Pokken Tournament Championship Series makes serious esports bid with $100,000 prize pool

With both major and minor tournaments and qualifiers pulled from EVO and other events, Nintendo looks to be making a concerted effort to turn Pokken into an esport with staying power.

Nintendo has always seemed a little uncomfortable with Smash Bros. Melee's status as a competitive fighting game. Even its Pokemon championship series, though well-attended, adopts a different tenor than what we've come to expect out of FGC and esports tournaments, with its cash prizes meted out as scholarships and little coverage from mainstream game news outlets.

With Pokken Tournament, however, it appears that Nintendo is making a determined bid to get into esports in a real way. According to Shoryuken, the upcoming Pokken Tournament Championship Series -- which will have both a North American and European component, as well as qualifiers at Evolution 2016 and Community Effort Orlando -- will offer a prize pool of $100,000, with a solid $20,000 of that going to the top bracket finishers at August's World Championship. No meager sum, for a game that isn't even out yet.

Of course, the inverse of all this is: what if Nintendo is being overconfident with the potential interest level for real-money competitive Pokken? Five months isn't a lot of time to master a game, not when top-tier players are still figuring out new techniques in a decade-old game like Melee -- and while a $6,000 top prize is nothing to sniff at, that's not the kind of cash you quit your day job to train for or anything. (At least it appears to be legitimately a cash prize, and not scholarship money like Nintendo's Pokemon championships -- scholarship awards make a nice pro-education gesture but have the effect of saying your tournament is geared toward school-aged players, even if you're technically open to all comers.) Mind you, everything we've seen so far of Pokken Tournament has been great, so there's no reason to suspect Nintendo would be putting out an inferior game, especially with everything this one has riding on it... but that's the thing about the future: you can't predict it.

Unless you were, like, a Psychic type Pokemon, I guess.

Sign-ups are opening soon, so we'll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out Reviews Editor Danielle Riendeau's 30 minutes with Pokken Tournament gameplay video!

Kris Ligman is the News Editor of ZAM. Unless you can main Wartortle, there is no professional Pokken in Kris's future. Follow them on Twitter @KrisLigman.