By Jacob Flores
The biggest fighting game tournament is over, and now it slumbers only to awaken next year. Competing at EVO must be one of the greatest feelings ever; winning it must be one of the best dreams ever. Over here, however, we fans have another dream - that our favorite games will make their return to being played in the big spotlight.
Like they say: Good things don't last forever, and that goes especially for yearly events such as the Championship series that only lasts three days! Since it is yearly, there’s a huge gap of time where newly released games could take over popularity.
A perfect example of this would be Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3. The original game was released in 2011; a year later saw the game of the year edition, as usual. From 2011 to the present, Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3 returned year after year for the grand show of skill. That could come to an end with the arrival of Capcom’s new Marvel VS Capcom: Infinite. The game originally wasn’t even planned to be played at this year’s event. The ninth game at the event was a toss-up decided by the fans. Whichever game earned the most votes in a donation drive would be played at EVO. Ultimate Marvel VS Capcom 3 just squeaking by Pokken.
Typically, the games are rotated in every so often, the trend being one game per developer/publisher. This year, NetherRealm’s MKX was swapped out for Injustice 2. This holds true, unless you're Capcom. On multiple occasions, they had both Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike and a version of Street Fighter II being played. It appeared that 2009 was a special occasion for Street Fighter because three competitions existed at the tournament: II, III, and IV. At modern day EVO, this is unheard of. Ultimate Street Fighter 4 was quickly swapped out for Street Fighter 5. Add the Nintendo Switch’s Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers, and it would be a replica of that year. Fans would highly disapprove this because Capcom would be taking so many crucial limited spots on the game lineup.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern besides the new variations of games being played at these events, which sometimes leads the fans to complain. This runs all the way back to ten years ago at EVO 2006, and in the most bizarre twist, the tournament known for fighting games actually included Mario Kart for the DS. That just goes to show that you never know what will be in this tournament. Any game can be cut, and any game can make the cut.
The problem is a real one, but it could be solved simply enough. There are just too many games.
It’s hard seeing your favorite game not being played just because a new one came out. It's a terrible feeling, especially if it’s a hype game like Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Although released in 2012, it still holds a die-hard fanbase, and that’s a good thing because the original Tekken Tag Tournament was released in 1999. That’s 13 years for a new game, so who knows when the next one will be released. The game is very popular because it has the most playable characters in the entirety of the game series. With so many options, it’s crazy to see players use characters that just dominate or have good synergy with each other. Combinations like that made the game interesting and highly repayable.
Bandai Namco is no stranger to large delays for their games and is also known for gaps in region releases. In EVO 2015, Tekken 7 was played despite only being officially released in Asia at the time. A year later, at EVO 2016, Tekken 7: Fated Retribution leveled out the playing field for every player to get their hands on it.
Remember Pokken? It was a fresh new fighting game released for the Wii U in 2016. It was played at the tournament, and it even got its game of the year edition dubbed Pokken Tournament Deluxe or DX. The game of the year edition was released way too late to officially be played, but the normal game had a chance to. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case despite it being one of the most popular fighting games of 2016, going toe-to-toe with even a heavy hitter like Street Fighter 5. All fans could hope for is that the Nintendo Switch makes its debut along with Pokken next year.
With the reveal of the EVO Japan lineup, fans have been in shock that it doesn’t include SSBM. This is due to the simple but complex difference in culture. SSBM just doesn’t appeal to the Japanese people and thus EVO Japan raises questions. If an event like this gains traction and becomes a yearly event, will the lineup include obscure games or only Japanese games? Will there be more Tekken Tag situations?
There are just too many games to fit in three days. Some have to be pushed back in the lineup to make room for the new, hottest game(s). If only there was a tournament or tournaments specifically for games adored by fans - a dedicated tournament and not one that just springs up every so often. Until then, you’ll see us with our fingers crossed each time a lineup is revealed.