Much like Christmas, EVO only comes once a year. The fighting game tournament is hosted annually in Las Vegas and is the major of all majors when it comes to fighting games. This weekend, from July 17th – 19th, the best of the best in fighting games will gather in the Paris Las Vegas Casino hotel to compete for thousands of dollars in nine different games.
However, although EVO is seen as the pinnacle of fighting game tournaments, it is by no means an event for only the best. That’s the true beauty of EVO, it’s not an invitational event and anyone can enter., this results in some games having entrants in the thousands all with their eyes on one prize. It’s so much more than just a tournament, it’s a celebration of the whole fighting game community with thousands of spectators, players and professionals all gathering in one place to witness the greatest FGC tournament on earth. What makes EVO and competitive fighting games in general stand out is the fact that unlike many popular e-sports such as League of Legends and Counter Strike: Global Offensive, most fighting game tournaments are solo-based. Sure, tournaments often have teams/doubles brackets in games such as Super Smash Bros, but they aren’t taken nearly as seriously as the solo tournaments. There’s just something about 1v1 situations that creates much more tension on the biggest stage.
Ultra Street Fighter IV, Smash 4 for Wii U, Killer Instinct, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Guilty Gear X, Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Brothers Melee, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax and Tekken 7. This is the lineup that could provide the most entertaining EVO yet. With no updates, or sequels, in sight, this could be the final year for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. With the metagame dominated by so many Virgils and Dr Dooms, can Justin Wong drag his lower-tier team to back-to-back EVO championships? Not only this, but top UMvC3 players Justin Wong, Chris G and FChamp are placing bounties on their own heads and offering cash to those that can defeat them. Even if this is Marvel’s last year, the community are determined to give it the send off it deserves.
Although I’ll be watching streams all throughout the weekend, the tournament that I’m most interested in is Super Smash Bros Melee. The fact that this now fourteen year old game has a thriving community that has brought the game back to EVO for two years running is astounding. The speed of this game is like no other fighting game I’ve ever witnessed and it’s a joy to see that the game is still appreciated so much. Incidentally, this third EVO tournament for Melee since it’s return to the event also gives professional player Mang0 a chance at winning three EVO tournaments in a row, an unheard of feat of dominance.
Despite Mang0’s amazing track record at EVO, there still isn’t a clear-cut favourite for the tournament. All of the four ‘gods’ of Melee who will be attending (Mang0, Armada, HungryBox and PPMD) are in heavy contention to take the tournament. And of course, there’s Leffen. The young Swedish player, a member of e-sports organisation TSM who has been dubbed with the nickname ‘god killer’, has taken three straight Melee tournaments and has been going back and forth in money matches against Mang0. He tweeted a few days ago that he’s the best player in the world right now and frankly, in terms of momentum heading into EVO, he isn’t wrong.
I’m the best player in the world right now. I’ll see you at EVO.
— William Hjelte (@TSM_Leffen) July 12, 2015
Personally, I want to see Mang0 get the three-peat and Mang0 – Leffen grand finals would be absolutely fantastic. As Mang0 humourously put it whilst commentating with Leffen at a recent tournament, if he makes it to day three of the tournament he will win and if he doesn’t Leffen will win the tournament. However, if Mang0 is destined to lose I would like to see Leffen, who’s almost taken on the role of a Vegeta-like character in the Smash community, take it all. It would almost be poetic to have the god killer defeat the proclaimed Greatest of All Time.
Although Sunday, finals day for all games, will no doubt be the most interesting day of the tournament, you’ll be able to catch all of the EVO action this weekend across various Twitch.tv channels.
Aside from that, I want to know everyone’s favourite EVO moment. Mang0 beating Armada to claw his way into loser’s finals at EVO 2013 is definitely up there for me; the shirt toss and the crowd reaction set everything thing up perfectly for Mang0 – HungryBox in loser’s finals.