Story and Photos by Jared Skye for Eugene Daily News
Shoryuken League is a business that every gamer has probably thought of at least once in his or her life. Get a bunch of friends, a bunch of videogames, a bunch of food, a bunch of booze, and make merry into the wee hours of the night. For most gamers, things never get beyond the “wouldn’t it be cool if…” stage of development.
For Tim Robertson, that was only the beginning.
Named for the infamous “rising dragon punch” of Street Fighter fame, Shoryuken League began somewhat surreptitiously one night at Mohawk Pub and Spirits in Springfield. During a night of drinking, Robertson mentioned to the bartender that the bar should hold Street Fighter tournaments. He thought it would be a great way to mix his love of going out on the town with his love of staying in to play video games. Almost immediately, the bartender said Robertson should have a Street Fighter tournament the next night.
It took a little longer than one night to get everything together. But within a week the first Street Fighter Tournament took place. It was an amazing success.
On the heels of that success, Robertson started planning more tournaments. Over time, the tournaments developed a following of die-hard gamers through various events. Soon it outgrew the limited scope of tournaments.
In July of this year, Shoryuken League opened its doors in downtown Eugene, now a fully-functioning videogame lounge. Robertson believes that video games have the potential to bring people together for fun, civil, and memorable good times. In fact, he has worked very hard to enhance the social nature of Shoryuken League with a number of enhancements. Robertson said,
“We want people to know that we’re all about gaming and gaming culture here.”
There is a full bar, a full menu of finger foods, a number of couches with personal televisions, and a lot of open space for people to wander and mingle when things get busy. Robertson has even continued with the weekly tournaments every Wednesday, now dubbed “Dragon Punch Wednesdays.” From time to time, there are special monthly or weekly tournaments added to the roster.
The tournaments maintain a very competitive—though congenial—atmosphere. There are genuine rivalries, genuine victories, genuine failures, and genuine pitchers of beer to bring everyone back to center. The tournaments have branched out from Street Fighter and now include almost any type of competitive game you can imagine. There are even cash prizes for the top three competitors based off of the entry fees for the tournament. Tournament entry fees run anywhere from $3 to $20.
The basic, non-tournament fee system at Shoryuken League is designed to be affordable for just about anyone. $5 gets you unlimited playtime on any machine all day for one day. $15 gets you unlimited playtime for an entire month. The food is all reasonably priced, the drink specials are unique, and the games are diverse. Customers have their pick of fifteen different arcade games or one of fourteen different televisions. At the television stations, they have access to a staggering range of classic and new videogames.
Whether you want to play Double Dragon or Modern Warfare 3, you can find it here. The whole lounge is accessible to every man, woman and child who wants to stop by until 5 pm. At that point, everyone under 21 is sent packing as the bar opens up. The fun keeps going until around 2 am, when the bar closes down and the lights come up.
In the first month Shoryuken League was open, it had 300 monthly members. Since then, that number has risen to nearly 450 monthly members. Obviously, Robertson has hit a nerve with a devout local fan-base of gamers. After all, there are not a lot of places in Eugene to grab a beer and play a game or two. Shoryuken League strives to be the one place in town where diehard gamers feel that they truly belong. The place welcomes all, but there is definitely a special place here for anyone who really identifies with gaming culture.