I’ll Review Anything: Evolution Championship Series Tournament 2014

Last weekend, fighting gamers from all across the world congregated in Las Vegas to participate in the largest fighting games tournament, the Evolution Championship Series. This year, they had a whole slew of games, including Ultra Street Fighter IV, Injustice, Mortal Kombat, BlazBlue and Super Smash Brothers Melee. But I have to say this year’s tournaments was one of the best ones I’ve watched!

Usually, I don’t care that much for a lot of the games. I normally wouldn’t care who’d win in Killer Instinct or Tekken Tag Tournament. In fact, I would switch to a different stream if Tekken or Smash Bros was showing. This year was no different. I didn’t catch any of those matches live as I was too busy watching either the Ultra Street Fighter IV or the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom qualifying matches. And a lot of those matches were really great!

For me the biggest news that happened was that nobody was safe in the Ultra Street Fighter IV! Most of the big name competitors, including Japan’s Daigo “The Beast” Umehara, who was eliminated during the first day of competition! The man is usually a heavy favorite to make at least Top 8 in any Street Fighter IV Tournament he participates; he’s been making Top 8 since Street Fighter IV was part of the official lineup of Evo, after all. But for him to not make even Top 16 was a shocker! His Evil Ryu actually ranked Number 1 in all of Japan so for him to lose was big news!

Although a lot of the qualifying matches were fun to watch (the match between Xian’s Gen and Snake Eyez’s Zangief was intense!), I would have to say they saved the best for last because the Day 3 Top 8/Finals matches for most of the games were awesome! I was surprised at how much I got into the BlazBlue matches! Garireo’s Lichi, after being booted from the Winner’s bracked, had to endure four nail biting sets in order to claim the BlazBlue championship! While I never really liked BlazBlue, watching these matches made me reconsider picking up the game soon!

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same way with the Killer Instinct and Smash Bros. Top 8 sets. For Killer Instinct, it was mostly because the sets were all dominating matches. There wasn’t that much excitement as only a handful were really close. For Smash Bros., I think I just don’t enjoy the game. I have some idea how the game works and have a basic understanding of the mechanics of Smash Bros. But it’s so different from the traditional one-on-one fighting games, I have a hard time “getting” it. I’m happy it found an audience in Evo but, next year, I’m going to be skipping it. If they play the new Super Smash Bros. at next year’s Evo, maybe I’ll tune in.

I still watched the whole thing... even though I found it boring!

I still watched the whole thing… even though I found it boring!

I guess I wasn’t alone with my boredom since there were a lot of comments in the chat room asking the classic line: “When’s Mahvel?” And the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom Top 8 didn’t disappoint! Although I’m extremely sick of seeing Dr. Doom in almost every team, I still love watching all of the crazy combos and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments during every match of Marvel! I was expecting ChrisG to take home 1st place with his Morrigan/Dr. Doom/Vergil team. So when Justin Wong’s classic Wolverine/Storm/Akuma crushed him, I was extremely hyped! It certainly didn’t hurt that Yipes was on hand delivering his unique brand of commentary skills during the entire Top 8.

Then came the main event of the evening: Ultra Street Fighter IV. I was hyped to see this one and I wasn’t disappointed! While this year’s Top 8 was filled with Japanese/Asian players (sans Daigo) and a couple of US entrants, it was the underdog Luffy who won the entire thing! His win marked a series of firsts for Evo. Luffy is the first player to use a female character (Rose) to capture the crown. He’s also the first champion to come from Europe (he’s French). And he’s also the first pad player to take it all! Hopefully, next year, we’ll get to see a charge character win the Ultra Street Fighter IV tournament!

Sorry, but I'm disqualifying Gen since he's a mixture of charge and circle motions!

Sorry, but I’m disqualifying Gen since he’s a mixture of charge and circle motions!

Overall, besides the Killer Instinct and Smash Bros. tournaments, I think this year’s Evolution Champion Series was one of the best one’s yet! Like E3’s press conferences, it’s becoming one gaming’s yearly events that I have to watch live every year! Hopefully, one day, I won’t just be watching it at home. Hopefully, I’m going to actually participate in it… and then be called a fraud since I’ll get eliminated during my first two matches on stream!

On second though, maybe I’ll go there to watch.

Did you watch this year’s Evo? What did you think of the event? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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