EVO 2020 lineup announced – Marvel is back, Mortal Kombat is out

Last night, the full EVO 2020 lineup was revealed via a Twitch stream, and it created a lot of hype. Some games were obvious. Some were surprising. Some omissions, as always, disappointed a large portion of the FGC. But that’s the case every year, is it not? There was one special announcement that got me to get out of my chair and scream at my monitor, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take a look at the lineup.

Street Fighter V: Champion Edition

If our predictions are correct, this will be Street Fighter V’s last hurrah, as Capcom will be working on Street Fighter VI after the new consoles come out later this year. Let’s face it, Street Fighter always gets into EVO. It’s pretty much synonymous with fighting games at this point. It deserves a chance to be played on the main stage with all its DLC accessible, and its final balance patch in place. Lots of pros will come out for this one, vying to be SFV’s final EVO champion.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Speaking of games that always make EVO, Smash was a guaranteed show, even though it seems like the era of Melee at EVO is finally over. That’s fine because Smash Ultimate has been evolving in some interesting ways for the past year. All of DLC pack 1 is out right now and by the time the tournament goes down some of DLC pack 2 will be out, making the game’s already absurd roster even larger. Not to mention, the game just underwent a huge rebalancing, knocking characters like Joker down a peg and making some interesting characters, like Samus and Ryu, rise in the ranks. It’s certainly going to be a very interesting tournament, whether you are a hardcore follower of the competitive Smash scene or not.

Tekken 7

Tekken isn’t always a guaranteed show at EVO, but it’s certainly the prime candidate as a representative for 3D fighters. It’s still getting DLC, balance patches, and tournament support, despite being released in 2015. That’s forever in fighting game years. It doesn’t look like Bandai Namco is planning to create a Tekken 8 anytime soon, so as long as this game still sees support, the pro community will come out to play it.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

This is the first entry on the list that could qualify as a surprise. DBFZ was not popular enough to hit the main stage last year, and notably had far fewer entrants and viewers than it did when it was first announced. Immediately after the tournament, discussions began about how unbalanced the game is, and how every viable team needed Bardock and GT Goku. Yet the community has stayed strong and it appears as if DBFZ will be getting a season 3 of DLC soon! Coupled with a few balance patches and a few major changes (please please please give characters more than one assist) it might feel like an entirely different game. This is the VS style tag team fighter experience now that Marvel vs. Capcom is out of the game… more on that later.

Samurai Shodown

Samsho was a new game at last year’s EVO and was not one of its major headliners, but it had a solid showing. It’s notable for being a game that is hyper focused on fundamentals, with few combos to speak of and hits that do a truckload of damage. This actually brought a lot of the old greats in the FGC out of the woodwork to compete once again. That’s enough to make Samsho part of the official lineup, even if it doesn’t pull Smash numbers.

Under Night In-Birth EXE: Late (cl-r)

EVO took a chance on Under Night last year, and that chance pulled off. The community came out in full force for an incredibly hype tournament. Under Night stands in a pretty strange area as far as its mechanics go. It’s not quite an air-dash fighter, like Arcsys style anime games or the VS series, but it’s much faster and more combo oriented than games like Street Fighter and Samsho. It’s a unique mix of mechanics that draws a lot of people in. This year, it’s new cl-r version is coming out, adding a new character and vastly rebalancing the game. So expect this year’s tournament to be much different from last’s.

Soul Calibur VI

To be honest, this was a pretty big surprise for me. Soul Calibur VI is another titan of the 3D fighting world, and it showed up at EVO last year, but support has slowed down pretty significantly. The only major DLC release in recent times was Haohmaru, a guest from Samurai Shodown. Not only that, but it was one of the smaller tournaments last year, coming in at only 742 entrants. That usually doesn’t pass the bar for getting in again, and in fact there are other games that pulled more entrant and viewers that won’t be on the lineup this year. All of this isn’t to yuck on anyone’s yum. I’m very happy that the Soul Calibur VI community gets to show their stuff at EVO once more. It’s just a more surprising choice than you’d think.

Granblue Fantasy Versus

Grablue Fantasy Versus is taking up two notable slots at EVO this year. It’s filling the “new game showcase” slot and the “Arcsys representative” slot (yes we know that DBFZ was made by Arcsys but it’s owned and published by Bandai Namco). It’s also the very first “newbie friendly” fighting game to make an EVO lineup. That means one button specials, no crossups, and severely reduced mechanical complexity. That’s not to say that this game isn’t deep though. It recently hit store shelves in Japan and the pro community is going nuts over it. Besides, having a newbie friendly game at EVO will get more new fighting game players out to compete, which just makes the scene larger.

Marvel vs. Capcom 2

Now this is the one that got everyone super hyped. It’s the 20th anniversary of Marvel 2, a game that put the FGC on the map. This is a game that made names like Justin Wong, Sanford Kelly, and Clockw0rk well known throughout the scene. This is the game that gave rise to huge tournament productions, to rivalries between east coast and west, norcal and socal. It is a legend in the FGC, widely regarded as one of the best VS series games ever despite its roster of approximately 4 viable main-team characters out of 52.

This is a historical artifact of significance in the fighting game community, and EVO is treating it as such. It’s inviting the four EVO winners of MVC2 tournaments in the past to compete in an exclusive invite only eight player tournament. Who will the other slots be for? They aren’t sure yet, but qualifiers for Marvel 2 would be one hell of a sight to see.

Interesting Omissions

Sometimes it’s not the games that make it into EVO that stir up the most conversation, but rather the ones that don’t. Every year some games just don’t make it. Maybe they aren’t popular enough. Maybe they are too broken. Maybe their parent company has cut off support. Either way, these are the games that didn’t make it this year.

BlazBlue Cross-Tag Battle

Since Guilty Gear XRD is fading for the upcoming release of Guilty Gear Strive, BlazBlue Cross-Tag Battle has kind of been Arcsys’s main game these days. Unfortunately, it underperformed last year despite being on the main Sunday stage, and though it’s recently received a number of DLC characters, no further patches or support have been announced. This one has kind of been replaced both by Under Night and Granblue Fantasy Versus, which is a shame because it didn’t have a particularly long time in the spotlight.

Mortal Kombat 11

Usually there is a slot for a Netherrealm game reserved in the EVO main 9. However, this year Mortal Kombat 11 just didn’t make the cut. It’s particularly surprising because it drew in 1567 entrants, more than Under Night, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Soul Calibur VI. It’s also still receiving support, having just gotten a new DLC character in The Joker with Spawn coming up. It’s not entirely clear why it was omitted, but Netherrealm is probably still going to hold a high profile tournament of their own at EVO, even if they aren’t on the main stage.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid

This was a long shot, but some fans figured that with DBFZ falling into the lower half of EVO’s entrance numbers last year and no major VS title stepping in to fill the gap, Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid actually had a chance to make the main 9. However, indie fighters have notoriously had a difficult time getting into EVO’s main lineup, and this year won’t be breaking that pattern.

Last Year’s Omissions

It’s also worth noting that all the games that were omitted last year didn’t come back as a second chance. Melee is still out. Guilty Gear Xrd is taking a back seat as we wait for Strive. DOA6 looks like it won’t ever get a chance to be on the lineup. Sometimes overlooked games get a chance to come back if they miss a year, but it’s pretty safe to say that all of last year’s omissions are likely gone for good.

What do you think? Are you excited about this year’s EVO lineup? Let us know in the comments.