Recently ESPN posted a tweet about Evo 2015, the largest fighting tournament in the country. Of course, many people couldn’t understand why ESPN would be covering video games, but to be honest, the fighting community has way more to offer casual fans than one might think. Here are few reasons why mainstream media should cover the Evolution Championship Series(Evo):

The Evolution Championship Series, Evo, as we know it today, began in 2002 as a tournament series that focused on competitive fighting games. What started as a small gathering of competitive gamers has turned into the largest fighting tournament in the gaming community, with players from around the world flying to Las Vegas for the chance to be crowned the best in the world. The tournament is an open format so anyone can compete, but those who make it to the Top 8 have spent thousands of hours practicing and competing in local and regional tournaments to hone their skills. For those who desire to be the best, their game of choice becomes a full-time job. With the continual growth of the tournament and support from various game companies, Evo is quickly becoming the perfect spectator sport for those new to video games. 

Simplicity and Depth

The world of competitive fighting has always been a spectator’s sport. From Boxing to UFC, anyone with a casual interest in a competitive fight can watch the Evo tournament. Like the aforementioned sports, the rules for every game at Evo are the same–two people fight until one person is defeated. It is this simplicity that allows casual viewers to focus on the fights instead of the rule book. This isn’t a knock against other E-sports like League of Legends, but those games cater to a certain clientele and the learning curve is steep. What’s great about fighting game is the low barrier for entry and the depth of play. If you want to watch two digital characters beat the hell out of each other and call it a day you can do just that. However, if you want more from a fighter, that option is there too. Everything from hitboxes, frame counts and fighting techniques/strategies are available for you learn. Just like people who obsess over sport stats, players and lineups, fight game fans do as well. It just might sound a little different than what you’re used to.

Anyone Can Win

This might be one of the main draws of the tournament.  There is ALWAYS a surprise moment during tournament play. Take this year’s pre-celebratory loss during Guilty Gear Xrd Top 8.

As you can see, nothing is ever certain at Evo. Big name players who won last year’s tournament can find themselves struggling to make the Top 8. The easiest way to describe the tournament outcome to sports fans is to reference the brackets people make during March Madness. Everyone can make a bracket but it never turns out the way people think and/or hope. That uncertainty can also be a plus for those who enjoy testing their hand with luck, aka gambling. What better way to watch fights in Vegas than to put money on the outcome?

Variety of Games

If variety is the spice of life then Evo has it in spades. This year’s tournament consists of nine games:

  • Ultra Street Fighter IV
  • Killer Instinct
  • Super Smash Bros for Wii U
  • Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3
  • Guilty Gear Xrd Sign
  • Mortal Kombat X
  • Super Smash Bros. Melee
  • Persona 4 Arena Ultimax
  • Tekken

Each game has its own style, fighting mechanics and core fan base. Ultra Street Fighter IV is usually the first choice for first timers. The action moves a more methodical pace and the flow of battle is easier to follow than other games, like Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. Of course you don’t have to watch just one game,the beauty of the tournament is that each game has knowledgeable commentators who will guide you along the way. There is some rotation in games that are played each year but some games, like Street Fighter IV, are tournament staples.

The Evo Community

One of the highlights of the fighting community is its diversity. Every race and creed can be seen on the stage competing or commentating. The scene still has to make strides with women gamers, but it’s getting better and more women are competing and commentating. There is also an energy that comes with the fighting scene that you can’t get from other E-sports leagues. Hundreds, if not thousands of fight fans pack the conference room cheering at every play that takes place on screen. It might seem silly the first time you watch a match but crowd participation is an integral part of the tournament. Players feed off the crowd participation, sometimes coaxing them to forgo a strategy for the win and glory. When something big happens the crowd is right there for it and it adds to the intensity of the match.

Wrap up

The Evolution Championship Series is an established E-sports league with rich history and thriving community. There are superstar players, popular games and characters for you to follow.  It is perfect for the casual gamer or someone who is interested in videogames but looking for a starting point. Keep in mind, the best part about Evo is that anyone can get involved. Unlike professional sports, the only thing separating you from competing against the superstars is practice and a controller.


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Published by Charles M.

Southern Gentleman | Cultured Gamer | Community Comedian | Watcher of Digital Trends | Coding Hobbist

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