by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
At the end of the day, I’m just glad we have fighting games to enjoy, play and grow together with. Even if I don’t care for a game personally, I’m glad the community that loves it, has it. The FGC needs more positivity.
It’s that time of the year again – when Fighting Game fans either cheer madly or boo vociferously! Mr. Wizard and MarkMan, in a recent livestream, announced the lineup for EVO 2019, which takes place on August 2nd-4th in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Evolution Championship Series is the biggest fighting game tournament series held in North America, and the greatest from around the world make their way to Mandalay Bay to show their stuff on the global stage. This year, nine games will hold a spot on the main stage and share the spotlight. Some of these are genuinely surprising, most are not. Mr. Wizard and MarkMan also stated that there will be a continued greater effort to show off the community games/tournaments – the games that have side tournaments and aren’t on the main stage. On a personal note, I’m glad Dragon Ball FighterZ has taken off the way it has. I love seeing anime fighters in the spotlight. But can we have fewer Gokus and Vegetas? Please? There are other characters in the Dragon Ball universe, I promise.
Will we see Hokuto no Ken on the EVO streams this year? I’m doubting it, but boy that would be exciting! The games on the main stage are either still competitively relevant, still reasonably new, or are coming out within months of the actual event. Perhaps “competitively relevant” is not fair, because as long as a game has a following and is being played, it’s competitively relevant. How does “still receiving regular updates” strike you? One of the big things people are shouting about is Smash Bros. Melee not being on the main stage. Now that Smash Bros. Ultimate is here, I just can’t see Melee being on the main stage anymore. Smash Bros. Melee has one of the most ardent, die-hard groups of fans of any fighting game I’ve ever seen, so it’s not a game that’s going to suffer from a lack of attention. There will surely be side tournaments and events for Melee. On a personal level, I’m not crazy about it, but I get the appeal. I’m also pretty disappointed that Dead or Alive 6 won’t be on the main stage. Hopefully, it will have some representation. Is it too Mature (but Mortal Kombat got in)? Is it blowback from the EVO Japan incident? Or did they just not have enough support? Perhaps we’ll find out soon. So what games are taking a spot on the main stage?
EVO 2019 Lineup:
- Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition
- Dragon Ball FighterZ
- Tekken 7
- BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
- Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- SoulCalibur VI
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Samurai Shodown
The biggest shock here to me is actually not Samurai Showdown (but it’s really damn close). It’s actually UNIST (Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st]). We reviewed one of the Under Night releases some time ago, and I’ve heard little to no buzz about it except new releases of the game ([st] being the most recent. This is surprising to me, because while Under Night is amazing, and I love French Bread and the Melty Blood games, I just didn’t expect it. But you know why UNIST is on the main stage? In my estimation, they have a fanbase that is welcoming, they put together events, they share the game and get other people hyped about it. It has a fairly recent release in [st], and it’s nice to see games like this see some limelight. I’ve never been that excited for Mortal Kombat though. The games are well put-together, but on a personal level, they haven’t caught my eye as a player since Ultimate MK3. I’m a lifelong Samurai Showdown fan though, and the teaser looks incredible. Very pumped for that.
Samurai Showdown and Mortal Kombat 11 are not even out yet, so I think they will potentially see the greatest and most interesting competition. That is unless some of the pro players wind up somehow getting early access, which I hope does not happen. I’d like to see everyone go in with the same amount of potential prep time, to see who truly is the best. I bet Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has the most participants though. My money is on that, or Dragon Ball FighterZ. One of the major reasons I’d wager that a game is on the main stage is that it will have major announcement(s) to drop on us, and that’s where the fun speculation begins. This is also the first year I’m even remotely interested in Smash Bros. at all, so I’m going to have a keen eye on the Ultimate matches, as much as I can. One of my goals as a gaming journalist is to attend EVO and cover the event, but I don’t know that it’s in the cards this year. I’d like to round this out with some unlikely announcements that I’m still hoping for:
- SFV Arcade Edition: Dan, or Evil Dan/Shin Dan/Some Flavor of Dan Hibiki
- Tekken 7: Kiryu Kazuma/Goro Majima. Either/or would be terrific DLC additions to the game.
- Dragon Ball FighterZ: Mark “Hercule” Satan. Is there any doubt I’d want the savior of the universe?
- A New Melty Blood: Kind of speaks for itself. Let’s see more Melty Blood!
Side Tournaments That Should Get Stream Time:
- Street Fighter II: Super Turbo
- Hokuto no Ken
- Kamen Rider (Any)
- Street Fighter Alpha 3
- Capcom vs. SNK 2
What about you? What are you excited for at EVO this year?