The Five Best Moments from EVO 2019 (That Aren’t About the Games)

The Evolution Fighting Championships, EVO for short, for this year is over and, once again, the mecca of fighting game community had a lot of great moments. It can be so easy to get caught up in the frenzy of competition and just concentrate on those wonderful comebacks, sick combos and new reveals that usually dominate EVO’s highlight reels. That’s totally understandable and, even while the tournaments were running, there were already some highlight reels being pumped out.

But there are the other moments that don’t make those “the best of EVO” videos. They may be talked about but are usually overshadowed by the flashy combos and incredible comebacks. They may be a result of those the emotional outbursts the players feel from competing in a tournament wherein the best in the world gather to become EVO champion. Or they could just be those moments that makes this year’s EVO different from the others.

Whatever the case, let’s go look at some of those best EVO 2019 moments…

Go1’s Tears of Joy (Dragon Ball FighterZ)

Go1 is known to be one of the best fighting game competitors out there, excelling in multiple games like mainstream fighters such as Street Fighter V as well as relatively unknown games like Melty Blood. Things came to a head with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ. Go1 dominated the game since it’s released and he looked like a shoo-in to take the top spot for Dragon Ball FighterZ at last year’s EVO. However, it was spoiled by SonicFox who pulled the “side switch” choice and led to Go1’s American rival to win in 2018.

This year, both Go1 and SonicFox once again clashed in Dragon Ball FighterZ, which was basically a rematch from last year’s EVO. It also looked like it was going to be a replay of last year as SonicFox immediately got two wins over Go1, threatening to send the Japanese player into the losers bracket and with no momentum. But Go1 recovered and managed to take three set sets against his rival and ultimately winning this year’s Dragon Ball FighterZ tournament at EVO. After the win, Go1’s emotions just washed over him and he broke down with tears of joy with SonicFox gracious enough to raise his hand.

Not only was the match really good but the emotions that came rushing out of Go1 shows all the passion he put into playing Dragon Ball FighterZ and practicing day in and day out to be the best in the world. All that hard work paid off and you can feel the joy he felt after finally beating SonicFox.

Infiltration’s return to dominance (Samurai Shodown)

Infiltration’s fighting game career could be so much better. He was on the top of the world, being a dominant figure in the Street Fighter world and even winning the very first Street Fighter V tournament at EVO. Things took a dark turn when alleged domestic abuse allegations came to light. This led to Infiltration to be dropped by his sponsor company and being banned by Capcom from participating in any Street Fighter tournaments.

Infiltration hasn’t been heard from a while but, at this year’s EVO, he did pop his head into the fighting game scene once again. This time, it wasn’t in Street Fighter V. He joined the Samurai Shodown tournament and he returned in a huge way by winning the entire thing.

It was surreal to see Infiltration back in the fighting game scene and especially in a big show like EVO. It was also odd to see him without all the sponsorship on his body and just wearing a nondescript T-shirt. Your opinion on Infiltration being able to participate in any fighting game tournament, especially after the domestic abuse case but, for me, it did give me nostalgic feels to see him back in the thick of things.

Street Fighter V’s Influx of New Blood in Top 8

In every Street Fighter tournament, fans generally expect to see a few names to be making it to Top 8. Just from Japan alone, you have a plethora of names that you expect to see make it to EVO’s finals. You have names like Tokido, Daigo, Fuudo and the likes of Itabashi Zangief. In the United States and Europe, you can predict that most people are going to pick the likes of Punk, Problem X, Nuckledu and maybe even Justin Wong.

None of those names made it to Street Fighter V’s Top 8 of EVO 2019. The only two “popular” names that made it this year are Fujimura and Bonchan. The other players to get the rest of the slots were iDom, Machabo, Infexious, Big Bird, Kichipa-mu and Yang Mian.

Not a Punk or Daigo in sight

Now, none of the players I mentioned are slouches in the Street Fighter V scene. They have participated in tournaments before and have done very well for themselves. However, it is strange to see more of these lesser known players than names that you expected. This turn of events made this year’s Street Fighter V’s EVO tournament much harder to predict. It was wholly possible that a relative unknown can take the Street Fighter V world by storm.

Of course, Bonchan won Street Fighter V this year so the newcomers didn’t get the crown but it is a huge achievement to at least take 7th place out of 1,929 players, isn’t it?

An American winning an anime fighter (BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle)

EVO does gather players from all over the world, leading to a wonderful mix of diverse people enjoying the same thing under one roof. While this may be the case, it is still totally uncommon for a Western gamer to actually win an anime fighter tournament at EVO. This was not the case this year as an American won BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s tournament this year.

It may seen that’s not the case as the winner was a gamer that went with the gamertag Shinku but, yes, he is from the United States. You may say that this shouldn’t be a landmark event and I may agree with you to an extent. However, it is still considered rather out of the norm as it’s usually the Japanese that dominate anime fighters. So this is something that does deserve mention.

The first “dual EVO champion” is from Pakistan (Tekken 7)

It is incredible accomplishment to win a fighting game tournament. It is doubly amazing if you can win at EVO. But winning two EVOs in the same year? Now that’s a feat and it happened in 2019!

While EVO just happened over the weekend, there was another EVO event that actually happened early in the year. EVO Japan is an offshoot of the original Western tournament but it still had a lot of the best fly in from all over the world. Most people in the fighting game community usually expect a Korean player to win at Tekken 7. But it was Arslan Ash from Pakistan to take home the grand prize in a dominant fashion at EVO Japan this year.

Arslan Ash became a Tekken superstar that day and an immediate favorite. But it was still almost impossible to predict that he would do the same thing several months later in the Western EVO tournament this year. And he did it in impressive fashion.

There is no doubt that the best players will never underestimate the Pakistan Tekken scene after Arslan Ash’s impressive EVO matches but what’s not really mentioned is that he’s the first “dual” champion in both the Western and Japan EVO tournaments. While this may be a feat that may be duplicated in the future, let it be known that the first person to do it was a player from Pakistan named Arslan Ash.

BONUS: Yoshinori Ono heartfelt speech and Shoryuken (Street Fighter V)

The reason why this is a bonus is because I already have something about Street Fighter V on this list and this wasn’t shown on stream. But this is just too good to not talk about…

It’s always been a tradition at EVO for developers to reveal something new. It may be a new game, new characters, balance updates or even just a new stage. This wasn’t the case this year for Street Fighter V as the trailer for the new characters was prematurely revealed just days before the prestigious tournament. This led Street Fighter producer, Yoshinori Ono heartbroken as, while he was going to be at EVO, there was no need for him to actually go on stage anymore. What’s worse is that the live crowd was going to be deprived of the traditional “Shoryuken” pose.

Well, thanks to, of all people, WWE Superstar Austin Creed/Xavier Woods, he managed to coax Yoshinori Ono by getting the audience chant his name and encourage him to say a few words…

It was genuinely heartwarming to see Ono-san go up on stage and talk to the people. He didn’t have anything for us to see and all he did say is that we will be getting new information sometime in November and December. But we still did get to do the shoryuken; it would’ve felt weird if we didn’t. So, thank you Austin Creed/Xavier Woods for that. And thank you Ono-san for this really heartwarming moment.

What was your favorite “non-gaming” moment at this year’s EVO? Let me know in the comments section below!

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