Five players who can claim the Smash 4 throne

Since its release in 2014, there has been one player dominating the scene: Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios. Since he retired last month, the top spot is wide open. There are a few players who have consistently been ranked highly but now they have the chance to take it to the next level. With Zero now gone anything is possible and we are guaranteed a new number one ranked player. Ever since the PGR (Panda Global Ranking) system has been ranking the 50 best players in the world, no one has been able to dethrone Zero. This year will be the first time that someone else will take the top spot. Here are five players I think have the best chances of taking the number one spot

 

Liquid Salem

Let’s start off with the current number two ranked player in the world. Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young Just signed with team liquid after a red hot

Evo 2017 Champion Salem
Courtesy DBLTAP

2017. The Bayonetta main is approaches every game with a slow methodical offense centered around patience. His incredible tech skill paired with Bayonettas’ deadly moveset make for a very volatile pairing. Salem Racked up huge results in 2017, placing first in three S tier events. His most notable win coming at EVO 2017 where he shocked the world defeating by defeating Zero in set two of grand finals. Salem is rarely seen outside of top 8 of any event he attends, and consistently delivers amazing results.

Salem is currently number two in the world, but he came very close to dethroning Zero. A lot of his biggest victories last season came against Zero and he became a bit of an achilles heel for him. With Zero gone Salem is definitely poised to take the top spot that just narrowly eluded him last season.

Free Agent Dabuz

Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby is often known as Smash 4’s most consistent player. You can find him in just about every top eight with his tried and true Rosalina.

Smash 4 king of consistency, Dabuz
Courtsey Liquidpedia

Dabuz doesn’t get all the credit he deserves because he’s not a very flashy player but he is very effective. He took first place at two S tier events last season which was a personal best for him. His play is very calculated and combined with the dangerous potential Rosalina has, he can produce some scary offense. Dabuz does a great job of keeping a wall between his opponent, using Luma to keep opponents out at all costs. He is a very skilled player but sometimes struggled against Zero.

Even with one of his biggest wins of last year coming against Zero, he could stand to improve. Zero being gone could possibly be the final step that leads to Dabuz rising up among the ranks.

Echo Fox MVG MK Leo

Leonardo “MK Leo” Lopez Perez is one of Smash 4’s most prolific players at only 16 years old! Given the nickname “prince of smash” he is often considered to be the best player in the world now that zero is gone; even after ranking 4th on the PGR.

MK Leo, Prince of smash 4
Courtesy K-P-B

Leo is simply on another level when he’s playing. Whether he plays Marth, Meta Knight, or cloud, he is precise and deadly. He’s the best with just about every character he uses and it shows in tournaments. He has two S tier wins along with one A tier win and consistently places high. The thing that really sets him apart is how successful he is against Zero, as he was definitely one of Zeros’ demons last season.

Leo is very calculated in his movements, from spacing to execution. His tech skill is amazing and many believe he will be the next to be crowned the best in the world.

  NRG Nairo

Smash 4 fan favorite, NRG Nairo
Courtesy SSB World

“The Peoples Champ” Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada is always a fan favorite. Next to Zero he is the PGRs’ most consistent performer as he has placed third for the past three seasons. With his Zero Suit Samus by his side he is well equipped to clutch out close games or destroy whoever comes into his path. Nairo is very active in the community as he streams almost daily to a large audience, and has a massive social media presence. However he is much more than just an icon online as his results speak for themselves. He only had one first place finish last season, but it was an S tier event and he placed second at a few other tournaments. He also was only outside of top 8 two times last season. In a game where many top players will have the occasional bad tournament, Nairo always has a great run.

Nairo also did well against Zero and was one of his biggest rivals. With him gone Nairo is definitely a favorite to take the top spot this season.

BSD Elegant

The always electrifying Elegant!
Courtesy Twitter

Ok now hear me out, this is a bit a of a wildcard. Matt “Elegant Fitzpatrick was ranked 11th best in the world last season and isn’t necessarily a favorite to take the top spot. But I believe that he has the tools and the momentum to have a great chance at taking it. He’s the best Luigi player in the world and he is a very explosive player. He has very respectable tournament results and while he hasn’t gotten first place at a huge event yet, he is always threatening.

Elegant didn’t get to travel as much as the others on this list last year, but I think if that changes this season, we could see a changing of the guard in the Smash 4 scene. Elegant is such a skillful player and his dedication to the game, and impressive tech skill make him a player to watch in the race for the top spot.

Who do you think will take the number one spot this season? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

 

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evo 2018

Does ARMS Have a Future in esports?

Fans of fighting games need no introduction to the importance of the EVO Championship Series. For years, this event has provided countless hours of intense top-level play for various fighting games. While the event often takes place in the U.S., this year saw the emergence of EVO Japan, which took place from January 26 – 28. The event saw tournaments for some of esports’ most popular fighting games – Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, to name a few. But among the games played at EVO Japan, there was one that stood out. There was a game that had something to prove. And that game was ARMS.

Last year, this author discussed if ARMS, the unique and inventive fighter from Nintendo, deserved its slot at EVO Japan. With EVO Japan having come and gone, now is as good a time as any to discuss ARMS’ future as an esport. How did EVO Japan affect ARMS’ chances at becoming a widely recognized esport, if at all? Let’s talk about it.

What EVO Japan meant to Arms

Going into the event, it was easy to look at EVO Japan as a “make or break” point for ARMS as an esport. On one hand, the event served as a possibility to show off the game’s competitive community to the world. However, at the same time, if ARMS underperformed in regards to viewer engagement and impact, then ARMS may not get another opportunity to be played on a world stage. With EVO Japan’s ARMS tournament having come and gone, it seems that the latter of these two may have been the fate for ARMS.

ARMS’ Grand Finals were entertaining, but did it do enough to convince people that ARMS can be an esport? Image: YouTube

In terms of numbers, ARMS had over 320 entrants, which was the smallest amount of entrants in any game played at the event. However, this is understandable given that ARMS is a new intellectual property that is mechanically unlike any other fighting game and has a competitive community that isn’t even a year old yet.

Mirroring the game’s player count in the tournament, ARMS didn’t get a significant amount of buzz during the tournament. Moreover, the videos-on-demand for ARMS’ tournament at EVO Japan have received significantly less views than other games featured at EVO Japan.

Despite what the game’s dedicated fans hoped, ARMS failed to make a significant splash among the more recognizable, reputable games at EVO Japan. Another blow to the ARMS’ competitive community was the recent confirmation that the game would not be featured at EVO 2018 later this year. However, ARMS’ poor performance at EVO Japan and the game’s absence at EVO 2018 aren’t enough to effectively kill the game’s future as an esport. Does ARMS have enough in itself to warrant a healthy future in esports?

