Five memorable moments from Evo 2013 (and what questions they raise for 2014)

With Evo coming up this weekend, we take a look back at five memorable moments from last year's tournaments. But more than that, we also ask some questions from each of those moments that pop up for this year's tournament.

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This weekend is the biggest one of the year for competitive fighting game players and fans. It's the annual Evolution Championship Series tournament from Las Vegas, NV. Fighters make their way to Evo from around the world, creating an atmosphere that leads to lasting memories and moments that often define fighting games themselves.

Last year's Evo was a big weekend for a number of marquee games. Let's take a look at five of the most memorable moments from Evo 2K13. Beyond that, let's also look at what question will be lingering for those same games during this weekend's tournament.


Evo 2013: Killer Instinct debuts to boos

Microsoft didn't earn a whole lot of goodwill after last year's series of debacles surrounding the Xbox One. It had been a month since they reversed their controversial DRM stance, but the damage had been done and the capacity crowd at Evo was ready to make their displeasure heard.

Double Helix's Rich 'FiltieRich' Bantegui took the stage to demo Killer Instinct, but he only needed to set one foot on the stage to hear the smattering of boos from the crowd. Every mention of the SNES-revival and Microsoft's new console was drowned out by an increasingly hostile crowd. The presentation and subsequent demo weren't even given so much as a chance, leading to one of the most awkward moments in Evo's history.

Evo 2014: How will Killer Instinct fare this year?

This will be the first year that Killer Instinct is featured as one of the main attractions at Evo. Much has changed since last year. Killer Instinct released on Xbox One to positive acclaim from both critics and fans and has been in regular rotation at fighting game tournaments across the country. Though there was some skepticism with the game's free-to-play model, KI has quickly grown into a well-balanced alternative to Capcom's fighting mainstays and a force in its own right.

So how will Killer Instinct be received this year? Much of that same hostile crowd from last year will likely be in attendance, so will KI get more respect this time around? Or will the boo birds be out in full force again?


Evo 2013: Injustice is a super disappointment

Last year marked Injustice: Gods Among Us's debut on the Evo stage and it's largely remembered as a major disappointment. Unfortunately for Netherrealm, Injustice had been out for roughly three months at that point, meaning the developers were still working out some of the game's more egregious balance issues. The result? Heat vision, heat vision, and more heat vision!

Fireball spam is often hit-and-miss with crowds. Fans are divided on whether it's truly the cheapest tactic out there or whether it's a viable tactic. For example, Christopher Gonzalez (ChrisG) has made a career out of spamming fireballs in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and fans have grown to both hate and respect it. But the Superman heat vision spam was something that fans quickly realized was a broken aspect of Injustice and one that they hated to see as a deciding factor of its Grand Finals.

Evo 2014: Can Injustice bounce back?

With all that said, a year can make all the difference in the world. Netherrealm has had a full year to balance Injustice and refine many of the game's characters. Likewise, the players have had a full year to get used to the roster of fighters, including the DLC add-ons like Martian Manhunter, who was originally revealed during last year's event. Games are a lot more fun to watch when players have a better grasp on the characters, so this year's match-ups should prove a little more fun to watch.

This year's Evo may also signal a "make-or-break" year for Injustice. If this year's tournament proves to be another dud, the competitive scene may leave it behind entirely by next year's tournament. This idea may be amplified by how impressive Netherrealm's new Mortal Kombat game has been looking, which could just as easily replace Injustice on the Evo docket in 2015.


Evo 2013: Smash Bros. fans stand united

The controversy has been well-documented. Nintendo infamously blocked Super Smash Bros. Melee from Evo last year (and if rumors are true, actively tried to prevent it from even appearing at the tournament, period), despite its fans raising money for breast cancer research. Nintendo shortly after sheepishly reversed their stance and Melee went on to break all Evo viewership records.

Last year, the fighting game community learned just how passionate the hardcore Smash Bros. sector was, putting on a fantastic show for both spectators and viewers alike. It all culminated with Wobbles (Ice Climbers) and Mango (Fox) in a back-and-forth Grand Finals thriller that showed just how hardcore a fighting game Super Smash Bros. could be, winning over casual viewers, hardcore fighting fanatics, and even Nintendo themselves. And fans were left with a booming chant of "One more year!"

Evo 2014: So what does Smash Bros. do for an encore?

After last year's unforgettable showing, it was a no-brainer that Super Smash Bros. Melee would return for another round this year. But can the Melee competitors possibly top their efforts from last year?

They may have only one more year to do it. Nintendo has made it clear that they were missing the boat by antagonizing this crowd. Not only are they designing the new Super Smash Bros. for Wii U to remove the more hated aspects of Brawl that made it competitively unviable, they even went so far as to invite the competitive sector out for a special tournament at E3. Nintendo wants to see the new Smash Bros. at these types of tournaments and if they're as serious as they're letting on, you may see Melee finally go by the wayside in 2015 in favor of the new hotness.


