By the time EVO rolls around, new character additions and balance patches will have significantly impacted many of the event’s chosen games. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is in the midst of delivering another lineup of characters in the form of a second Fighters Pass, which could lead to a fresh batch of faces being utilized onscreen. Tekken 7 will bring its new Muay Thai warrior Fahkumram to the scene in the spring and introduce balance adjustments that will make Leroy Smith less of an unstoppable roadblock. In the case of Soulcalibur VI, the 3D weapons fighter will increase its roster with returning combatants, and even a new guest character fans actually want. As for Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, Capcom’s signature fighter will add Seth to the fray and seemingly bring this series iteration to a fitting close.
Speaking of Capcom fighting games, the return of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is pretty shocking but awesome nonetheless. MvC2 once stood tall as one of EVO’s strongest games and has managed to retain its relevancy in recent years due to its passionate scene. The Battle of the Strongest tournament has kept MvC2’s hype intact thanks to the combined efforts of top players/commentators, such as Michael “Yipes” Mendoza and Chris Matrix. MvC2 is returning to EVO in a major way with an 8-player tournament that features past MvC2 champs, such as IFC|Yipes, Justin Wong, Duc Do and Sanford Kelly. This 20th anniversary tourney for the game is a fine way to honor EVO’s past and perhaps signal a tease of a major reveal for the next Capcom Vs. installment (fingers crossed!).
Over on the anime fighter’s side of the coin, Arc System Works reigns supreme. Three of the publisher/developer’s games have been placed in a premier position–Dragon Ball FighterZ, Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r] and Granblue Fantasy: Versus. The first two fighters are actually on the verge of increasing their roster and introducing updates that will present them in a much-improved state. In a move that points to EVO’s stronger emphasis on marketing new fighters on behalf of their business partners, the still unreleased Granblue Fantasy: Versus has been given the top spot over some tournament mainstays. And judging by the success of last year’s event debut of the Samurai Shodown reboot, EVO and SNK’s relationship must have grown stronger since the game is returning for another main stage appearance this year.