EVO 2015: Recapping the first two days of competition

It's been an eventful first two days at the 2015 Evolution Championship Series tournament. Before the final day of competition begins, Shacknews takes a look back at what went down on Friday and Saturday.

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The first two days of this year's Evolution Championship Series have been emotional and intense, regardless of the game on display. While the weekend is set to peak on Sunday with the major games having their Grand Finals, the first two days of Evo 2015 have had their fair share of great moments. Today, Shacknews takes a look at a few of those.


Persona 4 takes the stage, but gets drowned out by Ultra Street Fighter 4

This year was the first for Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. The previous Persona 4 Arena dazzled viewers in 2013, but while Ultimax was given the main stage, it had the unfortunate task of going on right next to Ultra Street Fighter 4, which was going through quarterfinals on the side stage.

As the Top 8 unfolded, heads quickly turned towards Street Fighter, as its top players were suddenly in trouble. Evo 2014 runner-up Bonchan was getting knocked off by beloved American icon Alex Valle, while Guile expert Dieminion had world champion Louffy on the ropes. Both Louffy and Bonchan would fall upon reaching losers bracket and all attention was suddenly on Street Fighter for any further knockouts.

As for Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, it was able to wrangle eyeballs again upon reaching its Grand Finals. Superboy showed dominance with his Ken Amada/Koromaru. While Tahichi did his best to come back in the final set, it was not enough and Superboy claimed an emotional victory.


The Unretiring

Competitive fighters' lives are not one-dimensional. They're human beings. They face their own struggles. They can become frustrated. And with everything going on in their own day-to-day lives, the drive to continue forward sometimes fades away. That was the case for a while for Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez, who announced on January 12 that he would retire from fighting games. Bruce "Gamerbee" Hsiang was devastated after falling short on his road to the Capcom Cup in 2014, so much that he contemplated his own retirement.

Months passed and things quickly changed. PR Balrog returned to Ultra Street Fighter IV and was rejuvenated, particularly after an epic showing at this year's CEO Gaming tournament in June. PR Balrog clawed his way through losers bracket on Friday night, defeating some of the best players from abroad, like Gackt, Xiao Hai, and escaping by the skin of his teeth against Kazunoko. Meanwhile, Gamerbee likewise clawed through losers, running through Pepeday and his insane El Fuerte and finally exorcising "The Beast" Daigo Umehara, who had owned him in prior matchups. The two have become sentimental favorites, particularly after Hsiang tweeted out this picture after the Top 8 was determined.


Zero dominates Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

Despite having an insanely high registration count, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was a largely-ignored presence for the first couple of days at Evo. Worse yet, the game was quietly sent off to wrap up early on Saturday, with the Grand Finals kicking off around 12:30pm. That would normally be bad enough, but the Street Fighter V panel was being held at 2pm, which presented a brutal choice for attendees.

In spite of all of this, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U had a number of entertaining moments. Chief among them was Rosalina & Luma player Dabuz embracing his inner wrestling heel and riling up the crowd with some less-than-sportsmanlike antics. The crowd then roared when Abadango and his Wario came along and made short work of him.

But ultimately, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was running on Zero power. Competitive fighter Zero proved that he has an iron grip on the latest Super Smash Bros. completely dominating the opposition without taking a single loss. This marks Zero's 41st tournament win, which includes a convincing victory at this year's Apex tournament. Next year could be interesting with the addition of DLC characters (Ryu, Lucas, and Roy were not usable, due to their late deployment date) and stages like the classic Dream Land. But until then, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U goes through Zero.


Rico Suave powers through Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct had some question marks going into this year's tournament, with a new developer at the helm and an entire season's worth of changes and additions. But this year's tournament proved to be an incredibly entertaining affair, with the top 8 competitors all using different characters.

Last year's runner-up, Rico Suave, was sent to losers bracket by a seemingly-unstoppable Guttermagic and his Thunder. After dispatching SleepNS and his Kan-Ra, Suave went back to the drawing board and faced Guttermagic a second time with his Fulgore. With the aid of some projectile zoning, Suave completely threw Guttermagic for a loop and came all the way back to win the tournament in convincing fashion. While Suave will savor his victory today, the competition is only going to get stiffer when Killer Instinct hits PC later this year and gets a fresh new batch of players.


The Marvel gods have fallen

Compared to past Evo tournaments, this year's Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 docket looked to be more subdued. No one had any idea just how much, though. The three heavy favorites (Filipino Champ, ChrisG, and defending champion Justin Wong) did not make it to tonight's top 8 stage. Worse than that, they were all eliminated off-stream, aggravating fans that were hoping to see more marquee matchups. Particularly egregious was that the Wong/ChrisG match, a rematch of last year's epic Grand Finals, was not held on-stream. It was a rare hiccup on the part of Evo's tournament organizers.

With Marvel's top-tier players all eliminated, the door is wide open for some of Marvel's players that have been on the cusp of greatness. The capacity crowd will most likely be behind crowd favorite Nicolas "KaneBlueRiver" Gonzalez and his team of Hulk, Haggar, and Sentinel. But don't sleep on some of the other heavy hitters, like Neo (Magneto, Doctor Doom, Phoenix) and RayRay (Magneto, Doctor Doom, Sentinel). There are also some interesting new names in the mix, like 2012 Mexican competitor Frutsy and Japanese player RF. It may end up being the most unpredictable Marvel Top 8 ever.


Look for more storylines to unfold throughout the day. We'll take a look back at today's events on Monday, but you can also watch it all go down live. Be sure to join us for a full day of competition and join the conversation!

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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