All week long, I’ve had this strange tension in my shoulders. I was hunched up, and was even having trouble sleeping. As Comic-Con came to a close, I couldn’t figured out the source of my weird aches, until I finally realized: it’s EVO time.
EVO is the World Series of Fighting Games, and it’s this weekend, July 29th through the 31st, in Las Vegas. EVO has been running for over a decade, and has grown from a small gathering of friends into the biggest fighting-game event on the planet, with thousands of competitors and fans attending from dozens of countries (46 countries are represented this year!). The best of the best come not only to win prizes, but to claim a place in fighting game history, to earn a name, and to test themselves at the highest levels.
For fighting game fans like me, it is so exciting that my body literally starts tensing this far in advance because of what I know is to come. Wonder how little kids feel when they are on their way to Disneyland? For fighting game lovers, this is that feeling.
If you’ve always wondered why people still talk about arcades, EVO is as close as you’ll come to seeing it for yourself. It’s this big space, filled with people who are — at the same time — your friends and your enemies. You can feel the thrill, excitement, and anxiety of competition all throughout the room. Champions add to their legacies, and total unknowns walk in the door and take down some of the best in the world. EVO is a place where anything goes, and everything is possible.
People scream. They jump. They get hyped. It comes straight from the heart, because this is what we do. It’s the shared sense of excitement, anticipation, and the incredible heart that the competitors have on display, and even if it’s just pixels on a screen, you can’t help but get swept up in it.
I was competing and working at EVO for years before I came to Capcom, including a few finals appearances :)… though I never won :(…. But now, approaching it from the other side, I’m proud of everything Capcom will bring to the event in 2011. First and foremost we’ll be there with early access playable prototypes of our new fighters, including Street Fighter X Tekken, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3, and a near-final build of Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition. In addition to the games, there will be a ton of Capcom staff on hand, not only to help out at the booth, but to simply watch the action. For the producers and teams that make these games, there’s no better payoff than seeing your work turn so many into grinning, screaming lunatics.
The producers on all our new fighting games are each holding their own panel (see below for full EVO 2011 panel details). For my part, I’ll be sitting down with Street Fighter legend and 2009 and 2010 champion Daigo Umehara to go in-depth on how great players make winning decisions, and how you can learn to think like they do. In the end, anyone can master the technical side of a fighting game with some practice, but it’s the mental games that separate champions from the rest of us. Apart from that, I’ll be trying to see as many of my old friends from around the world as I can, as well as tagging in to do livestream commentary on the Street Fighter and Marvel Vs Capcom 3 matches.
Oh right, the live stream! For anyone that can’t make it (registration for EVO is closed, but it’s free to attend if you’re not competing) the EVO action will be streaming live into PlayStation Home all weekend (you can also score a ton of cool EVO items and outfits for watching), leading up to finals on Sunday. Sunday features the final eight competitors, boiled down from thousands, and the excitement in the room is always through the roof, so check it out. If you aren’t able to watch from PlayStation Home, you can check out the stream on your PC here.
If you can’t be there or watch the whole time, Sunday is finals, and the day you do NOT want to miss. The greatest players will line up for the final showdown–who will it be this year? Two-time champion Daigo “the Beast” Umehara from Japan? The U.K.’s Ryan Hart, who defeated Daigo at the British championships? Justin Wong, one of the most dominant players in US history? Or Tokido, “the Murderface,” a vicious player strong across many titles, who also defeated US Marvel-master Justin Wong in their first meeting? Many will be watching Kayane from France, one of the strongest women in the world who has her eyes set on winning the main event, but regardless of who goes the distance, you can bet the road there will be full of surprises, tears, joy, and just plain hype.
Hope to see some of you in Vegas this weekend! It needs to come already, my body can’t take it!
FRIDAY, JULY 29th
2pm: Inside the Mind of The Beast: Daigo Umehara Exposed!
Seth Killian sits down with EVO 2009 and 2010 Street Fighter champion MCZ Daigo Umehara for an in-depth discussion and review of past match highlights. You will learn to think like a Street Fighter master as they will talk over and explain the tactics, player reads, moment-by-moment thought processes, and even the mistakes that Daigo made on the road to his championship victories.
4pm: Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Past, Present, and Future!
Capcom producer Ryota Niitsuma will share behind-the-scenes insights from the MVC3 development process and discuss thoughts on Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and the future direction of the Marvel Vs Capcom franchise. He will be joined by MVC3 and UMVC3 battle system designer and Capcom fighting legend Hidetoshi “Neo_G” Ishizawa (whose credits include Street Fighter III: Third Strike, Capcom Vs. SNK 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Darkstalkers 3, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and many more) to discuss the thinking behind the battle systems, and what the future might hold for everything from character balance, mechanics, and more. Fighting fans will not want to miss this rare opportunity for insight and discussion.
SATURDAY, JULY 30th
12pm: Street Fighter III: Online Edition Reinventing a Classic
This panel will feature Derek Neal (SF3:OE producer and former EVO competitor), Christian Svensson (Sr. Vice President, Capcom), and Dave Lang, CEO of Iron Galaxy (SF3:OE developer). Join them to discuss the many decisions behind bringing back a classic, and for a spirited face-to-face chat about the kinds of features *you* would like to see in future fighting games!
4pm: New Directions in Street Fighter X Tekken
The one-and-only Yoshinori Ono will be on hand to discuss recent developments and new directions for his latest production, Street Fighter X Tekken. Will the always-surprising Ono-san have some special EVO-exclusive news to share with the audience? You’ll just have to come and find out!