For fans of the Street Fighters, Tekkens and Dragon Ball FighterZs of this world, The Evo Championship Series is the most magical time of the year. Held at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, thousands trade blows across eight major games (plus a fair few minor ones) in search of fame, glory, and big cash prizes. Evo's doors are open, and the first matches are streaming live on Twitch right now.
For those who'd rather just fight for themselves, Steam is running a big promo weekend, with discounts many of the games being played and free weekends for Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7 and new 2D crossover fighter BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. How else are you going to get warmed up for Evo 2019?
Right now, the first round 'pools' phase of the tournament is in full swing. Hundreds of rapid-fire elimination matches across all eight games to decide who gets a name on the tournament board proper, although there's always the chance to catch up after a bad start through the "losers" side. There's been no shortage of upsets in years prior, where a fan-favourite has been eliminated early, only to claw their way back up to challenge the champion. The pools matches will be wrapping up early tomorrow, with the big-ticket fights happening over Saturday and Sunday.
Studios will be showcasing some upcoming games at Evo, such as Smash Bros. Ultimate, Soul Calibur 6 (now featuring Geralt from The Witcher series) and Dead Or Alive 6, the latter two confirmed PC-bound. Evo also tends to be where big fighting game studios make surprise reveals, although the when and what are unpredictable - you'll just have to keep watching the tournament to find out. Personally, I'm expecting a peek at Street Fighter 5's next DLC character, G, at some point during the bigger SF5 matches.
As for the tournaments themselves, all eyes are on Dominique "SonicFox" McClean, who is an expert at multiple games but has recently been dominating the Dragon Ball FighterZ scene. A larger-than-life figure in the most literal sense, he's an outspoken and proud furry who has recently taken to wearing his bulky blue, white and orange fox fursuit during matches. This surely puts him at a disadvantage, but makes for a great show and you know things just got serious when he takes his 'head' off to vent some steam and get a better look at the fight.
Evo 2018 is live now, and you can watch it here on Twitch from now until the last punch lands on Monday morning. You can see the full tournament format and rules here, the match schedule here (Listed in PDT/GMT-07), plus the Steam fighting game sale/free weekend here.