The world’s largest fighting game tournament, the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) scheduled to take place this weekend at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, is set to hold a record-number of competitors and spectators, EVO organizers tell GameSpot. EVO has exploded in growth since the 2009 release of Capcom's Street Fighter IV, continuing from last year's record numbers.
There are 6,097 tournament entries this year across all nine games, which include Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Injustice: Gods Among Us, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Mortal Kombat 9, Persona 4 Arena, and King of Fighters XIII.
EVO founder Tom Cannon says this should be between 4,000 and 5,000 individual players [Ed. Note: this figure is actually 3,538 exactly, still a record-breaking figure]. Not only does this surpass last year's EVO, it also makes it the most competitors at a single event in competitive gaming and eSports history. Competitors will play over 30,000 matches over the three days.
"I think the numbers just go to show that fighting game fans love to compete," Cannon told GameSpot. "Most of our players know they have almost no shot at winning the tournament. They use the experience to see how they measure up against the best in the world. The open bracket is incredibly important for us. It comes from our arcade roots, where anyone with a quarter could step up and try to knock of the guy on that cabinet."
EVO has also sold more spectator passes than in any year previously, with the finals on Sunday having sold out months ago. While EVO has found a solution to sell tickets at the door on Friday and Saturday, it will just not be possible on Sunday.
"At a certain point we all figured it couldn't get any bigger, but every year the players and fans defy expectations," Cannon said regarding the unexpected growth of the event each year. "It's been really rewarding and inspiring to have been a part of something that's lasted for so long and grown into a giant celebration of these great games and competitive gaming in general."
Players from over 51 countries will be attending this year's EVO, featuring the world’s best fighting game players across multiple titles. Reigning Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 Champions Sun Woo "Infiltration" Lee and Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez will return to defend their titles.
Multiple-time and game EVO Champion, Street Fighter legend Daigo Umehara, looks to take back the crown from Infiltration, while the world's current best Marvel player Christopher "NYChrisG" Gonzalez looks for his first EVO gold.
EVO will be holding a 3v3 exhibition for Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition featuring teams from Japan, North America, South Korea, South America, Europe, China, and the Far East. The streaming schedule has been released for all games throughout the weekend. EVO 2013 will be broadcast on TwitchTV through Team Spooky and IPlayWinner on three separate channels. They have created a viewing guide for the weekend.
The schedule had changed yesterday when Nintendo of America decided to abruptly deny the right for EVO to stream Super Smash Bros. This follows a course of action from 2010 which saw Nintendo of America do the same to competitive gaming organizer Major League Gaming, attempting to broadcast Super Smash Bros Brawl at their Orlando event.
The fighting game and competitive gaming community responded quickly and explosively against the decision, one that would have removed the game after supporters helped raise almost $95,000 for charity earlier this year to see the game included in the tournament. Within hours, Nintendo of America reversed their decision.
"I've just received word from Nintendo that the EVO Smash Bros. Melee stream will be allowed to proceed," Cannon said. "We will be restoring the original stream and tournament schedules. Obviously this is a huge [relief] for all of us here and we're thrilled that the world will get to see the best Smash players fight it out this weekend. Thanks to everyone online who supported both EVO and Smash."
GameSpot will be in Las Vegas providing live coverage of EVO 2013 with featured host, fighting game ambassador Ryan "Gootecks" Gutierrez. Follow it all weekend long at GameSpot's eSports hub.