the list of qualifiers, and many that aren’t household names — at least not yet. Do you think the format of RED BULL CONQUEST is helping lesser-known players earn some prominence?
Nguyen: Absolutely. One of the goals of CONQUEST is building community. Ever since Red Bull Proving Grounds in 2016, the goal has always been to cultivate the community by providing opportunities that allow players to not only develop their skills but to also come together to learn and become colleagues. As a result, communities within the regions become bigger and both the players and their region earn prominence.
mushin_Z: Are there any such players you feel we should be keeping our eye on in the Finals?
Nguyen: I would keep an eye on the players you haven’t heard of, or seen play. In the past two years, Red Bull Proving Grounds and Battle Grounds have been the stage where we witnessed breakout performances from players such as Vagabond and THE COOL KID93. I wouldn’t be surprised if more breakout stars surfaced at CONQUEST. Some of the players I would keep an eye on are Yanflip, ChrisCCH, Dankadillas, and BjornSonOfBear.
mushin_Z: What has been your favorite moment in RED BULL CONQUEST so far?
Nguyen: My favorite moments have been seeing the three champions of each region sharing the stage at the conclusion of their regional qualifier. It is common to see the three featured games and their communities (Guilty Gear, Tekken, and Street Fighter) share event space, but you don’t always get to see the three champions share the same spotlight. The moment you see them come together and realize they are now a team representing their region outshines any crazy-hype match that occurred prior.
In addition, my most favorite moment was at the Oakland qualifier when one of my long-time friends, Bronson Tran, was battling his way through the top 4 of Tekken 7 and eventually won the qualifier. You can catch a glimpse of that hype moment in the Finals trailer.
mushin_Z: Will RED BULL CONQUEST be returning next year? If so, what games do you think should be the focus in 2019?
Nguyen: I do hope so. We are currently super-focused on the Finals, so those discussions haven’t happened yet. In regards to the games, I would like to see a mixture of the same three genres again: anime, 2D, and 3D. I personally think we should do community polls to determine which games should be a part of CONQUEST. I would not be surprised if the community vote came down to Street Fighter, Tekken, Dragon Ball, and Smash Ultimate.
mushin_Z: So, what’s your next big project?
Nguyen: As of right now, CONQUEST will be my final big project for the year. I have a couple of mid-sized ones that may happen towards the end of the year but those are still being finalized. For 2019, I have several projects I am currently working on that the FGC may find quite interesting. Unfortunately, I cannot share any details, yet! You’ll just have to wait and see.
mushin_Z: How, in your view, has RED BULL CONQUEST benefited the local scenes it has touched?
Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott: It’s been amazing!! The fact that Red Bull developed a major tournament that is specific for each region to qualify for a final is significant, and checks a lot of boxes for the fighting game community in the United States — a lot of times that smaller regions are left out of. Especially that it’s basically a team event. Also, giving not just me but everyone a chance to see talented players put in a major stage that they might not have been exposed to otherwise for financial, school commitment etc., from these smaller under-represented regions.
Samantha “Persia” Hancock: RED BULL CONQUEST has gone above and beyond the call for people to support their locals. Not only did they call on the expertise of each scene’s own commentators, streamers, and talent for each Rally event — CONQUEST also invested into smaller Rise events leading up to each Qualifier. This helped strengthen many scenes, and it’s going to show in the finals when these regions get an opportunity to represent!
Jeremy “Vicious” Lopez: The team that put RED BULL CONQUEST together has done so much for the community, especially the local scenes, by encouraging the best of their abilities through their Rally events and providing a giant platform for those communities to showcase their hard work, their passion for the game, as well as what the FGC means to them. RED BULL CONQUEST has encouraged a lot of the local scenes to work together even harder than before, because it’s a chance for their scene to get that recognition and respect for all their years of dedication to the games they play as well as the opportunity to play with the best of other regions.
mushin_Z: What have been your own favorite moments in the RED BULL CONQUEST circuit?
Tasty Steve: So many, but one of my favorite moments happened at the Boston qualifier when the Buffalo FGC showed up. Both of the scenes came out in force in all three games, but Buffalo came in and swept all three games Street Fighter, Tekken and Guilty Gear. So now the winning trio from the Boston qualifier is actually from Buffalo!
Persia: Some of my most favorite moments during CONQUEST this year have been the battle between the hometown heroes and the invaders! There has been a bit of back and forth but some regions have been able to keep the representation in-house. When it comes to hype, Tekken 7 has been the game to catch my eye every event. So much so that I’ve been playing the game more and more! There have been too many hype Tekken 7 moments between Oakland and Atlanta alone and I just can’t wait to see what happens during the DC Finals!
Vicious: My absolute favorite moments in the RED BULL CONQUEST circuit is watching the most intense matches alongside the fans in the crowd, there’s something about being around that energy that gets me more hyped up than ever, and it’s an experience that every fighting game fan can relate to whenever they go to an event.
mushin_Z: Which players are you personally rooting for in the finals?
Tasty Steve: So many actually — Shadow20z, Mr. K, Lil Majin, Princess Slim, Ryan Hunter, Joey Fury, KizzieKay, bafojig, Punk, MarlinPie, Obscure, NuckleDu, FightingGM, THE COOL KID93… just to name a few!
Persia: I will definitely have my pom-poms waving for Team New York which will have Punk, FightingGM, and LostSoul! Even though Punk invaded NYC, he’ll be repping during the Finals so he has my support this time! I’ll also be rooting for the Online team since iDom will be representing them and he’s one of my favorite players from NYC. You also have to give some credit to the online warriors out there because they fight through the rough waters to get where they are today. All in all, I’m wishing everyone the best and also reminding all the currently qualified players to stay on their toes! That Last Chance Qualifier is going to be full of KILLERS! Stay sharp!
Vicious: My eyes are mainly on the Los Angeles team consisting of Dankadillas, UYU|KizzieKay, and Yanflip, mainly because they’re all ridiculously talented as well as being my hometown team, but other than Team LA, there are a good handful of players I’m personally rooting for: Lil Majin for Tekken 7 (Team Nashville) because of his outstanding performance thus far in the TWT and on top of being super entertaining to watch; Neon for SFV (Team Atlanta) because his Kolin has been getting better and better each time I watch him play, I’m honestly excited to see how he’s prepared himself for the finals in a Washington DC; Dejixal for GG REV 2 (Team Phoenix) because watching him just absolutely destroy the competition during their qualifier made me a big fan of his, and I want to see his “HitBox Jam” go against the rest of the nation. But of course, I still wish good luck to all the teams as there’s so many more I have my eye on, but we’ll have to wait and see how it goes down in the Finals!
Sources: Red Bull Esports [press release]; RED BULL CONQUEST; all photos courtesy of Red Bull Esports