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The Fighter Returns: Virtua Fighter Relaunches as an Esport

When Sega’s Virtua Fighter first launched back in 1993, it broke new ground as arguably the first 3D fighting game. Now, nearly 30 years later and just in time for Sega’s 60th anniversary, it has been announced that Virtua Fighter will be coming back, only this time around, the iconic fighting game will be specifically designed to break into the competitive realm of esports. 

Virtua Fighter
Image Courtesy of Sega

According to an article from Eventhubs.com, information regarding this new incarnation of Virtua Fighter first surfaced during the Tokyo Game Show 2020 Online last week with Sega themselves saying that the games’ return would have a significant esports bent. A translated tweet from the company partly reads: “The gold standard of gaming is finally back in eSports!.. Announcing the Virtua Fighter X eSports project!

Image Courtesy of Sega

The timing of the new Virtua Fighter incarnation will align with Sega’s 60th anniversary. But, beyond that, not much is known about what the “Virtua Fighter X eSports project” entails. The rest of the tweet from Sega says that “the world’s first 3D fighting game in 1993, will be rebooted first in Japan,” but offers few details more than that. However, a short trailer was also released, offering a glimpse at a new version of the most iconic character from the series, Akira Yuki.

Image Courtesy of Sega

Aside from a couple of mobile games, the last entry in the Virtua Fighter series would have been 2012’s Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown. As esports have continued to grow in popularity, Virtua Fighter has had a very particular position in terms of competition and tournaments. While outside of Japan, the size of competitive Virtua Fighter scene is negligible, in Japan, it’s pretty huge. In fact, the legendary Virtua Fighter tournament now known as the Beat-Tribe Cup series first started as the Athena Cup way back in 1994. 

Considering that the first Virtua Fighter game is one of the most—if not the most—influential 3D fighting games ever made, it’s fitting that the ongoing legacy of Virtua Fighter tournaments is just as impressive; it’s honestly  a shame more folks outside of Japan aren’t privy to it. Now, with Sega’s new announcement of the forthcoming Virtua Fighter reboot, specifically geared towards esports and competitions, that’s all gonna change. It’s about time.

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