EVO 2018 Lineup Announced – Marvel VS. Capcom Infinite didn’t make the cut and other surprises

Last night, Joey Cuellar, Mr. Wizard himself announced all eight headlining games for EVO 2018 and the lineup was a surprise to quite a few fighting games. It had more than a few unexpected inclusions and a few major omissions. Let’s take a look at what we will, and won’t, be playing at EVO 2018 this year.

The Lineup

Tekken 7 (Sunday Finals)

Tekken 7 has been Street Fighter V’s main competitor for a while now. They both stand as the pinnacle of their genres, 3D and 2D fighters respectively. They have a similar number of players on Steam, pull similar number on Twitch, and they have been around for about the same amount of time (Tekken 7 is one year older than Street Fighter V but Street Fighter V came out on consoles one year earlier.) By the stats, it’s clear that Tekken would have a place on the EVO lineup, but there are two bigger reasons for its inclusion this year.

First, it’s literally the only 3D fighter at the event. The genre needed some sort of representation. Second, Tekken has become a sort of icon for Capcom’s fall from grace. As soon as Street Fighter V started underperforming, Bandai Namco cranked up the support for their e-sport titles as high as it could go. The question everyone is going to be asking this year is “will Tekken 7 outperform Street Fighter V?” We will have to wait and see.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition (Sunday Finals)

EVO started as a Street Fighter tournament and it continues to be a Street Fighter tournament. Despite the fact that SFV isn’t doing as well as SFIV did, it will likely always have a spot at the table. Besides, SFV has consistently pulled the highest numbers in terms of Twitch viewers during EVO weekend. With new balance changes and characters introduced by Arcade Edition, viewers everywhere are going to want to know how the pro competition has changed. Still, this is the only Capcom game on the lineup and fans are wondering if that means it won’t be the main event, the last tournament, the closer, the final game played in the stadium on Sunday? If not, what would take its place?

Injustice 2

Even though Injustice 2 didn’t get a spot in the stadium this year, it’s still a game that pulls a lot of weight in the FGC. It’s the current Netherrealm game of choice, and it continues to receive updates in the form of new characters and content. The roster is still not complete, with the Ninja Turtles being the next big update fans are waiting for.  It’s likely that Injustice 2 will stay on the EVO roster until Netherrealm announces something like Mortal Kombat XI, at which point they will drop all support for it and the tournament scene will blink out of existence.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (Sunday Finals)

Ah yes, the game that will never die. It’s clear now that Melee is the bigger Smash since it’s getting the stadium treatment and Smash 4 isn’t. All of this might change when Nintendo inevitably announces Smash for the Switch, but for now Melee is where it’s at. It is not officially the longest run game in EVO history. If Nintendo was smart, they would make Melee HD for the Switch and the tournament scene would explode.

Super Smash Bros. 4 Wii U

Just because the Wii U is dead doesn’t mean Smash 4 is dead. The scene is still strong enough to warrant an EVO event, even if it’s not going to be played in the stadium. To be honest, Smash 4’s inclusion isn’t nearly as interesting as the rest of Nintendo’s exclusion. We aren’t seeing Arms or Pokken Tournament, even though these are the flagship fighting titles for the Switch. This makes it clear that despite Nintendo’s attempts to diversify their fighting game offerings, Smash is the only title that e-sports cares about.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle

This was perhaps the most controversial title announced for EVO inclusion. BBCTag isn’t even out yet. We have no way of knowing whether or not there will be a thriving competitive scene for the title. In fact, it looked as if it was going to die when ASW announced that half of its roster was going to be DLC. That being said, director Toshimichi Mori had a special announcement for BlazBlue fans. They have rethought their DLC policy and will be offering both Blake and Yang, the last two main characters of RWBY, for free. They are also rethinking the rest of their DLC roster, so it looks like it won’t be as bad as we once thought. Still, many fans are wondering why this game saw inclusion over titles such as Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.

Well if there wasn’t going to be a thriving competitive scene before, there will be now. Unreleased games slated for inclusion at EVO receive the “EVO Bump.” Professional fighting gamers will purchase it just to compete, and casual fighting gamers will purchase it to better understand the matches they watch. Including BBCTag in EVO may have just saved it from becoming a massive flop, strangled to death by its own DLC.

