It’s something of a trying time for the NRS scene at present. With no upcoming game on the horizon and with people feeling hugely uninvested in Injustice 2, in conjunction with a groundswell of interest in other fighting games, the NRS community is feeling sparser than ever before.
Pictured: the expected audience for Injustice 2 at Evo.
This is partially just a confluence of events. Netherrealm elected to break their cycle, though to what degree is as of yet unknown, at a time when interest in Injustice 2 has waned almost as much as interest in Injustice Gods Among Us waned towards the end of it’s second year, when the community latched onto the cycle on a scale never seen before and hyped up the potential reveal of MK11 accordingly. What’s more, they have done so when the first major new competitor on the fighting game scene since Killer Instinct has emerged in DBFZ, with SFV bringing out fresh characters (including fan favourites like Cody) and striking up partnerships with the likes of Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes, Tekken reaching new markets and success not seen since Tekken3 with Tekken7 and with one of the most beloved fighting franchises of all time makes a grand reappearance in Soul Calibur VI. And DOA coming back too, if you just can’t get enough jiggle physics in your life.
It is, in short, an incredibly packed time in the fighting game community and, even if the scene will grow even more than usual because of this bevy of content, there is a hard limit on the amount of games people can play and most people don’t travel to tournaments. Even among high level players, a very select group of players have found top level success across multiple franchises, with Sonic the only current example (and by his own admission, his consistency in the NRS scene has suffered due to his commitment to DBFZ). With that in mind, it might turn out to be a wise move, in hindsight, for NRS to delay MK11 until there’s a sufficient gap in the wider market and fatigue with other games to bring even greater attention to MK11.
But it has to be acknowledged that the sparseness, stagnation and inertia which currently characterises the NRS scene is of the making of the NRS scene. NRS players are notorious for moving on from game to game rapidly, dropping interest in a new game after barely a year and pining for the next release, even if top players stay absurdly sharp in the older games as witnessed at the recent Combo Breaker MK9 tournament. NRS players tend to not invest the sheer amount of time into characters as do other players, by sheer virtue of the fact that we know that within 24 months the game will be essentially forgotten and the scene will be, if not dead, then on life support, within 12 months.
This is especially unfortunate with regards to Injustice 2. I may address this in a fuller piece soon, but Injustice 2 really is a phenomenal game. With the exception of Starfire and Black Adam, no match up in the game feels particularly unbalanced and no character really disrupts the game. It is by far the most balanced NRS game and one of the most balanced fighting games ever, with a near endless amount of content, a bevy of features, gorgeous graphics and a near ideal DC roster (where’s my Zod, Nightwing, Grundy and Constantine tho?)
Moreover, the support from NRS and eLeague for Injustice 2 is borderline unprecedented in the entirety of the FGC, with incredible amounts of money on the line for the top players.
All of this is addressed by @Temp and @JangoGMs in the latest Warrior Shrine and, even if you aren’t a fan of the Netherkast’s usual stuff for whatever reason, you owe it to yourself to listen to this one. It's a really fantastic appraisal of the current NRS scene, with analysis of the impact Netherrealm has on the fans and the fans on the Netherrealm, the current state of Injustice 2, how the NRS scene has developed and it's potential future and more. It's as good a discussion and dissection of the NRS scene as you're ever likely to hear.
With a caveat: unless you’re into Mega Man you can skip like fifteen minutes from 15-30 minutes and the last half hour or so is Temp desperately trying to convince you that DOA is about more than jiggle physics, fan service and beach volleyball. He’s wrong and I shall now forever judge him not as a good man, very well versed in philosophy, of both fighting games and Soren Kierkegaard in particular and with a well above average taste in music, but as a DOA fan. This saddens me.
I’m not linking a DOA related picture because I’m at work and that shit just ain’t going down
As always, check back to TYM everyday for all the latest discussion on the NRS scene, both competitive and lore-based, and all the latest news on Injustice 2 and the Mortal Kombat series!
The State of the NRS Scene: Warrior Shrine Off-Season