As you might have heard, Evo 2014, the biggest fighting-game tournament in history, took place in Las Vegas this past weekend. It was three days of amazing play in all eight featured games, far and away the most dramatic, twisty-turny tourney in recent memory. Here’s a recap of the winners and the highlights.
Louffy, who was apparently emboldened by the extra “O” that got added to his handle sometime before Evo, got knocked into the losers’ bracket early on in the tournament by Xian, last year’s Street Fighter champion. Playing on a PS1 controller, the Frenchman battled on, knocking out several top Japanese players and Snake Eyez, the last remaining American, before reaching the grand finals match. After a long, dominant set, Louffy took home the prize.
Speaking of Snake Eyez, the Californian Zangief master pulled out what had to have been the single most breathtaking win of the weekend’s Street Fighter tournament in his match against Xian.
Once again, ChrisG, the winningest Marvel 3 player around, came up short at Evo. Justin Wong, once a hated ruling force while Marvel 2 was at its height, took on the mantle of people’s champion and put a stop to the ChrisG juggernaut. Wong’s insta-meme reaction after the victory was perfect.
Wong earned his place in the grand final match by beating Filipino Champ, a former Marvel 3 Evo winner, in what could only be described as a slobberknocker. The somewhat more traditional styles of these players’ teams kept the pace of this match a tad slower than your typical Marvel sensory overload, and Wong took advantage of a last second FChamp flub to seal the deal in stunning fashion.
For the second year in a row, MaNg0 has won the Melee crown. After battling his way back from a 0-2 deficit in the final match of the losers’ bracket, Florida’s Hungrybox secured a place in the grand finals. MaNg0 took an early lead, and just as it looked like Hungrybox might make the comeback, MaNg0 sealed the deal.
But it might have been Axe, a Pikachu player from Arizona, who stole the show with this amazing set-winning game.
Japan came out in full force in an effort to claim one of the biggest prize pools in tournament history. The Japanese heavy-hitters sent all American challengers packing early on, and after that, the action really heated up. Dogura, an early favorite, handed Garireo his first loss of the weekend just before the grand finals match, beating him in a clean sweep without showing any weaknesses. In the losers’ bracket, Garireo faced Dorabang, the clear crowd favorite, in a nail-biter before earning the right to take another shot at Dogura. With six games to win against Dogura, the player who had previously beaten him in commanding fashion, the odds did not look good for Garireo. What transpired was one of the most tense, emotional sets of the weekend:
It was a New York vs. New York final for Killer Instinct in its first year at Evo. CD Jr. faced off against Rico Suave in a rematch of a faceoff from earlier in the tournament. CD has a flawless record against his fellow New Yorker in big time matches, and he came out on top yet again but not before Rico could get the crowd going with some success from an unexpected character.
But it was his match with Justin Wong to qualify for the grand finals that would be Rico’s shining moment. Dramatic and beautifully played from both competitors, it was the best Killer Instinct match of the weekend.
With Emperor Theo, the clear favorite heading into Evo, out of the tournament, the Injustice field was wide open. In the last leg of the bracket, Pig Of The Hut squeaked by 16-year-old Sonic Fox, sending the Batgirl technician into the losers’ bracket. From there, Sonic Fox went on a rampage, working his way back to Pig Of The Hut in the grand finals and taking the tournament, all without losing a single game.
Last year’s KOF grand finals featured one of the best comebacks of the weekend. For a while, it looked like Tokido might be primed to pull out the same kind of victory, reaching out from the depths of the losers’ bracket and grabbing the title. But Xiaohai’s Mr. Karate was just too much.
JDCR wasn’t supposed to be at Evo. The Korean Tekken master surprised everyone by showing up and surprised no one by taking home the prize. In the grand finals, he squelched a possible losers’ bracket victory from Gen, a 14-year-old Japanese player.
However, Gen, probably owing to his age, might have been the star of the bracket. He dominated some top players, like America’s Mr. Naps, in brutal shut-out victories.