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Now that it's May, the official start to the North American Fighting Game season is underway. The first of the big three tournaments, Combo Breaker, takes place just outside of Chicago this month. Here’s a few things that you should be on the lookout for as you watch the tournament in a couple of weeks on May 26th.

The Swan Song For Street Fighter V

As we know, Street Fighter 6 is due out next month. But Combo Breaker’s festivities take place a week before the game is released. In order to maintain competitive integrity, Combo Breaker will not feature the new game. This means the number of entries for SF are lower than average at 349 competitors. This is somewhat typical for a game as long in the tooth as SFV. But it lost almost a hundred entries from 2022, which saw 440 entries last year. While it's no fault of Combo Breaker, it’s a shame that one of the biggest events in North America will have to wait until next year to get Street Fighter back to the top slot.

On the flip side, leading the charge for the second year in a row, is actually Guilty Gear Strive. Strive, for now, had the advantage of time on its hand. It was one of the first totally new fighting games of this generation and simplified what was a notoriously complex game to play. Over the pandemic, Strive was one of the top games in the FGC, and their numbers in tournaments prove it. This year it has over 1k entries, and is far and away the largest bracket at Combo Breaker. Following Strive is Tekken 7 with 690 entries continuing Combo Breaker’s legacy of strong Tekken representation.

Community Tournaments

One of the coolest things about FGC events are the side brackets. Combo Breaker 2023, is offering a huge selection of “community tournaments” which feature older or lesser known franchises. While these games don’t have the largest prize pools or viewerships, they let you get a look at games that perhaps you’ve never seen at the highest level. Also, it helps expose new players to games that perhaps they’ve only heard about and would like to give a try. Not to mention you might end up seeing some of the legends of the FGC popping up to humble the new generation in these older titles.

Included at Combo Breaker this year are some true classics like Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Ultra Street Fighter IV and Samurai Shodown V Special. But also there’s hyper niche games like Windjammers 2 and Tough Love Arena. These events often wrap up long before the main events take place, so you’ll have plenty to watch before Championship Sunday. If you want to discover just how weird and creative some fighting games can get, then tuning in to some of the side tournaments won’t steer you wrong.

Lastly, one of the coolest events in the FGC is the “2v2 Mystery Game”. In this bracket, a couple of players take on another but the twist is that they don’t know what game they are actually playing until they sit down to play. It’s a completely wild concept that only the FGC could do. And if you think some of the side events are strange, wait until you see folks try and make sense of Waku Waku 7 or Fight Crab.

Mortal Kombat News?

The Chicagoland area isn’t just home to Combo Breaker, but also NetherRealm Studios, the makers of Mortal Kombat. And with Combo Breaker being one of the bastions for pro level MK, could we potentially see some news from NRS? We know that MK 12 was confirmed by a Warner Bros. executive during an earnings call in February. Since then we’ve heard nothing about the game or where it is in the development process. Fighting game tournaments in recent years have become the go-to places for fighting game devs to make big announcements, so it wouldn’t be out of place at all. With this said, we have no evidence to support that an announcement will be made. And also our attempts to reach out to Combo Breaker about this have yielded no new information.

Get Ready On May 26th!

But it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for big reveals or just want to see your favorite game, you can get your summer started with some of the best FGC action in the world. And if you can’t make it in person to Combo Breaker, there’s plenty of streams to catch from the event.