At roughly 5 a.m. CST, SNK released the first information since October for a King of Fighters XIV world championship event that will have its first leg in two months. And yet I am still left wondering when and where the other world championship qualifiers are going to be held.
This has been the problem since the tournament was announced. SNK has grandiose intentions, but its unwillingness or inability to provide some of the more basic details for its event, like a schedule, makes the company look like it actually hasn’t planned this championship at all. Giving players two months to qualify for an event they did not know was coming up so fast, when they may need to take vacation and/or purchase flights to attend qualifier events, is ill-advised. I wonder just how many strong players may not qualify simply because they do not have the time or resources on such short notice.
That is the type of consideration that needs to be made when planning this kind of event. Capcom Cup and the King of Iron Fist Tournament were both not always 100 percent transparent on how the finals of the event would be run, and sometimes the qualification process of the Capcom Pro Tour seemed confusing, but players were given plenty of time to adjust their schedules for qualification attempts. Thus, the participants at each event have been some of the very best in the world, and players had ample chance to compete.
And that’s really the point of these world championship tournaments in the first place. They are showcases for the best players in the world, an excellent source of PR where the competitive aspects of the game are put on display. Big tournaments like this not only show the playbase how much the company values love of the title, but it also gives new players a reason to want to play the game. In being so disorganized in its approach, SNK may be losing out on that PR power.
In the end, the KOF XIV World Championship will still likely be a highly competitive spectacle. As long as the event is executed and broadcast with minimal issues, it’s likely the company will see it as a success. SNK is, after all, just getting back into the whole fighting game development thing. However, it’s important to note that this whole process, from the first announcement to today’s, has left the more skeptical observers with little reassurance that everything is going to work out. And given SNK’s reintroduction into the market, those are the people they need to win over most.