Last year was a monumental one for everyone involved in the Evolution fighting game tournament. Besides it being the debut of the massively-popular Street Fighter IV, it broke records for participants, attendance and for the first time ever, it was all viewable live to anyone with an Internet connection. EVO was no longer just the one YouTube clip of Daigo parrying all of Justin Wong’s super combo hits. Hundreds of thousands of people tuned in throughout the weekend to watch Daigo and company play out the fighting game magic. I was glued to my computer that entire weekend; watching arguably the best fighting game action I’d ever seen in my life. That tournament even went as far as inspiring me to level up my own skills.
EVO 2010 has the potential to be even bigger in terms of global impact than the 2009 edition did. Super Street Fighter IV has been a huge hit with the community and the turn-out for Super is expected to hit over 2,000 competitors. Having taken a peak at the pools this year, there are bound to be some surprises, as every pool is packed with some of the best players from around the world. Of course I’m looking forward to seeing Daigo and Justin Wong duke it out, but I’m also excited to see some of the other big names and upcoming talent compete, such as Sanford Kelly, Ed Ma, Combofiend, Andy OCR and more.
Most exciting is the possibility of this competitive fighting game scene growing even bigger. For many years, people considered this genre dead. Now, thanks to Street Fighter IV in an era of the Internet, this could grow big in a way that it never could have back in the early 90s. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to watch the stream, G4TV is doing a special feature on the EVO tournament that will be broadcast on TV and a lot of those matches will probably end up on YouTube for anyone with an interest in fighting games to see. Moves like these could really help move the entire scene forward.
EVO is just as much a celebration of the fighting game community as it is a tournament to get that fight money. Maybe someday I’ll make the trip out to Vegas to enjoy the festivities (and get my butt kicked). But for now, I will get comfy with my laptop and enjoy the tournament from the comfort of my home.