In March, the organizers of NorCal Regionals 2016 suddenly announced that their title sponsor was Avyd, a company no one had heard of before. Shortly after, Avyd announced a $100,000 fighting game championship series featuring Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Wii U, Guilty Gear Xrd and Killer Instinct, then pulled SFV from the qualification tour during NCR, one of the qualification tournaments.
Many people in the fighting game community are confused about Avyd. There's isn't much information about them available online, and some aren't even certain if they were still sponsoring NCR. Avyd CEO Scotty Tidwell says that he wants to assuage people's fears about his company. He says Avyd is ready to support the FGC, and that's why they started with a fighting game tournament, though he can't say much else about Avyd's future plans.
"We announced an FGC event first for two very simple reasons," Tidwell told theScore esports. "First, we believe in the FGC and we believe in the potential that it has. Second, we also know that the FGC is a very guarded community and we wanted to put the event on the table so that we could then focus on growing that trust throughout the rest of the year."
Avyd is an esports platform that will let players compete for prizes on a ladder, much like ESL and MLG. The company was founded in early 2016, but the platform isn't ready yet. Tidwell says they plan to launch in the Spring.
According to Tidwell, Avyd felt the best course of action to show their support for the FGC was to support existing events with their qualification circuit. He does feels that they may have made the announcement too early though.
"We were very excited to work with NCR so we pushed that announcement forward. Looking back do we wish we had handled the announcement a bit differently, yes. Do we regret supporting the NCR event, certainly not."
Tidwell clarified that Avyd did not pull out their NCR sponsorship, and the only reason they removed NCR from the qualification circuit was because they wanted to rethink the qualification process. Contrary to some rumors that were floating around online, Capcom had nothing to do with that decision, Tidwell said.
But Capcom is running the Capcom Pro Tour at all the events Avyd listed as being part of their SFV qualification circuit, and that could cause problems. In fact, casters at NCR sat in front of a banner covered in Avyd logos, which was swapped out when the Capcom-sponsored SFV tournament was on-stream. But Tidwell insists that Capcom had nothing to do with Avyd pulling SFV from the tour.
"SFV was removed from our qualification process because our goal is to work with others to grow esports, not conflict or interfere with existing events or leagues," Tidwell said. "Our plan with doing the qualification tour was to link all of these great events to one single event at the end of the year that the FGC could look forward to throughout the year. We quickly realized after making the announcement that many saw it as a conflict with the existing Capcom Pro Tour. We quickly went to the drawing board on how to rectify that, as we certainly do not want to damage a relationship with such an influential company in the FGC."
According to Tidwell, Avyd is working on something with Capcom, but all he can say is that he's optimistic about the partnership.
Similarly, Tidwell says that Avyd is looking to expand past the FGC and into more esports, but can't talk about that yet either. Right now, he says that the focus is on the FGC, and what he says Avyd can do for that community.
"We believe that grass root community driven events are a vital part of the FGC and nothing is going to change that," he said. "However, we also believe that the FGC is deserving of events that show what they're truly capable of accomplishing. EVO is a great example of that and it’s an amazing event that has been vital in the growth of FGC. So yes, we will do events. No, we will not attempt to take over the event scene in any way. If anything we want to see those events become even bigger."
In terms of future plans Tidwell can talk about, he says that Avyd is still sponsoring Combo Breaker, CEO, CEOtaku, The Big House 6 and SoCal Regionals this year, along with their Winter Championship at the end of the year. Notably, CEO organizer Alex Jebailey is one of the few major figures in the community to publicly support Avyd.
Tidwell also clarified that the $100,000 prize pool for the Winter Championship will be split across the six games, with distribution based on game popularity, and participation from players at the qualification tournaments. It may not be the biggest SFV prize pool in the world, but it's large for games like Killer Instinct and Guilty Gear.
"We understand there is a lot to be skeptical about and we will not try to prevent that," he said. "We do, however, plan to prove to the FGC that we are here for them and we are not going anywhere.
"Obviously we want to run an amazing event for the FGC, but for us it’s more then that. We look at 2016 as our year to prove to the FGC that they can trust us and that together we can do great things. Running an event the FGC can be proud of is part of doing that."
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. He likes to start a match by hitting parry, just so you know how bad he is. You can follow him on Twitter.