A Skill Ceiling that may be too low…

One of the most important things about any esport is its watchability and viewership. ARMS’ watchability has been a question for many. As with almost any other fighting game, it’s clear to see that top-level ARMS players have a great level of skill. However, ARMS lacks two things that many fighting games benefit from: immense depth and spectacle.

“Pega” was the victor of Grand Finals for ARMS at EVO Japan. Image: YouTube

Let’s take Super Smash Bros. Melee as an example. When you watch top-level play, it looks significantly different from watching beginner-level play. Melee has advanced techniques, wavedashing, and many character-specific toolkits that make each individual player’s playstyle feel different from one another. This has helped keep Melee in the esport spotlight for so long – despite the game being over fifteen years old.

At least as of the time of writing, ARMS lacks this level of depth, which hurts both the number of players and viewers of the game. Watching the ARMS tournament at EVO Japan, one can certainly see that the players in the event were using advanced techniques and movement. However, when watching, one may ask: how much can top-level play develop beyond this tournament? 

It’s unclear if ARMS’ competitive metagame can develop much further than it already has. While ARMS was enjoyable to watch at EVO Japan, the technique displayed in the tournament didn’t seem much greater than technique displayed at the ARMS Invitational at E3 in June of 2017. Part of what makes esports entertaining to watch is seeing the development of top-level play. It’s exciting to see how players for our favorite esports can get better, and push what’s possible in the game.

The Issue of Characters

One final critique is with the game’s characters. Characters are the bread and butter of fighting games – especially for fighting games that are esports. Games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter V have a vast variety of characters with different playstyles and toolkits. Tournaments for these games can be exciting to watch just from seeing different characters being represented. Also by seeing the different playstyle and techniques that accompany those different characters. Watching a Smash 4 tournament and suddenly seeing more obscure characters like Wii Fit Trainer, Shulk, or Mr. Game and Watch can suddenly make that tournament more interesting.

EVO

Fighting games live and die by their characters. Do the characters of ARMS feel different enough from each other? Image: Smashboards

ARMS lacks this. Unlike most fighting games, the most significant thing that changes a player’s techniques and playstyle are the “ARMS”, or weapons, that they choose for each round. The character you pick when playing ARMS only affects certain character-specific moves, that can allow them to charge their attacks. Some characters, like Master Mummy, have stronger grabs, but for the most part, characters are defined by unique gimmicks.

These gimmicks include Spring Man’s rage factor when he gets below 25% health, Ribbon Girl’s multiple jumps, Mechanica’s hover, Master Mummy’s regeneration when he blocks, among others. But are these enough to make each character feel significantly different to watch from any other? No, probably not. ARMS’ characters only impact complementary techniques. The main techniques and depth of ARMS’ combat comes from which “ARMS” the player chooses.

Unfortunately, the variety of “ARMS”, while fairly sizable, doesn’t feel vast. Many “ARMS” are the same or recolors that have different elemental properties. There are only a few types of “ARMS”, such as umbrellas, whips, boomerangs, and so on. If there were a greater variety of different types of “ARMS”, then ‘ARMS’ combat could begin to feel more vast and different. As is, though, there are not enough that significantly change up players’ techniques and playstyles, making competitive play not feel as interesting as it could be.

Can ARMS be Saved?

As much as one may critique ARMS as an esport, many people would still love to see ARMS become an esport in some capacity. However, the odds of that happening are certainly not in the game’s favor at this point. With Nintendo recently confirming that there will be no more significant updates, nor anymore DLC characters and stages, the game itself will likely remain as it is now.

One of the most restrictive things from ARMS becoming an esport is actually in consideration of the fact that players are constantly locked on to one another. If players could freely roam around 3D arenas, somewhat like the Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm games, then ARMS could become more interesting.

EVO

ARMS is noticeably absent from EVO 2018’s roster. Image: Shoryuken.

The story of ARMS is an admirable one. It fought hard to become an esport, and it continues to have a vibrant and dedicated community. However, the game simply didn’t have enough in it to grab much attention on the esports stage. Can ARMS be saved and become an esport? It’s unlikely, but ARMS builds a great framework for sequels that could become esports. It has great competitive potential as a franchise, but there needs to be some tweaks to the core design of the game. Getting rid of the constant lock-on, and having characters feel significantly different from each other is already enough to make a sequel that has more competitive capabilities.

So does ARMS have a future as an esport? One would argue that it does through a potential sequel that fixes and improves upon the framework of the 2017 game. As is, ARMS seems like it doesn’t have enough to pull in viewers and become an esport. But the franchise is still young, and becoming an esport is a possibility if future installments take good steps forward.

 

But what do you think? Do you think ARMS can be an esport, or do you feel that a sequel to the game has better chances? As always, join the conversation and let us know!


 

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EVO Japan

EVO Japan wraps up. Promises to return

The Evolution Championship Series held it’s first ever event in Japan recently. Organizers wanted to host an EVO event in Japan back in 2011. Unfortunately these plans were postponed indefinitely due to the big earthquake that occurred that year. Now, 7 years later, Japanese fighting game players had their chance to win a prestigious fighting game event without having to travel internationally to participate.

The country showed up in force. Online warriors that never travel abroad surprised many who had not seen them on a live stage before. It kept the competition fresh compared to many of the tournaments streamed in the US. The matches were fierce and unpredictable, and made for a wonderful viewing experience, especially live. For those of you that couldn’t attend, or could only watch online in the wee hours of the morning, don’t worry! The Game Haus has you covered.

Days one and two

The crowd at EVO day 2. Image taken by The Game Haus

Days one and two of EVO Japan took place at the Ikebukuro Sunshine City Community Center building. There weren’t many signs indicating where to go, but after wandering aimlessly for a few I managed to find the event space. I was greeted by cacophonous noise and a pair of girls passing out free Red Bull to attendees. The floor was naturally separated by game, and every seat was filled with participants playing casuals. Each game also had a special stream area setup, and these games were projected up on the walls for those that wanted to watch. The event used a large stage in the back to present the top 8 of games that would not be present on the final day.

