Evolution Championship Series or "Evo" is held every year in Las Vegas, Nevada (Since 2005) and is one of the longest ongoing fighting game tournaments and is one of the most, if not the most, popular.  Evo is kind of a international Superbowl where challengers all over the world go to compete for the glory of being called the best within their respective fighting game.

For the 2012 Circuit, the main games have been chosen as well as the locations to earn Evo points for seeding.  Being six games overall, I want to talk a little bit about each of them and also what games that did not make the cut I think should have made it.  Anyway it goes, I am hyped for the 2012 Season of Evolution Fighting Game Championship Series.


-[ A LITTLE BIT ABOUT EVOLUTION ]-

The Evolution Championship series is a well-known Fighting Game Championship Series founded by Tony Canon that is now recognized worldwide, but this was not always the case.  It originally started as "Battle by the Bay" in 1995, but has then been Evo since 2002; It is now 2012, which marks the 10th year anniversary since it has officially changed its name to Evolution. 

Visit the Official website of the Evolution Championship Series at evo2k.com


-[ THE LINE-UP ]-

Evolution Gaming Tournament has switched up games from year-to-year, keeping some games the same while introducing others if there is enough hype or support for a particular game, as it is all about what brings players together and what gets the most exposure.  Here's the list of games for the 2012 season.
  1. Street Fighter X TEKKEN.
  2. Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition [Version 2012].
  3. Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3.
  4. Soul Calibur V.
  5. The King of Fighters XIII.
  6. Mortal Kombat.
These six games will represent main events in this years tournament season, which has 17 events making the "Road to Evo".  This will be the very first appearance of Street Fighter X TEKKEN, Soul Calibur V, and The King of Fighters XIII to the Evolution Championship Series.  Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 makes its first appearance as Ultimate, but the second time the series will show up; This is the second appearance of Mortal Kombat, debuting first at Evolution in 2011; and this is the first appearance of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition ver. 2012, but it is the third consecutive time the Street Fighter IV series will be on the circuit since its debut in 2009.

The line-up is pretty good, I must say, but I am disappointed heavily that BlazBlue: CS EXTEND as well as TEKKEN 6 did not make it into the featured games; this could be due to the sponsoring of NAMCO and CAPCOM for this years Evolution, or it could be that the games did not prove popular enough this go around and thus were opted out for better ones, or perhaps the turnout for last years Evolution was not quite as good as the organizers had planned.

In the following posts you will find my perception of each of the games featured above in their descending order from first to last; including a final post of a few games I think should have possibly be featured and what side tournaments should be ran for them.


-[ Street Fighter X TEKKEN ]-

This game has not even come out yet, so the very fact I was talking about "popularity" does not even matter because this has not even seen the light of day to determine a fan-base nor has the Gem System had a chance to be completely evaluated in order to see if it is a system worth banning for tournament play or not.

One could easily say that because this is a CAPCOM game, and because they are a sponsor of the tournament that this was forced by them onto the circuit in order to guarantee exposure to the millions (Evolution 2011 had 2 million unique viewers) of people that normally tune into Evolution.  They could also be cashing in on the fact that we will be witnessing high-level competition and may give the final push to those who have not decided on what they think about the game one way or the other, or to get more sells by those that will pick up the game solely because it is going to be at Evo.

We have not too long to go before Street Fighter X TEKKEN is finally available to the public and we see the full extent of the Gem System and what the game play mechanics have to offer in term of playability and tournament prospects.  Most, like myself, remain weary with all the system changes that we initially loved; the main one for me being the fact that you were able to get a full combo after a combo that tagged in your partner, which has now, to my knowledge, been reduced to a special move into a super move (I understand they did this to probably control the damage aspect of things, but it does kill the "cool" factor).

All-in-all, we do not know if this game will be worthy or not to be on the circuit, but from the crazy game play mechanisms, Gems, and the fact there might be a possibility of Street Fighter X TEKKEN  two-against-two tournaments in the future spell something to look forward to; but tournament worthy or "just in" because it is a CAPCOM game will be seen in just a few short months.


-[ SUPER STREET FIGHTER IV: ARCADE EDITION VER. 2012 ]-

Street Fighter IV is responsible for the "revival" of the fighting game scene, and while some might argue that they are tired of seeing this game or it is played out, I do not mind because we probably would not have had a fighting game scene that has been hyped up from nothing if this had not made its debut back in 2009.  The Street Fighter IV scene got mass notice through places like EventHubs and through streams by Team Spooky, which people like me began to gravitate to for information and streams relating to the community.

