When we write fighting game history, 2021 is going to go down as the Year of Gear. The bold presentation and fortuitous timing of Guilty Gear: Strive has brought the hard-rocking franchise from the fringe of the FGC into the mainstream. And the willingness of Arc System Works to remodel some aspects of the core system has invited many new Guilty Gear players to make Strive their entry point, mixing it up with anime veterans on more even footing.
With all that momentum it was inevitable that GG:ST would make it onto the CouchWarriors League circuit as our newest featured title. Last month’s Battle Arena Nightclub was the first opportunity for players to pick up ranking points on the Strive leaderboard. But even that clash of Melbourne’s finest turned out to just be an appetizer for August’s CWL Online event – the first real chance to see who could stand supreme in this new game at the national level.
Sunday, July 11th saw a year of pent-up competitive energy unleashed from a highly unusual venue. Inflation Nightclub and Entertainment Complex has been a party fixture on Melbourne’s King Street for decades, but they’d never seen anything quite like the crowd of 240+ FGC diehards hollering over the noise of the venue to celebrate a knockout blow.
With a brief window to take advantage of lowered COVID restrictions but no way to facilitate a full-sized major, an event was planned to carry on the spirit of BAM in the best available venue, and thus we got to enjoy #BANC – Battle Arena Nightclub 2021.
The pivotal final month of Saturday online events for CouchWarriors League 2020 has delivered a barrage of top-flight competition, with three games having concluded their ranking seasons so far. The last two weekends were a study in contrasts; Smash Melee was reduced to a victory lap for an unstoppable champion, while Tekken 7’s overall season winner wasn’t decided until the very last blow!
Another weekend has passed, and the last CWL Online event for the month is in the books. With only one more event left on the schedule for each game, October represented the last real chance for any new names to show up and make a tilt at qualification for the Season Finale. Players whose qualification was already locked in were still there at full force as they battled tooth and nail for top placegetter payouts.
This weekend also saw a bit of league rules weirdness, as players in the South Australian scene seemed like they might have grabbed an extra chance at those prizes. Capitalizing on their relative freedom from COVID-19, the locals took this chance to finally restart their “Cheese League” ranbat series, which in an ideal season would have been the main way for SA players to earn their CWL points.
While it’s a terrific sign that we have players getting back into offline play, CouchWarriors quickly clarified that there were no extra points suddenly up for grabs as a result – to be fair to players in other states, it would still be CWL Online or bust!
This weekend gave the Australian fighting game community a bittersweet taste of what 2020 might have held, were we not forced to spend most of it at home. For the first time since summer, the CouchWarriors League schedule was able to feature something more exclusive than an simple online ranbat, as the Tekken World Tour Online Challenge travelled down under!
The 2020 CouchWarriors League is well onto the home stretch, and halfway through October competition we can really see who is pulling ahead among the top contenders for each game.
Both the Street Fighter bracket on the 3rd and the Melee competition on the tenth pulled 24 attendees, giving us short but extremely fierce tournaments. It seems like after the initial boom of contenders entering following the double-points announcement, we have once again crunched the numbers down to just those players with the most points, or the most self-confidence. Read more
Things have been heating up in Australia’s fighting game community all month, and it’s not just good spring weather. Tournament registrations are up, prize pools have been raised, and even in embattled Victoria there are signs that coronavirus is slowly receding – giving us hope of holding CouchWarriors League events in person next season.
This excited atmosphere was heightened further in the Smash Ultimate scene, as the successful Cospendium Open series decided to merge its remaining event schedule with existing CWL monthlies. With the stakes having risen twice already since August, it’s no surprise that this weekend’s Ultimate tournament was even more hotly contested than the last one.
The quality of competition improved as well; there were plenty of ranked names among the 125 who entered. Yet again, we enjoyed seeing proven winners clash with the brigade of fierce, up-and-coming competitors who have made their own names during this year’s online tournament blitz. And quite often it was the latter who triumphed!
As we covered in our last report, the leaderboards for the inaugural CouchWarriors League had been shaken up by the announcement this year’s remaining tournaments would offer double ranking points. The Tekken 7 race was already close; now it was virtually open season.
Despite the heightened stakes – further amplified by this event’s inclusion under the official PAX Online banner – the spike in registration witnessed in other CWL Online events this month didn’t materialize. This bracket saw a bump in quality rather than quantity – Naveed “Kanga|Chand NY” Iqbal signing up for his first CWL Online event of the season, while “Moose” from SA entered for the first time since April. Two of the very best in the nation, the double points incentive had finally forced them to pick up the sticks again in defense of their leaderboard rankings.
Well despite the best efforts of 2020 we’ve made it all the way through June, and thu to the halfway mark of the inaugural CouchWarriors League season! Look out for a formal midseason recap to be published soon – in the meantime, here’s last month’s results!
The weekly CouchWarriors League Online events each focus on one of the major games supported by the League, with the placegetters receiving League points as part of our ongoing tournament season. Our monthly winners also received Steam vouchers from CouchWarriors.
A handy reference for our online tournament schedule during the pandemic period is on Twitter. You can always check the current standings for each game and player in CouchWarriors League here.
June 21st brought Smash Ultimate fans the second event of the new online league created by Cospendium and Kanga Esports.
With the first event attracting over 350 smashers there was clearly going to be a lot of competition over the rest of the year leading up to the finals at Cospendium in January. Sure enough, this tournament featured a smaller field but no less elite field, with several players who stumbled in the previous online bracket sharpening up to make top 8 this time around.