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 (Sunday Finals)

Guilty Gear was perhaps the most surprising inclusion at EVO this year. While it’s one of the traditional tournaments that has been around since EVO’s beginnings, it hasn’t received a ton of support since Rev 2 came out last year. Luckily, ASW announced that it will be receiving a massive balance update in March. No new characters or mechanics will be included, but you can expect your favorite characters to play quite differently.

Still, many fans were wondering why Guilty Gear managed to get an inclusion and even the stadium treatment when it appears as if Arc System Works’ support for the title is slowing down.

Dragon Ball FighterZ (Sunday Finals)

Finally we have DBFZ, the final and biggest game at EVO 2018 this year. Mr. Wizard said that DBFZ is so popular that it could shatter EVO records for both entrants and viewership. It’s a good bet considering how many records DBFZ has broken. It’s the second Bandai Namco game on the roster and the third Arc System Works game. It’s a good year for anyone who enjoys fast and frantic anime styled air-dashers.

There weren’t any major announcements for DBFZ other than the fact that the game’s producer, Tomoko Hiroki, will be entering the tournament herself. That’s not to say the game won’t change greatly between now and EVO. If anything, we can expect quite a few DLC characters to be released by then.

I personally think Mr. Wizard is right to expect DBFZ to break records. In fact, it’s big enough that he said they were hesitant to include a ninth game because they wouldn’t be able to handle the size of the tournaments they already had. I personally expect it to have the biggest showing in Sunday’s finals.

The Rejects

Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite

MVCI is definitely the highest profile EVO reject this year. It’s the first time in 20 years that a VS. game wasn’t headlining EVO. However, people just aren’t playing MVCI. Also, it’s rare that we see more than one or two tag team games enter the EVO lineup and those slots are already taken up by DBFZ and BBCTag.

“Just you wait! DBFZ is going to fail just as hard as Marvel did once the honeymoon period is over!” shout the MVCI fans.

I’m sorry, but no. Do you know how many people were playing MVCI at time of writing? 15. At the time of this writing DBFZ had 6,000 people playing… at 10:00AM… on a Monday. It averages around 13,500 players. That’s higher than MVCI’s all-time peak of 3,500. It’s not just the player base that’s the problem. MVCI doesn’t have a viewer base either. It’s Battle for the Stones tournament was a huge flop pulling in only about 5,000 viewers and it’s been pulling low numbers on Twitch ever since.

But there’s one real reason why MVCI didn’t get included in EVO this year. Mr. Wizard asked the fans in a poll and the majority thought that MVCI was dead. Maybe it was the poor graphics. Maybe it was the dumb story. Maybe it was the crap tutorial, or the bad music, or the lack of X-Men in the roster. Whatever it was it’s clear that MVCI is not the Marvel VS. game that we wanted, and that the franchise just doesn’t have a place among EVO’s greats anymore.

Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct had a good run. It had high profile tournaments at EVO nearly every year since its release. Unfortunately, support has dried up. KI hasn’t received a new update in over a year and it doesn’t appear as if it will be getting one any time soon. We might see a KI sequel sometime in the future, but for now it appears as if we have all moved on to the next big thing.

The King of Fighters XIV

This was a surprising reject. KOFXIV has only been out for a year and a half and hasn’t seen much time on the EVO main stage. It’s also one of the more popular tournament games internationally. Perhaps EVO was looking forward to the release of SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy, or perhaps there simply wasn’t enough space and KOFXIV was edged out by higher performing games. Either way this means that there’s no SNK fighter on the lineup this year and that has some fans upset.

Nintendo Fighters

I mentioned this earlier, but Arms and Pokken Tournament just don’t have the support needed to become major e-sports. Nintendo doesn’t support these titles as much as other fighting game developers support their products. For either of them to see an EVO inclusion a grassroots scene would have to grow and, to be honest, all of Nintendo’s fighting game fans are too busy playing Smash.

Skullgirls

Skullgirls has always dreamed of getting an EVO inclusion, but after the year it lost to Smash in a donation drive… it never did.

Fans can dream though….

Fans can dream.

EVO will be collaborating with the Humble Bundle at the end of the month for a charity game drive featuring many of its featured titles. Money from the drive will go to Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief.

EVO will take place from August 3-5 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.