EVO 2009: You Just Don’t Know

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I woke up on Monday morning having felt like I’d been in a car wreck. My joints ached, I had bruises on my shoulders and the world felt slightly muted. In all actuality, I’d been in Las Vegas for the EVO fighting game championships. The only wreckage I experienced was the carnage of watching some poor souls get absolutely wrecked in the biggest fighting games of today. This is the result of getting hype for an entire weekend of world class competition. Quite honestly, it feels fantastic.

As Capcom‘s Seth Killian succinctly put it on this very blog, EVO is the world’s largest and longest-running fighting game tournament, and this year it was bigger than ever. Largely thanks to the incredible success of Street Fighter IV, EVO’s overall attendance positively exploded compared to recent years, with over 1,000 die-hard players entering for it alone. This was my third EVO event and I was simply blown away by the endless waves of people making their way through the convention hall. While Street Fighter IV was most definitely the main event, it shared center stage with fellow Capcom favorites Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, Super Street Fighter II HD Remix and Marvel vs Capcom 2 (its last year running on Sega’s Dreamcast), along with Soulcalibur IV and Guilty Gear XX: Accent Core.


With thousands in attendance, six games are simply not enough and as the fighting-game mecca of the world, there is a ton to experience every year. Capcom set up shop and showed off the latest builds of Marvel vs Capcom 2 for PlayStation Network, as well as Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Codes for the PSP. Likewise, Namco was on-hand running a side-tournament for the extremely impressive looking Tekken 6 for PLAYSTATION 3, which has to be seen to be believed (seriously, screenshots do not do this baby justice). Not to be outdone was Aksys who brought their increasingly popular 2D fighter BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, which found its way onto the main stage as well. These titles don’t even begin to scratch the surface of EVO as the bring-your-own-console space had everything from King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match to cult favorites like Breaker’s Revenge. If you can name a fighting game, chances are, it was played during EVO at some point (yes, even Primal Rage).

But it’s not the games that makes EVO so incredibly special, it’s the people who play them. It’s an event that truly brings the world community together and over this weekend I met dozens, possibly hundreds of incredibly welcoming, talented players from all over the world. It didn’t matter if they came from as far away as the UK like Ryan Hart or were as close as Southern California like Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez, everyone who comes to EVO is there for the same reason: to keep the community strong, and with so many new faces these days, I’d say it was definitely a successful year.

Personally speaking, this was by far the most enjoyable year at EVO I’ve ever had, for a multitude of reasons. I had a ton of fantastic people greet me during the weekend to either thank me for running the weekly online stream of San Francisco tournaments (Keystone Light represent!), my work in a previous life as a member of the gaming press who actually covered the arcade scene, and hey, even a couple of you folks recognized me from PlayStation Home! A great big thank you goes out to the PlayStation community for coming out in full-force at EVO this year, especially considering that three of the main games were run exclusively on the PS3!


It’s also safe to say that my custom PS3 arcade stick, affectionately known as the “LittleBigThigh” is now certified famous! If it wasn’t fellow competitors asking for pictures of it or Northern California legend Graham Wolfe borrowing it for his amazing Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix performance in which he completely dismantled Japan’s Daigo Umehara, I got a huge kick out of seeing the response! Even Street Fighter IV producer Yoshinori Ono wanted to check it out, taking the time to pose for a picture and sign the back of it after our interview. If the LittleBigThigh isn’t somehow composed entirely of magic now, nothing short of leprechauns would do the trick.

Of course, it’s just not EVO unless people aren’t getting mad hype and this year was nuts. Trash talk was in abundance as usual (The Beast Coast is salty, what can you say?), but it’s always the positive moments that shine, like someone’s pizza getting totally shoryuken’d out of their hands as the Northern California section of the crowd exploded during Crackfiend’s insane run during the 5 on 5 Street Fighter IV regional exhibition. Speaking of the regional exhibition, did anyone else catch that topless streaker who ran on stage with “SOCAL RULES” written across his chest? It’s just not EVO unless some dude loses his shirt after all!

Other memorable moments include Sanford Kelly of the East Coast finally claiming the Marvel vs Capcom 2 throne after years of defeat at the hands of his fellow region-mate, the world renowned Justin Wong. Of course, Justin went on to face the beast from Japan, Daigo Umehara, in the grand finals of Street Fighter IV, but eventually succumbed to his flawless Ryu play. People can say whatever they want, but in what was truly an epic finale to an incredible event, that night, we were all Justin Wong fans.

