SXSW used to be a cool festival for musicians and artists to hang out. Now in its 30th year, it’s become other things: Woodstock for tech geeks, Davos for hipsters, spring break for nerds. So where do esports fit in?
The cultural cache of SXSW might make it the ideal platform for showcasing something like Fortnite or even Smash Bros. Ultimate to the larger world. Instead, Microsoft chose it for a soft relaunch of classic Halo. On Tuesday the company announced Halo: The Master Chief Collection would get ported to PC, beginning with Halo: Reach. Starting today and going into the weekend, the company is holding a $100,000 Halo 3 tournament at SXSW where top players can use their battle rifles to rekindle the magic of a previous generation of esports.
The tournament kicked off today at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, with matches going until 9:00 p.m. Play continues throughout Saturday, capped off by two of the best players in the series’ competitive history, Eric “Snip3down” Wrona and Tony “LethuL” Campbell, facing off in a rivals show match. Then the grand finals will get underway on Sunday in the afternoon. All the matches will be streaming live on the Halo Twitch channel.
The first Major League Gaming National Championship featured Halo: Combat Evolved in 2004. Skipping only 2009, the series reigned supreme throughout that era of competitive gaming, back before pro players lived in dedicated team houses and had chefs to prepare them actual food. It all had the feel and mystique of watching early UFC bootlegs, and the news of Halo coming to PC for the first time in over a decade has some people hopeful the a new scene might spring up around the older games. What else is SXSW for if not using new technology to pine for the the past?
The fighting game community, meanwhile, will have its attention focused elsewhere, with Final Round 2019 going on this weekend in Atlanta. Featuring Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Xrd REV2, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and a bunch of other fighting games, the matches will be throughout the day today and on Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern and on Sunday with top eight in each game beginning at 11:00 a.m Eastern. A full schedule is available here, with the Street Fighter V tournament streaming here.