The so-called Superbowl of Fighting Games is just a few more days away and I am so excited. Ever since I got into Street Fighter during the 4th entry, I have found myself marveling at pro players doing insane things in Street Fighter. But, after a while, I also found myself watching the other fighting game tournaments that happens during EVO and I’ve grown to like them as well.
I will always look at shocked disbelief at some of the combos, sick punishes and extreme comebacks during games like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Tekken, Dragon Ball FighterZ and even Dead or Alive. And since EVO is the pinnacle of the fighting game tournament scene, the very best of the best congregate there to compete. While Capcom, NetherRealm Studios and Namco Bandai have run their own tournaments and they have their own champions each year, the winner of EVO still stands as one of the biggest achievements any pro fighting game player can ever achieve.
This year’s EVO will probably no different as we will get to see the most popular fighting games and the best players in their field fight for supremacy. But there will be a slight change to EVO this year and, when I first heard the news, I was stunned. It wasn’t that newcomer Mortal Kombat 11 or the insane Dragon Ball FighterZ weren’t going to be held during the Sunday finals. It wasn’t that Guilty Gear Xrd or King of Fighters aren’t even going to be at EVO this year.
This year, Street Fighter V isn’t the main event of EVO. It’s not even the second to the last game; that slot goes to Tekken 7. The game that will have the honor of going last on Sunday’s finals will be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Now, apologies to Super Smash Bros. fans reading this but I never have gotten into the competitive Smash scene because I don’t get it. I get the mechanics; I have played Smash before and I even have Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on my Nintendo Switch. I like the game just fine but I can’t wrap my head around all the hype around the competitive scene for this game.
And God knows I’ve tried! I have watched previous Smash tournaments before. I kind of had to because they usually run overtime before the main game, which used to be Street Fighter. I’m sorry but I’m just not excited whenever Smash is on. Seeing a percentage number get higher and higher until someone is sent flying off the screen thanks to one big hit isn’t all that exciting to me. That’s just the way I feel.
So, It was surprising and, in all honesty, somewhat disheartening to see that Smash was closing out EVO. I was even more okay if Tekken 7 closed it out because, with those matches, I could get hyped. It can get really tense watching the players jerk back and forth, trying to get into that one position where their character has the advantage and attempting that one hit that’ll start a combo and give them that life lead.
After the initial shocked washed over me and I really stopped to think why EVO changed their Sunday finals lineup, I came up with an analysis as to why they did so. And when I figured it out, it made sense. Street Fighter V nor Tekken 7 do not deserve to have the top spot for this year’s EVO; Super Smash Bros. Ultimate does.
One of the biggest reasons is that, well, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is simply the most popular game at this year’s EVO. Nintendo’s crossover brawler has the most number of entrants this year. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will have 3,942 people vying to be the best player for the game. The second closest number of entrants, Street Fighter V, will have 1,929 pros clashing to be the champion while Tekken 7 comes in at a close 1,885 gamers participating. As you can see, there’s just a lot more people who are going to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate than either Street Fighter V or Tekken 7.
Despite my not really caring for Smash, the numbers do make a whole lot of sense in retrospect. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the newest game as it was just release in December of last year. This means that the game is still really fresh in the minds of most gamers and more people feel that they actually have a chance to take the crown, even if they’ve been only playing it for a few months.
The same can’t be said for both Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 5. Tekken 7 was released on 2015 in arcades. Street Fighter V was released on 2016, the same year as the home release of Tekken 7. A good 4 years have passed since then and they are getting long in the tooth. Both Capcom and Namco Bandai have added characters and updated the game during these 4 years but the games do not feel fresh anymore. That’s not a bad thing; that’s just a fact since they’ve been out for so long now. Adding new mechanics still doesn’t change the fact that the game is old news.
This year’s EVO is also something weird for the Smash community, I would think. This is the first time that there will only be one Smash game. Ever since 2014, there were always 2 Smash tournaments happening at the same time. One for Super Smash Bros. Melee and another for Super Smash Bros WiiU. This year, EVO will just have one: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This means that the folks who used to play both of the older Smash games will have to transition over to the latest version if they want to win this year’s EVO. Now, I’m not sure how much crossover there was for both games (from what I know, there wasn’t a whole lot), but this means that both the guys and gals who used to play the Gamecube and the WiiU versions will have no choice but to jump into the same Super Smash Bros. Ultimate pool.
And remember what I said about it being the newest game and a crapload of people are playing it because it’s new? That’s definitely going to translate to a lot more people wanting to watch some high level Smash play. Both veterans and newbies alike. They’ll all want to see what tech the pros have come up with so they can try those tricks the next time they play online or with their friends so they can get the upper hand. If more gamers want to watch Smash, then it undoubtedly deserves to be the main event at EVO and not Street Fighter V or Tekken 7.
So I’m fine with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate closing out EVO this year. It’s the most popular game right now so it deserves to be held off for last. In fact, I agree that the game with the most number of players should be the main event at EVO. It just seems appropriate. But this only works for this year, at the very least. If Capcom announces Street Fighter 6 or Tekken 8 gets revealed and more people are drawn to those games, then they should be the main event that year.
What do you think of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate becoming the main event of EVO 2019? Let me know in the comments section below!