2013 EVO Fighting Game Tournament Highlights
This past weekend marked the return of the annual EVO Championship Fighting Game Series in Las Vegas Paris Hotel, and it's by far the most hyped tournament to date. This year's EVO featured 6,097 entrants from 51 countries playing 30,485 matches over a 3 day period. The tournament featured the following games:
- Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition v. 2012 – 1601 entrants
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 – 1297 entrants
- Super Smash Bros. Melee – 696 entrants
- Injustice: Gods Among Us – 582 entrants
- Street Fighter x Tekken – 545 entrants
- King of Fighters XIII – 433 entrants
- Persona 4 Arena – 400 entrants
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2 – 355 entrants
- Mortal Kombat 9 – 233 entrants
The fighting game (FGC) has historically been overshadowed by the likes of League of Legends, MLG, and StarCraft competitive scenes due in part to the high barriers to entry (being known as the most technically competitive scene, testing both player reactions and execution under pressure). The community has steadily grown over the past decade with the release of new fighting games, such as Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs Capcom 3, and with the boom in online streaming, through platforms such as Twitch.TV, allowing gamers to connect to the competitive scene globally.
Below are some of the highlights of the "hype-est" moments of this year's EVO Championship Series 2013:
2013 EVO Highlights
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition v. 2012
SSFIV: AE 2012 kicked off the EVO tournament on Friday July 12th with pool play throughout the day eliminating over 1,500 contenders and leaving only the top 8 by the end of the day.
Notable matches throughout the day include upsets such as last year's EVO champion Infiltration, representing Korea, being knocked out of winner's bracket by PR Balrog, representing USA. During their match PR Balrog, historically a Balrog player, started off with Fei Long, a top tier character, against Infiltration's infamous Akuma. After quickly losing his first match, PR Balrog responded by going back to the character that made him famous, Balrog. Balrog was able to Chase down and punish Akuma's fireball and teleport game ultimately knocking Infiltration into the loser's bracket.
In losers, Infiltration had the unpleasant fortune to be paired with his training partner Laugh (Ryu). Laugh's defeat at the hand's of Infiltration was particularly salt inducing as Laugh dashed off stage without even looking at Infiltration.
Tokido (Akuma), a flamboyant Japanese player who regularly rushes on stage to strike an Akuma pose after landing a game winning Raging Demon, had a great run knocking out two legends, Justin Wong (Rufus) and Daigo (Ryu), into losers.
After the first day, only the top 8 remained with Justin Wong missing the cut with a 13th Place finish and Laugh (who eliminated Justin Wong) settling for 9th place.
On championship day, over 120,000 viewers tuned in for the top 8. The top 8 kicked off with an epic start between Daigo and Infiltration (a rematch of the 25th anniversary Street Fighter tournament where Infiltration beat Daigo 6-0 to clench the title). Though the match started off close, Infiltration quickly downloaded Daigo's game plan and eliminated him 3-1. Daigo took 7th place.
Infiltration continued his run through the Japanese fighting game gods by knocking out Sako. On the path to losers finals, Infiltration was able to runback his set with PR Balrog (who knocked him into the losers bracket). The set starts out grim for Infiltration, down 2-0, but he makes surprising turnaround and wins three straight games by counter picking Balrog with Hakan, a low tier character that specializes in punishing Balrog's chasedown game with throws. Infiltration secures his revenge and eliminates USA's last hope. Infiltration ultimate succumbs to Tokido in losers taking 3rd place in an Akuma mirror match.
The real highlight of the SSFIV: AE 2012 tournament was the champion Xian from Singapore who plays Gen (widely considered an average character at best before this win). Xian played a solid game throughout the series staying in Winners and defeating Tokido twice (both in Winners final and Grand final) to clench the first place title.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Now in its 3rd year of tenure at EVO, UMvC3 has matured like a fine wine, bringing in the strongest pool of competitors to ever compete for the Marvel crown and over 140,000 stream viewers, a new EVO record.
This year, competitors included Justin Wong, Cl0ckwork, Yipes, MarlinPie, PR Balrog, Japanese players Nemo and Abegen, prior year EVO UMvC3 winner FilipinoChamp, all around dominant player ChrisG, and the list goes on.
Pool play kicked off Saturday July 13th with major upsets occurring throughout the day.
Notable matches on Saturday include Windzero knocking ChrisG (the overwhelmingly favored player to win the tournament) into losers off stream using his unique team of Chris Redfield, Zero, and Jill Valentine. ChrisG using his signature Morgan, Doom, Vergil gets his revenge on stream later and eliminates Windzero.
