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This weekend at Las Vegas is the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, otherwise known as Evolution, or Evo for short. Evo has been around for over a decade now being at arcades, universities at Southern California, to Las Vegas hotel ballrooms as this year is at the Paris. Thousands of fighting game players will compete in nine games not just for big money and prizes, but also pride for winning the “Super Bowl” of fighting games. From Capcom staples such as Super Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, to new games like Injustice: Gods Among Us, and a return of a Nintendo classic with Super Smash Bros. Melee, this year’s Evo is shaping to be the biggest one yet. For those are newcomers to the fighting game scene and others that have been following it for a while, here’s what to expect this weekend.
Days before the tournament, however, have been filled with some controversy that was quickly solved in a matter of hours. Nintendo has been more strict with uses of their IP as they have been shutting down Let’s Play videos and didn’t want Smash Bros. to be streamed at Evo. Luckily hours later yesterday, they reversed their decision because of fan backlash by Smash fans and the fighting game community. This reversal is as bad as Microsoft’s stance on DRM and used games for the Xbox One in terms how it was handled, but good thing Nintendo handled their situation more quickly than Microsoft did. Yes, Super Smash Bros. Melee is twelve years old, but is still regarded as the best game in the series and continues to get tournament love today due to support of its community. Over $95,000 was raised for the game to be at one of the tournament games at Evo for breast cancer research and it was ironic that Nintendo had it in them to try to make Evo not stream the game. With all that said, Smash Bros. had the third number of entrants out of all the games there and expected to be a showcase of why it is still a competitive fighting game despite Masahiro Sakurai’s multiple claims of Smash not being one.
The main event of Evo is still Super Street Fighter IV and once again the competition is stacked for this year. With the huge amount of international presence again from Japan, Korea, and elsewhere, does the US stand a chance of having players winning, let alone make top 8? All eyes are on Korea’s Infiltration, the defending champion and the winner of Capcom’s Street Fighter 25th Anniversary tournament last year, to repeat this weekend, but there are plenty of players that can derail that. Singapore’s Xian is one of the players that can take down the champ especially coming off winning CEO 2013 two weekends ago. Of course, we can not count out Japan’s Daigo Umehara, who always shines at the big Evo stage from the infamous parry moment to winning Street Fighter IV twice there. There are a good amount of other players that have a shot of winning as well, but the players I mentioned are the ones to watch out for.
Despite Street Fighter still being the final game, the hypest game to watch still is Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. “When’s Marvel?” has become popular lingo in video game streams for the past year to the point we see signs of it at random sports events and WWE shows, so it is not a surprise that it is arguably the most popular fighting game this console generation. However, one man’s dominating tear for the past year has been the big story in Marvel as the big question is can anyone stop Afterglow Elite’s Chris G’s deadly Morrigan/Doctor Doom combination at all? Sure, other players have joined the bandwagon and there are some answers to take out his team, but Chris G’s take on the “bullet hell” style of his team is a league of its own. The defending champion, Complexity’s Filipino Champ, is one of the players that has a chance to take Chris out along with some others, but it is definitely Chris’s tournament to lose because all eyes are on him to win as the overwhelming favorite and the crowd will cheer loudly if Chris does lose his chance of becoming an Evo champion.
The newest game in the fighting game scene, Netherrealm Studios’ Injustice: Gods Among Us, has been one of the more popular games to watch since its release in April (arguably the 2nd most popular game behind UMvC3). The game has been through some drama recently, however, in terms of game balance, as Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion was too good of a character, the community was considering banning him at Evo. Luckily that wasn't the case as Netherrealm did nerf him in a recent patch that featured Zod as the latest DLC character. Despite Scorpion’s month of dominance, expect to see a lot of Superman players to make a noise this weekend along with some of the underused and sleeper characters such as Harley Quinn, The Flash, and Killer Frost to shine as well. Speaking of DLC, Netherrealm did mention that they will announce the fifth DLC character there and expect a trailer at Comic-Con San Diego next weekend.
Besides Marvel, Super Street Fighter IV, Super Smash Bros., and Injustice, the other games at Evo 2013 have also a big amount of international presence and questions to be asked. Can America defend its own turf in games such as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Persona 4 Arena where Korea and Japan dominate respectively? Also, can Carl “Perfect Legend” White three-peat as the Mortal Kombat 9 champion and will King of Fighters XIII surprise us again with another amazing finals? In addition, Street Fighter X Tekken is not as popular in the Asian regions compared to here at the states, so does America have a chance of taking the crown?
The future for the fighting game genre will also be at Evo this weekend. From Iron Galaxy’s Divekick, which is getting closer to release, more Injustice DLC that I mentioned earlier, a new 2013 update to Super Street Fighter IV potentially being shown, and a new playable build of MIcrosoft and Double Helix Games’ reboot of Killer Instinct at the floor, there are tons of exciting things to look out for the future. Evo is the most exciting time to be a fan of fighting games, whether you are competing at the big stage, to watching the stream at home (schedule and streams are here). Which players do you want to win and what you’re most excited to see this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.