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The esports ecosystem consists of dozens of game genres and hundreds of esports games. A huge number of esports teams compete against each other to come out on top and leave their mark in history. Esports countries feature huge esports organizations across many games and genres – one of which is fighting games. Here’s everything you need to know about fighting games, their role in esports, and how to start betting on them.
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Fighting games are those types of games where players choose a character and fight other in-game characters. The fights need to be physical in order for the game to be considered a fighting game. Most fighting games feature a combination of physical and magical (or its equivalent) attacks.
Some of the most popular fighting game franchises over the years have been Tekken, Street Fighter, and Super Smash Bros. A few years ago, fighting games experienced a resurgence in the gaming and esports spaces and we’ve been witness to some exciting new titles in this genre.
As for the in-game mechanics, each character that the player can pick features a set of unique moves that the player can use by pushing the correct combination of buttons. Some fighting esports games even feature powerful combos that can end fights in an instant – if they can land them.
Overall, fighting games are adrenaline-filled affairs where fights last for a relatively short period of time (1:30 minutes as an example). The goal is simply to defeat the enemy, ideally as fast as possible.
Fighting games were immensely popular back in the 80s and 90s in arcades. Fighting game arcade machines were easily accessible to everyone but the part that distinguished these games from the rest was the ability to play against a friend.
Most other games were either single player oriented or were too simple in multiplayer and got stale fast. Fighting games provided a way to be competitive against your friends and try to beat them 1-on-1.
They’re also relatively easy to get into; no prior knowledge or experience is required to enjoy the game. This is evident in the fact that most people simply mash the buttons randomly and hope for the best.
However, professional fighting game players use the mechanics to showcase their skill and adaptability. Slowly but surely, fighting game esports tournaments started appearing and more and more players began competing in them.
Although fighting games are slightly overshadowed by FPS and MOBA esports games, they’re still pretty popular and many esports teams have players for tournaments, all things considered.
There are (somewhat surprisingly) more than 170 fighting games in the esports space. What’s even more interesting is that the fighting game genre has the most games within esports – 60 more than the second most numerous game genre – FPS games.
However, these five fighting games are much more popular than the rest while also being better gameplay-wise. They’re also great choices for betting, so here’s everything you should know about them.
The original Super Smash Bros game was released in 1999. The franchise has been getting progressively better and more expansive, with SSB: Ultimate being the culmination of the series.
The gameplay of Super Smash Bros differs quite a lot from other fighting games. Characters do not have health bars and instead require you to throw them off the map to win. This allows for plenty of strategizing and countering the opponent's character.
SSB: Ultimate features characters from many of Nintendo’s popular game franchises including Donkey Kong, Super Mario, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Star Fox, Kirby, Pokémon, and more.
Ultimate also has a mechanic where each character can transform into a different form, enabling a new playstyle and move set. It has been the most represented game out of the franchise when pure esports numbers are concerned, with SSB: Melee being a close second.
Brawlhalla was released in 2017 by Ubisoft and was ported to mobile devices in 2020. The game’s accessibility across multiple different operating systems and devices allowed hundreds of thousands of players to join the game. It's also completely free-to-play which makes it a very attractive choice for gamers.
Its gameplay is akin to that in Super Smash Bros but designed in a much simpler way. For starters, there aren’t any convoluted move combos; rather, the game features simple controls (moving, attacking, picking up weapons, dodging, and performing special moves).
New players can easily pick up the game and enjoy themselves thanks to its simplified in-game mechanics. There are a few elements that distinguish Brawlhalla from other fighting games and these include weapons, gadgets, and the ability to grab and hold on to the map sides.
Its esports scene isn’t quite as developed as the other most popular fighting games, but it’s pretty impressive considering its age and simplicity.
You might have noticed already that most fighting games come from Japanese companies. Tekken is no exception. The first game of the franchise was released in 1994, making it one of the oldest fighting game franchises in the world.
Since then, 10 games have been released with Tekken 7 being the newest one (released in 2015). The Tekken franchise employs classic fighter game mechanics – characters have health bars, can’t leave the arena, and you defeat them by depleting their health bars.
Tekken characters are fairly complicated, and the game isn’t quite beginner friendly. Players that know even just a few combos can destroy players that are button-mashing. The game is most fun when both players know what they’re doing – exactly what Tekken esports represents.
The esports side of Tekken has seen quite a lot of success over the years with the best players competing in the largest Tekken tournaments. And even though Tekken 7 is 7 years old by this point, its esports scene is still going strong.
Street Fighter is an even older franchise than Tekken’s with the first game being released in 1987. Street Fighter and Tekken are the two biggest rivals when it comes to dominating the fighting video game genre and feature relatively similar in-game mechanics.
Street Fighter has always been a bit cartoony and ‘happier’ compared to Tekken’s darkness and seriousness. However, Street Fighter is one of the highest-grossing game franchises ever, with more than 47-million-unit sales across the world. These numbers blow Tekken out of the water.
This game franchise has also had an impact on popular media and is referenced in music, film, and real life.
Mechanics-wise, Street Fighter also features the classic system of knocking your opponent about until you defeat him by depleting his health bar. Combo moves are unique to each playable character. Street Fighter’s esports scene is arguably the best of the five, featuring some of the largest fighting game tournaments of all time.
Finally, we reach the most controversial and gory fighting game of all – Mortal Kombat. Many of you are familiar with Mortal Kombat, whether in film or video game form. But for those that don’t – it’s a game that features some gnarly moves and character executions (yes, executions!).
Although some of the gameplay is similar to other fighting games, Mortal Kombat is unique in how characters are conceptualized. Most characters utilize both close-range and long-range attacks, with devastating move combos that can take more than 50% health off the opponent.
The more hits you land on your opponent, the quicker the special bar will fill up. This bar has three stages; if you fill it completely, you’ll be able to use the most powerful special attack. Each character has unique special attacks.
This makes competitive Mortal Kombat extra bloody and fast-paced. Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat esports never really kicked off, with most esports fans preferring to watch other games.
Super Smash Bros: Ultimate is the absolute leader in live-stream viewership and player count. No other game comes close to SSB: Ultimate’s numbers and rightfully so – it’s an awesome game with incredible intensity and in-game chaos.
Virtually all games are good for esports and contribute to its health and size. More and more games are joining the esports world and that provides plenty of opportunities to players who want to go pro and compete against the best. Fighting games aren’t very popular in esports but they don’t have to be – esports grows with each game.
The largest fighting esports tournament (to date) has been the 2018 Capcom Cup. It had a $380,000 prize pool and featured the best 32 Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition players in the world competing for eternal glory and their share of the prize pool. Gachikun, a Japanese Street Fighter player, won the event.
Fighting games aren’t as straightforward as other games. Understanding the game mechanics and playing for a long time aren’t the only ingredients for becoming good at fighting games. You also need to learn the combos and controls for each unique character, and this takes a lot of time and dedication to achieve. Also, the best fighting game players are those that are very dexterous and adaptable to what’s happening in the fight.
Tekken and Super Smash Bros: Ultimate are excellent choices for betting and a fair bit more popular than the rest. This is thanks to the gameplay fluidity that’s seen in both games. Fights are chaotic, explosive, and very entertaining. And the best players are generally safe to bet on since the difference between them and weaker players is drastic. Additionally, players in Tekken and Street Fighter can achieve a Perfect score (beating your opponent without taking damage). Some betting operators may have this as a betting option so keep a lookout for that! Lastly, make sure to compare the odds of a few betting operators in order to have the best betting experience possible. You may also end up receiving betting bonuses every once in a while!