Whether you’re into fighting games or not, I hope you watched at least a few matches from the Evolution Championship Series, more commonly referred to as simply EVO, because it was easily the most exciting thing to happen over the weekend. Never mind your silly baseball trading deadline and football free agency — the best competitive action was in a Vegas hotel.
Personally, this is the first EVO I’ve ever watched, since I’m pretty crap at fighting games in general, and doubly so against actual, human competition. After a couple of years of spouting nonsense that amounts to “I’d rather play than watch,” I decided to give it a shot; the existence of this article is all the proof you need to know that I enjoyed it a ton.
But enough blabbering. Here are a few reasons that you should give a damn about EVO if you’re a gamer.
The first thing that you’ll notice when you live-stream the tournament is the absolutely massive crowd that’s crammed into the hall in which the competition takes place — hundreds of fighting game fans watching, cheering, and jeering every moment of every match is something that has to be seen to be believed. These people come from all over the world to watch or compete at EVO, so that’s a pretty strong indicator that the event is special.
There are plenty of places where game fans gather, so that in itself isn’t unique. However, throwing in the spectacle of high-level competitive gaming adds an electricity to the room that you normally only hear about in high-profile sporting events. If you don’t believe it, take a look at this classic moment from the 2004 Street Fighter III tournament:
Expect the Unexpected
The incredible moment moment above leads me to my next point: not only will you see some crazy shit, you’ll see it rather frequently. You’ll see a bunch of different combos and comebacks that the average player could only dream of pulling off, and with the wide variety of different games on tap you’re bound to see something that excites the ever-living crap out of you.
One of this year’s biggest surprises wasn’t just a moment, but a person: eight-year-old Noah “The Prodigy” Solis, who shamed grown men on his way to the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 tournament quarterfinals. Considering the ridiculous amount of competitors registered, for a kid to make it into the top 32 is astounding. Best of all was the visual discomfort on the face of the man who finally took him down, as the crowd loudly booed every combo that he landed on the kid.
With so many people from all over the world, from just about every walk of life, swarming to Vegas for three days of nonstop digital pugilism, literally anything can happen … and it does.
After spending much of my weekend watching these guys compete in some of the highest intensity competition I realized that these players are as good at fighting games as anyone is at anything.
Tournament veterans such as Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara get an awful lot of attention, and deservedly so — they’re both amongst the very best in the world at their respective games, and they’re the two responsible for that ’04 EVO vid I linked above. But each tournament also has a loser’s bracket … and they’re still freaking masterful. As Mitch Dyer said Saturday on Twitter, “I will never be as good at anything in my life as these guys in the losers pool are at MvC3.”
No matter what game is on the big screen, there’s no way for you to be bored. Well, unless it’s the Tekken 6 Final and you’re sitting through several Bob vs. Bob matches.