Evo 2013: Justin Wong's valiant battle

Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the game that won't die, even years after licensing issues have prevented Capcom from giving it anymore balance updates. Last year's Evo was another amazing showcase for the three-on-three fighter, showing how far individual competitors and personalities can go in keeping a game alive and compelling. And last year, there was perhaps no greater example of that than Evil Geniuses' Justin Wong, a well-known staple of the fighting game community for about a decade.

Wong (using Wolverine, Storm, and Akuma) had an uphill battle to climb in Top 8, coming all the way from losers bracket. He also found himself in an 0-2 hole against tournament favorite Christopher 'ChrisG' Gonzalez. Then the comeback began. Wong quickly evened the score and knocked out Gonzalez by keeping his Vergil at bay long enough to squeeze out a "Time Over" victory, but he was far from finished. Wong went on to tear through Jonathan 'Cloud805' Morales and Broken Tier's Armando 'Angelic' Mejia in back-to-back sets before finding himself in Grand Finals against Job 'Flocker' Figueroa, the man that had originally put Wong in losers bracket.

The Grand Finals were among the most intense ever seen, with Wong winning the first set and finding himself within a hair of victory. But just when it was within his grasp, Wong dropped a Storm combo that would have taken out Flocker's Zero. It was a drop that would ultimately cost Wong the tournament, as Flocker's team of Zero, Vergil, and Hawkeye went on to take out all of his characters. Flocker became the Evo champion, but the story of the tournament was Justin Wong. It was a journey that would be dubbed "The Return of the King."

Evo 2014: Can Justin Wong finish what he started?

There's no denying that Justin Wong had last year's tournament won. He likely sees the drop in his mind over and over again on a loop. Any competitor on any stage will always focus on the moment where they just fell short. It's not because they feel sorry for themselves. It's because they can practically taste the moment when they'll redeem themselves on the next grand stage.

This weekend has been one that Wong has waited for since last year's Evo. It's his chance to finish the journey he began with his epic comeback against ChrisG. It won't be easy. Gonzalez is ready to avenge last year's loss, Ryan 'Filipino Champ' Ramirez wants to win back his crown from 2012, Cloud805 has improved leaps and bounds from last year, and Flocker will be ready to defend his title. But there's no denying that Wong will be the sentimental favorite. Whether he can complete that journey remains to be seen.


Evo 2013: Infiltration oils up

Sun-Woo 'Infiltration' Lee stands among the greatest Street Fighter players in the world, having won the Super Street Fighter: Arcade Edition crown in 2012. The defending champion found himself on the ropes against Eduardo 'PR Balrog' Perez, perhaps the best Balrog players in the world. But the South Korea native wasn't about to give up, but instead he was about to prove his versatility once more.

Lee selected the Turkish oil wrestler Hakan, who is considered in SF circles to be a hard counter to Balrog. The gambit paid off, as Hakan's oiled-up moves flustered Balrog and rendered the boxer ineffective. Infiltration quickly wound up knocking PR Balrog out of the tournament, as he sailed into a third-place finish.

Evo 2014: Who wins the first Ultra Street Fighter 4 Evo tournament?

Infiltration will stand among the favorites to win the debut Ultra Street Fighter 4 tournament. But not only are there other hungry competitors, but the wild cards that stem from the game's new balance tweaks and new characters adds a compelling new wrinkle to this year's tournament.

Singapore's Kun 'Xian' Ho won last year with Gen and he'll be looking to repeat. Japan's Hajime 'Tokido' Taniguchi will be looking to avenge his runner-up placement from last year. Meanwhile, Perez will come back with Balrog, but his ace in the hole may very well be his Evil Ryu. And speaking of Evil Ryu, Japanese native Naoto Sako won with this character at Capcom Cup and, given the buffs that he received in USF4, he's being considered one of the favorites to take the whole tournament. Other names to look out for include Justin Wong (Rufus), So Cal Regionals winner Kenneth 'K-Brad' Bradley (Cammy), and Final Round winner Ryan Hart (Sagat).

The other wild card will be whether any of the established competitors roll the dice with any of the game's new characters. Competitive streams have already shown some competent Decapres and Rolentos, but will any of the participants take a chance during the biggest tournament of the year?

We'll find out when this year's Evolution Championship Series tournament kicks off on Friday.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    July 7, 2014 12:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Five memorable moments from Evo 2013 (and what questions they raise for 2014).

    With Evo coming up this weekend, we take a look back at five memorable moments from last year's tournaments. But more than that, we also ask some questions from each of those moments that pop up for this year's tournament.

    • reply
      July 7, 2014 12:05 PM

      YEEEEEEEEEEEEEES. 3 MORE DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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      July 7, 2014 12:47 PM

      i love watching fighting game tourneys

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      July 7, 2014 12:48 PM

      Are they doing Super smash brothers?

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      July 7, 2014 12:55 PM

      Shit, didn't even realize it was this weekend. Fuck yes!

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        July 7, 2014 12:57 PM

        I love the fighting game community. The players actually have have some level of social skills and personality compared to a lot of pro gaming circles.

