Quite the Match: EVO 2019
Fighting may be a universal language, but the fight game genre embodies it best. One-on-one fights may seem overly simplistic, but the complexities of varying combos, from diverse rosters and the games’ technical nuances, make these fights thrilling for both players and audiences. In appreciation to this thrilling genre, it’s celebrated in a yearly tradition called the Evolution Tournament Series–better known as EVO.
For EVO 2019, the lineup was changed a bit from last year’s. Mainstay juggernauts Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, remained as expected, while Dragon Ball FighterZ and BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle managed to hold on to official event status. As for the new events, all, save one, were the latest installments of long-running franchises: Soul Calibur VI, Samurai Shodown, and Mortal Kombat 11. The exception was Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st].
And The Winners Are
In Street Fighter V, the event’s most iconic and arguably most-anticipated tournament, the final match pitted Red Bulls’ Bonchan with Karin and NASR’s Big Bird with Rashid. In a heart-stopping final round, Bonchan managed to grab the W after taking one Critical Art, dodging the next, and swiftly countering with a high jump kick.
As for Tekken 7, it’s a rematch of last year’s Pakistani dark horse and underdog Arslan “Arslan Ash” Siddique versus his arch-nemesis Jae-Min “Knee” Ba, with the former using Kazumi and the latter Jin. With both players having won 2 sets, the final match ended with Arslan Ash making a clean sweep by winning all three rounds and finally ending it after trading blows with his rival.
In Mortal Kombat 11, SonicFox once again came out on top this year against Dragon, with him besting the latter’s Cetrion via his Cassie Cage. And in Dragon Ball FighterZ, SonicFox also contended for the championship, but was bested by his Japanese rival GO1 (pronounced as go-ichi) in an epic closer that got Raditzbeating up Super Buu and going Super Saiyan, signaling the end of the match and confirming his victory.
For Soul Calibur VI, Japan’s Yuttoto (Voldo) defeats USA’s Bluegod (Azwel) after a stun and a Critical Edge. And in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Shinku’s RWBY tag team with Ruby and Yang bested Kyamei’s Persona 3 duo of Mitsuru and Akihiro. On the other hand, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late(st) had Oushuu-Hittou with Seth and Clearlamp_O with Byakuya. After a close nail-biting final round, the latter managed to air combo the former and close it off with a special move.
Last is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where MKLeo’s Joker from Persona 5 managed to beat Tweek’s Pokemon Trainer. The cross-franchise match was all won by MKLeo, proving his place as one of the best Smash players in the world.
Here Comes a New Challenger
While it can’t be denied that the tournaments are the core of the event, it’s also when a lot of fighting game-related news and updates are announced. For Tekken 7, Season 3 is getting kicked off. It’s going to have a returning character: Zafina, the fighting mystic. There’s also going to be a new character: Leroy Smith, a black man with white dreads and a master of Wing Chun. All characters will be tweaked and will receive new moves, making this season huge for all players.
BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle will also have three new characters. One is Yumi from Senran Kagura: Estival Versus, a young lady ninja with ice techniques. The other two are two characters from Akatsuki Blitzkampf, an indie 2D Japanese fighting game with a bizarre mid-20th century Europe dieselpunk aesthetic. The titular character, Akatsuki, will be in it, as well as Blitztank. Yes, an anime tank with a skull for a turret can compete in a fighting game!
Last but definitely not least, Soul Calibur VI will have the familiar face Cassandra returning to the franchise as DLC. For a bit of background info, she’s the younger sister of Sophitia, one of the game’s main characters. Like Sophitia, she has blonde hair, wields a sword and shield, and relies on a balanced but versatile move set that can quickly go on the aggressive when needed.
EVO isn’t just about fighting games. It’s also about tradition, competition, camaraderie, sportsmanship, and most importantly, heart, for the fight, the genre, and the community of digital warriors. This year’s EVO was full of those things, and next year promises to bring even more of the same!