Evo 2020’s Announcement Stream Brings Plenty of Punchy Choices

The biggest fighting game tournament of the year made some interesting choices that left fans excited — or scratching their heads.

It’s now 2020, which means tournaments are in full swing. Even the Evolution Championship Series, better known as Evo, had a great start to the year, with the second year of Evo Japan going smoothly (minus one literal slip-up). Now, as everyone scrambles to start summer plans, the main Evo event unveiled the games competitors have to look forward to.

The annual Las Vegas tournament hosted its annual announcement stream last night. In it, the eight games were announced, and common questions were answered. The stream gave a few small surprises that kept spectators talking well after the stream.

But first! The eight games, and their 2019 totals if applicable, are as follows:

  • Super Smash Bros Ultimate (3,534)
  • Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (1,951)
  • Tekken 7 (1,899)
  • Samurai Shodown 2 (1729)
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ (1200)
  • Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] (AKA UNICLR, last year as UNIST w/ 1157)
  • Soulcalibur 6 (746)
  • Granblue Fantasy: Versus (NEW GAME)

Most of these are returning titles in some shape or form. The main changes are UNICLR, which is the next game in the Under Night In-Birth series. Last year, UNIST represented the franchise for the second time, with the first in 2018.

Another change is the inclusion of Granblue Fantasy: Versus, which had an unofficial preview tournament last year. Technically, the game comes out in March, but the preview event let fans get a look at what the hotly-anticipated Arc System Works game looks like. Now, with the game coming out in March, fans will finally really get to fight it out.

Plus, Evo 2020 includes one major surprise game: Marvel Vs Capcom 2. The small ninth “official” tournament celebrates the 20th anniversary of the game. However, the tournament acts as eye candy instead of a major event, as other Evo games are. This invitational brings a total of eight players, including four past Evo winners. (Yes, Evo has been going for that long.)

Many FGC players noticed a major omission from the announcements this year, though — Mortal Kombat 11. MK11 and the Mortal Kombat franchise as a whole is considered a staple in the FGC, as it’s featured at most major FGC events. And the confusion is definitely justified, given its continued popularity. Last year, MK11 featured over 1500 participants, making it the fifth biggest game at Evo.

Some speculated that the drop is because MK11 isn’t quite audience-friendly, to say the least. The game’s cartoonish but uncanny ultra-violence is nearly inseparable from the Mortal Kombat brand. If Evo plans to broadcast finals this year on a larger platform than just streaming, a cleaner game would be desirable.

Also teased during the stream was extra space for the event. Apparently, over 100,00 square feet will be added — I can’t tell if he said “116” or “160” — meaning more space for… well, a lot of things. For instance, the BYOC controller was pretty limited last year, with only space for about 60 or so setups, tops. (I know this because I helped set up most of the monitors.) With the upped rallying cry of “run a community tournament,” the extra space is likely welcome. Plus, there’ll be more room for sponsors, vendors, and pools.

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[Content warnings for sexual harassment and assault discussions in this paragraph.] But speaking of logistics, one issue left unaddressed in the announcement stream was player safety. At Evo 2019, attendees reported at least case of harassment and sexual assault at an official after-party. The same event saw several “date rape drug” reports. The after-party didn’t require a badge or any admission, so anyone in Las Vegas could walk in. Soon after Evo 2019 in August, I reached out to lead TO Joey “MrWiz” Cuellar to inquire about the issue, but his press rep declined to comment.

Whatever you’re looking forward to, hopefully Evo 2020 turns out to be bigger and better than ever. After all, once an FGC event starts growing, it’s hard to kill its momentum — and there’s none like Evo. And if you’re going, registration is now up.

[DISCLAIMER: I helped run brackets and set up at Evo 2019, and while I didn’t know they would at the time, they gave us money for it. Go help do stuff at Evo, by the way, it’s perspective-changing stuff.]