This past weekend, the Evolution Championship Series returned for its 15th year and has once again provided hours upon hours of entertainment from surprising upsets in pools to intense, fist-clutching battles in finals. Established pro players and enthusiastic unknowns have all shown up to achieve their crowning moment on the world's biggest competitive fighting game stage.
Tournaments were held for nine games: Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Injustice 2, The King of Fighters XIV, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. All of them were aired on Twitch through six different Evo channels (primary [which aired all the top 8s], 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) and official channels for CapcomFighters, Tekken, and Netherrealm (all for pools and semi-finals). Here we'll be providing the top 8 results for each game, as well as links to the full brackets, should anyone wish to peruse them on their own, plus a general overview for each.
As usual, players are listed by the standard “[sponsor/team name] | [player name]” format, with their used characters in brackets.
- 1. Echo Fox | Tokido [Akuma]
- 2. Panda Global | Punk [Karin, Nash]
- 3. GGP | Kazunoko
- 4. DNG | Itabashi Zangief [Zangief]
- 5. Moke [Rashid]
- 5. Liquid | NuckleDu [Guile, Mika]
- 7. GRPT | MOV [Chun-li]
- 7. Splyce | Fchamp [Dhalsim]
Street Fighter V's finals were quite a sight to behold, and an excellent way to cap off the huge, three-day long event. USA's Punk and NuckleDu were probably most peoples' favorites to win the whole thing, but neither of them were able to handle Tokido's dominating run through the losers bracket, where he tore through four of the other competitors before reaching Punk in grand finals and making shockingly quick work of the young star.
- 1. Echo Fox | JDCR [Heihachi, Dragunov]
- 2. Echo Fox | Saint [Jack-7]
- 3. Knee [Feng, Steve, Bryan, Devil Jin]
- 4. Taisei [Steve]
- 5. StreamMe | Anakin [Jack-7]
- 5. Jeondding [Eddy, Lucky Chloe]
- 7. Yamasa | Take [Kazumi]
- 7. Suiken [Eliza]
Tekken 7's finals started off with the surprising inclusion of Jeondding and Taisei, two talented Asian players who are not very well-known outside of their native countries (South Korea and Japan, respectively). However, Suiken, an American, also battled his way to show up on the losers side of top 8, being the only Eliza player among the group, which is a feat in itself considering that many pros don't think she's a particularly strong character. Knee and JDCR battled in winners finals, similar to their encounter at the recent Rev Major, but ultimately it was JDCR's Echo Fox teammate, Saint, who met him in grand finals, where the latter forced a reset, but JDCR clutched it out and took the top spot.
- 1. MVG | Salem [Bayonetta]
- 2. TSM | ZeRo [Diddy Kong]
- 3. MSF | Larry Lurr [Fox]
- 4. P1 | Tweek [Cloud, Donkey Kong]
- 5. KEN [Sonic]
- 5. NRG | Nairo [Zero Suit Samus, Bowser]
- 7. RNG | Dabuz [Rosalina]
- 7. CLG | VoiD [Sheik]
Smash 4's top 8 is loaded with top players that many spectators expected to reach it, but the biggest hurdle was Team SoloMid's ZeRo, a player who has been consistently dominant since he swooped in and took the big W at Evo two years prior. However, MVG's Salem managed to outdo the former champ by meeting him in grand finals from the losers bracket, forcing a reset, and taking the fifth game of the second set with a shocking off-screen finish.
- 1. [A] | Armada [Peach]
- 2. C9 | Mang0 [Fox, Falco]
- 3. Liquid | Hungrybox [Jigglypuff]
- 4. Echo Fox MVG | Mew2King [Marth, Sheik, Fox]
- 5. PG | Plup [Sheik, Fox]
- 5. Lucky [Fox]
- 7. MSF | The Moon [Marth]
- 7. CLG | SFAT [Fox]
Melee top 8 featured some first-time finalists such as Lucky, The Moon, and SFAT, but unfortunately none of them were able to overcome the unstoppable might of the established, seasoned gods who placed above them. In the end, Armada was able to take his second Melee championship at Evo, his first being at Evo 2015, while denying Mang0 the chance to get a third for himself.
- 1. Huomao | E.T. [Leona/Daimon/Benimaru, Clark/Benimaru/Daimon, others]
- 2. Qanba Douyu | Xiaohai [Kula/Benimaru/Iori, Robert/Kula/Iori]
- 3. KCO | LuisCha [Andy/Mai/Muimui]
- 4. Huomao | ZJZ [Benimaru/Mature/Athena, Meitenkun/Yuri/Mature, others]
- 5. TC | Pako [Meitenkun/Luong/Muimui, Meitenkun/Luong/Mai]
- 5. GCCM PK | White-AshX [Nakoruru/Yuri/Athen, Mian/Yuri/Athena]
- 7. Sanwa | M' [Kula/Benimaru/Iori]
- 7. ArcadeShock | Reynald [Gang-il/Geese/Meitenkun, Mian/Benimaru, Robert]
The inclusion of KOFXIV on the Evo 2017 lineup was met with controversy due to it not being as popular as the other games, but it proved that the numbers game doesn't matter by delivering possibly the best top 8 of the entire weekend. Loaded with upsets, drama, and intensity, KOFXIV's finals were the best possible way to kick off Evo. The very first set that aired saw Xiaohai, everyone's unquestionable favorite to win, sent to losers by Mexican underdog LuisCha and his amazing Muimui, followed by well-known and feared top players Reynald and M' being eliminated immediately by ZJZ and Pako, respectively. It all came together when Xiaohai won the runback against LuisCha in losers finals but was denied the big win by HuomaoTV's E.T., a Taiwanese player who has sought victory on the FGC's biggest stage since his last KOF top 8 appearance at Evo 2014, where he was stopped at third place (and he won with Daimon, at that).
