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The Real Reason This Esports Tournament Is Giving Away Crabs

Esports have grown in popularity and exposure over the past several years, with new teams popping up all over the world. Some esports teams have managed to become incredibly rich by competing in tournaments. Even celebrities have started investing in esports, seeing the inherent value in getting in on such a lucrative market. However, where many esports pros usually see dollar signs, the competitors in one coastal Japanese city are seeing crabs.


Yes, you read that right. As reported by Kotaku, winners at this year's Toyama Gamers Day will be receiving something decidedly different from a cash prize. The main game being played at Toyama Gamers Day is Fight Crab, Calappa Games' bizarre crustacean vs. crustacean fighting game. Those who steer their crabs to victory will be rewarded with a local delicacy: beni-zuwaigani, also known as red snow crab. These delicious bad boys usually sell for roughly 3,000 yen ($28.60) per crab. Apparently one hundred red snow crabs will be awarded over the course of the tournament, so that equals a pretty hefty (and yummy) payout.

You may be wondering, "Why the heck are they giving away crabs at a gaming tournament?" As pointed out by Kotaku, there are multiple reasons why this unorthodox prize makes perfect sense for this particular tournament. For thing, yes, the crabs are being awarded for whoever is the victor of a game literally starring crabs. Aside from that, Toyama is actually well-known for its crabs and other seafood.


Fight Crab players aren't the only ones being rewarded with delicious seafood. Kotaku reports that winners of the Toyama Gamers Day Fortnite tournament will also receive the same prize. It seems as though the organizers of Toyama Gamers Day might have decided to forgo any cash prizes due to Japan's long-standing esports regulations, which are infamously confusing. Since 2018, there has been a strict $895 cap on all cash prizes that can be awarded in a gaming tournament. 

According to Japanese site Nikkei (thanks again to Kotaku for the translation), these rules were put in place in order to avoid "unjustifiable premiums and misleading representations." Basically, since esports tournaments have been seen in some circles as overblown way of advertising and selling particular video games, these strict prize money regulations were devised as a way of keeping said promotions in check. 

Unfortunately, the winnings cap has also led to an issue where some players have literally swept tournaments and been unable to collect all of the money they should be owed for winning. It seems as though the organizers of Toyama Gamers Day chose to sidestep all of those messy regulations by awarding something other than a traditional monetary prize. The result is a grand prize that perfectly matches the bonkers main game of the event. 


Fight Crab has become something of a viral phenomenon since it made its debut in 2019. The game starts you out as a basic, unassuming crab (you know, as opposed to other, more erudite crabs). Fight Crab then pits the players' crustacean up against progressively more powerful foes, both under the sea and on land. Players can unlock and pick up different weapons over the course of the game, improving their combat capabilities in a battle for underwater supremacy. If you've ever wanted to see a crab pick up a pistol, this is the game for you.

Needless to say, fans have delighted in the game's frenetic action and wonky controls. According to Metacritic, the user reviews for Fight Crab have generally proven to be significantly higher than those written by professional reviewers. YouTubers have also taken a liking to the game, with content creators like Markiplier joining in on the fun with gameplay videos of their own.

In July 2020, The Verge's Sam Byford may have actually predicted Fight Crab's emerging popularity as a competitive game. In a review of the Nintendo Switch port of Fight Crab, Byford wrote, "the game runs smoothly, and the all-important collision detection seems accurate enough, despite the extreme degree of mayhem. I think pro Fight Crab players could have faith in its systems. What I'm saying is that Fight Crab gets my vote as the next big esport. It doesn't have much content, it isn't very polished, and it's about crabs. But it'd certainly make a change from all the hero shooters."


It remains to be seen what kind of staying power Fight Crab may actually have in the esports scene. However, it has at least resulted in one of the most unique prizes in the history of competitive gaming.