When Arcades Closed, The Fighting Game Community Built Their Own Battleground


Street Fighter veteran Alex Valle remembers when fighting game players would crowd around arcade cabinets to face off. After the demise of arcades, Valle believed that future generations of fighting game players still needed a way to learn from one another in person. What began in 2009 as a series of meetups hosted in Valle’s apartment has since grown into a weekly training night at the Esports Arena in Santa Ana, California.

Compete’s video team headed to “Wednesday Night Fights” to talk to Alex Valle and Jimmy “ShinJN” Nguyen, a longtime tournament organizer who helped the event grow. The video also profiles the players who attend and participate, such as Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, fellow Street Fighter veteran and CEO of Cross Counter TV, as well as SoCal-based Street Fighter competitors Elcid “BushinStyle” Rashid and Frankie “Stupendous” Lee, Jr.

According to Gootecks, “Wednesday Night Fights” is the most well-attended local fighting games event in SoCal, but there are other local fighting game scenes and training events all over the world. For more, read this story about Yuko and Yusuke Momochi’s Street Fighter training school in Japan.


This is the newest episode in our new season of Compete videos. Last week’s premiere video focused on the physical therapists and doctors who keep esports pros healthy.

Executive Producer
Fritzie Andrade

Senior Producer
Anastasia Weeks

Zoe Stahl

Associate Producer
John Dargan

Spencer Wardwell

Anders Kapur

Devin Clark

Maddy Myers
Eric Van Allen

Additional Consultation from Editor-In-Chiefs
Stephen Totilo
Tim Marchman

Event footage and photography courtesy of
Ian Cofino ‘I Got Next’ Documentary
Bryan ‘Cicada’ Gateb
Kara “karaface” Leung

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Can I just say how appreciative I’ve been with this coverage on the FGC as a whole, lately? I know you’ll get the typical “why should I care” comments but for a long while Kotaku had next to nothing regarding the base and when asked, would get the response of “no one on staff is knowledgeable but effort will be made.” That was for several years.

Well, the effort has been made, and I for one, thank you for that. There’s no other community like the FGC in my eyes, and seeing it covered more is, well...perfect.