Esports

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Cooperation Cup, a long-running Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike tournament, returned to Japan this past weekend. Now in its 15th year, the event again provided the world with some of the best 3rd Strike competition around. This time, Alex player Genki's winning performance was more than just a personal victory: It was a landmark for the Street Fighter community as a whole.

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During the holidays, a hashtag titled #310さんおめでとうコンボ started proliferating among fighting game fans. The tweet identifier, which roughly translates to "310 congratulations combo," celebrates the wedding of Hikaru "310" Sato, a Japanese competitor known for his play in Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR-. The challenge: perform a combo dealing exactly 310 damage on Sato's preferred character, the pool ball-slinging Venom. The hashtag has become a phenomenon that now spans multiple games.

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Earlier this year, a new esports league, The Professional eSports Association (PEA), burst onto the scene. It was unique in that it was owned by bigtime esports teams, rather than a third party. Immediately there were worries of impropriety. Now, in the wake of a recent controversy, the PEA has suspended its Counter-Strike league.

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As part of this year's CES shenanigans, the Formula E motorsport is holding a little esports event of their own. But while the electric division of Formula 1 branching into esports and sim racing isn't all that new, the prospect of them establishing a professional esports league is.

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In 2016, esports experienced even more highs and lows than the previous year. That's what it means to be growing. But while the industry surrounding competitive gaming continues to expand on the backs of enthusiastic investors and hype-men, it's important not to forget why anyone actually watches it in the first place: the people playing are really damn good.

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It's funny to think of a fighting game having responsibilities, but that's exactly where Street Fighter V found itself on the verge of its mid-February release date earlier this year. As the follow-up to what was arguably the genre's most important release in decades, there was a lot riding on Street Fighter V's success. Would it be able to maintain the fighting game community's massive growth over the past seven years, while also providing a worthwhile platform for hardcore competitors?