EVO Japan was a mess, but still had plenty to offer

With the end of Sunday, EVO Japan will finally conclude the weekend festivities and the weekend was, frankly, an organizational mess. However, that did not stop plenty of competitors from delivering some dazzling play, and even featured some pretty great announcements to top it off.

When Wiz and MarkMan first announced that the event would now take place in Fukuoka instead of Tokyo, it left many in the FGC scratching their heads. On the surface, it wasn’t immediately apparent as to why EVO Japan would be moving to a less populated and harder to access area. Though the changes were due to cost restraints and budget issues, it still left many wondering about the event itself. While the higher-ups insisted that the event would deliver an experience up to EVO’s standards, this year seemed to provide a bit more of a glimpse into the real world behind EVO, and its recurring problems. Multiple accounts surfaced that seemed to paint a less-than-favorable picture about the status of the event. Even more unfortunate, the complaints and problems were varied across different situations and fighting game scenes altogether.

Naturally, as the event is still ongoing (at time of writing), many issues were not immediately rectifiable, and most of the positives currently coming from the situation seem to not extend past a more open discussion on how to better handle these situations for future events. James Chen did have a bit to say about how the event handled its brackets, though.

Other than the numerous off-stage issues, the event seemed to go swimmingly. The main line-up games offered plenty of hype, and fans were even treated to some great announcements to really cap the weekend. Despite the technical difficulties and strange stream problems, the Soul Calibur 6 tournament went surprisingly well, seeing a robust top 8 with 3 different countries being represented in the top 3. Perhaps most unexpectedly, Japan got bounced from the competition at number 3, while Keev (France) eventually claimed victory over a strong performance from Shen Chan (Singapore). As a reward for viewers and attendees alike, Team Soul revealed a trailer detailing the next character DLC for the game- Amy, Raphael’s protégé. Unlike many other SoulCal trailers, this particular one had more story and cinematics, which was a refreshing change of pace. It felt much more like the 2B reveal trailer than the roster announcement trailers for the main cast, which was a huge step up despite Amy being a returning character.

Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator 2 saw some great action, featuring some of the best competition in the world facing each other. The entirely Japanese top 8 was a great watch (seriously, it’s already uploaded to EVO’s official YouTube and you should just watch it), but the “announcement” of another Arc Revo World Tour coming in 2019 was lackluster and dull. In comparison, Arc System Works’ other title featured at EVO Japan, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, had a pretty glorious reveal after a similarly all-Japanese top 8. A foursome of DLC characters were revealed to be coming to the game, with one of them being from the fifth fate- Arcana Heart. Naturally, after this reveal, ArcSys did itself up even more by revealing another Fate in the game, this time colored a light blue. Which series this is from is currently unknown, and it’s also unknown if more characters from the Arcana Heart series will be added later, though one can presume so. ArcSys managed to balance itself out somehow.

The game that had the best performance and hype synergy was, in my opinion, Tekken 7, which saw some amazing worldwide competitors face off against each other, including Jimmy J Tran and Saint. Tekken’s top 8 was primarily various east Asian countries, but included South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Japan, as well as the US. Besides the top 8 being a fantastic watch, there was an event that immediately came before it that sent the crowd and the online community into an excited hysteria: Harada came out on stage (in a nice blazer, mind) and delivered an official trailer for Julia Chang. The trailer also announced that Julia and Negan would be launching at the same time- later this month on the 28th. After the massive wave of hype settled in, the top 8 began and remained consistently spectacular from start to finish, with Arslan Ash eventually sealing the grand final victory.

In a situation eerily similar to Capcom Cup, it was the players that mostly carried the event and, as of writing, Street Fighter V isn’t even finished its top 8 yet. It’s truly unfortunate that so many issues have arisen during the event, such as the very dumb situation regarding EVO and the Dead Or Alive 6 stream. (I’m likely going to address that issue separately in the future.) It really distracts from the experience for both the observers and attendees. On the other hand, so many players stepped up and there was so much to get excited about with most of the main stage games that the event could be considered a success, in a way. It just might not be a successful look for those in charge of it.

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