Evo 2017 is in the books and the best fighting game players in the world are all packing up and heading home. But this past weekend was a memorable one for players and spectators alike, featuring some wild performances, tight matches, and epic comebacks. Shacknews is taking a moment to relive that final day of competition, from start to finish.
Marvel fades away
Gone are the days when Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 would draw in massive crowds and generate unparalleled excitement. In fact, for its final year on the Evo stage, most viewers on the west coast (including Evo's Las Vegas venue) weren't even awake by the time the festivities started.
The top 8 itself was entertaining, right down to the grand finals that pit defending champion Christopher "ChrisG" Gonzalez against Ryan "RyanLV" Romero. Romero was riding on quite a high, fresh off his signing with pro team Splyce and also riding an incredible nine-month tournament winning streak. While ChrisG would take this set to a fifth game, there was no challening RyanLV and his team of Morrigan, Chun-Li, and Phoenix*, who polished off last year's champ to go out as Marvel 3's last truly dominant player.
However, there's something sad about all of the empty seats. In terms of hype, this was a shell of the game's former self. Part of that is because some of the game's historically best players, like Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez and Justin Wong, have long since moved on to new ventures. Regardless, Sunday felt less like a celebration of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3's illustrious history and more like a bothersome chore. That especially felt like the case, given what some of its top players had to say about the manner in which the tournament was run on Saturday, but that's another story. Ultimately, the game, its worldwide player base, and its fans deserved better.
(* - As a side note, say goodbye to Dark Phoenix forever. She will not be missed.)
BlazBlue comes down to the wire
There looked to be no stopping Ryusei Ito, who had dominated BlazBlue: Central Fiction throughout the weekend. It looked like grand finals would be another stomping, as it was a runback against Shoji "Fenritti" Sho, who Ryusei had soundly defeated earlier in the day.
Fenritti was ready for Ryusei this time. His Jin-Kisaragi pulled off a comeback right off the bat against Ryusei's Carl Clover, stunning his opponent by blazing right through a super at one point in the first set. By anticipating his opponent's moves, utilizing air combos to get around Carl's second character, and showing proficient blocking skills, Fenritti was able to go up 2-0 quickly. Ryusei showed some fight in the third set, but still found himself battling out of the corner a lot. Fenritti continued the pressure and took the first series 3-1, complete with a teabag as time expired.
Of course, teabagging should only be saved for the end, because the taunt seemed to rejuvenate Ryusei. He dominated the first two sets, which included two Perfects and a Distortion Finish. At this point, it looked like Ryusei was going to cruise to victory.
Fenritti did his best to respond, eking out the first round of the next set by a single pixel. The next few rounds proved just as close, but Fenritti managed to hang around just enough to tie up the series at two sets a piece. Ryusei would not be denied, however, and he took command of the corner once again to finally polish off Fenritti for good.
What looked like a squash on paper turned out to be a closely contested matchup, with BlazBlue showing once again how compelling anime fighters could be and whipping the Evo 2017 crowd into a frenzy.
Tekken 7 Team Kill
Jin Woo "Saint" Choi was a heavy favorite going into Tekken 7, but he found himself having a tougher top 8 than most people anticipated. Coming off his Evo loss to him last year, the legendary Jae Min "Knee" Bae managed to send Saint to losers bracket. The two would meet again, where Saint would prevail, setting up a grand finals between him and Echo Fox teammate Hyun Jin "JDCR" Kim.
JDCR went into the matchup with a surprise Heihachi pick, seeking a hard counter to Saint's Jack-7. It quickly proved to be for naught. Saint took control early and won the first two sets, sending JDCR back to the drawing board, where he'd come back with Dragunov. Dragunov would only fare slightly better, but Saint would just eke out another win to reset the bracket. But despite the loss, JDCR saw that he was making progress.
For the second series, JDCR stuck with the Dragunov pick and it paid dividends. He would take the first two sets in commanding fashion, taking advantage of some crucial combo drops along the way. While Saint would try to fight back, JDCR kept up the pressure and won the final set convincingly to take his first Evo championship.
The future looks bright for Tekken 7, if this grand finals is any indication, but the road to greatness will run through Echo Fox, as Rick Fox's esports team can say it boasts the game's two best players.
