Calgary’s competitive gaming scene is about to hit the centre stage with Canada’s premier e-sports tournament returning to its birthplace.
The Canada Cup Gaming tournament is returning to Calgary on Nov. 1 to 3 at the Deerfoot Inn and Casino for its 10-year anniversary. It had been set up in Toronto for the past four years.
Lap Chi Duong, CEO of Canada Cup Gaming, said it’s one of the most important events for the Capcom Pro Tour.
The Canada Cup event
The tournament is a Capcom Pro Tour Premier Event. Players in the Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition tournament will compete for points for that go towards the Capcom Pro Tour’s global leaderboard and a $15,000 pot bonus. The first-place player gets 700 points, and second place receives 350.
“We’re the final Capcom Pro Tour event, so anybody that needs points to get into the Capcom Pro Tour will have to come to our event,” Duong said.
Along with Street Fighter, top ranking players competing in the Tekken tournament, another fighting game, will also be awarded points towards the Tekken World Tour.
For the 10th Canada Cup, the tournament will have more than $50,000 in prize money. Duong said they have some “crazy set ups this year.”
Actor Cary Tagawa, who played Shang Tsung in the Mortal Kombat film, will be at the tournament for three days. Brian Drummond and Peter Kelamis, who dubbed Vegeta and Goku in Dragon Ball Z are also confirmed to make an appearance.
More celebrities will be posted soon, said Duong.
The tournament will also have arcade machines, an all-ages ballroom and a gaming room that’s open for all four days.
“Twenty-four hours of gaming for four days. Basically, if you’re staying at the hotel, you walk downstairs to the ballroom, you have access to all the computers, all the arcade machines, [and] all the consoles,” Duong said.
Calgary’s Canada Cup esports athletes make preps to play
In preparation for the Canada Cup, aspiring e-sports athlete Amin Elsaadi said taking part in the Fighting Game Community of Calgary’s (FGCC) weekly meet ups puts him in a “tournament setting.”
“[When] I know a tournament is coming, it’s a lot more intense,” said Elsaadi.
“It’s a lot of serious sets, [and] looking back at the footage of what we did.”
Elsaadi is competing in the Street Fighter tournament. He said he’s hasn’t missed a Canada Cup since 2010, travelling to Toronto and Vancouver just to play in the tournament.
“It’s the homegrown tournament. At first it was like ‘we have a big tournament, let’s go test it out,’ and every year it comes back and it keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Elsaadi said.
“Especially when it’s in my city, I get to show what we practice for, it’s a lot of representation for our scene and representation for the players here.”
According to FGCC member Nick Montgomery, learning math about the character is critical to prepare for competition.
“Once you start getting into serious gameplay, you have to know frames, you have to know that if I jab you, the jab takes 10 frames, it’s negative two on block,” Montgomery said.
Calgary esports growing, more welcoming
Montgomery said the Calgary community has become more welcoming to new players. Members aid new players in reaching gaming communities they’re interested in.
“It’s definitely grown since I’ve got here, some people can talk about the glory days when there was a small knit group of people that were intensely competitive,” said Montgomery.
“Compared to when I first got in five years ago, it’s so much easier for new people to get into things.”
Montgomery added that the Calgary e-Sports League (CEL) and the Canada Cup gaming event are like fireworks – everybody looks up at it and then a couple of people will walk closer to see what’s going on.
The e-sports community in Calgary is growing fast, but still “splintered and fragmented,” according to Wes Nelson, organizer for the CEL.
“We have to look at unifying them so that they can reach that critical mass it needs to be what it is in other cities,” Nelson said.
“People are having a lot of fun, but I feel like we can do so much more if we could all come together.”
Esports an economic driver for Calgary?
The reason the tournament moved to Toronto was because they were losing money the first five years they were in Calgary, and they needed to “try something new.”
“I think in total it was about $120,000 lost growing this tournament, which wasn’t bad, but it was the 1,000 hours a year putting it together,” Duong said
Duong said they came back because the Deerfoot Inn and Casino made a bid to have them in the city.
The e-Sports industry is showing potential to be a significant economic driver. Earlier this year, Calgary’s first esports bar opened on 17 Avenue SW.
Newzoo, the leading global provider of games and e-sports analytics, said in their 2019 Global e-Sports Market Report that the total revenue from e-sports was $865 million in 2018 and is expected to grow to $1 billion this year. North America generates $409 million, or 37 per cent of global e-sports revenues.
e-Sport communities span from various genres of gaming from games like League of Legends and Dota 2, which are Multiplayer Online Battle Area (MOBA), fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken, first person shooters like Call of Duty, and Rainbow 6 Siege, and battle royale titles such as Fortnite or Apex Legends
For more information, visit canadacupgaming.com