Fighting games are the ultimate genre of competitive esports

Fighting games emphasize the individuality of the players. It all starts and ends with you and the character you take into the ring.

The world of competitive esports has never been bigger, and it continues to reach new heights every day. However, one of the best game genres is still fighting for its place in the spotlight.

I’ve been in the competitive gaming gauntlet for a long time. Starting with card games as a kid, I attended my weekly local events for years. Then, as I got older, I switched to online gaming. I’ve put hundreds of hours into competitive staples like “League of Legends” and “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” I became so incredibly grounded in competition that I wanted to become the best.

Everything changed for me in 2016 when “Street Fighter V” came out, and I gave up all the competitive games I once loved for it. With the recent release of “The King of Fighters XV” and the announcement of “Street Fighter 6”, I am once again reminded that no other game genre has quenched this thirst for competition for me like the games of fight. Fighting games are undoubtedly the best genre of competitive esports.

One thing I learned quickly was that I don’t like team games. Don’t get me wrong: team games have an irresistible charm, especially when your team is actually cooperating. Unfortunately, the saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is all too true in team games. If someone drags your team down, becomes toxic, or leaves the game altogether, you lose, regardless of how well you play.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m the best player in the world or that I don’t make mistakes. However, I prefer knowing that the reason I won or lost was 100% because of my actions, and fighting games give me that sense of empowerment.

Fighting games emphasize the individuality of the players. It all starts and ends with you and the character you take into the ring.

No gamer demonstrates this individuality better than Daigo “The Beast” Umehara, who started playing fighting games at the age of 10 with the release of “Street Fighter II” in 1991. Known for his style of play precise yet aggressive, Umehara won the Guinness World Record for the “most successful player in major Street Fighter tournaments” and amassed a net worth of nearly $10 million.

Umehara achieved all of these accolades with primarily one character, Ryu, who similarly balances precision and aggression. Ryu upholds the art of fighting with nobility and honor, but he can succumb to Satsui No Hado, otherwise known as the Wave of Killing Intent. This player and character are so intertwined that some Umehara fans just call him Ryu.

Umehara is just one of many legendary players in the fighting game community, each with their own story. When two of these players come face to face, both players put their reputations on the line.

Photo courtesy of SNK.

If you are playing against someone with the same rank and playing time as you, who is the better player? Accepting when someone is better than you can be a tough pill to swallow.

The fighting game genre isn’t just about battling your opponent; it’s also about fighting yourself.

At this point I have to address the elephant in the room – fighting games are incredibly difficult to understand. The perceived difficulty of fighting games is the main reason why they haven’t achieved the appeal of mainstream esports, especially compared to other esports titles. Playing fighting games can be needlessly humiliating, frustrating, and even masochistic when all you do is lose for hours and hours.

Unfortunately, but naturally, most people prefer to get away from this feeling of loss as much as possible. However, even when you are constantly beaten by skilled players, you can still pick yourself up and improve. If you go on and finally win, that’s pure happiness.

This doesn’t just apply to new players. I’m relatively proficient in fighting games, but even after spending six years with the genre, I’m still completely torn.

My win rate in “The King of Fighters XV” is around 30% with over 100 games played. All of these losses come with experiences and lessons learned. One day, after several more losses and a handful of wins, I hope my win rate will reach 31% – because at least that means I’m improving.

With so many exciting options, now is the best time to get into fighting games. My current favorites are “Tekken 7” and “The King of Fighters XV”, but you can choose whichever game looks coolest to you.

Are you into anime? “Dragon Ball FighterZ” or “Guilty Gear Strive” from Arc System Works are the kings of aesthetics. Do you want to embody protagonists of 80s action movies like Rambo or Terminator? Get “Mortal Kombat 11” from NetherRealm Studios.

Whichever option you choose, don’t give up and keep fighting. I promise it’s worth all the time and practice.

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