The Evolution Championship Series 2022 wrapped up final evening, capping a weekend stuffed with a few of the most enjoyable I’ve ever had watching aggressive video gaming. MultiVersus made its EVO debut, regardless of nonetheless being in open beta; some new video games had been teased or introduced; and for a wonderful second, the Twitter gaming group (or a minimum of my nook of it) got here collectively to witness an unimaginable Street Fighter V grand finals.
I began my EVO weekend watching Skullgirls 2nd Encore. I used to be dimly conscious of the sport, solely understanding it was a quirky-looking combating recreation with a rocky development history. I solely tuned in as a result of Dominique “SonicFox” McLean was competing, and they’re a deal with to look at. It’s at all times enjoyable with these sorts of tournaments to look at storylines unfold. With Skullgirls, particularly, SonicFox had a teammate within the Top 8 bracket, Jon “dekillsage” Coello.
The two met within the winners last of the double elimination bracket with SonicFox sending dekillsage all the way down to the losers bracket handily with a 3-0 win. From there, dekillsage tore by the losers bracket, made it to the grand finals to face SonicFox once more, and beat SonicFox 3-0 to “reset” the bracket, forcing the teammates to play another match to resolve the winner. SonicFox finally prevailed, beating dekillsage 3-2, hugging his buddy and teammate for a match extraordinarily properly fought.
EVO’s pleasure couldn’t be contained to only the primary stage, it additionally spilled into the commentator’s sales space. Have you ever seen a commentator so damned hyped for the reveal of a new Skullgirls character they threw their wig? No?
Well, now you may have.
Developers whose video games had been featured at EVO 2022 took the chance to announce new content material for their franchises, too. After the conclusion of The King of Fighters XV Top 8, SNK Playmore introduced, that after 20 years, a new Fatal Frame had been green-lit.
Bandai Namco teased one thing relating to Tekken that appeared like a suggestion to tune into the Tekken World Tournament international finals to study extra.
EVO 2022 climaxed within the occasion’s penultimate event, Street Fighter V. (Although I’m positive Guilty Gear Strive had equally spectacular moments, it was 1AM ET by the point that event began and some people have jobs within the morning, y’know?) Part of the fantastic thing about EVO is that it’s a world event. Players come from everywhere in the world to compete, and every recreation has a nation that dominates the leaderboard. Skullgirls was an American affair. The Dragon Ball FighterZ bracket was virtually completely French, and Street Fighter V was, predictably, crammed with Japanese gamers.
It’s a little gauche, bordering on violent jingoism, to have satisfaction in a single’s nation, particularly as a Black American, however in aggressive sports activities, it’s “America, fuck yeah!” all day. Enter, Derek ”iDom” Ruffin, one of many solely two Americans left within the Street Fighter V event.
iDom began within the losers bracket, eliminating France’s Mister Crimson 3-1. He then needed to face a legend within the Street Fighter and online game group at giant — Daigo “The Beast” Umehara. Competitive gaming is a younger individual’s recreation; 25 is historical in esports years. Umehara is 41 years previous, and he’s been kicking ass in Street Fighter for greater than 20 years. He’s bought six EVO championships and cemented his place in online game historical past when, throughout EVO 2004, he beat Justin Wong in Street Fighter III: third Strike with a transfer even probably the most informal online game fan will acknowledge.
Yeah, he’s that man, and iDom tore by him as if he had been moist tissue paper. If that wasn’t sufficient, the Street Fighter V event boasted one other Japanese combating recreation group elder statesman, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. He, too, fell to iDom. It’s necessary to notice an American has not received a Street Fighter event at EVO since 2010, and it appeared like iDom is likely to be the one to finish the drought. Watching him battle was electrifying. He had this icy calmness to him, capable of learn and anticipate his opponents’ strikes in methods that may greatest be described as precognition.
He was simply fully dialed into the sport and his craft as he felled opponent after opponent to succeed in the grand finals. And as he fought, the thrill spilled over onto Twitter because the gaming group got here collectively, united in a single goal, to provide this man all our power to win.
Spontaneous collective outbursts like that remind me why gaming is such a enjoyable and rewarding interest. It’s all your associates and colleagues coming collectively, dropping our collective minds as a man we don’t know exhibits us what it appears like when a recreation is performed at its highest degree. The experience on show, the thrill, the sheer pleasure of being in a shared mindset like that’s unmatched. And when iDom finally fell in a heartbreaking 3-2 match after beating Masaki “Kawano” Kawano to reset the bracket, it didn’t matter. iDom performed fantastically, he grew to become our American hero, and no loss may take that feeling away.
I shouldn’t have any significant historical past with or nostalgia for combating video games, however my god do I really like EVO. EVO is nice. EVO unites us, and I can’t wait to look at EVO return to Japan in 2023.