There was a small section of stands near the entrance for vendors to sell gear or promote new games. Both BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and King of Fighters XIV’s new DLC character Oswald were playable on the floor. Unfortunately, the lines stayed long even to the closing moments of the last public day. High level players and pros from each game played against each other during their time off stream. They would even play against relative new comers to give them pointers on their play.  I considered joining in for some Street Fighter V casuals myself, but saw that the row in front of me was filled with Mago, Dogura, Itabashi Zangief, Momochi, and Tokido, and I decided against embarrassing myself.

Finals Day

The last day of EVO Japan took place in central Akihabara in a relatively small venue when compared to the first two days. There were no frills, no casuals, and almost nothing left but standing room. No one seemed to mind though; it was high level action that we came for, and it was high level action that we got.

Super Smash Bros. WiiU

EVO Japan

MKLeo accepting his trophy. Image taken by The Game Haus

1st: Echo Fox | Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez (Cloud)

2nd: Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura (Bayonetta)

3rd: DNG | Takuto “Kameme” Ono (Shiek/MegaMan/Cloud)

As the only non-Japanese player in the Super Smash Bros. Top 8, MKLeo was the only man in the bracket not playing with home-field advantage. This isn’t to say he was necessarily the underdog, but all eyes were on him in these grand finals. MKLeo had a decent head start by entering the grand finals in the winners bracket as well, but Abadango had proven himself in the losers finals by taking Kameme out 3-0. For Abadango, this was a potential revenge match as well, as MKLeo knocked him into the losers bracket earlier in the top 8.

The first match began with MKLeo as Cloud and Abadango as Bayonetta. In my preview article I mentioned that I didn’t really follow competitive Smash much, but it was difficult not to be enthralled the energy in the room as both players fought for nearly a full minute with over 100% damage each. MKLeo took game one with a fortuitous air slash that sent his opponent off screen.

Undeterred, Abadango stuck with Bayonetta for match 2. It seemed he learned a thing or two from his first match against Leo’s Cloud. Through a series of great air juggling and impressive edge guarding, Abadango was able to take both of MKLeo’s stocks in under 2 minutes. Leo knew he needed to make a change, and came back ready for round 3.

Bayonetta had a much more difficult time getting attacks in on Leo’s 3rd round Marth. No matter the approach or strategy, Marth stood ready to zone with his Dancing Blade special. Though things looked dicey when Abadango nailed some aerial combos, MK Leo ended up taking the 3rd round without losing a single stock.

Though he won with Marth in the 3rd round, MKLeo went back to Cloud for the 4th and what would be final round of the tournament. It appeared he gathered himself a bit after his win as Marth. His Cloud looked more confident, and more willing to contest Bayonetta’s advances. That isn’t to say that the game was one sided. Quite on the contrary, though Abadango took MKLeo’s first stock when he already had over 100% damage on his final stock, he looked like he was poised to take the game too. In the end though, MKLeo finished the round, and brought the EVO trophy home for Echo Fox, for Mexico, but most importantly, for himself.

Tekken 7

1st: ROX | Knee (Paul/Bryan/Steve)

2nd: ROX | Chanel (Eliza/Alisa)

3rd: N.M | GURA (Geese)

EVO Japan

Chanel resetting the Tekken 7 bracket. Image taken by The Game Haus

What surprised me most about the Tekken Grand Finals was the amount of versatility top players in Tekken have with their character picks. In the Grand Finals series alone the two players from ROX cycled through no fewer than six different characters. As a player of Street Fighter, I’m used to seeing players have one main character with maybe one alternate that they pick up for specific match ups. Tekken is clearly a different beast.

The first round began with Knee on Bryan Fury while Chanel picked Akuma, a character that he seemed comfortable with previously. Chanel may have been anticipating Knee to pick Paul Phoenix, who Knee used extremely effectively in his previous matches. The Bryan pick seemed to catch Chanel off guard, as Knee dismantled his opponent. Chanel needed to lose another round with Eliza before finding his groove with Alisa. Using Alisa, he managed to come back from his 2-0 deficit to reset the bracket, and force Knee into a second best of 5 match.

Knee seemed confident in his Bryan pick enough to start out the set with him, but Alisa still proved too strong. After rethinking his strategy, Knee switched to Steve Fox, giving him more mobility against Alisa’s attacks. This appeared to be the counter he needed, as Chanel’s Alisa could not keep up. After a surprising yet ineffective switch to Lucky Chloe by Chanel, the final round came down to Knee’s Steve and Chanel’s Eliza. Though Chanel put up a fight, his teammate’s boxer ended up taking the EVO trophy.

Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2

 

Nage accepts his prize money alongside a dancing Cup Noodle. Image taken by The Game Haus.

1st: NAGE (Faust)

2nd: OMITO (Johnny)

3rd: GGP | Kazunoko (Raven)

I’m honestly a bit torn about the results of the Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 tournament. As a Johnny player myself, I rooted for Omito for most of the tournament. I find his unique movement style fun to watch, if challenging to play. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the chaos that was watching a high level Faust player climb up the ladder.

For those unfamiliar, one of Faust’s main mechanics involves him throwing random objects on the battlefield. These items can be as mundane as a small hammer that deals damage when it hits. They can be a great utility as well such as a spring board that launches the opponent in the air if they step on it. The items can also be darn near OP such as a black hole that roots enemies in place, or a giant meteor shower that covers most of the screen. A good Faust player has to react to these random items to try to get the best conversion possible, which is exactly what Nage did during the grand finals.

Omito put up a great fight. These grand finals could have easily gone to either player. I honestly wondered when some of Omito’s combos were going to end as he put on a display of just how much he knows about Guilty Gear and it’s systems. He even managed to reset the bracket before Nage took the final set 3-2 in a series that went down to the very last round. For fans of the game, it doesn’t get much more hyped than that.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition

1st: Infiltration (Menat/Juri)

2nd: John Takeuchi (Rashid)

3rd: Hx | CYG BST | Daigo Umehara (Guile)

EVO Japan

Street Fighter V Top 8 posing after Infiltration won. Image taken by The Game Haus

I think the whole of Japan released a disappointed sigh when Daigo Umehara was eliminated from the event. Few fighting game players can be called a Legend in their scene, but Daigo is definitely one of them. If he were to win the first ever EVO event in Japan, it would have felt like destiny. Alas, it was not to be. Infiltration’s Menat was able to use her superior range to out-zone Daigo’s Guile.

It wasn’t just Daigo who had trouble with Infiltration’s Menat. Until John Takeuchi knocked Infiltration into the loser’s bracket during the winner’s semi-finals, Infiltration’s Menat looked nigh invincible. Takeuchi played a patient game, waiting for Infiltration to come to him before making his attack. He found that Infiltration was able to react to almost any offense thrown at him, and decided to give himself space to react to Infiltration instead. Infiltration quickly realized that Menat was not going to win him the match, so he switched to Juri. Juri’s unique rhythm threw Takeuchi off for a game, but the mental damage may have already been done, and Takeuchi sent Infiltration to the losers bracket.

