On July 15th to 17th, the world’s biggest fighting game tournament, Evolution Championship Series aka EVO returned to Las Vegas bigger and badder than ever before. This year, they expanded with anticipation of thousands and thousands flocking to be part of the festivities to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the first two days and for the Sunday grand finals, they finally made it to an arena setting at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Thousands and thousands of people were expected to compete in various games. The main event games included Mortal Kombat XL, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Guilty Gear XRD Revelator, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and the headliner, Street Fighter V. The other main EVO games included Killer Instinct, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Tekken 7: Fated Retribution, and Pokken Tournament. Street Fighter V had over 5,000 entrants while both Smash games had over 2,000 entrants each. The surprise was Pokken with over 1,000 people competing while the other games almost reached a thousand people.
Not only was it a major fighting game tournament, it was pretty much a convention too with many vendors and booths like Gaming Generations, Tier 1, and Arcade Shock. Famous cosplayers like Vampy Bit Me and Tali made appearances. There were a lot of independent gaming booths offering daily tournaments. SNK was there to promote King of Fighters XIV while Bandai Namco was there to promote Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. Since it was also a convention, they had panels and movies relating to the scene.
At every station and at every game, there were a ton of excitement especially when it came to gameplay. Many people from around the world came through to show what they can do. There were players from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Oceania, Japan, and other parts of Asia. Some were well known household names while many were online warriors. Many upsets happened everywhere especially on stream. There were roars occurring all the time at all games.
As someone that cosplays, I was encouraged by a friend of mine to try to cosplay at this event even though it wasn’t an anime convention or a comic con. I was extremely moved that my cosplays received a warm reception from everyone. There were a ton of people that wanted to take a photo with or of me which I actually enjoyed. Cosplaying at EVO is how I had always envisioned cosplaying at a typical anime convention. EVO 2016 is by far the most fun I’ve had cosplaying.
Because I was busy planning other events, I had actually missed the deadline for registration, so I had to look for alternatives to keep the competitive juices flowing. There were a ton of side tournaments for people that wanted to continue supporting games that weren’t part of the main lineup. There were tournaments for such games like Soul Calibur II, Vampire Savior, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, and much more. I personally entered Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Street Fighter Alpha 2, and Capcom vs. SNK 2.
The side events were awesome. Many legends of the specific games opted to come to support some of their favorite titles. BAS came through to support CvS2 and Street Fighter Alpha 2. I personally almost made top 8 in Alpha 2. The team tournaments for ST was full of hype and excitement.
Sunday grand finals was super exciting. It also brought in ESPN2 for the national broadcast of the top 8 for Street Fighter V. Celebrities like hip-hop superstar, Lupe Fiasco, and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton came to see what the hype was all about.
Never in my life, would I imagine watching fighting games inside of an arena. I always thought that our community would be bound by just hotel ballrooms and conventions. I never thought that the world’s largest sports media would even care about the fighting game community. I am still in awe till this day how amazing this event was.
Written by: Timtastic