Let's take a quick look at what exactly went down this weekend aside from Richard and Victor's awesome HSC5 coverage, shall we Cadred?
This LAN review is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates. All images courtesy of Karaface and Shoryuken; thank you.
The Evolution Fighting Game Championship tournament, hosted annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, has been the heart of the Fighting Game Community (FGC) for over a decade, going back to the mid-90's where it came to being as a small local LAN, growing to the largest in North America. Breaking world records each and every year, this year's EVO was composed of 3,500 competitors, tens of thousands going in and out to spectate including over 120,000 during its peak of the Arcade Edition stream late Sunday night (we'll touch on this later).
Although I've been around the scene for some time now, I've never delved into it. I attended EVO 2009 as a spectator, but it was more of a "let's see what this hype is about" opposed to actually being keen into the game. Despite having to approach this event from a beginner's standpoint opposed to a veteran's standpoint, hopefully my insight will provide motivation to further to fighting game movement which has remained underground for all these years.
What I've noticed from watching EVO this weekend is that although the chat room was constantly filled with premium emotes
(only accessible to subscribers -- $12 for the weekend with 100% of the proceeds going to scholarships), it seemed like a huge family of friends watching the games being played. I could feel the energy from my seat at this event, without even being there in person. The crowd was hyped constantly, as if an aura of passion encapsuled the room. Every extended combo, fatality or perfect, the crowd was insanely hyped right behind the shoutcasters, keeping the atmopshere for both the in-person spectators as well as the stream viewers more entertaining than any event I've seen before -- including MLG and DreamHack events. Starcraft 2's scene despite being very passionate lacks entertainment, and most of the players' attitudes are bland. In the FGC, we see unique characters with taunts and shit talking, something unheard of in the Starcraft 2 scene. This adds an aggressive yet enjoyable aspect to the experience that is EVO.
Filipino Champ, a respected community figure that likes to stir the pot from time to time.
The games this weekend that were displayed included Soul Calibur V, Street Fighter X Tekken, Mortal Kombat, KoF XIII, UMvC3, SSFIVAE (Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition) as well as a few sneaky games that they sneaked in under the radar -- Virtua Fighter 5 and Street Fighter 2 post-AE tourney. Something unique about the FGC is that we witness various players competing across multiple games, as the games are very similar in mechanics despite being different as far as combos or ultimates are concerned. We saw the big names both fall and succeed, and the storylines ranged from a young man's mother passing away a week before the tournament and his motivation to win being just that, to a Korean team named Cafe ID that saved up for nearly two years to afford a trip just to witness the event in person; in a miracle over Mexico's famed player Bala, Mad KoF of Cafe ID took the series in KoF XIII 3-2 3-1 to win the title of EVO champion.
The aforementioned aura that somewhat taints individuals' perception of the gaming scene that is the FGC is unfortunate and seen in many gaming scenes in e-sports. It's my opinion that if people got a bit cliche and "gave them a chance" that they can truly make a change in the way that e-sports is operated and executed, although the question of the FGC migrating to e-sports would be comical, as they've never really been involved (and one couldn't blame them). Right now as it stands, Starcraft 2 and League of Legends are basically the only two dominant e-sports in the world right now, with just a few trailing behind them (that will grow with time, for instance, DotA2). Neither scene very aggressive, especially with the FPS genre dying fast, makes for a bland era in competitive gaming. Although a few recent LANs have been a breath of fresh air, it's not enough to make for steady breathing.
With the grand finals of Arcade Edition, the most popular game just due to the legacy of Street Fighter and the big name players that have embraced the game as the most solid and challenging fighting game out there, including thousands of spectators screaming at the top of their lungs after each combo and the shoutcasters standing out of their seats in anxiousness for each and every move, I was awe-struck as a stream viewer with the amount of passion I found in this formerly unknown scene to me; what have I been missing? There was never a question that asked how dedicated gamers from these smaller scenes were -- some players reported to have trained/streamed 16+ hours a day for over a year in preparation just for a chance to be hailed King of EVO in their respective game. It seems as though, whether one can't stand the genre or embraces it, credit should be given where due.
Dieminion on making Top 8 at EVO 2012.
