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Street Fighter V and MultiVersus made for a thrilling EVO finale

The 2022 Evolution Championship Series concluded last night, capping off a weekend with the most fun I’ve ever had watching competitive video games. MultiVersus made its EVO debut, despite still being in open beta; some new games were teased or announced; and for a glorious moment, the Twitter gaming community (or at least my corner of it) came together to witness an incredible Street Fighter V Grand finale.

I started my EVO weekend watching Skullgirls 2nd encore. I was vaguely aware of the game, only knowing it was a quirky looking fighting game with a rocky development history. I only tuned in because Dominique “SonicFox” McLean entered, and they are a joy to watch. It’s always nice to see the storylines unfold in these types of tournaments. Of skull girlsin particular, SonicFox had a teammate in the Top 8 bracket, Jon “dekillsage” Coello.

The two met in the winners’ final of the double-elimination series, with SonicFox handing dekillsage into the losers series with a 3-0 win. From there, the killsage ripped through the losing streak, reaching the grand finals to meet SonicFox again and beating SonicFox 3-0 to “reset” the streak, leaving the teammates to play one more game to determine the winner. SonicFox went on to win, beating dekillsage 3-2 and hugging his friend and teammate for a match that was extremely well fought.

EVO’s excitement couldn’t be limited to just the main stage, it also seeped into the commentator’s booth. Have you ever seen a commenter so damn hyped for revealing a new one skull girls character they threw their wig? No?

Well, you have.

Developers whose games were featured at EVO 2022 took the opportunity to announce new content for their franchises as well. After the conclusion of The King of Fighters XV Top 8, SNK Playmore announced, that after 20 years a new Fatal frameit was lit green.

Bandai Namco teased something regarding Tekken that seemed like a suggestion to tune in to the Tekken World Tournament Global Finals for more information.

EVO 2022 culminated in the event’s penultimate tournament, Street Fighter V. (although I’m sure) Guilty Gear Endeavor had equally impressive moments, it was 1AM ET by the time the tournament started and some people have morning jobs, you know?) Part of the great thing about EVO is that it’s an international tournament. Players come from all over the world to compete, and each game has a country that dominates the leaderboard. skull girls was an American affair. The Dragon Ball FighterZ braces were almost entirely French, and Street Fighter V was, predictably, filled with Japanese players.

It’s a bit of a gauche, bordering on violent jingoism, to be proud of your country, especially as a black American, but in competitive sports it’s “America, fuck yeah!” all day. Come in, Derek “iDom” Ruffin, one of the few two Americans left in the Street Fighter V tournament.

iDom started in the losing round and knocked out France’s Mister Crimson 3-1. He then had to face a legend in the street fighter and video game community in general – Daigo “The Beast” Umehara. Competitive gaming is a game for young people; 25 is old in esports years. Umehara is 41 years old, and he is kicking street fightsr more than 20 years. He has won six EVO Championships and cemented his place in video game history when he defeated Justin Wong in EVO 2004 in Street Fighter III: 3rd Attack with a move that even the most casual video game fan will recognize.

yes he is that guy, and iDom ripped through him like wet tissue paper. As if that wasn’t enough, Street Fighter V tournament boasted another Japanese fighting game community elder statesman, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. He too fell for iDom. It is important to note that an American did not win street fighter tournament at EVO since 2010, and it looked like iDom would be the one to end the drought. Watching him fight was exciting. He had this icy composure in front of him, being able to read and anticipate the moves of his opponents in ways best described as precognition.

He was just totally in the game and involved in his craft as he defeated opponent after opponent to reach the grand final. And as he fought, excitement overflowed on Twitter as the gaming community came together, united in a single goal, to give this man all our energy to win.

Such spontaneous outbursts remind me of why gaming is such a fun and rewarding hobby. It’s all your friends and co-workers who come together and lose our collective spirit when a man we don’t know shows us what it looks like when a game is played at the highest level. The expertise on display, the excitement, the sheer joy of such a shared mindset is unparalleled. And when iDom finally fell in a heartbreaking 3-2 match after beating Masaki “Kawano” Kawano to reset the braces, it didn’t matter. iDom played great, he became our American hero and no loss could take that feeling away.

I don’t have any meaningful history or nostalgia for fighting games, but my god, I love EVO. EVO is good. EVO unites us, and I can’t wait to watch EVO returns to Japan in 2023.

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