The Evolution Championship Series (Evo) is one of the most important fighting game tournaments anywhere in the world. And this weekend, it’s taking over Las Vegas! Here’s a quick rundown of the games, stages, and schedule for this year’s exciting competitions.
What is an Evo and what does it do?
Evo was founded in 1996 by brother-entrepreneurs Tom Cannon and Tony Cannon, alongside co-organizers Joey Cuellar and ex-Capcom designer Seth Killian. Each year, Evo hosts huge competitive pools based around several fighting games, ranging from the latest Street Fighter to older titles with thriving grassroots fandoms like Super Smash Bros. Melee. For the last few years, Evo has livestreamed all of its competitions online, specifically through Twitch.
Which games will we see this year, and are there any favorites competing?
Street Fighter V is the biggie this year, with Shoryuken reporting record-breaking signups in excess of 5,000 entrants. We may seem some total newcomers make it to the upper brackets, but you can expect to see quite a few familiar faces as well, like South Korea’s Lee “Infiltration” Seon-woo and Japan’s Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. Among American competitors, Justin Wong remains a top competitor, and we may see a timely comeback from Puerto Rican dark horse Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez as well.
Apart from Street Fighter V, the games to watch this year include Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Super Smash Bros. Melee. Pokken Tournament, Nintendo’s 1v1 fighting game spinoff for its Pokemon franchise, will also be exhibited, as will Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat XL, Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
In the past, Evo has also played host to a few non-competitive entries, like working builds of Skullgirls and Fighting is Magic (now Them’s Fighting Herds). Special guests have been known to turn up as well, such as Halloween actress Jamie Lee Curtis (who, it turns out, looooves to cosplay). So keep an eye on social media for any surprises!
Where do I watch it?
There are five dedicated Evo tournament streams, four via Evo itself (srkevo1, srkevo2, srkevo3, srkevo4) and one via Capcom (capcomfighters). Here’s the entire streaming schedule with times and which Twitch stream you’ll need to tune in to in order to watch.
Important to note: games will switch stages throughout the tournament, for instance the bulk of Street Fighter V will be streaming on capcomfighters but Sunday’s finals will take place on srkevo1. During the lower brackets, multiple channels may be streaming different match-ups of the competition. So be sure to double-check the listings when you go to watch!
Additionally, for the first time ever, part of Evo will be broadcast on real honest-to-goodness television on sports network ESPN2. The channel will be covering Sunday’s Street Fighter V final, which starts at 7:00 PM Pacific. If you’re planning to tune in, be sure to check your local listings!
This all sounds suspiciously like sports. Why should I tune into this?
Because it is sports, but extremely colorful! Just like any televised sport, esports are all about the drama and personalities of the players. Commentators, familiar with the backgrounds and play styles of the competitors, narrate and add insight to the action on screen. Done right, they can richly enhance even a game you’ve never set your hands on in your life. Watching two high-level players face off in Street Fighter with Seth Killian on commentary, for example, can be a downright transcedent experience.
If you need a better idea of the appeal of watching these tournaments, I highly recommend this video from Ian Danskin. He covers not just the visuality of watching fighters, but of the legacy these games leave in their wake.
Will Zam be covering Evo in depth?
You bet! Tune in throughout the weekend for tournament results and highlights.
Top image source: Vincent Samaco, Creative Commons.