Watch Evo 2015 This Weekend, It’ll Be Great

This man has just won a thing and is about to do a full forward roll.

But what, you may reasonably ask, is that?

Evo is the world championships of fighting games. If you like fighting games, you’re already planning to watch it, have Monday off work and are stocking up on cool snacks. If you don’t hopefully you haven’t already stopped reading, because Evo is the spectator event of the year unless you have some sort of allergy to excitement. Taking place each year in Las Vegas, it’s a celebration of competitive play, an exhibition of extreme skill and Championship Sunday is 8+ hours of pure, undiluted hype. Here’s what you should watch, when and how.

The main event, this and pretty much every year, is Street Fighter, and for the final time (based on latest estimates for Street Fighter V’s [official site] release) Ultra Street Fighter IV [official site] will take that stage. Pool play, the preliminary brackets that feed the main double elimination tournament, all the way through to the top 8 are being ran throughout today. While these initial streams are likely to be stomps by well known players onto poor noobies, it will help you get to grips with the game, commonly used characters and maneuvers and there’s always the chance that somebody loses a match they shouldn’t.

As the day progresses games will get steadily closer, upsets more frequent, last moment comebacks and flashy-animation-based sudden reversals of fortune common. In previous years the top 32 and 16 have been definitively unmissable but with 2227 players signed up this year, killer matchups will start a lot earlier. There’s a combined 26 hours of streaming planned across the official Capcom stream and the main Evo stream throughout the day. Did I mention second monitors are pretty much required?

While we’re talking schedules, here’s the full thing (8 hours behind UK time). That’s 175 hours of content, 8 streams, three days. Beyond the mandatory main stage viewing on the final day, here’s where I’ll be spending my eyeballs. Super Smash Bros. Melee is in a resurgence and is the third most-signed-up-for game behind its newer sequel despite being stunningly difficult to even track, nevermind play. It’s as close to fighting game chess as you’ll get, with any of the Five Gods plus relative newcomer Leffen being almost guaranteed top eighters. To give an idea of how much better than their peers these guys are, Mango recently failed to turn up to his first round match at a major tournament, putting him into losers bracket immediately. He still won the finals without dropping a game, losing three total across all ten matches.

And he’s considered to not be playing that well right now. Yeah.

It’s likely to be the last year for main-stage Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, as the latter company’s contract with the former has ran out and the game is no longer available to buy from online stores. This also means it’s never going to receive additional content or a much needed balance patch. With a host of up and comers looking to take that valued place, Marvel 3 will take a backseat. Some of the best moments from every year come out of the frantic, deadly and combo-heavy team-based fighter, so don’t miss its finalé. Plus She-Hulk drop kicks Ryu sometimes.

Finally always, always, always try every game. Whether it’s the unmatched animation of Tekken or the knowingly over the top Killer Instinct, chances are one will take your fancy more than it did mine. Shop around, experiment and see if you too end up screaming at the top of your lungs as a giant bear kills a samurai.

For more info and to follow along better this weekend, Shoryuken’s the place to be. Here’s the official trailer:

15 Comments

Top comments

  1. Baines says:

    They are picked through various methods.

    Popularity and player interest are obviously important. This can give an advantage to relatively new games, which have yet to lose their new game shine. Games like Killer Instinct and Tekken 7 benefit here. Tekken 7 gets an extra boost from being a kind of tournament exclusive, as the game isn't even finished yet. Skullgirls has a strike against it here, as it is now several years old, and quite simply isn't as popular as other titles. (Even when it was newer, did Skullgirls ever make it to more than side tournament status?)

    The next big factor is genre representation. EVO likes to keep variety amongst the titles. That is why you don't see four different Street Fighter games taking top spots, because they won't pick four different Street Fighters. You are more likely to get one game that fits a particular style or franchise. This means that a game from an under-represented genre can make the cut even when it is less popular than games from over-represented genres that were skipped. Skullgirls gets an additional strike against it in this area, as it apparently gets lumped into an "anime fighter" genre, where it has to slug it out directly with various more popular titles for a very limited number of slots.

    Being arcade-only isn't a massive issue, though it is presumably some issue. Remember that EVO was an arcade game tournament. The biggest issue there is parity amongst players. Tournaments might, for example, be antsy about supporting the newest version of an arcade game if that version has been released in some countries but not others.

    Smash Melee and Smash Wii U are both in because Smash is really popular. EVO has skipped Melee before, only to have the fanbase rally and get it back into the main tournaments. (For example, in 2013 EVO ran a fund-raising contest where the game that raised the most money would get a tournament spot. Melee fans raised nearly $100k for cancer research to win that contest. That, incidentally, was also the year that Nintendo decided to step in at the last minute to tell EVO that they wouldn't be allowed to stream Melee. It was not one of Nintendo's smarter moves, though someone at Nintendo woke up and realized just what kind of PR suicide they'd be committing.) Smash gets two titles because there was such a strong divide between Melee and Brawl, while Wii U is still getting established, and because there is no direct competition with other similar fighters. (If another company had a really popular Smash-style game, then it would probably be harder for two versions of Smash to make the cut, versus seeing one Smash and its competitor.)
  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Is it typically at all accessible to someone who isn’t already a follower of the “scene”? I enjoy high-level Starcraft matches when they’re commentated by someone knowledgeable who doesn’t over-use insider lingo, but is that even possible in a face-to-face smashfest like this?

    • Zankman says:

      Well, just tune in and watch for a few minutes – surely it depends on the game and the commentator pairing.

