Evo 2014: Re-visiting the first two days

The first two days of Evo 2014 had their share of dramatics, which you can check out right now.


This year's Evolution Championship Series tournament is behind us. While there were many news items that broke out during the weekend, the past three days were primarily about fighting games and everything that makes them so much fun to play and watch. There were indeed memorable moments from all across the tournament weekend, so let's take a look at some of the more eye-opening ones from Friday and Saturday.

Super Smash Bros. Melee hype train rolls on

The monstrous hype that Super Smash Bros. Melee garnered during last year's Evo event showed no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by Friday's pool action. As Ultra Street Fighter 4 played its pool on secondary streams and on the monitors along each side of the convention hall in Las Vegas, all eyes were glued to Melee and the expert play that was taking center stage.

Arguably, the match of the day was between Vectorman's Yoshi and Jace's Captain Falcon. Yoshi showed great perseverance, managing to keep himself alive across a number of precarious situations and staying alive long enough to send Falcon crashing down to a crushing loss. The match between Fizzy's Captian Falcon and Lucien's Zelda/Sheik (above) wasn't too shabby, either. The tone had been set. Super Smash Bros. Melee was not about to slow down this year.

The kids are alright

The fighting game community isn't solely comprised of aging arcade-era legends and college kids. A whole new generation of players is preparing to overthrow the old guard and among the youngest participants at this year's tournament was the 14-year-old prodigy from Japan named Gen.

The youngster had clawed his way to the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Grand Finals and looked to reset the bracket with his team of Bob and Leo. Unfortunately, Twitch's JDCR would not be denied and Gen would fall short against the duo of Heihachi and Armor King. There were moments when it looked like Gen would break through and he quickly had the crowd believing in him. By the end, the capacity crowd knew that even in defeat, Gen had made a name for himself as a major player to watch for years to come.

Street Fighter Bloodbath

Remember last week when I wrote about the players to watch in this year's Ultra Street Fighter 4 tournament? How I rambled on about the tournament favorites and how they would match up against one another? Well, none of them made it past Friday night. Infiltration, Tokido, Daigo Umehara (one of Chatty's favorite fighters), Haitani, and Justin Wong were all sent home quietly off-stream. In fact, Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez didn't even make it as far as the Top 32.

But perhaps the biggest upset of the night came when Southern California's own Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis went toe-to-toe with defending world champion Xian. Lewis's Zangief did not back down an inch against Xian's Gen, leading to the most intense match of the night. At the end, time was running down with Zangief on the brink of defeat. Xian attempted to finish him off with one last Ultra Combo, but wasn't able to hit and Lewis nailed him with an EX green hand as time expired. The hit was just enough to give Lewis the narrow life lead and the win, leading to a jubilant eruption from the crown in attendance, all celebrating Lewis's biggest victory ever. Meanwhile, Xian would unceremoniously be eliminated later in the night in Losers Bracket off-stream, capping off a night of unbelievable upsets.

Wednesday Night Fights dominates Next Level Battle Circuit

After the intensity of the Ultra Street Fighter 4 semi-finals, it was time for a bit of levity. The roster from the weekly Wednesday Night Fights tournament in Southern California would face off against the crew from the weekly Next Level Battle Circuit tournament in New York, engaging in a friendly battle of 5-on-5 coastal warfare for USF4 bragging rights.

The first match started with Team PIE's Zeus (Vega) facing Mad Catz's Marq Teddy (Guy). The rules were clearly stipulated that each pair of opponents would play one game. Zeus quickly beat Teddy, but the opponents then began a rematch. They were swiftly told over the house mic that it was supposed to be one game, but nobody listened and the rules were grudgingly changed to best 2 out of 3. That turned out to be a big mistake for NLBC.

Teddy took the next two sets to eliminate Zeus, while Team PIE's Smug and his Dudley would fall in similar fashion to Keno's Balrog. WNF's Veloc1raptor (Gouken) and FilipinoMan (Rose) would then take out Sanford Kelly's Sagat and Arturo "Sabin" Sanchez's Dhalsim, respectively, to take a near-insurmountable 4-0 lead going into NLBC's final man. And while EMP's Dieminion made a valiant effort in narrowly beating out Snake Eyez's Zangief, he soon fell, poetically enough, to Marq Teddy in the next match.

It was a banner victory for the west coast and a reminder that sometimes it's best to just stick to the original rules.

Injustice takes flight

Last year's Injustice: Gods Among Us tournament was a borderline snooze-fest, showing some of the worst aspects of the game's balance issues in front of a worldwide stage. Partly because of that, Injustice's Grand Finals were relegated to Saturday afternoon, but Netherrealm's fighter wasn't going to disappoint for a second year.

Sonic Fox and his Batgirl had clawed their way up from Losers Bracket and had only one obstacle left: Pig of the Hut's General Zod. Unlike last year's spamfest, Fox showed some skillful Batgirl play, taking everything Hut had to offer and coming right back to win the first five sets. Having racked up rage quit after rage quit, Hut was done playing games and took an overwhelming life lead in the sixth game, looking to rack up a 'Perfect' and begin his comeback. However, it wasn't meant to be, as Sonic Fox completed one final comeback to polish off Hut and convincingly win the Injustice tournament with a 6-0 shutout.

It may be too little, too late for Injustice, given that Ed Boon took the stage minutes later to discuss the next Mortal Kombat. But if this is the final showcase for the DC Comics-based fighter, it went out like a champion, like any good superhero should.

When's Mahvel: Now in (AD)HD!

One of the more unusual moments of the weekend came when Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 took the stage. While the Winners Bracket would be shown on the main stage, the decision was made to also have the Losers Bracket matches play out simultaneously on the side screens. The result was one of the worst cases of split focus imaginable, as the crowd (as well as the Twitch streamers at home) were stuck having to keep track of two matchups with major implications unfolding at the same time.

The biggest example included the crowd keeping track of a barnburner between Justin Wong (Wolverine/Storm/Akuma) and Nicolas "KaneBlueRiver" Gonzalez (Hulk/Haggar/Sentinel), while Jonathan "Cloud 805" Morales (Zero/Vergil/Dante) and Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez (Wolverine/Doctor Doom/Vergil) were fighting for their tournament lives in Losers Bracket just inches away. While marquee matchups were happening in the middle of the stage, a number of good tournament players, including Gonzalez, Morales, and Vineeth "ApologyMan" Meka (Firebrand/Doctor Doom/Super Skrull) were all sent home in edge-of-your-seat thrillers, sending fans scrambling for the stream archive once the smoke had cleared.

Of course, that was far from the end of the weekend. Come back later today to re-live the unforgettable final day of competition.

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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