2009 was a very hype year for Street Fighter IV because it featured a Grand Final's match between Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara (Being so amped up because of "Evo Moment #27" where they faced down in Street Fighter III: Third Strike which earned Daigo's nickname "The Beast"), Daigo emerged victorious over Justin of the final set of the final match.  The following year at Evolution 2010 was equally as shocking since Justin Wong, last year's 2nd, did no even make it into top 8 being sent to the loser's bracket by Vangief and then eliminated by Adon sensation GamerBee; Daigo Umehara once again won.  In 2011, it was shocking because Daigo Umehara was dethroned, coming in 4th being defeated by Poongoko and then eliminated by Latif; the winner of 2011 being Fuudo of Japan (Who is also known as a top-notch Virtua Fighter player).

With the changes to Version 2012, it is undoubted that we will be seeing a bevy of new technology and the changing in tiers could very well influence who we see at the top or at the bottom of this tournament.  Also, Daigo Umehara switched to Yun in Arcade Edition and dropped Ryu, but since his return to Ryu and some of his strong showings, some believe me may improve enough to once again be the winner of Evolution this year.  Always exciting and rarely predictable, Evolution 2012 is going to be a must watch if nothing but for the Super Street Fighter IV: AE ver. 2012 finals.

Other
Evolution 2011 Grand Finals - Latif vs Fuudo
Evolution 2011- Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Intro
Shoryuken.com


-[ ULTIMATE MARVEL VS CAPCOM 3 ]-

Not at all surprised that this game was going to make it back on the circuit, I play this game pretty often myself and it is as enjoyable to watch as it is to play.

Last year in 2011, Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, made its Evo debut with Viscant taking 1st place.  This was very surprising to me because Justin Wong was so dominant throughout the early life of Marvel 3, not to mention he was the inventor of a lot of teams I saw being used everywhere (Wolverine/Akuma & She-Hulk/Tron Bonne).  We also get to see just how broken Vanilla Marvel vs Capcom 3 was, as well as the power of Dark Phoenix, Wesker, and Invincible assists.

The finals between Viscant and PR Balrog was pretty good, especially the clutch Level 3 grab against Viscant's Dark Phoenix and beating his Hagger out in order to reset the set; but it showed a lot of what was wrong with this game however epic the matches were.

This year, I am suspecting to see a wide variety of players and matches because of the sheer amount of technology found, better balancing of the game, as well as the nerfing of Phoenix overall that has lead to her being nearly invisible from the scene.  However, "Dark Wesker" is going to be a problem, as even at APEX 2012, Five out of Eight Top 8 placers in Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 had Wesker running as their anchor character for X-Factor Level 3.  While the competition this year is sure to be very interesting, I am hoping that Wesker does not dominate the top spots.

Other
Evolution 2011 Grand Finals - Viscant vs PR Balrog
Evolution 2011 - Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds Intro
Shoryuken.com


-[ SOUL CALIBUR V ]-

This is Soul Calibur V's debut to the Evolution Championship series, but the 4th time the Soul Calibur will see Evo with the last being Soul Calibur IV in 2009.  This iteration adds various new mechanics such as special moves called "Critical Edge", as well as a host of new characters like Viola, Leixia, Xiba, and even guest characters like Ezio from Assassin's Creed.

The game has been hyped up by the community and seemed to already be getting a lot of exposure from NAMCO in the form of videos, live streams, and constant promotion by Kayane, it is no wonder that this game has made it into Evo, though, I am worried because of how most of the 2D Fighting Community actually perceive the Soul Calibur community comparable to how they often treat the TEKKEN community (Which, despite their support, did not make it onto the Evo circuit.

I think the competition will be stiff this year, especially with so many people ready to invest loads of time into this game and really see what it has to offer and what crazy new things they can make from the new play styles and mechanics; but I am also hoping this is a bit more "exciting" to watch than some of the "high-level" Soul Calibur IV matches I watch which seem nearly like a poke fest and seem mundane and full of random hits (Though they are not, it feels that way) which can be boring to the average spectator and ridiculous to veterans of other games who do not know exactly what is going on.  We will see what happens.

Other
Evolution 2009 Grand Finals - Malek vs KDZaster
Evolution 2009 - Soul Calibur IV Intro
8-Way-Run.com


-[ THE KING OF FIGHTERS XIII ]-

SNK-Playmore in my opinion, was pretty much on its last leg after the failed release of The King of Fighters XII, which failed to spark a lot of buzz on the tournament scene with its pixel graphics, lack luster game play mechanics ("Critical Counter" anyone?), and a failure to be recognized as a truly competent game, not to mention the console port was absolutely terrible (I recall using mine as a drink coaster).  But now, let's flash forward to the here and now.

Revolutionary new systems which give you the ability to create your own combos, competent with the fast rush-down action of previous King of Fighters, advanced techniques and execution which are trademark to the series as well as backing of popular KOF enthusiast sites like Dream Cancel make The King of Fighters XIII a worthy successor to the name "The King of Fighters" that can be respected by everyone within the community.

