As any tournament-goer in the Fighting Game Community will tell you, one of our most important missions is to support our locals. Small gatherings of fighting game players are the soil in which new players grow, the laboratories in which new playstyles are developed, and the weekly parties at which we celebrate and test one another.
But not all of us have a local to support. Within the world of esports, the FGC is still a niche interest. Moreover, it’s a niche that tends to flourish in large cities, which Suffolk County, England noticeably lacks. Ipswich, the largest town in Suffolk, has a population somewhere in between that of Paterson, New Jersey and McAllen, Texas. Yet Suffolk does have its fighting game fans – and one of them, Bev Piercy, is doing his part to help other FGCers who may be similarly stranded.
Klassics and Clubs
As he explains it, “It started a couple years ago with my first group called MK Klassics, where my goal was to gather a group of people to start playing the older Mortal Kombat titles online again” after Sony shut down its official Dynamic Network Authentication System. Efforts like his often run afoul of developers’ wishes, as emulation, modding, and other workarounds can be a vehicle for piracy. Of course, we at toptier oppose any such actions, and we encourage everyone to support fighting game developers by purchasing official hardware and software. Yet Piercy and his friends were never trying to steal anything. They were just trying to keep what they’d already had: a functioning, tight-knit online FGC.
They succeeded, bringing both Mortal Kombat: Deception and Mortal Kombat Armageddon back online. As their community grew, Piercy “had an idea to start another project” for more PlayStation 2 fighters. This second project has since grown into the Capcom Netclub, or CapNet Club for short. Like MK Klassics does for NRS titles, the Club resurrects online play for Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, Capcom vs. SNK 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and more.
If You Build It…
“I was inspired from watching old Xbox Live matches of these games online, old Evo tournament footage, and JR Rodriguez’s 3rd Strike [Revival] videos from 2009,” Piercy says. Those classic matches brought back “memories of growing up with family playing these games,” and he wanted to use netplay to relive those memories. But then, as fighting game communities tend to do, “it turned into something more, a friendly community where people could come to hang out, play some matches and have a laugh!”
Of course, Piercy himself takes it more seriously than most. He’s the one who develops most of the tech that makes these older games playable and user-friendly in a netplay environment. Furthermore, his organizational efforts are the glue that holds both MK Klassics and the CapNet Club together. But there’s no question that it’s been worthwhile. “This was my way to try to make my own little scene,” he says, “and talk to new people. So I’m happy with what I’ve done so far and will continue. The people here are really cool and friendly, but don’t be mistaken because the competition is fierce!”
To get a taste of what it’s like to be part of this 400-person online “local” FGC, check out Piercy’s YouTube channel, which has plenty of match replays. Then, if you’re ready to learn more, pick up a used copy of your favorite retro fighter, follow Piercy on Twitter, and join the CapNet Club Discord.