EVO 2015 is here! It is a yearly extravaganza where the best players from around the world converge upon Las Vegas for glory, salt, ridiculous amounts of hype and large cash prizes. The main roster of titles include the likes of Ultra Street Fighter IV, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mortal Kombat X, Guilty Gear Xrd SIGN, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Tekken 7, Killer Instinct and Persona 4: Arena Ultimax though numerous side tournaments abound for those interested in, well, whatever else might be your thing. The entire schedule, along with the proper Twitch channels to catch the action on can be seen below and be sure to hit up the EVO Event page on Twitch to see where all the action is happening as well.
Day 1 at EVO 2015 did not disappoint, folks. The intensity, the heartbreak, massive amounts of salt and extreme levels of hype were off the charts as a pool of 2,227 players for Ultra Street Fighter IV put their skills to the test. The sheer amount of matches on offer were staggering, seen across two streams, and proved every bit as harrowing as we’ve seen in years.
You Gonna Learn Today
The day started with Utah native, all around handsome dude and newfound FGC hero, 801 Strider (recently picked up by sponsor WinterFox) going BEAST on an unsuspecting competitor. A bit early in the morning for popoffs, Gustavo, but it was a hilarious way to start the day. Three Perfect rounds in a row? Not bad. It was a real Justin Wong teaches children what the “real world” is like moment.
It also resulted in the start of a blood feud we’ll hopefully see more of at future Evolution tournaments. Skullzer wants BLOOD. UTAH BLOOD. LET’S GO!
A quick aside before we continue the highlight reel. The array of commentators assembled for the first day of competition ranged from fan-favorites like Seth Killian and Spo0ky to the tried-and-true pairings of UltraDavid and James Chen. Skisonic, Aris and even Mike Ross were thrown into the mix and everyone put in real work today. I have to say that the pairing of Aris and Seth Killian was transcendent. Gatlike!
Hype Train Keeps On Rollin’
Back to the hype, ladies and gentleman! Street Fighter pools rolled on with every notable name one could imagine joining in the fun. Top-tier clashed with those guys that were just happy to be there, long-time rivals settled scores and Gods were slain. There is also a singular moment in time in which all things hype converged into a single focal point on the main stage as Onisan and, one of my personal favorites, Poongko. The people demand the pepperonis and they were delivered!
Poppin’ shirts, gettin’ real salty and on Day #1 we’ve already found the possible top moment of the entire weekend? Unreal. Onisan throwing down the gauntlet and Poongko just losing his mind temporarily followed by Aris throwing out the “And not one sit up!” as the cutover to the game footage happens. Perfection.
The Grappler Gets The Best of Bonchan
Alex Valle’s Hugo is the REAL DEAL. Even the Japanese elite have admitted that Hugo, in the hands of someone like Alex Valle, is a legitimate threat. FGC World Warrior Bonchan is an institution of the Evolution tournament and the stacks and stacks of hype that Valle’s grapplin’ German piled on is a joy to watch. Enjoy, brethren.
Team Liquid’s NuckleDu, ever the superlative Guile (only rivaled by Team Yomi’s Dieminion) faced off against Razer’s Fuudo. His Fei Long play has ended numerous players’ runs in tournaments with Rekka after Rekka. NuckleDu was on the verge of victory when a surprise Ultra nearly wiped him out. What follows is a frame-perfect comeback that is the stuff of legend. It also shows, once again, that NuckleDu at the top of his game can hold his own against any and all comers. NuckleDu secured his spot in Top 8 after this and now awaits Sunday evening to possibly bring EVO gold to America for the first time in the history of the tournament.
Evil Geniuses FGC team is top-shelf. Anyone who doubts that is just unaware of the scene in general. Multiple games and multiple champions among their ranks (including my boy Justin Wong) including Puerto Rico’s own Eduardo also known as PR_Balrog. Eduardo, over the past years, worked himself into a corner with his play. His intensity is without question but his enjoyment of the game? It seemed as though he had, as Shawn Michaels suffered from so long ago, lost his smile. His 4th place finish at January’s Canada Cup Master Series was followed by Twitter blowing up after his announcement that he would be retiring from competitive play following this year. The FGC would be losing one of its greats it seemed, destined to join the commentary circuit with likes of Seth “Seth Killian is livid right now” Killian and James Chen. Throughout the year, Eduardo has been showing up at events and proving he still has it. CEO 2015, one of the biggest major events of the year aside from EVO? He worked his way through a bracket full of monsters to nearly take it all having to fall to the rising star in 801 Strider.
He seemed to be operating on another level at times, telepathic reads and combos that were fantastic against top-drawer talent throughout. EVO loomed in the distance and one had to wonder if, perhaps, he was peaking at the right time.