This game has a wide variety of characters as well as traditional KOF style 3v3 action; meaning while we may see some repeat characters, the balancing of the game makes it where we should see a little bit of everything; though I expect to see some repeat high-tier characters (Hwa Jai) in high pressure situations.  I think this being on the circuit is one of the MOST positive things for Evolution to do this year, it will open the eyes of many people and could bring about a complete revival of one of the most well-known yet underrated fighters in the history of the genre.

Other
Dream Cancel.com


-[ MORTAL KOMBAT ]-

When NetherRealm announced that there will be another Mortal Kombat game, I was going to run for the hills because of how terrible the vast majority of the games have been (Much love to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 though, love the broken stuff the same way the scene loved Marvel vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes).  Though, they said it was going to be a reboot instead of some strange new addition, which also threw me for a loop.  The game looked impressive, I picked it up and it was not actually complete garbage, what a surprise!

Eventually from playing, I found that the game was not for me, but it was fun to watch and the community completely embraced it.  NetherRealm has shown much backing for Mortal Kombat from releases of patches to fix the broken things that were found early on, such as: Infinites, Block String Infinites, and Nerfing and Buffing characters to improve upon the overall balance which has aided vastly to the longevity of this game's lifespan.

Debuting last year at Evolution 2011, Mortal Kombat showed up and showed out.  There was good showings all around and a very hype match between REO and Perfect Legend, also what I was talking about with NetherRealm showing vast amounts of support for their community, the "Champion" belt they gave to Perfect Legend was a VERY nice touch and something to boast about.

This year I am planning to see Mortal Kombat back and bigger than ever at its 2nd year at Evo; with the amounts of new characters, the new balance changes, and new people popping up in the community, it will be something to keep your eyes on, whether or not you actually play the game.

Other
Evolution 2011 Grand Finals - Perfect Legend vs Reo
Evolution 2011 - Mortal Kombat Intro


-[ GAMES THAT COULD HAVE MADE IT ]-

Here are some games I feel that could have made it onto the Evolution Tournament circuit that for whatever reason did not make the cut.  I am just going to give my main three and then go into a little bit more detail about how there are no anime games represented at all within the Evolution Tournament line-up.

__________________________________________________________________________________

BlazBlue:Continuum Shift Extend
I feel like this game would have been perfect at Evo; new balance changes, nearly everyone has a new way to combo and I feel BlazBlue is just an awesome game.  However, from the lack of community support and the overwhelming dominance of Spark's Hakuman at the Evolution 2011 BlazBlue Grand Finals, there may not be enough people effectively rallying for a return of Ark System Works current flagship fighter.


Evolution 2011 Grand Finals - Spark vs Lord Knight
Evolution 2011 - BlazBlue:CS II Intro
DustLoop.com

__________________________________________________________________________________


TEKKEN 6
A huge following for this community and at Evolution; though, many did complain that the TEKKEN 6 Grand Finals at Evo 2011 were quite boring with Kor and FAB as Bob vs Bob, and TEKKEN 6 at Evo 2010 Grand Finals were better with Nin and Rip as Steve vs Law.  All-in-All, seems the hype was just now in place to see this game come back; but we may get TEKKEN Tag Tournament 2 at Evolution 2013, Support it!


Evolution 2011 Grand Finals - Kor vs FAB
Evolution 2011 - TEKKEN 6 Intro
TEKKEN Zaibatsu.com

__________________________________________________________________________________

Other
There are also people talking about how there are no representation of anime type games at all, main stream or otherwise.  Aquapazza, Skull Girls, Arcana Heart 3, and many others.  Some are saying that CAPCOM has half of the games and one of them has a controversial system that has yet to be fully tested to see if it is tournament worthy or not and should relinquish its spot to established games.  I do agree to an extent, however, you have to realize that Evolution is now a main stream tournament organization that tries to bring the biggest and best games to the forefront in order to earn the respect of those who fail to see this as a type of sport.  So, while I do wish some of my favorites had made it in, I support Evolution decision nonetheless.


-[ THE VERDICT ]-

This years tournament is guaranteed to be one of the best that it has ever been.  As Evolution continues to grow, things get bigger, intros get better, and the entrants only grow in number.  The display of raw talent, surprising and shocking moments are forever etched within our minds.  We are encouraged to give it our all, praise those that have overcome the odds to become an Evolution Champion and marvel at how far we have come from our humble origins.

I do not know about all of you, but I plan on taking off work, grabbing a beer, and thoroughly enjoying this year's festivities.  Thank you all for reading, this is RoK the Reaper saying Sayanara!

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