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          July 7, 2014 1:02 PM

          which pro gaming circles do you mean? just curious.

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            July 7, 2014 1:37 PM

            I guess MOBAs and RTS (star craft), since those are by far the biggest.

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              July 7, 2014 1:44 PM

              i have a strong suspicion that you have little to no experience with those pro gaming circles and that you're just saying this based on things you've heard. is that right? the fact that you named genres rather than specific pro gaming circuits is suspicious given how different each game is

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                July 7, 2014 2:06 PM

                I've watched competitive starcraft for a long time, and the pros there are pretty bland personalities compared to anyone in the fighting game community. The casters, on the other hand, are mostly great. MOBAs I'm not familiar with, but I have tuned in to a couple tournies and the pros looked and spoke very much like the starcraft pros, so I made that jump.

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      July 7, 2014 1:14 PM

      Great article but I would have really appreciated some timestamps for the 2+ hour videos linked to each note.

      Anyway really fired up for EVO this year!

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        July 7, 2014 1:29 PM

        Here's a timestamp that I, for sure, linked to. It's the drop that Justin Wong's probably been seeing in his head for the last year.

        http://youtu.be/JJWA89Y57KM?t=2h18m1s

        Such a brutal, brutal drop. I'm rooting for him to win this year.

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      July 7, 2014 1:40 PM

      My sons bday party is all day Saturday, gonna miss a lot of it :( At the very least im planning on watch the top 16 on Sunday night.

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      July 7, 2014 1:41 PM

      As someone who just got into watching old EVO streams, thanks for this excellent write-up. A question for you: Why isn't Mortal Kombat (9) returning this year? Surely it would make for a better entrant from Netherrealm than Injustice. MK9 is more balanced and has had more time to mature, in terms of community as well as character strategies.

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        July 7, 2014 1:41 PM

        Also, I've never watched a live stream. I've just been catching up on YouTube. Where's the best place for live streams?

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        July 7, 2014 1:56 PM

        I attended my first Evo last year and I remember the Mortal Kombat 9 attendance being very low. So I would say there isn't a lot of interest in it and that its shelf life has simply expired.

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          July 7, 2014 2:03 PM

          ^^^ Injustice came out and pretty much killed MK9 if I recall.

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            July 7, 2014 7:18 PM

            Yea even though Injustice is a different IP, it was for all intents and purposes the sequel to MK9. I wouldn't expect people to still be playing MK9 at this point.

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        July 7, 2014 2:07 PM

        injustice took over the MK scene. also it's easily arguable that injustice is a way better game than mk9

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          July 7, 2014 2:17 PM

          I'll look into Injustice more. When previews came out, I was turned off by the multi-tiered stages and background objects. I felt they diluted the fighting; you should be able to go into a match with a command over your repertoire and how to counter other characters, and that should be more than enough. I don't like variables. But maybe those variables don't factor in as heavily as I've gathered from watching matches. Superman's heat vision seems like total cheese.

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      July 7, 2014 1:41 PM

      This is getting dangerously upworthy guys

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      July 7, 2014 2:25 PM

      Super excited. Best esport hands down. Don't need to be a fighting game aficionado to enjoy the matches.

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        July 7, 2014 2:28 PM

        The caster personalities are pretty great too and when they get hype you can't help it.

        The Justin Wong moment was amazing to watch and I was out of my seat for the last few rounds.

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          July 7, 2014 2:29 PM

          so funny to hear non-FGC people call the commentators casters. not in a bad way, just shows how different our worlds are

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            July 7, 2014 2:32 PM

            I think it's just from twitch commentary on twitch=caster.. Spooky isn't on his own channel as a personality much when I tune in but he always has other commentators

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      July 7, 2014 3:07 PM

      Any word of Atlus bringing P4U2 (Persona 4 Arena: Ultimax) over? The Japanese PS3 version is going to be released late August, and the North American release is "Fall 2014" last I heard, but the arcade version has been out in Japan since last December.

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        July 7, 2014 3:27 PM

        They said it would be playable at Evo this year and I'll look to try it out.

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          July 7, 2014 8:43 PM

          Awesome. I'm not sure how playable Rise Kujikawa will be received, but from what I saw in the preview videos, it looks ridiculously hilarious.

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      July 7, 2014 3:59 PM

      Don't forget to stop by the ShackFighter Steam room during Evo to hang out. We're much nicer than twitch chat.

      http://steamcommunity.com/groups/Shackfighter

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        July 7, 2014 7:16 PM

        Except for smacky that guy is a diiiiiiiiiiick

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        July 7, 2014 7:44 PM

        I keep forgetting to go to steam then groups then join. If I could link a Steamgroup with a given Twitch page..... Or if y'all would send an Event event.

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      July 7, 2014 7:42 PM

      I can't believe FChamp SMASHED Apologyman at Curleh like that. I think Firebrand/Skrull were sandbagging. Doom was still going hard. DOOM ALWAYS GOES HARD.

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      July 7, 2014 7:59 PM

      I'll be there! Come say hi! I'll be the guy in the clothes!