Kazunoko, fresh off his double win at CEO 2015 (Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- and Ultra Street Fighter IV) appeared poised to cruise into Top 8 and possibly secure victory until he came across EG’s wily veteran. What impresses most about this match? Kazunoko is, without a doubt, one of the best Yun players on the planet. He’s proven that character is top-tier time and time again yet Eduardo always managed to endure, block at just the right time and score critical knockdowns and small combos that worked with stunning efficacy. The mighty Kazunoko has stuck out. There will be nothing but joy in Eduardo-ville for PR_Balrog is in Top 8.
Anton, better known as Filipinoman, has been one of those players in the scene that seems to have the ability yet just hasn’t put it all together yet. He triumphed in a major way, though, on Friday with a defeat of one of the five Japanese Gods of Street Fighter as he took down Hori| Sako.
That triumph over one of the very best to play the game would, ultimately, see him getting 9th place for the second year in a row as he came face to face with none other than Team Liquid’s NuckleDu (another American player).
Next year, Filipinoman. A talented young man with a long future ahead of him in the scene I think. Look for more from him in the future. The American heartache continued near the end of the night as Daigo “The Beast” Umehara played in back-to-back matches with WFX| 801 Strider and Snake_Eyez. Be it a poor matchup in Zangief v. Evil Ryu or just nerves getting the best of Gustavo at the end nothing compares to the look on the Utah star’s face as he saw his road to Top 8 at EVO come to a close.
Gods Will Fall
AverMedia’s GamerBee (Bruce Hsiang) has said recently, much like PR_Balrog has, that retirement was definitely in his future. This almost felt like his last hurrah in the scene and then Bruce does what Bruce do. Daigo, fresh off eliminating both Snake_Eyez and 801 Strider, appeared relaxed going into a match with GamerBee. His relaxed demeanor quickly changed as Bruce’s play of Elena proved to be far more difficult to read and get in on than anticipated. The counter-pick worked like a dream and every EVO Fantasy Bracket everywhere got destroyed as one of the frontrunners to take it all this year got bounced out by one of the R E T I R E M E N T B O Y Z.
Street Fighter will take a break on Saturday with the rest of EVO’s full slate of games taking center stage, though Grand Finals will return on Sunday starting at 6:30 PM Pacific Daylight Time.
Top 8 Winners
EG|Momochi vs. MCZ|TOKIDO
aiai vs. INFILTRATION
Top 8 Losers
EG|PR Balrog vs. BE|NEMO
AVM|GamerBee vs. Liquid|NuckleDu
CEO 2015 saw the unthinkable happen with an anime fighter. An American win at a major event in Bananaken’s upset of NiceBurst|Souji would result in the wave cresting at Evolution 2015 and a possible win for USA on the biggest stage of all. Sadly Bananaken’s fate was elimination in Loser’s bracket of Top 16 but, nonetheless, what transpired as Grand Finals rolled around? Pure animu hype.
KSB|SuperBoy is your Evolution 2015 Persona 4: Arena Ultimax and his victory lead to the manliest tears of joy. What a fantastic moment. Congratulations, dude!
Show Me Your Moves
Smash Bros for Wii U and Smash Bros. Melee also had their initial pools whittled down to Top 8 competitors today as well and both streams can be found (especially on Saturday for Finals of Smash for Wii U) on SRKEVO2 and SRKEVO4. Surprise upsets occurred with Dabuz getting knocked into Losers early, John Numbers (Nintendo World Champion) sending NAKAT to Losers with a custom Wii Fit Trainer, and the dominance of ZeRo in Smash 4 continuing. Two Wii Fit trainers are in Top 32 and there aren’t a gaggle of Yoshis running around. Color me surprised! It almost feels like the newer of the two Smash games, and the one who technically had more entrants, is getting that shaft here with its Grand Finals not getting to share the main stage on Sunday with the other “big names”. Maybe next year as Melee will hold that honor this year.
Upsets abound in the brackets for Melee as well with Eddy Mexico eliminating The Moon, Shroomed getting sent to losers by Javi and and Azen beating Fly Amanita. The usual killers are out for blood with Leffen, Mang0, PPMD, Armada, SilentWolf and more on the prowl. Brackets for Melee can be found here. Better on-demand video will be added once it’s been uploaded to YouTube until the Past Broadcasts section of SRKEVO2 for Melee and Smash for Wii U on-demand footage should be up sometime today as well.
Hell of a first day folks and we’re just getting started. Saturday is a big one with the illest hype from Mahvel making its way into the proceedings, Mortal Kombat X, Smash Bros for Wii U finishing up at 2 PM Pacific today, Guilty Gear Xrd, Tekken 7 finals at 4 PM Pacific with Killer Instinct at 6 PM Pacific. Melee, Ultimate Marvel v Capcom 3, Guilty Gear, and Mortal Kombat all get reduced down to the Top 8 players. All major events can be caught on the flagship channel, SRKEVO1.