The NFL has the Super Bowl, soccer as the World Cup, and competitive fighting games have the Evolution Championship Series (Evo). The annual event takes place every July in Las Vegas, Nevada, and this year the team behind Evolution is taking things up a notch and adding a bit more Nintendo flavor to the mix.
This year the event takes place July 15-17 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The new venue is significantly larger than anything Evo has used in the past, which is a very good move considering how quickly tickets to Evo generally sell out (within weeks). While the LVCC will host the tournament Friday and Saturday, the big Sunday finals will move to the Mandalay Bay event center.
Sunday finals are always a huge draw at Evo with the venue hitting capacity for the last several years. The event center holds 12,000 people with assigned seating like most other sporting events. Hopefully that will be enough room to maintain the influx of new players that are sure to flood the event this year.
Now let’s take a closer look at the nine games that will be featured at Evolution 2016.
Street Fighter 5
Capcom’s latest and greatest will be released next week and is replacing Ultra Street Fighter 4 in the roster. While some have complained about the lack of Street Fighter 4, the scene is moving on to the new game and most people won’t be playing SF4 very much. The real question is how many new stars will rise up with the release of Street Fighter 5. The game mechanics have changed quite a bit to allow newcomers to get into things a bit easier, but removing some of the comeback mechanics that helped out Street Fighter 4 players.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
The aging VS. game will be featured at Evolution 2016 for at least one more year. There aren’t many games that can match the excitement of a Marvel game, and the finals at Evo are always some of the best to watch. Will KaneBlueRiver defend his title from last year, or will someone else take his place? The focus may be on Street Fighter 5 this year, but Marvel will still likely have a place during Sunday finals, and the hype will be real.
Mortal Kombat X
Returning for a second year, the latest MK title will be sports several new characters introduced in the upcoming Kombat Pack 2. We already covered Triborg, and Leatherface is due to be detailed within the coming weeks. Joining them will be a Xenomorph from the Alien series, and Bo’ Rai Cho from previous Mortal Kombat titles. With new and improved netcode more people will likely be picking up the game, and there are rumors of an Injustice sequel announcement coming at E3 in June, which should put more attention on NetherRealm Studios’ flagship fighting game.
Microsoft’s Xbox One exclusive fighting game is heading into its third season of content. After a very successful World Cup this late last month, Killer Instinct is once again in the spotlight. A PC release will hit in March alongside the first batch of characters for season three. So far Microsoft and developer Iron Galaxy have confirmed Rash from Battletoads, Kim Wu from Killer Instinct 2 and an Arbiter from the Halo series. Tusk from Killer Instinct 2 has also been long discussed, but the developers have yet to show him off in season three.
Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator
The latest revision of the Guilty Gear series hits the US only a few weeks before Evolution 2016, but with only moderate changes to the gameplay mechanics it shouldn’t take too long for hardcore players to adjust. The finals from last year were so crazy they made it to ESPN (before the site was covering esports regularly), so this year should be equally riveting.
Tekken 7: Fated Retribution
We still don’t have a console release date for Tekken 7, but the arcade update is coming very soon to Japanese arcades. While there are a few arcades in the US with Tekken 7 cabinets, the game will not be available on home consoles before Evolution 2016. Just like last year, Namco will have the game on-hand for people to play the arcade version, with a US tour coinciding with the various Wizard World events across the country. If you can’t make it to any Wizard World conventions, you’ll still be able to play all day Friday and Saturday at Evo 2016.
Super Smash Bros. Wii U and Melee
Nintendo has a big presence at Evolution 2016 with three titles in the lineup. Returning from last year are Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and the old GameCube title, Melee. Last year both Smash titles had roughly 2,000 entrants, with very little overlap between the two. With two separate and very strong communities behind these games, it’s no surprise to see them both land at Evo once again. The real question is, can Mango reclaim his title from Armada?
The Pokemon fighting game releases on the Wii U in March and will have a world tournament to coincide with the release. Evolution 2016 is one of the stops for the world tournament, but hopeful players should note that the game will be played using two Wii U consoles per station in a LAN setup. This enables the game to be played just like the arcade version, the way it was always meant to be enjoyed.
To find out who will be the first Pokken Tournament or Street Fighter 5 Evo champion, be sure to watch the broadcast on Twitch or pick up tickets to the event once they go on sale. In the meantime, head over to out Street Fighter 5, Mortal Kombat X and Pokken Tournament game hubs for information and strategies on these tournament titles!
We'd like to hear from you! Please take a moment to fill out our 2016 readership survey and improve your experience.