MarlinPie, back from a long absence from the Marvel scene, eliminated ApologyMan, who defeated FilipinoChamp earlier this year at a major (and one of the wildcards that may have been able to defeat ChrisG), and Infrit (last year's runner-up). But MarlinPie was soon eliminated as well by SoCal's KillerKai. MarlinPie was seen having trouble with Zero players earlier this week at The Break (a weekly tournament in New Jersey) and was looking rather rusty on stream at EVO as he was dropping many of his signature combos.
Closing out the Saturday, and heading into top 8, PR Balrog (one of the few players who have beat ChrisG at a major) was eliminated by ChrisG.
The tension, elation, and excitement were palpable on Sunday's Marvel top 8. Angelic, playing a unique team including Shuma Gorath, made an excellent run into third place and earned an award for best up and coming player.
Flocker's 1st place victory in UMvC3 solidified Zero as one of the best (if not the best) characters in the game, having appeared in three teams in top 8. Flocker played a flawless game going into Grand Finals, rarely dropping his lightning loops and stomping over some of the best Marvel players, such as Justin Wong, in the world on his way to victory.
Although Flocker's victory is well deserved, the real Cinderella story of this tournament, the real EVO moment of 2013, was Justin Wong's run from losers back into Grand Finals. Justin's amazing run started with him sending FilipinoChamp (last year's EVO winner) into losers. Flocker then sent Justin into losers where he faced off against ChrisG. Anyone who has been following UMvC3 for the past year knows that Justin has lost almost every match to ChrisG since CEO last June (they have met multiple times in Grand Finals throughout the year). Justin's run is seemingly cut short as he goes down 2-0 in the opening sets. But just as all hope seemed to be lost Justin comes back with 3 straight victory clutching the win from ChrisG and eliminating the overwhelming tournament favorite. In Grand Finals Justin runs into the player that sent him into losers, Flocker. Justin barely resets the bracket after beating Flocker 3-2 and takes his opponent to match point, tying 2-2 in the second set. Justin starts off the match point round with impressive control of the match but drops his Storm combo due to an overly eager TAC dropped infinite. This ultimately costs him the match, ending his momentum as Zero (who wasn't killed due to the combo) cleans his way to a victory.
Though Justin didn't win Marvel, his feat was impressive considering the roster of players he had to sift through to reach the final possible match of the tournament, losing only to a tiny dropped input. Justin's run is made all the more impressive when considering his unique team of Wolverine, Storm, and Akuma. Justin acknowledges his team is not top tier but he refuses to change team composition because these are the characters he enjoys playing. Justin's 2nd place victory this year at EVO 2013, over 1200 UMvC3 entrants proves that it's the player that makes the character and not vice versa.
In my opinion, Justin's run is the most hype moment of EVO 2013. My heart raced after each match and many sets looked dire, but Justin was able to constantly pull out OCV (one character victories). I cheered after each victory and applaud him for fighting until the very end.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Back by popular demand - the 12 year-old game and by far the best iteration of Super Smash Bros. was voted back into the EVO roster by fans.
Boasting the third largest number of entrants and drawing legendary players such as HungryBox and Mew2King (and even American Idol winner Taylor Hicks), this was the largest SSBM tournament in the game's history.
Matches were played throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Competition was fierce as the SSBM fans generated the most noise/cheers for their matches throughout the weekend.
Over 130,000 stream monsters turned up for the Smash finals on Sunday (not bad for a tournament that was almost shut down by Nintendo themselves). The top 8 included a diverse character roster which included Ice Climbers, Peach, Jigglypuff, Dr Mario, and the prerequisite Fox and Falco.
Competition was fierce as many of the USA players had targeted Armada who took the most recent Apex tournament (the largest Smash tournament before EVO). Armada was able to eliminate fan favorites Mew2King before being eliminated by Mango's Fox.
Wobblez, rocking the mid tier ice climbers, was able to infinite throw his way past HungryBox's Jigglypuff and Mango's Fox in the winners bracket. Wobblez stayed in winners up until Grand Finals where he met up with Mango once again. Mango stuck to a game plan of separating the ice climbers using Fox's shine attack to first knock out Nana. After knocking out Nana, Mango resumed focusing down Popo. Mango swiftly defeats Wobblez in two straight sets 3-0, 3-1, and takes the 2013 EVO SSBM championship.
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Mild mannered office worker by trade, entertainment writer by passion. David has enjoyed games of all genres since the original Famicom. He hopes to continue contributing to the growth of the gaming industry through his writing.
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