In the grand finals, Infiltration went with Juri from the get-go. He continued to be a thorn in Takeuchi’s side, constantly interrupting his rhythm with Juri’s far

reaching normals and well timed invincible reversals. The pressure clearly got to Takeuchi, who began to play much more aggressively in hopes of turning the tide. By the time he regained some of his composure, Infiltration had already reset the bracket. Though he did better in the second set, Infiltration still took the tournament 3-1.

 

An annual event

EVO Japan

The Grand Finals Venue before it was crowded. Image taken by The Game Haus

I suppose I can’t speak much further than next year, but a representative came on stage at the end of the event to announce that EVO would be indeed returning to Japan next year. The crowd erupted in applause. No one was sure if it would happen given the rough history of trying to bring an EVO event to Japan. I couldn’t be more excited to see what games show up at EVO Japan next year. If Dragon Ball FighterZ is still popular, it’s highly likely it will make an appearance. In the next year both Soul Calibur VI and BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle release as well. EVO Japan may be in the past, but the future looks just as exciting, if not more so.


Featured image taken by The Game Haus.

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EVO comes to Japan

This weekend, for the first time in the history of the tournament, EVO will host an event in Japan. This seems strange considering that a large number of the games played at the tournament were created by Japanese developers. Of course Japan hosts its own tournaments for said games, but EVO has become one of the largest annual fighting game tournaments in the world. Top Japanese competitors for years have had to travel to the United States to compete for EVO’s considerable prestige and prize pool. After almost twenty years, things are finally changing. Let’s take a look at the games present at the first annual EVO Japan.

ARMS – 327 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

Unfortunately, EVO Japan may be ARMS’ last showing as a main event at a tournament of this scale. After the initial positive reception, interest in the game declined rapidly outside of a core group of enthusiastic players. Nintendo seemed to sense this too. The developers announced in December that the Version 5 patch would be the final major content update for the game. While they claimed they will still make balance patches as necessary, it is difficult to see the statement as anything other than a nail in the coffin.

With that said, 327 is no small number of competitors. Though by far the smallest competition pool of the tournament, it’s commendable for what is arguably a niche title even among fighting game fans. If EVO Japan is where competitive ARMS play ends, at least it’s a great opportunity to send it off properly.

Tekken 7 – 1202 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

Tekken is a game about complicated family issues that tasks the player with mastering equally complicated juggle combos. Compared to the previously mentioned game, Tekken has nearly four times the number of competitors at EVO Japan. This makes it the second largest competition at the tournament and it’s not difficult to see why. Tekken has somehow managed to be not only a competent and satisfying fighting game, but one with characters fleshed out by a cohesive, if convoluted, story. Since its debut in 1994, it has grown to a cast of nearly 40 playable characters on disc in Tekken 7. Many will argue that some characters aren’t viable in competitive play, but the amount of different characters picked in competitive play still feels large. The diversity in the character roster means that matches are hardly ever boring to watch.

The game also has a leg-up in popularity over some of the other games by being a staple at many arcades in Japan. Despite having its roots in the arcade scene, Street Fighter developer Capcom decided against creating arcade cabinets for the series’ fifth iteration. Tekken has been there to fill that void, and its popularity may have gained a bit of a boost as a result.

Super Smash Bros for WiiU – 757 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

I’ll start this section off with the disclaimer that I’m still new to the competitive Smash scene. As someone who plays the game casually, I am amazed at the amount of knowledge high level players have about what I thought of as a party game for so many years. Without that knowledge, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the action. However, it is easy to see that the Smash community is one of the closest knit fighting game communities that exists. Whereas other competitive fighting games receive support from their developers after the game gains traction, Nintendo has left the entire fate of the Smash competitive scene on the players themselves. Prize pools tend to be smaller as a result, so the top players have to commit a lot of themselves if they hope to make a living.

But this atmosphere makes Smash compelling to watch, and it is why the community is so close knit. They aren’t competing for the largest prize pools. They aren’t receiving as much support as the other games. Without that additional hype, many would lose interest after a time. The people left are there because they love the game, and they want to be the best at it. If that doesn’t make for some compelling, high intensity games to watch, then I’m not sure what does.

GUILTY GEAR Xrd REV 2 – 1187 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

When it first released in 1998, Guilty Gear had some stiff competition in the 2D Fighter genre. At the time, there were not many fighting games that could compete with the hype surrounding Capcom or SNK’s games. 1998 was a particularly competitive year, seeing the release of Street Fighter Alpha 3, Marvel vs Capcom and King of Fighters ’98. Guilty Gear still managed to find its niche with a unique music style, colorful characters and over the top combos.

Compared to other fighting games I’ve played, I find the combat system in Guilty Gear to be the most complex. Learning jump cancels, roman cancels, the tension gauge and various other systems often proves too much for my poor brain to comprehend at once. This makes watching play between those who have mastered these systems so enthralling. The combat is fast paced, visually stunning and incredibly technical. Even without knowledge of the game’s systems, it’s worth a watch.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction – 595 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

BlazBlue is commonly considered the spiritual successor to Guilty Gear. While the Guilty Gear brand was experimenting with new genres with the release of Guilty Gear 2: Overture in 2008, developer Arc System Works also released BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger into arcades late the same year. At the time there had not been an updated arcade release of a Guilty Gear game since late 2006. Something was clearly needed to refresh the arcade scene, and BlazBlue was the answer.

There are certainly similarities between BlazBlue and Guilty Gear. Characters move in much the same way, and you can even see the inspiration taken in some of the main character designs. The action is just as fast paced and high-execution as its predecessor as well, making it an absolute joy to watch. While the latest Guilty Gear chose a more cell-shaded 3D art style on a 2D background, the current BlazBlue retains its original sprite animation art style, so there is plenty of reason to watch both if you’re a fan of “Anime Fighters”.

The King of Fighters XIV – 542 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

From 1994 to 2003, developer SNK released a new main entry in the King of Fighters game every year. While spin-off titles were released with reasonable frequency, the time between main entries became few and far between. Released in 2016, King of Fighters XIV was the first main entry in the series in six years. Fans responded with the enthusiasm you can probably imagine. That being said, it is clear to see that KOF’s long absence from the competitive spotlight has done it some harm. Though the margin between it and BlazBlue is small, KOF is the second smallest tournament at the event.

That is not to say that it isn’t worth watching! KOF is unique at EVO Japan as the only 3v3 team fighting game. With a line-up of around 50 characters to choose from, team compositions are dynamic and diverse. For the most unique viewing experience at EVO Japan, you’d better take a look here.

Street Fighter V Arcade Edition – 2217 Competitors

EVO Japan

Image courtesy of Shoryuken.com

We’ve arrived at the main event. At 2217 entrants, the Street Fighter V tournament nearly doubles the size of the next largest tournament. Developer Capcom received some harsh criticism early in the game’s lifespan as fans complained about server issues, lack of transparency in announcements and the absence of expected features. Since the game released in early 2016, Capcom has worked hard to slowly turn this opinion around. While players will always find something to nit-pick, the general consensus is that Street Fighter V is a much better game than when it launched.

Add to this the fact that the latest edition of the game, Arcade Edition, just launched less than two weeks ago with the addition of fan favorite character Sakura. More importantly, in terms of competitive gaming, it brought a laundry list of sweeping balance changes to individual characters, as well as the combat system as a whole. None of the players in this tournament have had more than a couple of weeks to adjust to these changes before competing. The 3.0 patch flipped the entire competitive scene on its head. Even if you’ve watched competitive Street Fighter before, it’s doubtful you’ll have seen anything like what’s about to unfold in Tokyo this upcoming weekend.

EVO Japan takes place in Tokyo, Japan from 1/26 – 1/28 Japan Standard Time.


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esports

Why games shouldn’t intend to become esports

Video games are things of beauty. They are capable of being anything that developers wish. The last few years have shown that developers continue to show interest in creating games that allow for competitive play. New games feature competitive play, such as games like Rocket League and Overwatch. However, they approach competitive play so that it is an option for players, rather than a necessity. From the perspective of a game developer, it makes perfect sense as to why games should be able to be enjoyed either casually or competitively. The mixture of a community of casual players and a community of competitive players ultimately means that more people can enjoy the game they create. However, there is a trend that concerns me. This trend is when games are developed in a way that specifically caters to competitive play. This often correlates with these games being intended to become esports.

I feel that it is important to talk about this issue. As esports become more popular, we see more and more developers trying to capitalize on the culture and communities of competitive gaming. I think this is particularly worrisome. Let’s talk about why.

Why casual players matter

As popular as esports are becoming, I think a lot of people forget that most people that play games do so casually. This includes game developers. The launch of Street Fighter V on PS4 and PC in early 2016 is a great example of this. Upon the game’s release, Street Fighter V’s launch was critically critiqued for lacking features such as a story mode or arcade mode. These were features that were present in previous entries, but were absent in the main series’ fifth installment. The only available modes in the game at launch were intended to be more for competitive players. This only alienated the casual fan-base of Street Fighter V.

esports

Pokken Tournament outsold Street Fighter V for physical copies. Pokken appealed to both casual and competitive players, while SF V did not. Image: GameSpot

A month later, Pokken Tournament released exclusively on the Wii U, a platform that was far less popular than the PS4 or PC. Yet, the game actually sold more physical copies in the United States than Street Fighter V did. I think a big reason why Pokken Tournament had a more successful launch in the U.S was its accessibility. Unlike Street Fighter V, Pokken Tournament features a story mode, and alternate modes that allow stat-boosting items to appear in battle. The addition of more casual modes and features makes Pokken Tournament feel more welcoming to the casual player.

Street Fighter V was intended to capitalize on the prevalence of competitive players and esports to popularize the game. But this focus on making the game an esport created a lack of features that casual players enjoy. Thus, the intention of making the game an esport backfired by alienating casual players, lowering overall sales (and reviews) of the game. Meanwhile, Pokken Tournament naturally became an esport, if a smaller one than Street Fighter V, thanks to the community the game created.

Developers’ Intentions and the “forcing” of esports

esports

Jethro Tull did an over-the-top esports commentary when The Darwin Project was unveiled at E3 2017. Image: IGN

These two games serve as an example of why I think developers should not create their games for only competitive players in mind. It is best for developers to make games accessible to both casual and competitive players. This makes the community created from that game become both greater and more diverse. Additionally, games that are esports that offer more casual styles of play allow for more people to get into the game.

Something that perhaps sparked this concern of mine was this year’s Microsoft E3 Press Conference. This event featured the announcement of a game called The Darwin Project. After the game’s initial trailer, a speaker came on stage and commentated gameplay. This commentary was clearly replicating that of esports commentary. Was it cringey? Absolutely. But it was also quite concerning.

We’ve reached a point where game announcements are trying to tell audiences that developers want the announced game to become an esport. Is this really fair to games that have become esports through naturally creating communities? Should game developers immediately target fans of other esports to promote their own games?

I think it’s a truly dangerous path to take. The bests esports communities are the ones that were created from many people sharing a passion for competitively playing a game. Marketing competitive games in a way that assumes that it will become an esport is a disservice to the many games that earned their ability to become an esport. I think it is somewhat irresponsible for developers to assume that games will become esports if they’re marketed in a certain way.

continuing the conversation

The importance of having a casual community of any game is enough reason to not want games to be intended to become esports. The growing trend of games being marketed as “esport material” is harmful to the many games that have earned their reputation as esports.

But I realize that there are many sides of this conversation, which is why I think it’s important to get other voices in on the discussion. We’d love to hear what you have to say about this topic.

 

Featured I\image from Scavenger Studios.

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sequels

Sequels to esports: good or bad?

sequels

Despite Ultra Street Fighter II releasing earlier this year, Street Fighter V’s competitive community is what gets the most attention right now. Image: Nintendo Enthusiast

Traditional sports are simple. They may change a bit and get new rules every now and then, but they’re never in fear of being replaced. There will never be a “Baseball 2” that replaces the current baseball community. However, esports exist in a different bubble in this regard. Unlike traditional sports, we constantly see new esports replace older ones through the likes of sequels. Unlike sports themselves, video games often get sequels that improve upon the mechanics established in previous games. The fighting game genre is brimming with examples of sequels essentially replacing the competitive communities of previous games.

You’d have a difficult time finding mainstream coverage or a large competitive following for Street Fighter II (SF II) in 2017, since Street Fighter V (SF V)’s competitive community currently gets more attention Street Fighter II, being the newer game. But does that make SF II irrelevant and unimportant in esports history? To put the question in perspective, if Blizzard released Overwatch 2 in a few years, would the current competitive community of Overwatch stay dedicated to the original game, or abandon it and move over to the sequel? If people did move over to the sequel, would the original Overwatch’s legacy stay intact, or would it just be considered irrelevant?

