Calgary’s largest annual video game tournament features over $20,000 in prizes

Hundreds gathered to Calgary’s Chinese Cultural Centre in Chinatown over the weekend for a chance to compete and watch the Canada Cup, Canada’s largest fighting game tournament.

For the third year in a row, the Canada Cup has been a beacon to the fighting game
community for Canadian gamers as well as the international community.

The event features a variety of video games that are categorized under the ‘fighting’ label, but the main game on display is Super Street Fighter IV, where opponents are locked in a one on one duel for supremacy between two characters represented on the screen, no tricks, just a pure fighting game experience.During the downtime between fights players and spectators checked out some of the sponsor’s booths and explored the architecture of the Chinese Cultural Centre.

Photo by Danny Luong

“I love it here,” says Wayne Leung, who flew to Calgary from Toronto for the competition. “The environment is so friendly and everyone here is all about promoting and growing the community, everyone shares the same hobby and it’s exciting.”

This year, the Canada Cup was hosted on the main stage of the Chinese Cultural Centre. The floor felt alive with the hum of Xboxes surrounding the entire area as televisions screened the matches during the tournament’s pool stages. As soon as fierce international competitors walked onto the main stage against their Canadian counterparts, the sound would cut and every hit landed was met with jeers or applause.

Justin Wong, a gamer for professional gaming team Evil Geniuses likes the experience of watching Street Fighter to watching an exciting match of football.

“Everyone just respects the competition so much,” says Wong, who came from southern California to compete. “Since you see so many top players come from around the world, you want to play against them. That’s why this tournament is so attractive.”

The Fighter Alliance’s Kim-Hahn Hoang, who flew from Japan to compete, says that that the Canada Cup has a certain level of prestige that attracts high level players to attending.

“I have several key opportunities to go to different major tournaments,” says Hoang, a school teacher in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. “I have to pick and choose, and just from the reputation of the Canada Cup I knew that this was a premiere Street Fighter 4 tournament.”

Canada had a strong showing this year with a Calgary gamer placing ninth against fierce international competition, including players from Japan, Singapore, Korea and the Netherlands. This year first place went to Singapore gamer Ho Kun Xian, and with it, more than $2,000 in prize money.

Team Canada’s captain, Kenny Lam, is responsible for picking and choosing strategies to use against their international opponents.

Photo by Danny Luong Team Canada captain and Vancouver local, Kenny Lam, says he feels that Calgarian players have gotten better since last year, but wants more players to come out and interact with the community.

“I know there are a lot of people who play this game and they just play at home and watch streams,” says Lam, a player sponsored by the Canada Cup. “I think they should come out and interact, maybe they’re really good, you never know until you play people offline. I encourage people to come out and at least get the experience and see what it feels like.”

This year, two Canadian teams were assembled to try and take on all challengers in the team exhibition match that pits teams of gamers against each other for a shot at a $5,000 prize. Although having the home advantage was a large boost to morale, the Canadian teams finished in fifth and seventh respectively. Japan won the team tournament for the second year in a row, taking out team Korea in convincing fashion.

Leung, 33 and a marketing planning manager for Coca-Cola, says that going to the Canada Cup has become a tradition for him and his friends.

“We come out to represent our city, and to represent our Country against the best in the world, we need to show them that Canada’s got game and that we can play with the best of them.”

 dluong@cjournal.ca 

Produced by Michael Chan
mchan@cjournal.ca