I’ve been watching EVO every year for the past four years now. I’ve grown accustom to great matches from the best of the best in multiple fighting games. I love watching the chat room on Twitch explode every time something amazing happens. I always plan ahead of time to clear my calendar to watch everything go down and enjoy the weekend of nothing but fighting games. But this year, was surprisingly different from previous EVOs. The production value seemed much higher, smaller events seemed bigger, and the population grew even more than it was last year. EVO was much bigger than before thanks to the sponsors, fans and fighting game community. Seven golden letters; everything about EVO 2014 was P-E-R-F-E-C-T.
Ultra Upset Fighter 4
With the new update to Street Fighter 4, I was expecting some new players or characters in the top 32, but never in my day could I have predicted so many upsets in one tournament. Before Evo, everyone was expecting the best Street Fighter 4 tourney ever, partially because the “Five Gods of fighting games” were all going to be in attendance. Everyone in the Fighting game community was hoping for a showdown between the Gods, but four of the five Gods were knocked out early on in the tourney. Even Daigo was defeated by a relatively unknown player off-stream. When I heard that one of the best (if not the best) player was knocked out so early, I couldn’t believe it. Then I heard Infiltration, PR Balrog, Justin Wong, and other top players got knocked out. I was disappointed that I didn’t see them in action, and was stunned that so many upsets happened on the first day of EVO.
The finals for Ultra Street Fighter 4 was the last event this year, since it is still the most popular fighting game in the world. I don’t think most people expected to see Rose vs. Sagat as the last fight for the championship. Rose got a lot stronger thanks to the Ultra update, and Sagat suffered a bit. Evil Ryu and Yun were looking to be the strongest characters in the game, but none of the top 8 players had characters everyone was claiming to be the best in Ultra. Fuudo and Gackt used Fei Long, Snake Eyes surprised most with his amazing Zangief play, Ricky used his signature Rufus, Momochi used Ken and Juri, Sako used a wide range of characters in the tourney, Bonchan lost with Sagat to Luffy’s Rose in the Grand Finals. Besides the God Sako and a former champ Fuudo, the players listed in top 8 weren’t top picks for people who’d be in the top 8. It was a wild and unpredictable tournament, just what EVO needed. Instead of the Gods and other top players who are always in contention taking up the top spots, it was the land of the underdogs.
Everyone got a chance to shine
Even though Ultra Street Fighter 4 ended EVO, it wasn’t the most watched game on stream. Smash Bros. Melee and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 had over 130k people watching on Twitch during the finals. Melee is more than a decade old but is still getting so much attention and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 isn’t supported as much as before, but still lives on. King of Fighters wasn’t as hype as previous years, but Blazblue filled that gap with more than enough hype. Persona 4 Arena, Tekken Tag 2, Injustice, and hell, even Skullgirls and Street Fighter X Tekken got a chance to shine. Not every match was on streams, but I felt like every game was represented well. Thanks to sponsors funding EVO and adding to prize pools for winners, every tournament had a ton of players competing. Kudos to Nintendo especially for supporting Melee this year instead of being against it, like they were last year. I even have to give credit to IGN for their coverage of EVO, an event that isn’t covered so heavily by sites like that one. The community will always be around, so EVO can only continue to grow as new people discover its world.
The Best Video Gaming Community
Not one, but two champions shed tears after winning the tourney in their respective games. CD jr. was very emotional after winning the Killer Instinct tourney and Garireo was tearing up as he accepted his trophy for winning the Blazblue tourney in a spectacular fashion. People outside of the video game world fail to understand that these players train as hard as anyone else for these events. Money, pride and time is on the line at EVO. They want to prove that they are the best, they want to make ends meat just as everyone else, and most importantly, these players are human. Suffering a heartbreaking loss can be devastating to FANS, so can you even imagine what it is like for the players? Sorry if this opens up a fresh wound but, think of the fans of Brazil or Argentina who cried after their sports team lost in the World Cup. Now think of how those players on the Brazilian team felt. Now transfer that over to fighting game fans and players. I was proud to be apart of this community, and for the first time ever with my experience with twitter, I was happy to see that EVO was trending heavily all weekend long. Even Mike Ross and Justin Wong, two popular players, were trending because everyone was rooting for them. Mike Ross wasn’t able to capture the magic in Ultra Street Fighter, but Justin Wong dominated in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 this year. Justin came close of capturing the crown last year after an amazing comeback, but ultimately feel short… That was last year though. This year, the “Wong Factor” was in full effect, and the king reclaimed his Marvel vs. Capcom throne. Seeing one of the best get emotional and fall to the ground after a victory is both satisfying and touching, as a fan and as a player of video games. EVO was full of moments of joy and sadness, with players being cheered on by the community, supported by sponsors, social media and Twitch watchers, hugged by friends and even rivals. EVO is a special event for the entire FGC to come together to celebrate and to take part in fighting games. The montage of EVO moments at the end of it all was a fitting way to ending one of my favorite events of the year. Until next year, keep mashing shoryukens.