Since 2005, thousands of the most skilled videogame players in the world all descended upon the Las Vegas desert for one weekend to do nothing but beat the crud out of each other (virtually) in the Evolution Championship Series, or EVO for short. While there are dozens of e-sports events every year, EVO focuses on fighting games, and to this day it reminds me of getting spellbound by twitchy Marvel vs. Capcom 2 players in the local arcade. And if there’s anything I love, it’s exciting games and nostalgia.
But this year was the best EVO I feel like I’ve ever seen. Just to show you why, I’m going to throw up a bunch of the Grand Finale matches. This year, a lot of the eventual winners of these matches started out in the loser’s bracket. When you start the Evo Grand Finale in the loser’s bracket, you have to win three games to reset the advantage and then win three more games to gain the win. That a pretty damn tough hill to climb. And that makes for some super awesome e-sport watching.
Ultra Street Fighter 4
I haven’t picked up this particular version of the game, but I do have the original Street Fighter IV and that game is incredible. But I’m nowhere near as good as these guys are. This is the epic Grand Finals match between Meltdown Louffy, a Frenchman in the Loser’s Bracket, and Bonchan, with the advantage. Keep in mind that in this match, Louffy has to win three games against Bonchan to reset the advantage, and then he has to win another three games to win the tournament. The matches are tense, the emotions run wild, and interestingly, the stakes are high. Louffy is fighting to be the first European Street Fighter 4 series champion in EVO history. Oh and by the way, unlike his fighting stick touting rivals, Louffy uses a PSOne controller in this match.
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
Tekken is another one near and dear to my heart. When the MVC 2 players took a break and left the cabinet for aspiring players, I would run away from the intimidating game. Either I would go to Samurai Showdown, or I would go to the original Tekken Tag. But this is still a tough game to master. You have to contend with a 3D fighting arena, you have to master two characters, you have to master multi-character combos, AND you have to keep an eye on your current fighter’s health bar. If one of your two fighters gets KO’d, you’re done.
The Grand Finals you’ll see below features the tight battle between Gen in the loser bracket and the intimidating JDCR, a Tekken Tag 2 giant who has never lost when pitted in a Grand Finals game on American soil. But Gen proved to be a harsh opponent who was dedicated to bringing JDCR down.
This is the first time the newly rebooted Killer Instinct has shown up in an EVO tournament since it’s November launch, so surely fighting game nerds (like me) everywhere were curious to see how the greats get it done. Killer Instinct is a difficult, high paced, and highly technical fighting game with a lot of dedicated fans. The last Killer Instinct game competed all the way back in the 90’s against the early Mortal Kombats. Now the return of Rare’s eponymous fighting game franchise also signals the return of the more traditional fast-paced and combo-driven gameplay that fighting game purists will be used to.
But on to the match. Here, we will see CD Jr. facing off against his friend Rico Suave. These two guys play a lot and are good friends, but they are nothing more than bitter rivals in this match. This match comes right after CD Jr. has basically swept through this tournament. His execution of Sadira, a very difficult fighter to master, has been perfect throughout this tournament. So perfect in fact, that he swept his friend 3-0 in a previous match and even swept the Marvel legend Justin Wong. But while CD Jr. is on his game throughout this match, Rico Suave wants revenge badly, and will not go down without a really tough fight.
Blaz Blue: Chrono Phantasma
I watched this Sunday night before going to bed. At the end of the match, I mopped up the drool, lifted up my jaw, and passed out from lack of energy. This was the most intense battle of the competition and both Garirero and Dogura show how much emotion can go into these battles. And they show how epically talented these guys are. Keep watching through the whole video, because you’ll never know who actually wins in the end. It comes down to the last hit of the last round of the last match. Oh em gee…
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Now I’ve saved the best for last. What you will see in the next videos is the epic return of the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 legend Justin Wong. Justin Wong was facing a several years of EVO failures and a close but heartbreaking loss in the Grand Finals last year. First of all, I lied. This next video isn’t a Grand Finale video, but it was the most exciting match of EVO 2014.This is the Winner’s Finals, where Justin Wong faced off against Ryan “FilipinioChamp” Ramirez with a losing bracket. A daunting challenge to say the least, but also consider that this man had just been unceremoniously swept in his Killer Instinct match against the eventual tournament winner, Emmanuel “CD Jr” Brito. Regardless, there was a lot of emotion in this match, as you’ll see below. While this game is near and dear to my heart, I don’t doubt that you’ll be kept on the edge of your seat as you watch this epic matchup and it’s stunning conclusion.
After all that, this poor guy still had to face off against Christopher “Chris G” Gonzalez, who is widely considered the best Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 player in the world, despite never winning the EVO Championship. Tensions and emotions were high in this match. Enjoy the epic match below.
And with that, the King of MVC has returned and has reclaimed his throne.
Now that my blood is pumping again, I think I’m going to go practice my skills in a few fighting game matches. This year’s EVO has been epic, and now I’ll be looking forward to next year.