After an intense first two days of competition, the final day of this year's Evolution Championship Series did not disappoint. Fighters across five of the biggest fighting games in the world squared up and brought amazing skills and true dramatics to the forefront. The action started at 9:00AM PT and did not let up for the entire day. Shacknews was on-hand to witness the spectacle and catch the major moments to emerge from this year's tournament.
Gulity Gear Xrd -SIGN- continues the opening anime salvos
Last year's Evo kicked Sunday off on a high note with a phenomenal BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Top 8, culminating in one of the most memorable final matches of the show. With Chrono Phantasma not present at this year's event, that would indicate that Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- would have quite a tough act to follow as the Sunday opening act. It filled those boots quite capably.
After dispatching Woshige (who was recovering from a major embarrassment earlier in Top 8) and his Millia Rage, ODG Nage and his Faust forced a Grand Finals rematch with top-tier Guilty Gear player Ogawazato and his Zato-1, who had sent Nage to losers just minutes before. The Grand Finals were far more evenly-matched, with Ogawazato exhibiting sharp command of his Zato-1 combos, while Nage's gangly Faust both landed hard combos and got some lucky draws with his "Nani ga Deru" moves. After a heavily contested match, Ogawazato would come out on top, bringing the crowd to its feet and taking home the crown for Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-.
Sonic Fox races to the top of the Mortal Kombat X mountain
NetherRealm set the table for the Mortal Kombat X Top 8 by coming to the stage to reveal the first trailer for the earth-shaking Tremor. But the real seismic shifts were felt once the actual competition began.
The 17-year-old prodigy Sonic Fox fought his way back from losers bracket, exhibiting some truly proficient play along the way. By the end, only A Foxy Grandpa and his Kung Lao stood in his way, leading to a titanic clash of two MK powerhouses. A Foxy Grandpa threatened to take home victory in what had been a closely contested match, so Sonic Fox took a huge risk by making the switch from Kitana to Erron Black. The gamble was successful and Sonic Fox was able to reset the brackets, He never looked back, as Erron Black swept the next set 3-0 (including a clincher with the Caltrops tacks, of all things) to make Sonic Fox this year's Mortal Kombat X champion.
Hungrybox stops the Super Smash Bros. Melee three-peat, but can't stop Armada
Nothing says excitement like a countdown timer and the Smash community exploded as they counted down to the start of the Super Smash Bros. Melee Top 8. After a beautifully-edited montage video, the tournament officially kicked off in grand style.
The big storyline, of course, was whether two-time defending champion Mango could maintain his dominance using Fox. However, the dream for a three-peat was dashed in losers semi-finals. Some costly errors in the deciding set gave victory to last year's runner-up Hungrybox and his Jigglypuff, with the latter's conservative play quickly cementing him as a tournament villain to the live crowd. Mango was given a standing ovation after his loss and during the final awards presentation, with the capacity crowd offering its respect to one of the game's great players.
That opened the door for a new champion, with Hungrybox riding his momentum all the way to a final showdown with Armada, who had a Fox of his own. To this point, Hungrybox had maintained a strategy of repeatedly hugging the stage edges, but seemingly abandoned that strategy upon hitting Grand Finals. It would cost him, as direct encounters would often favor Fox. While Hungrybox would keep it close, Armada would prove too much and he would take the final set in Fountain of Dreams to become the new Super Smash Bros. Melee world champion.
A new pantheon of Marvel gods rises
No Justin Wong, no ChrisG, no Filipino Champ -- it certainly looked like a different Top 8 than Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 followers were used to seeing. But with the old guard fallen, a new batch of elite players seized their moment. And the effort was led by Nicolas "KaneBlueRiver" Gonzalez.
Even without the traditional big names, the dramatics were still at a high level. Many hyper combos (be they standard or level 3) failed to put opponents away and there were few, if any, real blowouts. Despite that, no one was able to topple KaneBlueRiver and his big body trio of Hulk, Haggar, and Sentinel. KBR ran through some of Marvel's best remaining players, including Raynel "RayRay" Hidalgo in an epic Grand Finals. For many years, KBR was on the cusp of being elite, watching the best Marvel players from the outside looking in. But in 2015, KaneBlueRiver's time had finally arrived. He can now call himself a champion.
Infiltration steals the show
Capcom prepared everyone for Street Fighter festivities by revealing the newest character for the upcoming Street Fighter 5. That set the stage for an unforgettable Ultra Street Fighter IV tournament, one that set viewership records on Twitch, surpassing 209,000 concurrent viewers.
Those viewers were treated to some show-stealing magic from the growing legend of Infiltration. Even in defeat, Lee Sun-Woo put on not one, but two all-time classic matches. The first was a total nail-biter against Momochi that saw him bring out Abel, a character no one knew he had in his arsenal. Then there was a second classic against GamerBee that saw him bring out Juri, yet another character that nobody knew he had in his arsenal. Both matches were the very height of human drama and among the most suspenseful matches of the show. Despite a third-place finish, the fighting game fanbase will not forget Infiltration's theatrics in 2015.
As for who did wind up fighting for the championship crown…
Momochi 'sticks' Gamerbee to claim Ultra Street Fighter 4 crown
Just months after contemplating walking away from competitive gaming, Bruce "Gamerbee" Hsiang was on the run of a lifetime. Coming off a thrilling win over Daigo Umehara on Friday, Gamerbee's run continued on Sunday when he knocked off Nemo and Infiltration, among others. There was only one obstacle left and that was Evil Geniuses' Yusuke Momochi, who had entered the Grand Finals from the winners bracket.
Gamerbee had largely stuck to Elena and her Healing Ultra through this point, but Momochi's Ken would require a completely different strategy, so he returned to his old standby, the kicking fiend Adon. It was a closely contested match, but Gamerbee would prevail and reset the brackets, setting up one final match.
Sensing a need for change, Momochi switched to Evil Ryu. The gambit looked to be paying off, but Gamerbee was still hanging around. It all came down to a final set. Momochi would take the first round and be at tournament point, but then the pause menu suddenly came up during Round 2. Momochi's arcade stick had malfunctioned, awarding the round (by rule) to Gamerbee.
Suddenly, there was a different kind of drama in the air. With his arcade stick on the fritz, Momochi was not about to risk ending EVO with a disqualification. In came Evil Geniuses teammate (and significant other) Chocoblanka, who quickly loaned Momochi her arcade stick. Now recovered, Momochi came back and quickly took Round 3 to take the Ultra Street FIghter 4 crown, formally putting a bow on one of the most bizarre endings in EVO history.
What are your lasting memories from this past weekend? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments!