Hello PlayStation-land. I’m Seth Killian. I run community for Capcom, and if you like Street Fighter, you’ve probably seen me running my mouth about it around the internets. I’m the special advisor to Street Fighter IV and lent my name to the final boss, but what brings me here today is what got me to Capcom in the first place: organizing the EVO Championship Series.
What is EVO? It’s the world’s largest and longest-running fighting game tournament. Every year, thousands of competitors from every corner of the planet descend on Las Vegas to determine the best of the best on the most competitive fighting games. It’s been running for over a decade, and with all the hoopla over SFIV, this year is going to be bigger than ever—at a conservative estimate, we’ll be playing over 50 thousand matches over the course of the weekend as we work our way towards a champion.
Why are we talking about this on the PlayStation Blog? Because EVO is especially PlayStation 3-flavored this year. PlayStation has been an important part of EVO history, but this year, we’ve selected the PS3 as the platform of choice for our very biggest competitions, including Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix and Street Fighter IV.
Why else would you care? Because EVO is rad. It’s fighting game heaven with some of the most exciting gaming you’ll see anywhere, it’s run by players, for players, and best of all, it’s free to watch.
(I’m actually the one holding that handicam and yes, that’s my stupid voice cracking with excitement. For reference, this wasn’t even the finals—EVO is full of insane moments)
What is there to do? Well, there are all the tournaments to play in, but beyond the official tournaments (on games including my Capcom favorites, Marvel Vs Capcom 2, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, Street Fighter III: Third Strike, and of course Street Fighter IV), there are a ton of DIY side events and free-play on every fighter imaginable in the free “BYOC” area. BYOC = “Bring Your Own Console.” Nearly half of our gigantic tournament floor is devoted to a free-play area, where we set up TVs, and you can plug in any games you want, on everything from next-gen PS3s to old arcade hardware. You’ll find competition on nearly any fighter you can imagine, from classic Street Fighter games to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Tournament Fighters. There are also plenty of exciting grudge matches, and when you’re tired of playing and watching the madness, you’re still in Las Vegas.
One of my other favorite things about EVO is that unlike most “pro gaming” events, EVO is an open tournament. By “open,” I mean that anybody can just walk in off the street and take their shot against the best players in the world. You don’t have to jump through any hoops or join a silly league—if you’ve got the skills, you can step up to the plate take your shot. All of the EVO directors grew up playing in the arcades, where skills talked, and BS walked. EVO grew straight out of our desire to preserve that electric spirit of live arcade competitions, and—just like our old arcades—anyone can walk in, put their quarter up, and prove that they’ve got the skills to be the best.
All of that is hotness, but what I love most about EVO is the people. They come from around the world, from Korea to Kuwait, the UK to the US, and Portugal to Peru. And yes, while it’s mostly dudes, beyond that, you’ll find every race, every background—rich, poor, old and young, tough guys and pencilnecks. Of course you’ll find the world’s top fighting game players, including US champions like Alex Valle, John Choi, Justin Wong, and the legendary Japanese champ Daigo Umehara, and everyone comes together with a shared sense of history, and a shared passion for these games. They are the best, the hungriest, and the loudest players in the world. They are shouting, they are cheering, and they mean it.
So with all of those experts from around the world, do you have to be a great player to go? Nope. 99% of the people there realize they’re probably not going to win, but they love to go anyway because it’s a ton of fun, a great way to see old friends and meet new ones, a great place to step up your game, and because it’s an amazing show. There’s a ton of history and heart in the competitive fighting world, and this is the The Big Show, with everyone is welcome to come and watch (or compete!). Fighting games are FUN, and even if you don’t understand every intricacy, everyone can understand a punch in the face, cheering for their hometown favorites, and trying to KO the opponent.
The EVO World Finals run from July 17-19th (finals on the 19th) at the Rio Hotel and Resort, in sunny Las Vegas, NV.
Check out EVO2K for the full details, then pack up your PS3 joysticks and fightpads, and I’ll see you at EVO. If you totally can’t make it to Vegas, we’ll also be streaming some of the event’s best matches, as well as putting up a whole mess of footage afterwards, complete with commentary, player interviews, and the like, so stay tuned.