As I pop a few Advil and prepare for another year without EVO (And this upcoming Comic-Con trip. Stop by the PlayStation Home booth and say hello!), I can’t help but get excited over next year. For you, the reader, there’s no excuse: if you love fighting games, you absolutely, positively must make the journey to EVO. You will not regret it. Thank you so much to everyone in EVO staff, especially the amazing volunteers for making it such an incredibly memorable event.

Comments are closed.


3 Author Replies

  • very cool. oh and just for the heck of it,



  • how well did you do in the tournament?

    • Hahaaaa.. not too hot, unfortunately! I got peaced-out by a good friend of mine from San Francisco, YoungLegend, after a couple of matches. It was either him or me and while I have his Ryu in my back pocket now (believe!), he counter-picked my Chun with Rufus and it was all downhill from there.

      It\’s okay, though. He had to go up against Jibbo and his insane Gen the next match, so I don\’t feel so bad :) Legend is insane … he\’s like, sixteen and his execution is off the charts. EVO was also his first major tourney, so everyone is proud of what he did.

      I\’m pretty proud of what I\’ve manged to do with Chun myself having only played her for a month (I wasted a good 5 months on Rose). I plan on refining it throughout the year while picking up a good secondary counter-pick along the way.

  • I love Tekken 6! I’ve gotta get it. And yeah how well did YOU do in the tournament?

    NUMBER 3!!


  • Nice,

    Hey By the way the Pixeljunk home space looks amazing! (sry for off topic)

  • I saw “PlayStation Home Online Community Specialist” and got excited. :|

  • Having watched the stream for much of the action on Saturday and Sunday, the Finals were such an exciting set of matches across each of the games, but the final bouts between Justin’s Balrog and Daigo’s Ryu was a sight to behold, with Justin coming out of the loser’s bracket, then forcing and winning Game 5 in their first 3 out of 5 set to force another set and taking that one to Game 5 as well, an awesome spectacle for everyone in the room and the 23500+ of us watching the live stream.

  • Damn the SFIV final was awesome.

    I’m not a big fan of fighting games and it was awesome even to me lol. I imagine what it must be like to see it at the event.

  • Why do you get to have a cool avatar, and I get this strawberry girl? Not fair! I’ll fight you for a better avatar in SFIV (and lose….)

    But yeah, I’m totally jealous of that LittleBigThigh stick.

  • If you guys could implement some sort of integration with a fighting game on PSN Store or Blu-Ray disc into Playstation Home that would be awesome! Have two people fight on arcade cabinets while the other people in line to fight watch a video screen of the current battle. Make it HAPPEN! :D

  • Yo Evo was maaaaaaaad hype this year. So many great players and amazing matches across almost all the games.

    Sony should have EVO LIVE HOME SPACE next year with live streaming E3 style. That would be awesome.

  • An EVO game space would be awesome and a cool spot for fighting game fans. But… that should come after the SFIV game space

    *runs away*

  • That street fighter arcade stick is awesome. I laugh’d so hard when I seen it said LittleBigThigh :)

  • Saw this streaming online(so did 23k at its peak during SFIV) over the weekend; it was amazing, especially the final match of SFIV.

    I was on the the edge of my seat the entire match and was rooting for Justin to win it simply because USA vs Japan. It did not disappoint at all!

  • Wow, he wasnt even shocked that he won! HAHAHAH!

  • No, I know.

  • I’m still pissed that Tekken 6 is going multi-platform.

  • mywhitenoise, you should take that aggression out on people in Tekken 6. Break some faces.

  • YoungLegend is a great player.
    I have to go to EVO 2010!
    Cheers Mr Jared.

  • Big ups to sony for sponsoring the event and bringing a ton of ps3s for the fighting game community.

    I think we should have a arcade home space, to help make it easier to meet other fighting game players and launch games like HD remix, sf4, and blazblue.

    also, does anyone know if HD remix is coming to japan? I would think it would be a little unfair to japan players like daigo who can’t get their hands on it.

  • What, no Fight Night or UFC? I like fighters I just can’t mash that fast anymore. Thanx the heads up, I may have to check it out if I’m around the way.

  • 360 can have Tekken 6. I wont be spending a dime on that game.

