Evolution (Evo) 2011 took Las Vegas by storm this past weekend with a convention center full of gamers looking to be the next champion. Evo is where the world championships of fighting games are held and fighters come from all over the world to compete in the tournament. Attendees range from those coming from the Land of the Rising Sun to local folks. Almost all countries with a serious fighting game community were represented at Evo this year.
On Sunday July 31st, the finals in the major title fighters were put on stage for the whole convention and those watching at home. Each round of the finals consisted of the top 8 players in each game. To get to these spots, they had to make it through an insane amount of challengers in these double elimination tournaments. All the contestants that made it to the top 8 deserve massive respect from all fighting game fans as the level of skill on display was truly incredible. Even though each participant deserves a massive amount of respect, there could only be one champion for each game. The following games were some of the main finals that were showed on Sunday.
BlazBlue Continuum Shift 2 was the first Top 8 Finals of the day. The shocker in this tournament was the fact that a low tier character was doing so well. The player’s name was Spark and his character of choice was Hakumen. Spark battled his way out of the losers’ bracket to make it all the way to the grand final. He was even able to eliminate the show’s favorite, Tokido, to win the tournament. What made Spark so dangerous was his defense. People began nicknaming him “The Iron Wall” at one point in the tournament as it seemed as though Spark would let nothing even scratch his health bar.
In the Grand Final, it was Spark (Hakumen) vs. Lord Knight (Litchi, Makoto). Lord Knight had done an amazing job with his Litchi play to make his way through the winners’ bracket, but when it came to battling Spark his Litchi just couldn’t get through Spark’s amazing defense. He was trying every mix-up he had learned, but the damage he was able to do was never enough. Spark would punish all of his mistakes so well. Spark won the first 3 matches in a series of 5 of the first set, but Spark needed to win 2 sets since he came from the losers’ bracket. Lord Knight was still in it, but Spark’s defense was just too good. Spark won the next 3 matches and took the second set as well, making him the Evo 2011 BlazBlue Contiuum Shift 2 world champion. Check the video below to see the last set of the Blazblue Grand Finals.
The next finals match was in Tekken 6. From what I could tell, Tekken players were playing a lot of Law and Bob matches. Mind you, I’m not saying that all players were picking Bob and Law, but they were definitely picked – a lot. This happened so much that the grand finals match came down to Fab (Bob, Miguel) vs Kor (Bob). Kor came from the losers’ bracket with a disadvantage (again, needing to win 2 sets), but the way he played was on par with that of his opponent. The first 2 matches of the 1st set saw Bob vs Bob matches. A lot of the matches were real nail biters, but Kor came out on top of the first set meaning that each competitor needed to win the next set to claim the championship.
Fab made a change at the end of the first set. He switched from Bob to using Miguel, but his plan didn’t quite work. He stuck with his choice of Miguel to hopefully get an advantage. Unfortunately, Kor shot that idea down out of the sky. Kor’s Bob beat Miguel just like he did in the previous set. Fab made the decision to switch back to Bob for the remainder of the set. Kor took the final set and became Evo 2011’s Tekken 6 world champion. To check out the last part of the grand final check the video below.
Mortal Kombat was the next game to be played. This was a big deal to all MK fans as this was the first time in Evo history that a Mortal Kombat game has been held as a legitimate main event tournament. The Grand Finals of this match was intense. It came down to Perfect Legend (Kung Lao) vs. Reo (Mileena, Cyrax). Reo was the one coming from the losers’ bracket and was facing a very solid Kung Lao player in Perfect Legend. Reo was able to win the first 1st set with a very tricky set of Mileena combos and setups.
The second set was anybody’s game. Neither player was backing down, and Perfect Legend’s Kung Lao was on spot. He found a good mix-up that was able to mess with Reo. Perfect Legend won 2 matches against Reo and his Mileena. Reo decided to make a change and switched up to Cyrax. Now, Cyrax is known to be a dangerous killing machine in Mortal Kombat with the right execution but Reo’s play was lacking. Kung Lao cut off Cyrax at every turn. Perfect Legend’s Kung Lao beat Reo’s Cyrax to become the Mortal Kombat champion of Evo 2011. Check out the video below for the final part of this grand final.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was the next tournament to take the main stage at Evo 2011. This top 8 was full of competitors with a lot of different ideas and team setups. One of the biggest upsets had to have been when one of the favorites to win, EG Justin Wong, lost to PR Balrog in the losers’ bracket for the chance at the Grand Finals. To add insult to injury, in the last match of the best of 3, PR Balrog perfected Justin Wong out of the tournament. That meant PR Balrog was going to go up against Viscant and his Phoenix team.
The first set was a back and forth battle between PR Balrog (Dante, Wolverine, Tron) and Viscant (Wesker, Haggard, Phoenix). There was a moment when PR Balrog was just down to his last character, in this case Tron, against Dark Phoenix and Haggard. Tron is considered a poor character to be stuck with – especially against Dark Phoenix. PR Balrog was able to make an amazing comeback in that match. PR Balrog was able to win the first set 3 matches to 2 matches. The 2nd set started with Viscant coming out guns blazing. Viscant, with his Dark Phoenix waiting to go, took out PR Balrog 3 matches back to back. PR Balrog put on an amazing show but, like the Phoenix itself, Viscant rose from the ashes of the last set to claim victory. Viscant is this year’s Evo Marvel vs. Capcom 3 world champion. To check out the last set watch the video below.
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition was the last tournament final of the night. Everyone’s eyes were watching to see if Daigo would be able to keep his spot as Street Fighter champion. If you went to Vegas to put your money on Daigo, well then you’d walk away with some empty pockets. Daigo’s Yun was knocked into the losers’ bracket by Poongko (playing Seth). Daigo would eventually go up against Latif, playing C. Viper. Latif’s Viper proved too much for the Beast Daigo, and Daigo was knocked out of the tournament. After beating Daigo, Latif moved onto the grand finals through the losers’ bracket. Latif would be facing Fuudo and his Fei Long. Fuudo had been working through the losers’ bracket with some very solid play throughout the entire tournament.
Latif (C. Viper) vs. Fuudo (Fei Long) was a heated battle of pressure and constant mix-ups. Each player was giving it his all, but Latif would need to win both sets to grab a hold of victory. Fuudo was not about to have Latif steal the victory from him. Fuudo dominated the first match against Latif, 2 rounds to nil. The second round was not much different. Fuudo punished Viper’s EX moves easily and pushed him further into the corner. Fuudo took the second match, once more 2 rounds to nothing. Fuudo was on championship point. The 3rd match started with Latif’s Viper having a good start, but Fuudo came back and dominated the rest of the round. The next round was a very solid match for both characters. Fuudo went for a counter Ultra, but Latif baited it out and used his Ultra to claim the second round. The last round was the closest fight between the two combatants. Both competitors had so little health that one hit would decide the match. Latif tried for an uppercut and missed, Fuudo countered with the final hit. That one mistake cost Latif the match and gave Fuudo the title of Champion of Evo 2011 in Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. Check the video below to watch the grand final.
This year’s Evo was the biggest it has ever been and with the fights that happened there it doesn’t look like next year will be any less exciting. With the revitalization of fighting games going on right now, Evo was the place to be to see all the best matches. I want to give my congratulations to all the competitors that attended this year and showed off their skills. I already can’t wait to see what is going to happen with the next round of fighting games coming out soon. In next year’s Evo, we will see if some of this year’s upsets will be avenged. Only time will tell, but right now its time to go back into training mode and practice up for next year.
[Images and video via Joystiq, Evo 2011, TrU3Ta1ent, and neet gamer]