MVC3 as a Spectator Sport

(Warning: Another Marvel vs. Capcom 3-related post.)

I’m watching a stream of the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament held during Final Round, a major Street Fighter tournament in Atlanta that has been going on for years. This is nothing new. I love watching me some good Street Fighter, especially Marvel.

What is new–new to the last year or two, anyway–is just how damn well the stream works. There’s an overlay showing the name of the tournament, player names, and match count. UltraDavid and Noel Brown are putting up some decent commentary. And in between matches, you can see the tournament hall with dozens and dozens of players and spectators in the background.

Even more new is the fact that this same scene repeats itself pretty much every weekend. On any given day, I know I can find some high-level Starcraft 2 or Street Fighter streaming on Justin.tv or Ustream. And if I don’t like what’s on, I’ll just open up gomtv.net and catch up on the Global Starcraft League matches I haven’t watched. The days of waiting for the one big yearly tournament (the Evolution series, for example) and buying the tournament DVD series a few months later are long over.

Over the last week I’ve been testing some shit out in MVC3, mostly because the DHC Glitch makes my original team (Zero/Sentinel/Storm) much more powerful. (Basically, Storm’s otherwise kind of shitty Elemental Rage super is one of a few that are affected by a glitch which allows certain characters to reset the hitstun decay and damage scaling during a combo.) The short version is: I can land a big damage (90% or so) combo with 2 meters, 1 of which could potentially come from the the beginning of the combo. Despite that, I’ve had plenty of problems with other teams. The fact that I can land a combo that will kill your character practically for free still isn’t the most game-breaking shit possible in this game, because there are characters that can keep me away almost indefinitely AND rush me down and snap in Storm and so on.

Even though everyone was (and still is) complaining about how good Sentinel is in this game for the first few weeks, the Final Round MVC3 finals are between Justin Wong (She-Hulk, Amaterasu, Tron Bonne) and ComboFiend (Taskmaster, She-Hulk, Spencer). Online you might play against an endless stream of YouTube Dante/Wesker/Sentinel teams, or MVC2 stalwarts sticking to team Ten More Years (Magneto/Storm/Sentinel), but the finals of a very large tournament are currently populated by some weird obscure characters from both Marvel and Capcom sides. For now, at least, MVC3 is free of the MVC2 curse, where the finals in each tournament look like the same 4 characters over and over.

I interviewed eSports personality DJWheat for a PCWorld article a while back, and I asked him what he thought it would take for eSports to have “made it”. He responded by saying that in many respects he thought it already had–the games are exciting, they’re attracting an audience, and the communities are coming together to make them happen. Granted, right now they’re very much a community affair–in high-level Street Fighter and Starcraft, there’s a handful of sponsors and a lot of volunteer or pseudo-volunteer orgs (like Team Spooky, the guys who produce the Final Round video stream that operate in large part by donations). Nevertheless, it’s a good time to be a competitive gamer, even if this one isn’t ever going to be a pro.

-pm

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