Can a sequel to a game that’s an esport essentially make the previous game’s legacy as an esport irrelevant? Let’s explore this idea, particularly looking at the overall fighting game community as an example.

Sequelitis

The example of Street Fighter V now having replaced Street Fighter II’s competitive community is perhaps more common than many people realize. The entire fighting game genre is full of great examples of sequels replacing previous entries in respective series. Let’s take the Tekken series as an example. Ever since the original game, Tekken has always been a series that encouraged improvement and rewarded high-level play. Each game attempted to improve and evolve the fighting mechanics of the series. Each installment of Tekken incorporated advancements in gameplay. These improvements provide a greater, more competitive experience for both the casual player and competitive community.

sequels

Tekken 7, the newest game in the series, was featured at EVO this year. Image: USA Today

Now, we see the latest installment in the series, Tekken 7, played at tournaments. The game appeared earlier this year at EVO 2017 and will be at EVO Japan in January 2018. This is great for Tekken 7 as a game on its own, but concerning when looking at the Tekken series as a whole. Although Tekken 7 is played at such large events, none of the previous games in the series are played at the event, despite previous Tekken games garnering competitive communities of their own. Are those communities just…gone? Are they irrelevant just because the series continued to get sequels?

At large fighting game events such as EVO, we rarely see older games being represented. On one hand, we can look at these events from a business perspective. Many of these events are made possible through sponsorships. For many companies like Capcom, Nintendo and Bandai Namco, it makes more business sense to sponsor an event that is featuring a newer game being played. This makes more business sense since it can convince viewers to buy the game being played at the event. This is easier to achieve if the game being played is recently released and/or on a system that is currently available on the market.

On the other hand, older games get the short end of the stick. If older competitive games get replaced by newer competitive games, is the older game still viable for competitive play?

The Exception to the Rule

Only one game immediately comes to mind when thinking about an older competitive game that has lasted throughout the years, despite multiple sequels coming out. To say that Super Smash Bros. Melee has a dedicated following would be a gross understatement. Despite the game having been released in 2001 and followed by sequels, Melee is still played in many competitive events such as EVO to this day. Why is this? What makes Melee different from, say, Tekken 4?

The biggest reason of Melee’s survival throughout the years is, simply put, its community. Melee is so different from any other Smash game, with its specific physics and exploits making it feel completely different from other entries in the series. Brawl (and all the mods that came out of it) and Smash 4 have released and garnered their own competitive communities. Despite this, Melee’s community has still remained loyal. If anything, Melee’s competitive community has only become more prominent throughout the years thanks to the game being consistently played at EVO every year.

sequels

16 years after being released, and Melee still gets featured at events like EVO. Image: YouTube

Melee still managed to attain its loyal community despite sequels having come out. Despite Melee staying alive, the original Smash Bros., Project M (the most prominent mod of Brawl) and Smash 4 still have sizable communities in their own right. All games in the series have competitive communities that coexist with one another.

Super Smash Bros. isn’t the only series that sees its competitive communities coexisting alongside each other. However, I find it to be a great example of how multiple esports within the same series can be represented. There are still communities for older competitive games. But we don’t see those older communities represented at large events. At least, not very often. This can change if we start seeing events feature older games. Then, we could begin to see competitive communities of older games get more coverage and gain more appreciation.

Are Sequels good for esports?

In general, I think video game sequels are great. They provide opportunities to improve upon mechanics that were established in previous games. Even if games happen to become an esport, I think any game can be potentially be improved upon through a sequel.

In regards to sequels potentially replacing the competitive community of the original game, that’s where things get tricky. I think it’s valid for people to worry that competitive communities for certain games may become barren if a sequel comes out for that game. But I think we need to think of ways to highlight and represent older games at larger events, to appreciate how that game gathered a competitive community of its own.

Sequels to esports have both good and bad aspects to them. However, I think giving attention to both newer and older competitive communities is what’s truly important in this discussion. Ultimately, though, I would say that sequels are good for esports. Sequels to esports ultimately give us more esports to watch and engage with. While I do think that there are negative aspects as to what sequels can do to competitive communities, esports simply wouldn’t grow without them.

A good number of the esports out there are sequels. Clearly, sequels are important for esports. But I just want to make sure that we never forget where those sequels came from. We can’t forget about the legacies of older competitive games. Sequels let us both remember the legacies of older games, in addition to creating a new legacy in and of themselves.


 

Featured Image courtesy of Shoryuken.

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Does ARMS deserve its spot at EVO Japan?

New intellectual properties (IPs) are the backbone of the video games industry. Without new IPs, we would only ever see the same franchises over and over again. This would only make gaming, competitive or otherwise, become stale and boring. Thankfully, over the last few years, new IPs are becoming very common in all corners of gaming. In 2015, Nintendo gave us Splatoon, a competitive shooter with a unique, territory-claiming mechanic. Last year’s Overwatch is probably one of the best new IPs in the last decade. I say this for the community Overwatch has gathered in the year and a half that it has been out. In addition, the game is widely played both casually and competitively. This has helped make Overwatch an esport over time. 2017 has continued the trend of delivering new IPs that can be played both competitively and casually in the shape of ARMS.

ARMS

The first-ever EVO Japan will be held on January 26-28, 2018. ARMS is one of the games that will be played at the event. Image: Shoryuken

ARMS is a Nintendo Switch exclusive that launched in June. Prior to the game’s release, many believed that the game would become an esport. This was because of the game’s premise – a 1v1 or 2v2 fighting game that could be played without intrusive items or stage hazards. The game had a diverse cast of characters, with the promise of more characters and stages being added for free, similar to how Street Fighter V and Overwatch approach adding new content to their respective games. It looked like the pieces were aligning. It looked like ARMS was capable of becoming Nintendo’s next esport.

When ARMS released in June of this year, it certainly made a splash. Though, perhaps not as large of a splash as many people were hoping. Nintendo’s recent financial report claimed that ARMS sold a total of 1.35 million units as of September 30, 2017. Given the circumstances of being a new IP, the game has sold modestly well. However, a lot of the game’s coverage by streamers and YouTubers dropped off shortly after the game launched.

Despite all of this, the game still has a competitive community. One that’s small, but constantly growing. So much so that it was confirmed this summer that the game will be featured at the first-ever EVO Japan this coming January. I would like to discuss the game’s inclusion at the event. Specifically, I want to discuss if the game truly deserves to be there.