- 1. Ryusei [Carl]
- 2. Fenrich [Jin]
- 3. Fumi [Nine]
- 4. IGS | Kaibutsukun [Izanami]
- 5. Tokyo Verdy | Souji [Arakune]
- 5. Tochigin [Azrael]
- 7. Dora Bang [Bang, Mu-12]
- 7. Mt. Takao [Rachel]
Outside of a handful of key players, BlazBlue's American scene isn't particularly large, or at least not as large as Guilty Gear's, and the entry numbers support that. However, like KOFXIV, BBCF proves the numbers game has no bearing whatsoever on hype, passion, and investment. With a top 8 made up entirely of ridiculously skilled Japanese players looking to prove themselves, using 8 unique characters, the tradition of BlazBlue showing up and blowing everyone away remains intact. Fenrich and Ryusei met in winners finals, but the former was sent to losers only to make his way to grand finals and force a reset. Sadly, his incredibly patient and reactive Jin play could not overcome the insane mix-ups coming from Ryusei's Carl. Fenrich worked incredibly hard and he may not be champion in title, he's undoubtedly a champion in ability and persistence.
- 1. KVOxTSB | Omito [Johnny]
- 2. r/Kappa | T5M7 [Leo]
- 3. Summit [Chipp]
- 4. Nage [Faust]
- 5. GGP | Kazunoko [Raven]
- 5. PurePure [Jack-O']
- 7. 310 [Venom]
- 7. Teresa [Jam]
Like BlazBlue, Guilty Gear's top 8 is made up entirely of Japanese players using 8 different characters. Previous Xrd champions, Ogawa and Machaboo, are nowhere to be seen here. It started off with Nage and PurePure being sent to losers bracket by r/Kappa's T5M7 and Omito, respectively, and then 310 and Teresa being eliminated by Kazunoko (the only person to be in two top 8s this year) and Summit. The latter continued his way through losers by sending PurePure and Nage home, until he ran into T5M7, who had lost to Omito in winner's finals. From there, T5M7 made it to grand finals but unfortunately couldn't force a reset, having been overwhelmed by Omito's insanely precise, nigh-robotic Johnny.
- 1. Splyce | RyanLV [Chun-li/Morrigan/Phoenix]
- 2. EG | NYChrisG [Morrigan/Doctor Doom/Vergil]
- 3. PC Marvel God [Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix]
- 4. Paradigm [Haggar/Dormammu/Doctor Doom, Arthur/Rocket Raccoon/Haggar, others]
- 5. KPB | Prodigy [Magneto/Doctor Doom/Phoenix]
- 5. JoeyD [Zero/Doctor Doom/Vergil]
- 7. GB | Not Enough Damage [Zero/Doctor Doom/Vergil]
- 7. NoLife [Zero/Dante/Vergil]
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 finishes its seventh and final year as part of the official Evo lineup with Splyce's RyanLV taking the top spot. A lot of people predicted this, as he's been kicking ass and taking names non-stop for the last year now, but his win doesn't just mean a new champion has been crowned. It also means that Marvel 3 completes its Evo tenure with seven unique champions. It's difficult to say who the absolute best is, but considering the chaotic nature of the series, perhaps it's better that way.
- 1. Noble | Dragon [Aquaman]
- 2. cR | Honeybee [Flash, Aquaman]
- 3. Echo Fox | Theo [Superman]
- 4. Noble | Semiij [Catwoman]
- 5. Echo Fox | SonicFox [Black Adam, Red Hood]
- 5. PG | Hayatei [Batman, Robin]
- 7. NASR | Tekken Master [Brainiac, Black Adam]
- 7. T7G | DR Gross [Green Lantern, Black Adam]
The newly-released Injustice 2 kicks off its first Evo appearance with a top 8 that features a respectable amount of character variety, and a first set that saw SonicFox, perceived as an untouchable god of Netherrealm games, sent to losers and then eliminated—two matches in a row. Grand finals was a rematch between Dragon and Honeybee, where the latter had been sent to losers bracket by the former in winners finals. However, the tournament-ending match was met with very lukewarm reactions due to the usage of Aquaman, who has drawn some criticism for his trident rush attack because of its incredibly high chip damage that does almost the same amount of damage as it does when not blocked, making it very easily abusable. Because of this, many considered grand finals to be quite boring despite Honeybee's fantastic Flash play.
ANNOUNCEMENTSSunday finals not only had some hype top 8s, they also had some incredibly surprising announcements worth mentioning. After the BlazBlue finals, BlazBlue X Tag Battle was announced, a 2v2 crossover tag team fighting game featuring characters from Arc System Works' BlazBlue series, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, and even Ruby Rose from RWBY.
Arika also showed up to reveal returning characters Skullomania and Darun Mister for their currently untitled 3D fighting game (referred to by fans as Fighting Layer EX). It also mentions a simultaneous release in 2018 for North America, Europe, and Japan, and a beta/server test sometime later in the year.
After the Tekken 7 finals, Bandai Namco's Katsuhiro Harada and Michael Murray introduced Dragon Ball FighterZ's producer, Tomoko Hiroki, to show a gameplay trailer featuring the recently announced Trunks. Afterward, Harada and Murray revealed the identity of the upcoming guest character included as part of Tekken 7's season pass: Fatal Fury/King of Fighters' very own Geese Howard.
This concludes all the major news and results from the world's largest competitive fighting game event. We look forward to next year!
Which tournaments did you watch? Which top 8 was your favorite? Which announcement was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!