Shaq, Natalie Eva Marie, Lupe Fiasco, and Reggie Bush to compete in ELeague SFV celebrity tournament
Turner Sports and WME|IMG's ELeague will host a four-person celebrity Street Fighter V tournament in Atlanta on April 28, with each participant donating money to a charity of their choice, the joint venture announced Thursday. The tournament will be broadcasted live on TBS.
The event will feature basketball Hall of Famer and Turner analyst Shaquille O'Neal, former NFL running back Reggie Bush, Grammy-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco, and professional wrestler and "Total Divas" star Natalie Eva Marie.
"On any given night, you are likely to find me and my husband on the couch battling it out over a videogame," Marie told ESPN about her participation in the event. "It's something we enjoy doing together, so I jumped at the opportunity to show my skills during the Street Fighter Celebrity Showdown."
Each attendee will compete for a prize pool that is segmented, although not announced, with the earnings going towards charities of their choice.
O'Neal will support the Odessa Chambliss Quality of Life Fund, while Fiasco will support his own foundation M.U.R.A.L. (Magnifying Urban Realities and Affecting Lives). Meanwhile, Bush will raise money for the 619 Charitable Fund and Marie will support the American Cancer Society.
The tournament will follow a playoff-style bracket, with two semifinals that seed into a final. ELeague Street Fighter V Invitational on-screen crew, including host Richard Lewis, Steve "Tasty Steve" Scott, Stephen "Sajam" Lyon, and more, will provide analysis and commentary throughout the event.
"These guys should be nervous to see what I have been working on," Marie said.
The event is not the first time O'Neal or Fiasco will encounter esports.
O'Neal is currently an investor in multi-game esports team NRG Esports, which was founded by Sacramento Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov in 2015. O'Neal has since been involved on TV spots that feature the ELeague events, as well as competed in a showmatch against fellow Turner analyst and retired basketball star Charles Barkley in a Street Fighter match.
Fiasco, for his part, competed in an exhibition match versus fighting game legend Diago Umehara in Feb. 2016 in promotion of the release of Street Fighter V. Due to his outspoken love for fighting games on social media, Fiasco has earned a credibility and respect from professional fighting game players, particularly in Street Fighter.
"It was fun," Fiasco told ESPN in a statement. "I hope there are more events like this to shine a spotlight on fighting games and the community that supports them."