What makes ARMS different?

ARMS is Nintendo’s first take at a traditional fighting game. Nintendo’s unique style and approach to game design definitely shows in the game. For those unfamiliar with the game, ARMS features fighters that use extendable arms in somewhat small arenas, some of which have unique gimmicks. The strategy of the game comes down to which ARMS the player wants to equip, in addition to which character to play. As is a staple of the fighting game genre, different characters have different abilities and advantages, making each feel unique from one another.

As is standard for the company, Nintendo made ARMS completely different from any other fighting game on the market. While most fighting games encourage players to get close to one another to deal damage, ARMS encourages the exact opposite. The player needs to position their character in a specific way to inflict damage. In addition, the player has to strategize how they use their ARMS. Players have to constantly think about their spacing from their opponent. They also need to think about the best ways to use each of their ARMS, and how to take advantage of the arena’s shape, size and mechanics.

Due to the game’s gimmick of extendable arms being the main mechanic, ARMS looks and plays unlike any other fighting game. However, this brings some advantages and disadvantages.

The consequences of being different

A critique on ARMS that I have heard from many streamers and content creators online concerns the game’s viewer appeal. People feel that the game is simply too boring to watch. It’s impossible to comment on a game’s watchability from an objective stance. How watchable something is to you depends on what kind of gameplay you think is interesting to watch. Many people who enjoy watching fighting games may not enjoy watching MOBAs, and so on.

ARMS

Aesthetically, ARMS looks quite different from your typical fighting game. Image: GameXplain

However, this critique tends to come from fans of other fighting games. Since ARMS is so different from other fighting games, it isn’t able to immediately draw in members of other fighting game communities very easily. Moreover, the game simply looks different compared to most competitive fighting games. Traditional fighting games like Street Fighter and Guilty Gear all have their characters face each other on 2D planes. Tekken offers 3D movement, but still has the camera set up in a way that we see two characters facing each other, making it look like a traditional fighting game. ARMS offers a behind-the-back camera angle, something that is very rare to see in multiplayer fighting games.

Lastly, the game is a new IP, which is always a roll of the dice in regards to creating a community. When Street Fighter V launched, the game instantly garnered a competitive community thanks to the previous entries’ already established competitive communities. ARMS doesn’t have that luxury. Since it’s so different and it’s the first game in its series, ARMS has to earn a competitive community. This is easier said than done. So how exactly can ARMS accomplish creating a community as large and diverse as, say, the Street Fighter V community?

The game is a perfect fit for evo japan

In order to give ARMS a chance at having a large competitive community, there needs to be a big step forward. Having the game be featured at a huge event like Evo Japan is that step forward. Evo Japan will highlight ARMS and the community it has gathered thus far. If the game’s presence at the event impresses viewers, the community could become exponentially larger. We could even have a new well-recognized esport on our hands. ARMS is in a unique make-or-break position with EVO Japan. How the game’s tournament goes and resonates with viewers will determine a lot of the game’s competitive future. This puts a lot of pressure onto the ARMS players that will be at the event, but perhaps that may give them more drive to make the game as entertaining to watch as possible.

ARMS’ inclusion at EVO Japan could make the game huge. Image: Nintendo

Does ARMS deserve to be at EVO Japan this year? If I were to answer that based on the game’s competitive community and status right now – no, I don’t think it does. However, the event provides a potential for the game to turn from a small-ish competitive community into a huge one. And being a fan of the game myself, I think this game deserves to take advantage of the potential that EVO Japan is providing. It’s an incredible opportunity for the community of ARMS to grow. Therefore, I think ARMS more than deserves to be at EVO Japan in Janurary.

However, this is just my opinion. What are your thoughts on ARMS’ inclusion at EVO Japan? Join the conversation and let us know!

 


 

Featured Image courtesy of Nintendo.

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SoCal Regionals 2017 preview: Street Fighter V and Marvel vs Capcom Infinite

SoCal Regionals has been a staple and one of the few times the fighting game scene takes its talents to the most talented region in the United States. The event will feature 12 separate tournaments including the worlds first major Marvel vs Capcom Infinite tournament. The focus will be on Street Fighter V, but there’s enough for all types of fighting game fans to keep them interested.

The four main events will be Street Fighter V, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, Tekken 7 and Injustice 2. Marvel will be the most intriguing because it’s a new game, but the SFV tournament will have the most fire power with all the heavy-hitters showing up. All the other events have significantly lower turnouts.

Unfortunately, the event as a whole has much lower turnout than expected. The reason for this is the tournament overlap, which is spreading out the talent. TGS, EGX and CEOTaku are all happening and plenty of Street Fighter and other players are playing elsewhere this weekend. A large portion are still making their way to California, but this explains why the turnout has dipped.

Street Fighter V

Street Fighter V is going to be a mix of the regular Wednesday night fight crew intertwined with some Japanese players and a slew of top-20 players. The favorite heading into the weekend will be the juggernaut Punk but players like Darryl “Snake Eyez” Lewis, Eduardo “PR_Rog” Perez, Justin Wong and momochi could be a problem for Punk.

PG Punk. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/evo2k

Based off bracket projections, it’ll most likely come down to either Snake Eyez, PR_Rog or 801Strider on the winners side. There’s plenty of potential upsets along the way with names like NO RESPECT, Veloreon and ChrisT waiting to take out the top names. Top 64 will be separated into four separate 16 player brackets that get funneled into top 8.

In terms of must-watch matches, the potential for upsets is there for a lot of these match ups, but I’m looking more towards underrated threats to make deep runs. BrianF vs Smug is a set I’ll be looking forward to. Two of the best Balrog players facing off once again. NO RESPECT with his patented Urien going up against Momochi (and Justin Wong). K-Brad against Verloren could decide that entire pool.

SCR won’t feature the heavyweight bouts, but there’s enough talent to watch a whole bunch of high quality matchups. It’ll also be interesting to see if any of the top four fall. Punk has had early bracket trouble in the past, and there’s names here that players aren’t necessarily prepared for.

Marvel vs Capcom Infinite

Expect the unexpected with Marvel Infinite. Obviously with the game being released last Tuesday the depths of the mechanics and characters won’t be close to fleshed out. Early tournaments are more for feeling out certain strategies and even more importantly, CHEESING.

Week one tournaments almost always come down to cheese. Cheesing essentially means using cheap tactics that haven’t been learned to counter yet and winning. It’s a fleeting feeling of superiority, but it’s undoubtedly effective in the early stages of a fighting game. Let’s look at the players who might take advantage of this at SCR.

