Boy, 2020 is turning out to be one bummer of a year, isn’t it? Thanks to the current pandemic, every major event slated for 2020 has either been cancelled or moved to a further date. Anticipated blockbuster films like Black Widow and Wonder Woman: 1984 has been moved further into the year. Sporting tournaments all around the world have been cancelled in light of the current situation. Even all the big geeky events like E3 and the San Diego Comic-Con, for the first time in 50 years, will not be happening this year!
The latest victim to succumb to the cancellation virus is EVO. For those who don’t know what EVO is, it’s basically the biggest gathering of fighting games where people from all over the world fly in to Las Vegas to compete in a myriad of fighting game tournaments. Coming out on top of any game in any EVO is a high honor because, like I said, it’s the time when the best of the best come together to see who actually is the best of the best. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening this year.
Instead, EVO organizers will be doing probably what they think is the next best thing. Since most video games, even fighting games, have some online multiplayer system built in, this year’s EVO will be done online.
I totally understand the idea behind doing this. In fact, I can even think of some positives that can come out from this and how this can even make future EVOs more exciting.
Having all the tournaments happen online would allow fighting game aficionados who don’t have the capability to travel to Las Vegas, may that be because of travel bans, difficulty getting visas or just plain financial circumstances, to actually join a prestigious EVO tournament. Who knows? Maybe the next big fighting game superstar could all of a sudden get noticed here. I remember a person named Pepeday who only got noticed because he joined the Tokyo Game Show Street Fighter IV tournament. Next thing you know, he was flying all the way to the United States for his first EVO tournament! That kind of thing could happen again if someone really good shows up for those online matches.
Also, looking to the future, it is possible that, if the online tournaments do go off well, we could see some specific EVO online brackets. They won’t be as grand as the “official” ones but they would be there to allow a showcase of players who can’t travel to Las Vegas. Think of it as a side tournament and a way for sponsors to scout future talent much like regular team sports.
All this could be well and good, however, is it really possible to host a full-fledged EVO online? Sad to say but the odds are stacked against it going off without a hitch. Well, a regular bracketed EVO anyway. What I propose they do is make this year’s EVO online only tournaments be “invitation only” and only the best of the best would be allowed to compete.
There are several reasons why I say this but the biggest one is because playing online has too many variables to figure out. Not only will you have to contend with people playing using different systems, connection speeds and lag times. You also can’t really check if people are playing fair. You might be playing with a standard, tournament ready set up but you can’t see if your opponent is doing the same. It’s possible you’ll be paired against someone who’s using an illegal stick with programmed macros, a modified router which can generate lag at the most inappropriate time for you or even a hacked version of the game! You could be dealing with all of those issues and also facing a bot programmed to read your inputs!
I know, if there will be people trying to cheat using these tactics, they would only be a minuscule percentage of the people joining. I also know they would be stamped out from the tournament almost immediately if the slightest whiff of shenanigans are detected. However, even if this was the case, this would ultimately taint the entire EVO for this year. Heck, I can even see some sore losers who get booted out from the tournament complain about being eliminated because of something like lag and a good portion of them would have a case to be made! That, too, will put a giant asterisk on who ultimately wins their respective fighting game’s grand finals. Also, it would be hilarious if the winner would actually be a bot, wouldn’t it?
However, if this year’s EVO would be an “invitation only” event, most, if not all, of these variables would be kept in check. The EVO organizers will invite specific players, preferably the best players we all know will do good if it were a regular tournament, and then run the tournaments like normal.
Doing this does a couple of things. One, we already know the matches are going to be of high caliber because the players are good. Sure, there aren’t going to be any surprise entrants but at least we know they’re going to be good. Also, most of these pro players do stream their gameplay sessions often so they would have a better chance of not encountering any laggy matches between each other because they do rely on stable connections when they practice, which is more than I can say for the regular guy who might have a crappy connection and just plays for fun on the weekends.
The EVO organizers will also be relatively confident that their system and gaming setups are up to tournament regulations as that’s the equipment they use when they do go travel around the world to play! Also, I don’t believe a pro player would ever think of cheating in an official match, even if it’s just going to be held online. They still have a reputation to uphold!
The biggest hitch, actually, would be the locations and distances. EVO usually gathers the players from all over the world so I would assume they’re planning to still make it an international bracket. However, now you have to contend with the lag that will happen due to how far the players will have to be playing against each other. You also have another issue regarding when to actually hold EVO! I mean, normally, EVO happens around 11AM all the way up to around 10PM in the United States from Friday to Sunday. However, if I want to watch the matches live in the Philippines, that means I have to stay up from around 1AM all the way up to 12 noon! How would that work if EVO had a player from the United States compete against someone from Japan? What time would they have to agree on?
Well, that’s another easy fix as well. We have this “invitation only” first have local tournaments within their regions and then the winners from their brackets then compete against each other afterwards. Essentially, you’re going to have something like the winner from the North American region face off against the winner from South American region while the winner from the Japan area face off against the winner of the South East Asia area. Ultimately, the only time the players will have to face with a long distance match is when things get to the Top 4 of their respective games. The EVO organizers generally have to ensure that the long distance matches are solid. Maybe by that time, governments will have eased up on local travel restrictions so that the players can actually play in areas that have really good connection speeds. It may even be possible to just have the Top 4 fly to one area since it’ll just be them and not a whole crowd of people! That would definitely be ideal!
Look, I do appreciate that the folks at EVO are still pursuing the idea that we need some kind of EVO to happen despite these trying times. However, they just can’t run an online tournament the same way they do it normally. Some things will have to change to work with the online format. I know even my idea isn’t the most ideal but I do believe it’s the best chance for EVO to still work.
What do you think they should do with the “online only” EVO tournament? Let me know in the comments section below!