Smash 4's Two Best Characters Collide
Panda Global recently issued its character tier rankings for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, where Bayonetta and Diddy Kong tied at the top. The two characters, appropriately enough, met in the grand finals with undisputed top player Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios facing off against Saleem "Salem" Young. On paper, this looked like it would be another tournament win for ZeRo, but Smash 4 followers recognized that these two had met a month prior at 2GGC: Nairo Saga in its grand finals, where Salem took ZeRo to his limit.
Sure enough, the two players were neck and neck again. Both ZeRo and Salem showed off the best in their characters, performing crisp combos and showing off their unique platform recovery. There were a lot of impressive aerials on display, but the fifth game of the first series came down to a fortuitous up-air off of a jab that sent Diddy Kong into the stratosphere, giving Salem the win and the bracket reset.
ZeRo was no stranger to this territory, as he has frequently turned up the heat whenever taken to a bracket reset. This time, Salem stayed right there with him and the two were suddenly locked into another game 5.
ZeRo looked to have game 5 in control, even threatening to two-stock Salem to lock up the championship. Both men were on their last stock, but Diddy was completely fresh and staring down a Bayonetta at 101% damage. It looked like a comeback was unlikely, but this is where it's important to mention that this is Bayonetta. Bayo was able to trap Diddy in a skyward combo that sent ZeRo into the blast zone at just a paltry 40%, a scene eerily reminiscent of ZeRo's elimination from 2GGC: Civil War. (FFWD to the 14:20 mark in the video below and try to imagine if ZeRo was having flashbacks.)
The celebration was on at Evo 2017, as Salem had knocked off Smash 4's best player in dramatic fashion. Feelings were mixed from the Smash 4 faithful, as many were happy for Salem, but there was a contingent of naysayers that took this as another opportunity to bash Bayonetta as a broken character. Regardless of any feelings towards the character herself, Salem had earned every bit of this victory, executing his combos flawlessly and anticipating ZeRo's very best.
The stars were falling throughout Evo 2017, with some of Smash 4's best falling early. Salem was not one of them, maintaining his poise and becoming Smash 4's Evo 2017 champion.
Tokido strikes back
Following a disappointing Capcom Cup and the Season 2 patch, Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi didn't quite look the same as he did last year. Evo 2017 was a return to form for him, as he put together an epic losers bracket run that saw him barrel through some of the game's best, including 2015 Capcom Cup winner Ryota "Kazunoko" Inoue.
His final test came in grand finals, where he faced off against Victor "Punk" Woodley, who had not dropped a single set during the entire weekend. In fact, Punk was the one that knocked Tokido into losers bracket. Earlier in the night, Punk had confidently expressed to Ryan "Gootecks" Gutierrez that he felt like he was going to win the tournament.
Punk came out with his trademark swagger, but Tokido came out swinging. He not only matched Punk in terms of skill in the first set, he even delivered a taunt while doing so. It was uncharacteristic of Tokido, but in this case, it was a message to Punk, who has had a penchant for taunts and teabags himself. Punk responded in kind by taking the second set, but the air of confidence started to wane after Tokido took the third set to reset the bracket.
The 18-year-old Punk, having never been on such a large stage in his young career, was now visibly shaken and Tokido smelled blood. Tokido did not let up and he obliterated Punk with a Perfect out of the gate.
Tokido took advantage of several uncharacteristic Punk mistakes over the course of this entire set and continued to assert the psychological damage. He even took advantage of a tactical Punk error to finish him off with a Raging Demon, getting the crowd to its feet.
At that point, it was all over for Punk. Tokido took the third set and clinched his first Street Fighter championship. Capping off a banner day for Echo Fox, Tokido showed the world that he was now the man to beat in Street Fighter V, propelling him all the way to second place on the Capcom Pro Tour standings, only behind Punk.
What was your favorite moment from Evo this weekend? Let us know in the comments.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Reliving and recapping the final day of EVO 2017
Good stuff, thanks for the recap!
Really want to get motivated to go to combo breaker next year
I CAN'T CONTROL IT! Fi-! Fi-! Fi-! Fi-! Fi-! Fi-! K.O.!!