What an event Evo 2017 was.
It’s more than just a tournament now, it’s a three day celebration of fighting games, competition and community, with genre leaders taking this opportunity to show off new stuff to their target audience and people from all over the world coming together to support ‘their’ game, as part of this huge, global scene.
As always, Evo has its moments. Be that the legendary Daigo parry, or others like Infiltration’s Hakan pick against PR Balrog, or that time Alex Valle beat Bonchan’s Sagat with Hugo. Here’s five of the absolute best from this year’s event.
WARNING: Plenty of spoilers from this point onwards for almost all the games, so make sure you’ve checked out everything you want to see first before you read on!
Street Fighter V. The King Of The Fighters.
Yes, they botched the launch. Yes, they’ve botched almost every piece of communication over the past 18 months. Yes, the netcode is still terrible. Yes, Street Fighter V isn’t in a great place in terms of the community opinion heading into Evo, but it’d be a fool who still considers it to not be a truly great fighting game after the top 8 that went down on Finals Sunday. It was America’s best chance to win, with the domination of NuckleDu and Punk in most tournaments pointing towards a US v US Grand Final.
Thing is, Tokido has his demon now. They didn’t count on that. Tokido is the best Akuma player on the planet.
Coming in from Loser’s bracket, Tokido played out of his skin to make it to Grand Finals, eliminating FChamp, NuckleDu, Itabashi Zangief and Kazunoku on his way, before resetting the bracket against favourite to win the whole damn thing, Punk. The second set, he won 3-0. It was the performance of a lifetime and one that leaves America waiting for another year to get that big win in Street Fighter at Evo.
Not this time, lads!
Making America Great (at Street Fighter) Again.
So they didn’t quite make it, but there was more US representation in the Top 8 since 2010 and the first US player to make the Grand Final in Street Fighter V since Ricki Ortiz did that same year. The standard is improving all the time and the age of the best players is significantly lower than the age of the best Japanese players, who are all in or very near their 30s. Du is 21 while Punk just made his first Evo final at EIGHTEEN years old. That is a madness.
They might have to wait another year to get that big Street Fighter win, but by the looks of things, not only will there be another chance next year, but for many years to come.
Tekken Their Chances
Tekken 7 is finally available to all, after a few years of only being playable in Korean arcades, and due to this there’s more eyes on their top 8 than ever before. There was some worry that the same Grand Final seen at almost every Tekken event this year – JDCR v SAINT – would take place and it’d be a bit dull and predictable. Only half of that was correct. Sure, JDCR and SAINT fought it out for the grand prize (with JDCR taking the gold) but the tournament was anything but predictable. Tekken 7 is a fantastic game to watch, easy to understand and with some brilliant built-in hype that comes from the slow-motion near hit mechanic. Despite the inevitable ending, the tournament brought a load of exciting moments. They couldn’t have come at a better time, seeing as the Tekken 7 stream was hitting 160k viewers at some points.
SonicFox Finally Loses
It happened, honestly. SonicFox, who wins all of the NeverRealm games, didn’t win Injustice 2. He made top 8 using Red Hood, who has only been available for a month, but came unstuck against eventual finalist Honeybee, then was eliminated in fifth place by Semiij, who blasted him 3-0 with his Catwoman. It was one of the weekend’s biggest shocks, as SonicFox was the defacto favourite. There was a lot of chat early in Injustice 2’s life about certain characters being wildly overpowered, but the top 8 was a nice mixed bunch. Sonic is young, much like Punk in Street Fighter, so he’ll be back stronger no doubt. What a terrifying thought.
There’s never been a better time to get into competitive fighting games. The scene is rich with talent, there’s more resources than ever to help you improve and there’s so many brilliant fighting games to play and watch. Like, everything is good. Street Fighter, Tekken, Guilty Gear, Injustice and many more, all of them great games with strong communities. Look at the reactions to the forthcoming stuff shown at the event – Dragonball and Marvel look like real fun games, Abigail looks like a fun and unique addition to the SFV roster and Geese bloody Howard ending up in Tekken 7 – and the crowd went wild for all of them. Hell, even Arika are jumping back into the game next year and they’re bringing perpetually popular crime-fighting salaryman Skullomania with them. Fighting games are really hitting some high marks at the minute and this Evo weekend was a true celebration of all of them – and all aspects of them. As Tokido said in his victory speech – “Fighting games are great.”
Roll on 2018.