Evo 2014: Re-visiting the final day of competition

Sunday was an intense day of fighting game madness, from top to bottom, as we look back at the day's dramatic events.


A lot went down over the first two days of the Evolution Championship Series tournament and the stage was set for Sunday's final day. All eyes would be on a number of the world's best fighting games and they would each deliver their own lasting memories for both hardcore fans and casual viewers alike.

BlazBlue shines

While the BlazBlue series has its loyal fans, it isn't what a lot of people would classify as mainstream. However, there was no denying that the Grand Finals for BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma were about as dramatic and intense as final matches will come.

Garireo and his Litchi would fight their way up from Losers Bracket and take the first tournament set from Dogura and his Azrael convincingly to reset the bracket. What happened from there was the stuff of legends. Dogura quickly reminded everyone why he was where he was when Azrael polished off Litchi with a tremendous Astral Finish and was poised to cruise to a tournament victory. But Garireo didn't give up, putting on a textbook display of masterful blocks and combos to tie the set at 2-2 before ultimately coming back to defeat Dogura in the very final match. It was perhaps one of the best BlazBlue sets ever played and one that's absoultely worth tracking down.

A 'Killer' final set

This was the debut year for Killer Instinct at Evo and it did not disappoint, thanks to its hardened competitors. Rico Suave and his Glacius got the ball rolling in Losers Finals with a tremendous set against Justin Wong and his Sabrewulf, thrilling the crowd with a well-timed Counter Breaker that ultimately sent Wong to a third-place finish.

That would set up a Grand Finals against CDJR (pronounced "CD Junior") and his Sadira. Rico made the switch to Jago, but it proved to be an ill-advised move, as CDJR would play a strategic 'keep away' game and crush Jago to quickly go up 2-0. With Jago failing him, Rico made the switch to Sabrewulf and took the next round, but like any good competitor, CDJR quickly adapted and adjusted. Even though Rico tried his best to hang on with some desperation Combo Breakers, CDJR would not be denied and he would take the final set, creating the unforgettable visual of a teary-eyed competitor accepting his first-place trophy from original KI creator Ken Lobb.

It was an impressive debut for KI, but the fun is just beginning. Iron Galaxy has some big plans for the game's second season, including some all-new mechanics like Air Counter Breakers. As chaotic as KI was during this year's Evo, next year promises to be even wilder.

A Smash-ing encore

To officially put the ugliness of last year behind them, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime appeared in a recorded message on the big stage to wish all of the Super Smash Bros. Melee competitors luck, offering another olive branch to the Smash fighting game community.

With that out of the way, it was time for the Melee Top 8 to begin. And once again, the players delivered. Hungrybox was able to reach the Grand Finals after taking down Armada, who had gone on a tear of his own after eliminating Axe (Pikachu) and PPMD (Falco). But his Jigglypuff wasn't enough to take down Mango, who dominated with Fox. The Grand Finals were closely contested, with Hungrybox unwilling to go down without a fight. But a whole lot of skill with Fox, combined with some luck (a random cloud from the "Yoshi's Story" stage floated in at a very opportune time) helped Mango secure his second-straight Evo championship.

There's a good chance that this could be the last year Melee is represented at this event, given that Nintendo will make a big push for the new Super Smash Bros for Wii U to be featured next year. If that's the case, it's been a remarkable run for the old GameCube classic, capping off an amazing renaissance of a nearly-15-year-old game.

Marvel-ous redemption

There would be no more dropped combos. No more falling short. No more second place. This year, Justin Wong walked into Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 with his Wolverine/Storm/Akuma team and finished what he started last year, doing so in the most storybook way possible.

First, he formally exorcised the demon from last year, decisively defeating defending champion Job "Flocker" Figueroa and sending him to Losers Bracket. Wong would then face a formidable challenge in 2012 Evo champion Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez, ultimately defeating Champ's team of Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix. And it wouldn't be Justin Wong if there wasn't edge-of-your-seat drama, as Ramirez looked to have the deciding match won with Dark Phoenix deployed and Doom waiting in the wings. However, Champ made a crucial mistake in calling the Doom assist at the wrong time, leading to Wong polishing off both Dark Phoenix and Doom simultaneously to propel himself to Grand Finals.

His Grand Finals opponent was Christopher "ChrisG" Gonzalez, the heavy tournament favorite for the last two years, who was looking to pen his own redemption story with his Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil team. However, Wong would not be denied. Having become all-too-familiar with this matchup, Wong switched Wolverine and Storm and used Storm's wind specials to neutralize ChrisG's Soul Fist/Hidden Missiles combo that had won him so many tournaments in the past. By also making sure to knock off Chris' dangerous Vergil early, Wong rocketed to a tournament victory, capping off an incredible journey that first began at last year's event. The ascension was complete and the king had finally returned.

Kicked by a Rose

No one came into this year's Ultra Street Fighter 4 tournament expecting a Rose player to even make a dent in the proceedings, much less dominate. But that was the case with Rose player Louffy, who came through Losers Bracket (having been sent there by defending champion Xian) and proceeded to never lose again, vaulting through some of the game's best players.

Louffy ran through such marquee names as Evil Geniuses' Momochi (Juri/Ken) and Fuudo (Fei Long), but the road to Grand Finals was far from easy. Darryl "Snake Eyez" Lewis gave the Rose player a run for his money, using his Zangief to take Louffy all the way to a deciding set. But Louffy managed to take advantage of some late, uncharacteristic mistakes from Lewis to ultimately claim victory. From there, Louffy took an epic Grand Finals from Bonchan (Sagat) to claim the inaugural Ultra Street Fighter 4 championship.

But what was more shocking than Louffy using a previously mid-tier character like Rose to soar through the ranks? It was the fact that he did it all using a PSX controller. It was the exclamation point to a truly unforgettable day of fighting game heroics.

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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