ELEAGUE to host Street Fighter V Invitational; Counter-Strike still part of future plans

ELEAGUE, the joint venture between Turner Sports and WME|IMG, announced Thursday a two-month long Street Fighter V tournament with a $250,000 prize pool that will begin in March.

The inaugural ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational will consist of 32 players and begin March 27 in ELEAGUE’s studio in Atlanta, Georgia. Preliminary rounds will take place March 27-30 on Twitch with a one-hour recap show airing on TBS at 10 p.m. ET March 31. The field for the tournament will contain the top 16 players from the Capcom Pro Tour and 16 invitations from Capcom, according to a news release.

The top 24 players will advance from the preliminary round and play — six per week — on April 7 and 21 and May 5 and 12, with live coverage available on Twitch and TBS starting at 10 p.m. ET. ELEAGUE will also present a Street Fighter V Invitational feature show at 10 p.m. April 28 and a one-hour regular season recap and playoff preview show on at 10 p.m. ET May 19.

The playoffs will be held May 26 with live event coverage on Twitch throughout the day and the final stages and championship airing on TBS starting at 10 p.m. ET, according to the release.

“Street Fighter has a rich history and an extremely deep and passionate fan base, and we’re thrilled to further diversify our ELEAGUE portfolio with this exciting esports title,” Craig Barry, Turner Sports’ executive vice president and chief content officer, said in the release.

To this point, ELEAGUE has mainly been known for its two Counter-Strike seasons and last month’s Major in Atlanta. ELEAGUE also hosted an Overwatch tournament last summer between Seasons 1 and 2 of Counter-Strike.

This development shouldn’t come as a surprise to fans. Barry specifically mentioned fighting games in an interview with Slingshot at the CS:GO Major when talking about ELEAGUE’s future. ELEAGUE vice president/general manager Christina Alejandre told Slingshot during the Season 2 playoffs ELEAGUE wanted to stand on its own as a brand.

But ELEAGUE’s venture into Street Fighter does not mean it will abandon Counter-Strike, according to a source with knowledge of the organization’s plans. ELEAGUE’s Counter-Strike events have been widely praised, and the grand final of last month’s Major broke a record for most concurrent viewers on a single Twitch stream with more than 1 million. The Street Fighter V Invitational is more an attempt to expand ELEAGUE’s esports profile.

“I want people to tune in to ELEAGUE, not tune in to ELEAGUE Counter-Strike because it’s Counter-Strike,” Alejandre said in December. “I want them to say, ‘What’s the new season of ELEAGUE? What are they doing? What are the games they’re doing? Oh, it’s the ELEAGUE name. I have to tune in.’”

Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE

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