      From what I see, the commentators primarily use insider lingo, so…

    • Frings says:

      I’m not a follower of the fighting game scene at all, but there’s something about watching people who’re actually good at these play (rather than my SMASH ALL THE BUTTONS top strat).

      Usually games like Smash Bros are more fun for me to watch because of how insane things get even if I don’t have a clue what exactly is happening; but even Tekken and Street Fighter can be fun when people are playing a game round and the tension mounts.

      I’d say give it a try – perhaps on the finals?

    • geerad says:

      There’s a fair amount of insider lingo, but I think it’s fairly accessible. I have played a little but of Street Fighter casually and rarely watch fighting games outside of EVO, but I can generally follow. Some commentators are better than others, and different games appeal to different people, but there seven streams going at once (except on Sunday), so flip through them if you can’t get into one.

      It’s also worth noting that the pools can be fairly boring sometimes, but when you get to the semi-finals and finals they’re all worth watching.

    • Ben Barrett says:

      I think it’s infinitely more immediately watchable than MOBAs/RTSs/FPSs because it makes a bit more sense at a base level. You’re watching two people fight. I didn’t play any fighting games when I started watching them but started picking it up pretty quickly. The Capcom Fighters stream will likely be pretty noobie friendly, depending on who’s doing the casting, but I actually prefer working it out – a lot of it is just using knowledge you have on screen and it’s a fun challenge. It does mean it took me several years to learn what an FADC was though.

    • DarkFenix says:

      I found Street Fighter 4 an easy introduction to it all a few years back, it’s not overly technical and has a clean graphical style (ie. visually distinctive, simple UI and not full of particle effect spam). There’s a bit of jargon but a glossary of fighting game terms is one quick Google away (they only use a tiny fraction of the jargon that exists).

      Then again my advice would be to ignore the streams and find it all on Youtube a couple of days later in a far more convenient format.

  2. Zankman says:

    Watching Tekken ATM since I have always preferred it to Street Fighter – in terms of visuals, gameplay and simply how it all “feels” (which is a combination of both gameplay and visuals).

    But, damn, Tekken 7… Half the roster is gone, from what I see.

    Also: This new Katarina character looks ridiculous. I think this was the “gratuitously sexual” character that stirred a bit of controversy when the first character details were revealed.

    Simply bad and tasteless design, kinda expected from the creator at this point… Or, well, Japanese “animu” designers in general.

    • Zankman says:

      As for the roster size: It’s not released yet, the game that is.

      So, they will add more characters. Also, they are apparently balancing the current roster with patches, so, that is a step up from the usual console gaming approach of… Doing nothing.

      The questionable char design remains the same.

  3. MithrilWomble says:

    I used to think I was great at Soul Calibur. I played it at home against the CPU, and felt so good about myself I entered a local competition. I was obliterated in my first round. Just…destroyed. I still love fighting games and still love watching EVO even if what I’m watching is deep arcana to my first level mind.

  4. Be_reasonable says:

    This articlet told me nothing about where to watch and when. we need links for schedule and location of the stream.

  5. kwyjibo says:

    How were these games picked? Why are there two iterations of Smash, an Xbox One exclusive, an arcade only Tekken 7, and say no Skullgirls?

    • webhead says:

      Cash money dogg. Esports hell. Respectability doom

    • Baines says:

      They are picked through various methods.

      Popularity and player interest are obviously important. This can give an advantage to relatively new games, which have yet to lose their new game shine. Games like Killer Instinct and Tekken 7 benefit here. Tekken 7 gets an extra boost from being a kind of tournament exclusive, as the game isn’t even finished yet. Skullgirls has a strike against it here, as it is now several years old, and quite simply isn’t as popular as other titles. (Even when it was newer, did Skullgirls ever make it to more than side tournament status?)

      The next big factor is genre representation. EVO likes to keep variety amongst the titles. That is why you don’t see four different Street Fighter games taking top spots, because they won’t pick four different Street Fighters. You are more likely to get one game that fits a particular style or franchise. This means that a game from an under-represented genre can make the cut even when it is less popular than games from over-represented genres that were skipped. Skullgirls gets an additional strike against it in this area, as it apparently gets lumped into an “anime fighter” genre, where it has to slug it out directly with various more popular titles for a very limited number of slots.

      Being arcade-only isn’t a massive issue, though it is presumably some issue. Remember that EVO was an arcade game tournament. The biggest issue there is parity amongst players. Tournaments might, for example, be antsy about supporting the newest version of an arcade game if that version has been released in some countries but not others.

      Smash Melee and Smash Wii U are both in because Smash is really popular. EVO has skipped Melee before, only to have the fanbase rally and get it back into the main tournaments. (For example, in 2013 EVO ran a fund-raising contest where the game that raised the most money would get a tournament spot. Melee fans raised nearly $100k for cancer research to win that contest. That, incidentally, was also the year that Nintendo decided to step in at the last minute to tell EVO that they wouldn’t be allowed to stream Melee. It was not one of Nintendo’s smarter moves, though someone at Nintendo woke up and realized just what kind of PR suicide they’d be committing.) Smash gets two titles because there was such a strong divide between Melee and Brawl, while Wii U is still getting established, and because there is no direct competition with other similar fighters. (If another company had a really popular Smash-style game, then it would probably be harder for two versions of Smash to make the cut, versus seeing one Smash and its competitor.)

  6. Lionmaruu says:

    EVO is great, always great, been waching it from youtube videos and then on twitch since they started streaming it, it isfull with awesome moments and lot of energy, I only really watch SF and peek at the others. but they are all high level.