  • tekken is my favorite fighting game! cant w8 for tekken 6!

  • namco are a bunch of sony traitors with tekken 6. but ill forgive them since i love the series so much. i just found a new favorite character. been learning all of Lee’s moves on tekken 5 on PS3. hope they dont cut him outta 6 or change his moves.

  • Lee is definitely in Tekken 6.

  • Sony needs to make a new fighting franchise that pushes the ps3. These old fighting franchises just dont cut it anymore.

  • The PlayStation.blog staff has really been expanding. Now there’s a “Community Specialist.” Do you guys have a “Special Ops” position opening up any time soon? Or “PR Ninja”? :D

  • Well this is news to me (Home having another Community Specialist besides Buggie & Locust)

    Well Jared…you should come by the HCV forums & say hi ;D

  • Jeff Rubenstein replied on July 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Jared is actually on the Home team, but we are looking for a Special Operative :-)

    Can I be that “Special Operative”? ;-)

  • I want to participate in a EVO someday.
    I really love fighting games and I watched most fights this year. Simply incredible.
    Hope I can participate on EVO or EVO South America in 2010.

    • If you want to attend EVO, you should totally just do it. It\’s a completely free event for spectators, so if you want to just go and watch, hangout and play in the BYOC area, you don\’t have to pay. You\’ll meet a ton of new friends too!

      Participating in the tournaments, however, that\’s where it\’ll cost you ;)


    What you don’t know is “Special Operative” is a fancy name for “Errand Boy”. You’d live an excited life of rushing to get doughnuts in time for the 9:30 meeting and serving fresh batches of espresso to Jeff.

    Sometimes, on those lucky days, you may be allowed to pick up Chris’s dry-cleaning. You’d be expected to pay for it, of course.

  • PlayStation Home Online Community Specialist, eh? You must be either Locust_Star or BuggieTechnica from the forums. Am I right?

  • GO DAIGO!!

  • I would like to see a new fighting or wrestling game that can only be played on the ps3. No where else. Any chance of that happening sony?

  • Sorry Justin Wong, but you spoke too soon!

    But his Balrog was craaaaazy!

  • Can you guys fix your CAPTCHA image on your Email Us page?

  • Wicked! Glad to see Daigo champ it out again, and that EVO was a success as usual. Can’t wait to get out to one myself soon enough. Maybe for Blazblue next year ;)

    Also not sure if anyone here can help me on this one… but I’ve been playing a lot of 3rd Strike and Guilt Gear X2 lately…. but for some reason my TE Stick doesn’t work with PS2 games? Is there a reason for that? A way around it? A patch incoming to make it work?

    It feels like a big let down that I spent 200$ on an awesome stick, but can’t play some of the classics I love. I sure hope there’s some way to make this work.

  • Off topic,why is it that when I go to the blog through my PS3,does it still show news from July 2? It won’t update at all,so I have to look at the blog through a PC. I’m trying to figure out whats going on. Is anyone else having this problem?

  • Buggie loves his fighting games!

  • @Ruffday
    UFC and Fight Night aren’t fighters in the traditional sense, though they do fall under the same category. Still, you’ll probably never see those types of games at EVO, and that’s the way it should be.

  • Where am I when things like this are happening? I live in Vegas and didn’t hear a word about this. DAMN! Whatever. Post more often when Vegas stuff comes up =P.

  • When I read the title of this blog, I got really excited! I thought that it was going to be about a PS3 version of an Enix video game I used to rent allll the time back in the 90s for my Super Nintendo -E.V.O. – Search for Eden. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.V.O.)

    When I saw it was about a fighting game, I was turned off. Oh well, hope you fighting fans enjoy. I’m just going to continue to wax nostalgic about cool video games of the 16-bit era for a while longer… =)

  • I watched nearly all of it through the live streams over the three days. It certainly looked crazy!

    It was also fun seeing some arcade sticks being used having my art templates on them that I made a few months back.

    The one I saw the most was the 8-bit Megaman template that I made, being played on multiple times throughout the tournament. Most notably a few people in the top 8 of HDR were using it. I don’t know if you saw it or not, but I found that to be pretty nifty :P

  • Amazing evo amazing match!!!!!

  • what the flip is evo? & who are they…..?

  • who are they….. ? & who is evo?

  • That’s awesome your stick was signed, among other things, like a generally incredible EVO this year.

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