Fighting fit: 5 key storylines for Evo 2017

Evo 2017 is almost upon us – three days of nothing but the highest level fighting game action – and there’s so much going on it is understandably a bit of a nightmare to keep track of everything. Fear not, however, as we’ve gathered the five biggest storylines headed into this years event – the players, games and rivalries to keep an eye on this weekend!

ISDD v Smug

The most hype match of the entire weekend likely won’t be even streamed (although one imagines that SOMEONE is going to step in and this makes its way online, surely?) and is a rematch of an infamous first-to-ten money match that took place in the Red Bull Salty Suite in 2015 between Smug and Imstilldadaddy. Two players of immense skill but also some serious trash talk, they’ve put $3000 on the line, winner takes all. Smug is character locked to his main, Balrog, while ISDD, known for being one of the world’s best Guile players, is character locked to Ed. That’s the interesting wrinkle in all this! ISDD has a formidable Ed, let that be known, but Smug’s Balrog can steal rounds in seconds. If their last match was anything to go by, this is going to be brilliant… as long as someone actually streams it!

Who’s going to win Street Fighter V?

An obvious question, sure, but right now the reality is no one is a lock for winning the big one. Last year, Infiltration was so dominant in the first six months it was a foregone conclusion that he was going to win Evo. This year, he’s not even in the primary discussion. NuckleDu or Punk could take the prize, as the two top ranked players in the World right now, with fellow US native Snake Eyez also in the running. From outside of America, Bonchan’s recent run of form certainly puts him in the running, while Xian could win any tournament at any time, such is the level of skill he operates at and the character he uses – Ibuki – can be an absolute nightmare to deal with. Will it be one of the old guard – Tokido, Fuudo or Haitani? Or even Daigo? European players like ISDD, Phenom, Luffy, Problem X and Infexious could all make an impact this year. It really is going to be interesting to see that Top 8 come Sunday.

Is it going to be America?

Which leads us onto one of the questions that has been thrown around since the tail end of 2016 and US players starting to dominate the Capcom Pro Tour – is this going to be the year that an American Street Fighter player finally takes first place in Street Fighter? Any of the aforementioned three players could take first place and it wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest if all three of them made top 8. Based on how wild people went when LI Joe made the top 8 last year, and how that was taken to even more hype levels when he won his first game there, things will be deafening in the arena if it looks like there’s a US win on the cards.

Will Tekken 7 shine on the biggest stage?

All games get the ‘new game bounce’ in terms of attendees, so with the home release of Tekken 7 the title has hit record numbers and is one of the featured games on ‘finals Sunday’. With a lot of the negativity around Street Fighter V from parts of the fighting game community, this could be a real chance for Tekken to steal away a lot of those players. However, there’s a chance that the finals could be one of the most predictable of the entire weekend. Team Echo Fox’s two Tekken players – JCDR and SAINT – have been absolutely dominant in Tekken 7. As in, they’ve won almost everything. Casual viewers will be treated to some elite level Tekken should they make the Grand Final. The more hardcore fans, however, might find themselves thinking “Oh. This again.” Tekken really needs its ‘LI Joe’ moment while more eyes are on it than ever before.

The Final Marvel Champion

So this is it, the last hurrah for Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, a game that has been responsible for some of the most hype moments in Evo history. It snuck into this year’s competition after winning a fan’s vote, so you can bet the Marvel community will be out in force to make this one hell of a send-off. But, who will be the very last Marvel 3 Evo champion? Will Chris G defend the title he finally won last year? Will Justin Wong, F Champ or KBR come out for one last big win or will some fresh blood, like RyanLV, who has been winning everything recently, take the prize? Marvel 3 is always a guaranteed good time and with so much emotion surround this, its final appearance, expect this to be well worth watching.

Evo this year is looking like it is going to be quite a memorable one, from games making their debut (Injustice 2) to games likely saying their farewells, as well as some that will likely be making their true first appearances at next year’s event (Dragonball FighterZ, Dissidia and whatever it is that Arika game is going to be called!). There’s also a NFL Redzone-esque weekend long show called ‘The Jump Off’ being streamed, which sounds like it is going to be a great way of keeping up with everything in this article. It’s expected to be the most stacked event to date – it’s going to be an exciting weekend!

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