Let's take a closer look at EVO 2012 as the event wound down.
This column is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.
We saw moments of hilarity and moments of sadness; Poongko falling into AE's Loser Bracket in Ro16 and acting salty
, Dieminion making it insanely far in the tournament (considered arguably the best moment of the entire tournament, seeing as he came from open brackets to Ro8), and the list goes on. In contrast regarding Starcraft, the storylines are there but are nowhere near the intensity (in general). A marriage proposal mid-Saturday afternoon resulted in a black guy in a sombrero trolling the man proposing on camera, acting as if the ring was for him, deeming himself a new hero of EVO: Black Sombrero Guy
, alongside his buddy Mexican Horse Man
. Floe from Evil Geniuses provided for hours of entertainment on the opening night, playing I Wanna Be That Guy: Raiden
and having the crowd laugh with him as he got salty with every death, finally beating the first stage with just over 40 seconds left on his near-2 hour session.
Floe of EG. Everyone loves Floe.
Viewers peaked well over 90,000 while the HomeStory Cup V for Starcraft 2 peaked at just 51,000 during the finals late Sunday night from Krefeld. I have to say that from a newbie's point of view, being someone that casually plays SFIV but has never been involved in the FGC aside from a few times where I lurked on Shoryuken's website, the tournament was structured in a way that anyone could easily understand the game, regardless of knowledge. Interviews with players and discussion of replays immediately after the matches allowed me to understand exactly who was doing what, what approach they took for which characters, and what they needed to win in order to advance further in the tournament.
One thing that was most impressive was the fact that even though EVO is a well-known LAN amongst the North American gaming crowd, the event itself was never really advertised as a huge gather. No huge website to promote it aside from Shoryuken, no talk of it on e-sports shows, no real exposure, yet it has just as many views as the MLG Championship had in Rhode Island last year. This is something special about the FGC that isn't really given any attention -- they're considered a very aggressive community of gamers that don't welcome outsiders, but that's only true to an extent if you dive into the heart of the players. I was instantly welcomed and invited to join in with the discussion of the games going on by hundreds in the chat -- that sense of true gamer connection isn't present in Starcraft 2.
The Champions of EVO 2012
Four days of non-stop gaming, lasting nearly 20 hours a day is what EVO consisted of. Daigo, Wong, Chris G, Combofiend, Mike Ross, Champ, Valle, all the legends of the scene were present. Anxious gamers from all around the world, ranging from teams that have traveled from Japan just to have a chance at victory to a nine-year-old that made it through the groups on Day 2, the diversity was anything but disappointing. The final day? I've never seen more upsets. Daigo went out in 5th, Poongko got 2-0'd, and the man from Korea, Infiltration, didn't drop a single set as he went on to defeat Gamerbee in the finals convincingly with a quick 3-0 as if he was still in group play. The crowd was ecstatic, people were jumping out of their seats and the competitors were with the crowd, not secluded in some special room behind the scenes.
I suppose it comes down to the type of gaming and entertainment one enjoys, but I've surprised even myself, favoring EVO over HSC5, a tournament that I value over nearly any other Starcraft 2 LAN. Fighting games are growing, despite the media portraying the genre as a deceased scene with console sales dipping nearly 28% in 2012, but I see potential and a true threat to other e-sport games that are more well-known amongst the casual gamer. EVO 2012 was the best event I've seen this year, and it's something I'll hold close in my memory of gaming events. We should embrace things like this that keep gaming alive and hope for smaller communities to grow as the FGC has, arguably faster than nearly any other with the exception of a select few games. Believe the hype.
- $25,000 Super Street Fighter IV, Arcade Edition 2012
- $23,000 Mortal Kombat 9
- $15,000 Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
- $15,000 for Sega’s Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown
- $11,000 King of Fighters XIII
Infiltration x Laugh
- $9,000 Street Fighter X Tekken
- $5,000 Soul Calibur V
EVO 2012: 96/100
-chemistry between players and fans
-minimal technical difficulties
-shoutcaster interaction with stream viewers
-constant updates from event admins
-aggressiveness between competitors
-music was horrible at times
-stream lag once viewers toppled 100k
-use of inside jokes that confused newcomers