EMG, one of New Wave Esports’ portfolio companies, is an event organizer and media production company. They’re behind some of the most successful tournaments for Nintendo’s Smash Bros., such as “Get On My Level” and “Let’s Make Moves”. Started by Joseph “Toronto Joe” Cribari and Steven Leandro, who were themselves competitive Smash Bros. players, saw a need to bring together their community in Toronto. They started creating YouTube videos, streams, and podcasts, and eventually grew to organizing small community events that evolved into huge tournaments with upwards of 2,000 participants. But, before we talk more about Even Matchup Gaming, we should go back in time a little to talk about the Fighting Game Community (FGC).
In the 1990’s, people from all walks of life flocked to small, loud, and dingy arcades to establish dominance over one another playing FGC games such as Midway’s (now Warner Bros. / NetherRealm) Mortal Kombat and Capcom’s Street Fighter. It’s the purest form of competition – 1v1, no team to hide behind, no buffs, no lucky drops, no pay to win. It’s just you and your skills. Some would argue that fighting games are the true birth of esports, or at the very least, fighting games are where communities first took competitive video games seriously. It created rivalries, but quite often, those rivalries also became friendships. Even today, though it’s community is smaller than those of esports giants Overwatch, Call of Duty, and the likes, one can argue that no other gaming community is as passionate as the FGC and it has definitely created the most memorable moments in all of esports.
The past two decades have seen a big shift in the FGC with home consoles surpassing the popularity of arcades. Once popular places, like Chinatown Fair in New York, traditional arcades have shut their doors or been forced to rethink their business in order to stay afloat. Traditionally, fighting games would debut in the arcade scene before porting to a home console. Mortal Kombat hasn’t seen an arcade in over a decade, but did recently release the latest iteration in the franchise on console, Mortal Komat 11. And with the most recent iteration of Street Fighter, the developer, Capcom, has completely decided to forego an arcade release altogether. To many, that feels like the final nail in the coffin to the competitive arcade scene of yesterday.
So where does Even Matchup Gaming fit into all of this? Although EMG focuses mostly on Super Smash Bros., it seeks to fill the void for those in the FGC looking to come together and challenge themselves through friendly competition. At the latest GOML tournament hosted at the Exhibition Place in Toronto back in May, for the first time, EMG worked with World Gaming to bring in traditional FGC titles and 200 players. Their “Weekly Wave” streaming show speaks to the players that yearn for the arcade experiences of yesterday. Much like traditional arcades, it’s a place where newcomers can come and test their skills against some of the best players and possibly create a name for themselves. Every month, they also host “Revenge of the 6ix”, which attracts talent from areas outside of Toronto. For Dreamhack Montreal and EGLX they did all the heavy lifting for the Smash Bros. aspects of their events which include providing all consoles, screens, other devices, as well as shoutcasters and organizers needed to run the tournament. EMG also sponsors several players within the Smash Bros community, most notably Moky and Hax$.
Being gamers themselves, they understand how important a physical space to meet is for the FGC. They understand how important it is to organize events to help build that community. And although the days of the arcade may be gone, EMG is stepping in and keeping that community alive and growing.