NorCal Regionals comes back to Bay Area



By Earlene Mary Escobal, CONTRIBUTOR

One of the largest fighting video game tourna- ments in Calif. is returning to San Jose.
This year’s NorCal Regionals will be taking place on March 29 through the 31. The event was previ- ously held in Sacramento in 2018 and is in the San Francisco, Bay Area this year.
NorCal Regionals is a fighting game tournament in Northern California that reels in competitors from all over the world each year. The competition currently holds tournaments for 13 fighting games which include Street Fighter, Dragon Ball Fighter Z and Tekken.
Esports, or competitive video gaming, has grown in popularity over the past few years but has been debated in the past whether or not is considered a sport. Many have argued that playing video games is not considered a sport because it does not involve physical activity.
The growth in media consumption has contrib- uted to the popularity of Esports. Viewers watch video game competitions from all over the world– mainly through streaming sites like Twitch.TV.
Recently, Esports competitions have been tele- vised on ESPN due to its tremendous growth in au- dience and revenue.
NorCal Regionals is an annually held event and are just one of many large gaming tournaments. One of the larger events that NorCal Regionals con- tributes to is the CapCom Pro Tour which is host- ed by CapCom itself, the company that created the game Street Fighter.
“They fund a gaming tour throughout the year,
and NorCal regionals is one of the events on the tour,” John Choi, founder of NorCal Regionals, said in an interview.
“A lot of top players from around the world, they’ll come up and compete to get points on the tour. And then ultimately the grand finals of the CapCom Pro tour, which they call Capcom Cup takes place at the end of the year around Decem- ber.”
NorCal Regionals has been run by Choi for al- most 20 years. He is a Street Fighter champion himself and is considered one of the top eight in 2004. He also won two events at Evolution Cham- pionship Series in 2008.
Esports revenue increased from $493 million in 2016 to $655 million in 2017, according to a re- search study from Esports analytics website New- zoo in 2018.
These earnings come from sponsorships, adver- tisements and ticket sales. The money is used for planning for future events and the prize pool for the top winners.
NorCal Regionals started in 2002 at an arcade called GolfLand in Sunnyvale, California, which consisted of 60-70 participants. When console gaming became more popular than arcade games, the event moved from arcades onto hotel venues. The event is expecting around 1,000 competitors this year, with over 100 spectators on top of that.
“It started in Sunnyvale and then kind of float- ed around. From Sunnyvale, we went to Milpitas,” Choi said. “A couple of times went to San Jose, and then for the last few years it was actually up in Sac- ramento due to the high rise in the cost of housing and hotel venues, so it was there for a few years and then this year I’m bringing it back to San Jose.