Since 2002, the highest caliber of fighting games have met in Las Vegas to attend the Evolution Championship Series, or Evo. Maintaining a constant increase in attendees every successive year, Evo has become more than a battleground to determine who’s the best in the world, but also a celebration of the FGC (fighting game community) as a whole.
EVO 2016, which started this Friday, is already off to a powerful start with some crazy upsets. With intense and exciting matches across the board, there’s no lack of excitement to be had for not only fighting game fans, but anyone who cares about success for video games as an entertainment medium or a sport. Here are some of the biggest games to look out for at Evo this weekend, and why you should tune in.
Street Fighter V
Capcom’s legendary Street Fighter series has traditionally been the main event at Evo, and Evo 2016 will be the first appearance of Street Fighter V on the big stage. With 5,065 total entrants competing, it’s a phenomenal turnout for the new release. With this many entrants, even just sorting out the entirety of its Pools of competitors down to the Top 32 will take two days.
Daigo Umehara, one of the undisputed champions of Street Fighter seems to be set on a collision course against another legend of the scene: Justin Wong. The two have traded Evo Championships for years, and with both trying even harder than ever to be the first World Champion for this new installment of Street Fighter, it’s looking to be a showdown worthy of the primetime slot.
Street Fighter V’s Grand Finals will be aired from twitch.tv/srkevo1 on Sunda, July 17th at 7pm PST or 3am GMT.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Returning to Evo after its first appearance last year comes Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. While the game was still undergoing continual updates and changes in both the game proper and the competitive rulesets, a firm meta has now been established for the game. Also notable is that the reign of Team Solomid’s Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, a Diddy Kong main from Chile, has finally come to an end. ZeRo dominated the Smash 4 competitive scene for its first year, though quite a few fighters have risen to the level since then.
Whether this be Team Liquid’s Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, Dream Team’s Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, or even the ever controversial but ever-so promising Jason “Anti” Bates, who took the CEO Championship several mere weeks ago. Anti has proven to be an exceptionally skilled player with plenty of showmanship, though despite his momentum coming in to the tournament he’s already been knocked out of the bracket. With ZeRo no longer undefeated, and having been defeated at CEO by a player using Palutena, a character widely believed to be nonviable in tournament, confidence in Team Solomid is lower than ever. At this point, the Evo Championship Trophy is up for grabs for anyone.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’s Grand Finals will be aired from twitch.tv/srkevo1 on Saturday, July 16th at 12pm PST or 8pm GMT.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Melee has a long and storied history, not only with Evo directly, but with the FGC as a whole. The oldest game to be played at this years event, Melee still maintains fantastic growth each year. Having been featured in Evo ever since 2013 when a donation race was run to determine which game would be added to the tournament, Melee won with astounding support from its die-hard community.
Cloud 9’s own Joseph “Mang0” Marquez claimed the Evo Championship title that year and the next, though his quest for the “3vo” was stunted last year by longtime rival, Team Liquid’s Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma. Ultimately, Alliance’s Adam “Armada” Lindgren claimed the Evo 2015 Championship. With Mang0 winning the majority of sets against Armada in 2016, the odds of going all the way toward his third Evo Championship are incredibly high, unless he and Hungrybox meet in bracket once again.
Super Smash Bros. Melee’s Grand Finals will be aired from twitch.tv/srkevo1 on Sunday, July 17th at 3pm PST or 11pm GMT.
Pokken Tournament, the newest 2D fighter produced by the creators of Tekken and Nintendo, debuts at Evo this year! This fantastically tight and fluid fighter is surprisingly complex, and features everyone’s favorite lovable Pokemon! The competitive scene for this game is in its infancy, although Circa eSports Christian “SuicuneMaster” Patierno seems to be the favorite to win it all. He not only won the Pokken Tournament bracket at CEO, but also won Nintendo’s own Pokken event at the Pokemon Nationals in Columbus.
With Pokken Tournament featuring a grand total of 1,180 entrants, the competition is heating up far more than at any previous tournaments however though! Can someone manage to make a huge upset and take the crown from SuicuneMaster? Only one way to find out.
Pokken Tournament’s Grand Finals will be aired from twitch.tv/srkevo1 on Saturday, July 16th at 4pm PST or 12am GMT.
While those are perhaps the largest heavy hitters at this year’s Evo, there are plenty more games to be seen! From Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, to Guilty Gear Xrd: Revengeance, to Killer Instinct. Every game has its own fanbase and excellently skilled players ready to compete for the gold, and I would be lying to say I can do justice to the passion that each and every one of them feel for their game.
This is why you should take some time out of your weekend to watch the Evolution Championship Series this year. Whether or not you’re a big fan of eSports, competitive gaming, or anything like that. Seeing a game like Smash Bros. or Street Fighter on the big screen with hundreds of thousands of viewers is something that everyone who loves video games should love and support. Also there are some absolutely crazy combos and skills to be seen. Seriously.
You can watch Evo live right now at: https://www.twitch.tv/srkevo1