Evolution 2017: Competitive gaming at its finest

The 2017 Evolution World Championships officially concluded on Sunday. Eight winners emerged from intense competition and claimed their respective titles on the main stage of the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Evolution, or Evo as it is commonly referred to, is a three-day tournament involving fighting games. This year’s event revolved around titles such as Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Blazblue: Central Fiction, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and more.

Evolution 2017 marks the 15th for the tournament and the overall feeling of the event was that of a turning tide. Of course plenty of veteran players came to compete such as Daigo “The Beast” Umehara, Justin “jwonggg” Wong, and many more, but the brackets were also peppered with newer faces for each respective game.

No tournament went with a repeat champion from the year prior. Kim “JDCR” Hyun-Jun managed to beat back the 2016 Evo champ Choi “Saint” Jinwoo for his first Tekken 7 Evo victory. Prior Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 champion Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez lost out to Ryan “RyanLV” Romero in the grand finals. Saleem “Salem” Young reset the bracket and upended opposing player Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios to nab the championship title in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

Even more surprising was the fact that Street Fighter V only saw two of Evo 2016’s top 8 competitors make it into this years’ finals. That particular contest ended in a heartbreaking defeat for Victor “Punk” Woodley against Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi in the grand finals.

Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono (far left) compliments artist Alvin Lee (right) on his Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom pieces at the event.

The event itself has grown in size, hosting companies like Capcom, Arc System Works and Namco Bandai to show off their upcoming fighting game titles and exclusives in the Mandalay Bay’s expansive convention center space.

There was plenty more to offer outside of competition too, as independent artists sold fan art from many of the respective tournament games, developers signed autographs, popular streamers held panels and after parties, and indie game creators showed off their newest projects in the convention hall. Parts of the tournament was also simulcast again on ESPN2 and newly on Disney XD, reaching an even bigger audience than before.

Despite its exponential growth and grand spectacle however, Evo has still retained a feeling of community among competitors and fans alike. Regardless of game, team or player preference, droves of spectators avidly watch matches together and cheer. While other major tournaments such as the League of Legends Championship Series or ELeague have made strides in bringing more visibility to high-level players and competitive video games, Evo is still undeniably the king in this arena.

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About the author

Christen Bejar

Christen Bejar is a freelance gaming writer who started the local blog The Pause Button while studying at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. For Nerdvana, Bejar reviews video games and also previews, recaps and photographs many local events from a gamer's perspective.

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