Just tuning in for the Evo 2016 finals? Here's what you missed
Evolution 2016 is in full swing. The world’s greatest fighting game personalities are gathered in Las Vegas to see who will claim the ultimate prize in a handful of games. Some are a bit niche, like Pokken Tournament and Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator-. Others are more well known, particularly Super Smash Bros. Melee and Street Fighter V.
No matter the game, the competition is fierce. Heading into today’s finals, here’s what you need to know about what happened with three major titles. Here’s the story thus far.
Smash Brothers WiiU
While Melee is the big focus at Evo, Super Smash Bros. for WiiU (also referred to as Smash 4) held their finals earlier on Saturday. The final match was held between Elliot Bastien "Ally" Carroza-Oyarce and Takuto "Kamemushi" Ono, two free agent players.
The match was slightly unconventional: Kamemushi is a skilled player who favors Mega Man, a low tier character that might have struggled against common picks like Sheik or Fox. Mega Man is a zoning character, with a skill set meant to keep the opponent at a specific distance. But Kamemushi played it patient and moved on to the finals. Meanwhile, Ally is a skilled Mario player with a particularly defensive playstyle so strong that he didn’t lose a set to any opponent on his way to the finals.
Kamemushi played Yoshi for a round before falling back to Mega Man, but Ally held strong with his Mario. He won three to one against Kamemushi, taking home a $15,972 grand prize.
Smash Bros. Melee
The battle for the top eight had plenty of ups and downs. The winners bracket saw domination from three of the "Five Gods," the game’s top players and tournament constants. Adam "Armada" Lindgren, Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman, and Juan "Hungrybox" Debeidma all made their way to the final eight with little resistance.
Armada, however, got some pushback in a first round match against Joey "Lucky" Almada. Lucky dropped to the losers bracket, where things were far more fraught and competition was more rough and tumble. Lucky sought redemption, pushing all the way into the third round before losing out to Julian Zhu, dashing hopes for a comeback.
The bracket was further shaken up when Joseph "Mango" Marquez was knocked down from the Winners by Justin "Plup" McGrath. Marquez would push one to the top eight, alongside his fellow Gods, Plup, and smashers Westballz, S2J, and PewPewU. With plenty of the old dogs ready to fight it out in the finals, it’s easy to call it the same old song and dance, but challengers like Plup and Westballz are sure to mix things up.
Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3
Last year, Nicolas "KaneBlueRiver" Gonzalez won Evo’s UMvC3 tournament with an unconventional team consisting of Hulk/Sentinel/Haggar. People joked that Marvel was dead; if the game could be dominated by such a brute force team, the meta must be irreparably damaged.
I’m not so sure about that prognostication, but there’s no denying that the game is losing appeal. This year’s semi finals seemed indistinguishable from many that came before. Tournament mainstays like Justin Wong (who pulled double duty playing Street Fighter!), KaneBlueRiver, and Christopher "NYChrisG" Gonzalez all pressed through to the top eight. One of the more interesting compositions came from Kevin "Dual Kevin" Barrios and his team of Dante/Deadpool/Hawkeye, a zone heavy team that was a true treat to watch. Other players moving on to the finals included Priest, Angelic, Paradigm, and ApologyMan.
Street Fighter V
If there’s one major plot thread running through Saturday’s Street Fighter V matches, it’s how many of the big names were eliminated.
The first signs of an trouble came when last year’s champion, Yusuke Momochi, was knocked into the losers bracket by Arturo Sanchez in a fight with a finale so amazing, you must see it to believe it. Some time after this, the scene was ablaze with news that Momochi had been eliminated from the tournament before entering the top 32. Specifics are scant, at least for me to find, but we do know that the 2015 Evo champ lost to Takuto "Begetamin B" Sato, a lesser known player. To call it an upset is an understatement.
This was followed by a drastic loss by Masato "bonchan" Takahashi. He lost to Eduardo "PR Balrog" Perez in a double KO. Justin Wong was knocked into losers bracket and Daigo Umehara lost to Tokido. This placed Umehara against Justin Wong. The two have an extended history together, which includes the famous "Daigo Parry" of Evo 2004 where Umehara, with a sliver of health left, parried a 15-hit special attack from Wong's Chun Li in one of the most famous comebacks in fighting game history.
Here, Daigo was not so lucky. Justin made it into the top 32 and Umehara went home. And that’s all just before the quarter and semi finals!
The field narrowed down quickly, eliminating popular competitors like Gamerbee and Kazunoko. The final eight include Fuudo, MOV, Yukadon, Infiltration, Eita, LI Joe, Go1, and Nemo. Infiltration is well remembered for his stunning battle against Gamerbee in last year’s Evo, where he came in third. Eita plays a reliable rushdown Ken that I have my eyes on, but I also have high hopes for Yukadon. His crafty Nash play took down Tokido and shows no signs of slowing down. One thing is for sure: these finals are going to be absolutely charged. The matchups are incredible and the entire affair is going to be a must see.
Top image: Justin Wong v. Daigo Umehara, via Red Bull Esports.