After four years of late evening button mashing, tournaments and gaming community events, Super 1UP Games closed their doors on Nov. 8.
The retro game sister store to the original 1UP Games was founded as a hub for the local competitive gaming community. It was the host of a weekly series of fighting game tournaments “Super Steel City Fight Nights” for the entirety of the store’s lifetime, cultivating a close knit community of Street Fighter, Guilty Gear, King of Fighters, and Smash Bros players.
The community hub will be officially moving this community of fighters to the downtown core, to 1UP Game’s King St. E. location. The new location offers 5,000 square feet for games, comic books, a recently opened arcade and a new escape room.
1UP Games owner Marc Nascimento explained that the time to close their secondary location came from diminishing foot traffic in that neighborhood and a greater amount of traffic and retail space in their downtown location.
The local tournament series originally founded by Canadian fighting game community veteran Vince Hui was in fact the primary reason that Super 1UP Games was maintained until this point.
“The whole reason that [Super 1UP Games] came about was because it was so big we could actually start doing tournaments. [Hui] came to me while [1UP Games] was in Westdale, and we were talking about doing a tournament, so we did one at Staircase Theatre. That lead up to everything at Super,” explained Nascimento.
While the fighting game community’s move to the downtown location is a more accessible and convenient venue, Nascimento, and many other weekly patrons of Super 1Up Games have fond memories in that location.
“I’m excited for it, it’s just that there are a lot of memories in Super since it’s been four years of a great community… There’s definitely been a need for it in Hamilton ever since Pownz closed down,” said Nascimento, referring to the downtown gaming centre that closed in 2010.
“I always wanted to have a videogame community. Fighters, shooters or whatever, as long as people can get together and play.”
The community is primarily focused on Street Fighter, what can historically be considered to be one of the most important competitive gaming franchises in arcade history. Without arcades, local casual and tournament playing spaces are what carry on the legacy of the original social gaming experience.
In Hamilton’s community, there is a diverse cast of old arcade veterans, growing up and leading a now thriving competitive fighting game community, and younger faces that have more recently latched onto the tail end of the Street Fighter IV franchise, and this year’s latest entry, Street Fighter V.
While still a relatively new face to e-sports, the largest Street Fighter V tournament “EVO” was held in the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and broadcasted live on ESPN2. The broadcast reached 1,946,000 unique viewers.
What often goes unmentioned in lieu of this mainstream growth is the small, local communities that foster the hobbyists that participate in these games in the first place. The Super 1UP community actually helped produce a sponsored, travelling Street Fighter V player.
Local champion Van Nguyen scored a sponsorship with Toronto e-sports team Set to Destroy. Nguyen was previously sponsored by 1UP Games, and has since gone on to win first place at Red Bull Proving Grounds: Fight for the 6ix qualifying him for the main Red Bull Proving Grounds Finals in Santa Monica, California, where he finished in fifth place.
“Going to 1UP has been a highlight of my week for the past few years. If I could, I would always try to make time for it every week, so it's a bit sad that the store itself is closing down… but I'm hopeful the new location will draw a larger crowd,” said Nguyen.
The fighting game community is one of the few grassroots competitive communities. International spectators and sponsors increase, but it is in these local centres that the love for the game begins to flourish. More importantly, the love of the game quickly becomes of love for social experience that is often left out of the e-sports story.
“Super 1UP will always be the place where I came from and represent. It's in my roots as a player and there's no removing that. Some veteran players tell stories of arcades where they first got their start and in time I'll look back with nostalgia and say I got my start as a player here,” explained Nguyen.
As the group of gamers and hobbyists bid farewell to their to their communities old home, they, along with the rest of the community, can look forward to a new finding new life for their passions in their new downtown home.
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