Evo 2017 is in the books
I feel like I say this every year, but this year’s Evo was one of the best yet. Great production values, character diversity over most titles, a bunch of fantastic developer reveals – who could ask for more?
Street Fighter V – FOX|Tokido (Akuma)
The Street Fighter V top 8 was full of surprises. Many favourites, like Infiltration and Poongko, were nowhere to be seen. Happily, the USA had a better showing this year with 3 players in the top 8. The character choices were varied, with everyone using a different main. The grand final couldn’t have been better from a narrative perspective – USA vs Japan, old guard vs new face. In the end, PG|Punk put up a good fight but FOX|Tokido finally walked away with his first Evo victory. Top stuff!
Super Smash Bros. for WiiU – MVG|Salem (Bayonetta)
This was another top 8 that featured great character variety. In the end, it came down to TsM|ZeRo and MVG|Salem. The former is generally regarded as the best Smash player in the world and the heavy favourite, but an incredible grand final saw MVG|Salem come out on top. The final moments of the last match were particularly thrilling and demonstrate just how strong Bayonetta is in the game.
Tekken 7 – FOX|JDCR
The top 8 for Tekken 7 wasn’t as surprising as some of the other titles, but it still proved to be hugely entertaining. The top 3 players in particular (FOX|JDCR, FOX|SAINT and Knee) all appeared to be on the same level on the day, so it was incredibly tough to work out who was going to pull out the win. In the end, it was FOX|JDCR that came through after a back-and-forth grand finals with his teammate.
BlazBlue Central Fiction – ryusei (Carl)
Anime returns! I was surprised to see BlazBlue get the nod for the final day over games like King of Fighters XIV and Injustice 2, but the finals were fun enough that it didn’t bug me too much in the end.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 – Splyce|RyanLV (Chun-Li/Morrigan/Phoenix)
This was the final year for Marvel 3, as it is due to be replaced by its successor next year. It went out in fine fashion, with a plethora of Doctor Dooms, Magnetos and Phoenixes all vying for a place in the grand finals. I had hoped that a former Marvel god (such as Justin Wong or Yipes) could take the final trophy home, but I can’t argue with someone brave enough to use Chun Li on their main team.
Super Smash Bros. Melee – [A]|Armada (Peach)
Melee returned for another year. Though it is very long in the tooth now, the game’s popularity cannot be denied. Whilst it wasn’t a huge surprise to see [A]|Armada take home first place, it was still an entertaining top 8 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Melee side-tournaments at Evo for years to come.
Injustice 2 – Noble|Dragon (Aquaman, Poison Ivy)
I was surprised to see the Injustice 2 finals nudged into day 2 of Evo. I had expected it to be one of the main attractions. Nevertheless, the top 8 definitely delivered. There was a good cross-section of characters used (which was one of my main hopes leading into the event) and some of the matches went down to the wire. The grand finals were particularly fun to watch, with both players having vastly different playstyles.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 – KVOxTSB|OMITO (Johnny)
Another game with great character diversity in the top 8. There were some great moments in the top 8, but the grand finals were particularly interesting. A high tier character (Johnny) faced off against a low-tier character (Leo Whitefang) in a really fun exhibition that showed off exactly what makes Guilty Gear such a great game.
King Of Fighters XVI – Huomao.DBJ|E.T. (Meitenkun/Benimaru/Leona, Billy/Leona/Benimaru, Leona/Daimon/Benimaru, Clark/Benimaru/Daimon)
It was wonderful to see King of Fighters back on the big screen at Evo, even if it wasn’t one of the featured games on day 3. I was thrilled to see Daimon take centre stage in the grand final, where a couple of well-timed command throws won him the championship.
Evo Japan – January 2018
Now we don’t need to wait a whole year for more Evo action! The final dates for Evo Japan were announced and we can now look forward to becoming stream monsters again on January 26-28, 2018. The main games were also revealed – Super Smash Bros. Melee will be absent, but the new Nintendo hotness Arms will be there to pick up the slack.
Tekken 7 – Geese Howard
Perhaps the biggest crowd-pleaser of the whole event, Geese Howard makes the impossible move into the Tekken universe. He looks fantastic, with his moves translating brilliantly into 3D and his instant rivalry with Heihachi providing great fodder for the Tekken storyline. The teaser even references the storyline for Mark Of The Wolves, teasing even more fantastic SNK throwbacks to come.
Street Fighter V – Abigail
The newest addition to Street Fighter V is Abigail, a Final Fight character who is absolutely massive. Whilst his exaggerated appearance has drawn a polarised response from the community, there’s no denying that he is a very different character from the others in the game. He doesn’t appear to be a grappler, which is unusual for a ‘giant’ character in a fighting game. He will be released on July 25.
Dragon Ball FighterZ – Trunks
We finally got the trailer for Trunks. As with everything else regarding this game, he looks astonishingly good and incredibly faithful to the original animation. One additional bonus from the trailer was the information about the upcoming closed beta, with registrations starting on July 26.
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite – Gamora and Jedah
I was expecting information on Gamora from Evo, but was surprised to be hit in the face with a sudden gameplay exhibition for Jedah. Gamora looked fairly interesting, clearly based on her Marvel Studios film incarnation and appearing to be a decent brawling character along the lines of Captain America. However, Capcom did her a disservice by showing her right aside a far more visually dynamic character like Jedah. He looked wonderful, with animations that really captured the spirit of Darkstalkers. It’s a little strange how much better he looks in terms of visual quality and animation than some of the others in the cast.
BlazBlue – Cross Tag Battle
Certainly one of the most unexpected announcements of the whole event. This is a whole new title that incorporates a variety of Arc System Works games as well as RWBY. It is due for release in 2018 and could well become a fast cult favourite.
EX Fighting Layer – Darun Mister and Skullomania
We knew that Arika’s April Fools’ joke had evolved into an actual title, but this trailer from Evo definitely brought it to the forefront of many player’s minds. Not only does the game look good, but it now officially brings the return of two fan favourites from the Street Fighter EX series. One is Darun Mister, grappler supreme who possesses one of the longest grab supers of all time. The other is Skullomania, the high-flying luchadore whose kinetic playstyle just oozes fun. I can’t wait to get my hands on this game!
The return of the grapplers
A Zangief in top 8 for Street Fighter V. Daimon literally winning the King Of Fighters XIV championship with a well-timed command grab. I love grapplers and this was a very, very good year for them at Evo.
The fastest man alive
If you had asked people prior to Evo which characters they expected to see in the grand finals, I’d wager that very few would have predicted to see the Flash. Nevertheless, the ‘Flash God’ himself, cR|HoneyBee, managed to take out a whole host of killers on his tear through the tournament. He even handled one of the favourites, FOX|SonicFox, in one of the biggest upsets of the whole event.
After years of competing, Japanese legend Tokido finally won his first Evo Street Fighter title. In his post-match interview with Gootecks, he opened up and spoke freely about his love for the community. James Chen wasn’t the only one tearing up afterwards!
Character reveal madness
Geese Howard? Jedah?! SKULLOMANIA?!! Say what you will about fighting game developers, but they know how to get old-school fans excited when they want to!
Perhaps it jinxed a whole lot of players, but in case you missed the pre-Evo hype video…
That about wraps it up for Evo this year – you are all free now!