The first two days of the Evolution Fighting Game Championships (EVO) have now concluded, setting up for what will be an action-packed finals day on Sunday. Over 6,000 competitors have been reduced to eight players per game in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and The King of Fighters XIII.
Champions were already crowned in Mortal Kombat, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Persona 4 Arena, and Street Fighter X Tekken, as their finals ended throughout Friday and Saturday. South Korean players Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee and Hyun kyu "NIN" Park took the titles in Tekken and Street Fighter X Tekken respectively, with Infiltration now a back-to-back EVO title holder.
The biggest highlight of the first two days came from Evil Geniuses' Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez, who defeated defending Street Fighter IV Champion Infiltration to be the only American representative in the finals. Coming back from down one game after choosing alternate character Fei Long, the crowed urged him along to play the character that represents his name--and lead him on to victory.
“When he beat me I was really confused, I didn't know what to do”, Perez told GameSpot after the match. “The crowd kept telling me “Balrog! Balrog! Balrog! I didn't want to--but my gut told me to pick him too. And it worked out really well. I'm happy. Really, really happy.”
Perez hopes this will lead him to victory. “I really want to win. I'm determined to win. I hope you'll support me!"
Infiltration will now face-off against two-time EVO Street Fighter IV Champion Daigo Umehara. Last time they met was at last year's Street Fighter 25th Grand Finals, where Infiltration won $50,000 and the Championship over Daigo.
Perez's Evil Geniuses teammate Justin Wong made his own splash in Marvel vs Capcom 3, coming back from down 2-1 to defeat the defending champion, Complexity's Ryan “FilipinoChamp” Ramirez.
“It was intense”, Wong told GameSpot after the win. “We were going back and forth, we were both nervous, pausing, going to character select, collecting ourselves. I know how he plays. He knows how I play. It's more about who can outsmart the other person. We were both playing on point, but in the end I just got a couple better reads than him.”
Although considered one of, if not the best, Marvel vs Capcom 2 player of all time, Wong has not yet won Marvel vs Capcom 3 at EVO, something he's wanted to do for two years now.
“It would mean the world to me, just because I know everyone here is supporting me and everyone back home is supporting me”, he said. “Because I think that the way I play is still one of the original [Marvel vs Capcom 2] ways. Even though its kind of outdated, it can still hang with the new stuff now. Because of that, people still want to see me win, and I don't want to let them down.”
Marvel tournament favorite Chris “NYChris” Gonzalez and Ramirez made it to Sunday's finals. Wong believes these are the only three that can stand in his way from bringing home a title.
The EVO Finals begin at 10 AM PST/1 PM EST and can be viewed live at GameSpot eSports.