Looking at the names attending, it seems pretty straight forward who’ll be able to quickly adapt and have a chance to take the event. The first names to focus on are the veterans: Justin Wong, NYChrisG, Cloud805 or RayRay. Any of these guys are capable of winning, but week one tournaments usually aren’t about talent.

In the end, it will be a combination of a gimmick team or strategy, a lot of luck, and the overall experience of a dedicated fighting game player. At the same time, natural talent can compensate for lack of experience. Expect to see new players giving experienced players a run for their money.

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Featured image courtesy of leveluplive.com

Armada continues best year ever with win at Evo 2017

In Melee’s fifth consecutive year at Evo, the results stayed consistent. Adam “Armada” Lindgren asserted his dominance as the world’s best Melee player, winning in straight sets over Joseph “Mango” Marquez. This secured Armada his second Evo title.

Armada winning a tournament is hardly news anymore, but that doesn’t take away from his massive achievement at Evo 2017. This speaks to his consistency and work ethic. He continues to perfect his Peach play while improving at playing under pressure.

As a matter of fact, Armada has become nearly unbeatable in last stock situations since famously falling to Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma at Evo 2016. Armada had to put that loss behind him and as a result it made him stronger for this latest run of dominance. The second Evo victory for Armada not only adds another trophy to his mantle but improves his 2017 resume as the best year from any Smasher ever.

Mango vs Armada

Nevertheless, Mango was looking to finally get that elusive third Evo title after failing the last two years. His first win over Hungrybox, after two consecutive exits at the hands of Hbox’s Puff previously, finally setup the matchup fans of Melee have been waiting to see at an Evo for the last four years.

Shockingly, this is the first time Mango and Armada reached Grand Finals in the same Evo. El Classico, as it’s known in Melee circles, fizzled out the last couple years. Armada held up his end of the bargain, but Mango struggled to reach the finals through losers bracket. And after all this time, Armada did what he does best and won by simply outplaying his opponent.

Reminiscent of Genesis 4, in which Armada dismantled a mentally tired Mango, Armada wasn’t pushed like in previous years. Evo 2017 felt similar to that Genesis 4 result. Mango put all his strength into beating Hungrybox and didn’t seem as mentally prepared to face Armada’s overwhelming, punish-heavy Peach.

M2K nearly pulls it off

However, Armada did struggle in one of the most intense and pain staking sets of 2017. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, similar to Mango against Hungrybox, put his heart and soul into beating Armada. Even in a best of three, the set felt like it took ages. A seven minute game three on Pokémon stadium was a game to be remembered. Every single hit was important.

Although M2K didn’t get the win, he managed to make Armada sweat. Something that isn’t easy to do. In no other set did Armada feel that pressure or the threat of a loss. Armada went 12-3 in the semifinal bracket, and despite a small setback against Jeff “Axe” Williamson, he dominated all day.

Armada sets up a chance at the “Threevo”

I don’t want to already move on to 2018, but it’s hard not to picture what could happen in the days to come. Mango has spoken of a third Evo title, but has let it linger too long and now is in jeopardy of potentially losing the “threevo” to his nemesis, Armada.

In the event that Mango and Armada meet in another Evo grand final, the stakes will be as high as they’ve ever been. But for now, it’s Armada’s time to sit back and enjoy another Evo title. One of the hardest working players in Smash continues to separate himself from the rest of the pack. The onus is on the rest of the field to match the Evolution 2017 world champion.

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Evo 2017: Attendance drop is just returning to the mean

Evolution 2017 has seen massive drop-offs in terms of entrances. Street Fighter V is down nearly 50% from 2016, both Smash games lost almost 1,000 unique entrants, and the newer released games failed to reach their expected marks. So, what’s causing this?

The game to focus on here is Street Fighter V. SFV was wildly successful in its first year as players seemed ready to move on from Street Fighter IV. This caused the spike in attendance from Evo 2015 to Evo 2016. The extra 2,800 players created a trickle down effect for the rest of the games as there were the most crossover entrances in Evo history.

The fighting game community was buzzing around the time Evo 2016 rolled around. SFV was still a new game and no one wanted to miss out on the first Evo featuring the newest Street Fighter game. Evo 2016 had the most first timers in its history. While first time attendees are a good thing, it’s fleeting and not sustainable. It created unreasonable expectations for the follow-up year because the numbers exploded.

Additionally, Evo made the jump from the Westgate to the Las Vegas Convention Center while moving championship Sunday to the Mandalay Bay Sports Arena. It was a perfect combination of Evo taking strides to enhance the experience and a new game that brought extra attention to the tournament. It all culminated into the biggest Evo in its 14-year history.

evo 2017

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/capcomfighters

Fast forward to today, the buzz from last year has died off. In some respects, players now consider SFV to be an under-developed game that was rushed to market. Even with an influx of other fighting games being released in 2017, the sour taste SFV left in players mouths might have dissuaded them from attending Evo.

The direct result of SFV’s lackluster year is what we’re seeing now. Attendance is down across the board, with a few exceptions. SFV took the biggest hit. It’s not the sole reason attendance is down, but the larger player pool provided by SFV facilitated growth for nearly every other game.

Was 2016 an outlier? 

On the other hand, 2016 could be considered an outlier. Before 2016, Evo had never reached over 10,000 unique entrants. The numbers have been skewed by new releases and don’t provide an accurate estimate.

Take the release of the new Super Smash Brothers game for example. Three years ago, the popularity spiked and broke the record for the second most entered event in Evo history. Then the release of SFV started the trickle down and Smash re-broke their same record.

Returning to the present time, the Smash 4 numbers have dropped significantly. Is it because the community has shrunken in size? No, it’s just coming back to the average. Evo had doubled the entrants of most Smash majors last year. It’s no surprise to see the Evo numbers coming down.

As for Melee, the lack of a Sunday slot seemed to hurt the overall total. Part of the draw of Evo is having your favorite game on the main stage Sunday afternoon. Melee’s numbers dropping are correlated to the move to Saturday’s night. The trickle down hurts melee as well but not nearly as bad as Smash 4. It’s Evo’s lowest number of entrants for Melee since 2013.

In reality, the combination of factors when realizing that last year was a total outlier and not indicative of actual Evo numbers explains the drop. It’s still the third largest Evo in the tournaments history and will bring the same level of competition as ever. The general fan decided to stay and watch from home this year.


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Featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/capcomfighters