In this interview we talk to one of the organisers of the Mario Kart Wii World Cup.
Photo credit: G6-Li Hoang/Michel Ngilen
When people think of Mario Kart on the Wii, they usually think of an evening with friends or maybe the occasional duel with your best buddy. But Mario Kart is not exactly known for its esports scene let alone a world championship. Yet, the team around EndGameTV has established one. They have united a very passionate group of professionals to organise a Mario Kart world championship this year.
We have spoken to Erik “Eirik” Jacome from EndGameTV to get some insights into the details of how the Mario Kart world championship works.
How does it feel to be the organizer of the MK Wii World Cup?
It’s a great feeling to come back. This year I’m co-organizing this event alongside Calvin. He is the co-owner of EndGameTV. We have been very familiar with the community for a long time now and we hosted the first Mario Kart Wii World Cup back in 2015. Now, with this tournament, it is a treat to come back. This is definitely something to be proud of and really fun to work on.
How difficult was it to organize the event, competitors and teams?
We have been organizing this event since April. Thankfully, we have some experience with tournaments like this and the management of time zones. We have done it in other games like Smash Bros. or Splatoon as well. But this year it is surprisingly easy because we have a bigger team than last time. Calvin is a great help to organize 21 different teams all over the world. It’s odd, because the number of participants is about twice as big as many of the Mario Kart World Cups before.
So, people still have a lot of passion for this game. Why is it still so popular even twelve years after its release?
People just keep coming back. But there have been some issues before. What hurt the most was Nintendo shutting down Wiifire for every Wii Game in 2014. In order to play online you need a community mod. When that happened, a lot of people dropped the game or moved on to Mario Kart 8 later. But still people are coming back to this game and try to compete.
What makes the game way more accessible now is an online community matchmaking ladder called mogi lounge. You can play Ranked from bronze to master. It is really well made and helps the competitive scene. The network effect is great and people are willing to give it a try.
Did you ever talk with Nintendo about the need for a community mod to play online ?
Funny that you mention that. Nintendo barely knows about the ladder system and when we talked with them about it in 2018, they didn’t believe that this is a thing. When we explained the history of the game and that players drive backwards while playing, they absolutely couldn’t grasp it.
Does Nintendo present a help or a hindrance when it comes to the organisation?
We got supported by Nintendo for multiple events in Splatoon. We were asked to produce the finals in their headquarters. That was a big honour for us. But with Mario Kart Wii it is different. Of course, it’s understandable because the new games are the ones being supported and advertised. You can also see this in how Nintendo pushes Smash Ultimate rather than the Smash Melee scene.
Since you also organize and cast Smash/Splatoon competitions, is there a special reason for you to focus on Nintendo Games?
It is simply because of our love for their games. A lot of us grew up with Nintendo games and we want to make them as big as possible because we really enjoy them. Back when I was a college student who just loved to make Mario Kart World Cups, that was my vision. Even years after it I want to elevate the grassroots scene.
Would prize money raise the level of competition or would it be irrelevant?
We want to make this more of a celebration of the game. Surprisingly, for the first time some people asked about price money. But most drivers are playing for their national teams. They want to represent their nation in game. Currently, not having price money for the world cup feels right to me. Trophies would be cool though. We are working on that.
Who are your favorites to win the MK Wii World Cup 2020? Do you see Japan as a provisional champion?
Historically Japan is a powerhouse. But they dwindled a bit. Japan can be scary, but they don’t communicate as good as other top teams. When it comes to the Mario Kart Wii World Cup I think it will be USA East or USA West. I think they may be the strongest team in the tournament with insanely good players like Kasper, Shawn, Edison, with experienced sandbaggers like Maq. UK is also able to surprise.
Eiriks predictions have proven to be spot on because with US East, Japan and UK, the semi-finals feature three of the four mentioned teams.
What is your goal or dream to achieve with EndGameTV?
We want to create good tournaments that will be recognized. With the rise of esports I was paying attention to the LCS and Melee scene. We realized that we should get into it.
I’m still thinking about how this will work in the future. Events like the ongoing one for example give us confidence and hope.
A special thanks goes to Sven Noack for doing the interview.