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Street Fighter 5's Online Tournament Mode was supposed to launch a year ago, so where in the heck is it?

The Capcom Pro Tour will once again be using the Battle Lounges it seems

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • April 1, 2021 at 8:06 p.m. PDT • Comments: 24

Just over a year ago, the fighting game community changed as we knew it from the coronavirus pandemic, and Capcom seemed poised to weather the storm with a very smart online feature until it didn't happen.

Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition's Online Tournament Mode was originally scheduled to launch last Spring, but we still can't use it even after the Season 5 update.

Many of you probably forgot this new mode even existed, and I don't blame you for how long it's been since we've heard any official word on its arrival to the now five-year-old game.

If you boot up Street Fighter 5 now, the tournament mode is still fully accessible from the CFN, but there's no way to access any of its useful features like joining or creating your own event.

The Capcom Pro Tour would be the perfect opportunity to run the online qualifiers through the dedicated tournament mode since it was originally advertised for something almost identical.

Much like last year, however, it appears as though Capcom is once again using the standard approach of running their events through Battle Lounge's instead with players signing up to join on Smash.gg.

For those who need a refresher, Capcom initially revealed the Online Tournament Mode to be used in the Intel World Open online qualifiers, which would have held its offline finals alongside the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.

Of course, the Olympics got pushed back a year to this Summer, so the Intel World Open was postponed as well.

That's essentially the last time we heard about either the tournament mode and IWO though just a few months later Capcom announced a final season of DLC would be making its way to SF5.

Now we have the first part of Season 5 with the balance update and Dan, but there's still no mention of tournaments coming any time soon.

Almost a year before he left the company, former producer Yoshinori Ono described the tournament mode as the big selling point of the Champion Edition update.

"I can't really go into details [but] the main thrust will be this additional mode," said Ono via Eurogamer back in November 2019. "At the moment we have group tournament - it's about eight people that can be invited to a lobby. This new mode will blow that out of the water in terms of scale. We're still working out details in the beta, but it'll certainly be dozens, hundreds of people that can take part in a tournament at the same time. We're fine-tuning that and that'll be ready in the coming months."

What's weird about this whole situation is the fact that Capcom did run multiple, successful beta tests using the mode exclusively right up until just before it was to assumedly release.

As someone who participated in those tests, everything appeared primed and ready for the big time with all of its features being complete as well as no major complaints that I noticed among others who did as well.

You'd register on Capcom's website with your CFN and other information and then most everything else was an automated process within Street Fighter 5 itself with supervision from tournament moderators.

There was shown to be extensive options available to those setting up brackets with the ability to use single or double elimination style as well as teams plus an easy way to ban characters, stages and colors / costumes.

Once sets were complete, the bracket would advance on a timer unless there were challenges or appeals made to mods.

The only major downside seemed to be that you couldn't spectate matches as they happened live, so you'd need to wait for the set to completely finish before you could view the replays — but they were all accessible from within the mode.

As for what's actually going on with the tournament mode, EventHubs reached out to Capcom regarding the matter, but we've not heard back as of the time of reporting.

Viewing the old beta brackets today, you can see that the rules have remained up to date with characters like Dan and Seth being banned because they weren't available at the time they were held.

While normally this might be a promising sign it's still coming to SF5 at some point, it was likely set up to automatically update with the new content added to the game.

The Intel World Open has received no further updates as to whether or not it's even still happening this year considering the last post on their website says so, but it's probably safe to assume at this point that it's not.

Without use in the Pro Tour, Capcom doesn't really have much incentive to actually release the mode now since tournaments using Smash.gg and Discord are simple enough to take part in and no further input needed from them.

There's also a strong possibility that the shift of game developers working from home made Capcom prioritize their limited resources onto the new characters and perhaps further compounded with Ono's departure from the company.

Interestingly, the online user manual website is still fully available though it could just be a relic at this point of a forgotten plan in the next evolution of Street Fighter.

Hope for the future still exists, however, as an improved tournament mode for Street Fighter 6 would be a no-brainer great idea to include at launch. The option to live spectate could prove to be quite the useful innovation for fighting game tournaments with organizers and players being able to easily jump between matches without needing to jump through extra hoops.

It just kinda feels at the moment that everyone dropped their work at the 98 percent mark and moved on to different projects.

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