The EVO 2020 Lineup Is Equal Parts Expected and Surprising

The year’s largest FGC gathering is back with a few surprising add-ons and omissions

Clive Rose/Getty Images / Clive Rose/Getty Images

If you’re one of those individuals who regularly mash buttons on their fight stick and watch extensive combo tutorials, chances are you sat through the recent Evolution Championship Series (EVO) 2020 main games lineup reveal. And after it was done, the FGC went wild in comments sections across gaming websites everywhere.


So hardcore fighting game players found out they’ll need to go in the lab to prepare for the following games:


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Tekken 7

Street Fighter V: Champion Edition

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Samurai Shodown

Granblue Fantasy: Versus

Soulcalibur VI

Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r]

Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes


The nine fighters listed above will take center stage at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas from July 31-Aug. 2 and bring in another record number of Twitch viewers from around the world. The usual suspects that we’re used to seeing during past EVO’s are back for another round. And for many of them, they’re returning to the big stage in a refined and more exciting state for players and viewers alike.

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.

The major hoopla surrounding this year’s EVO isn’t just relegated to the games that were selected. It’s also been centered on the games that weren’t picked for the main tournament spot. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle’s disappearing act doesn’t really come as a shock to many–Granblue Fantasy: Versus obviously took its place since it’s a fresher addition to the FGC and a bigger focus for Arc System Works. The most shocking omission of them all, however, is Mortal Kombat 11. For the first time in a while, a NetherRealm Studios fighting game won’t be a part of EVO’s main games lineup. Two trains of thought immediately come to mind when trying to rationalize this decision–the game’s hype levels might not be high enough to warrant another top spot, or it may just be a move by EVO to respect its sponsors by refraining from featuring the gory fighter in a prominent position. While the games excluded from the mainstay lineup will most likely be featured in side tourneys at EVO, it’s still a bit surprising to see MK11 get relegated to a sideshow act.


EVO 2020 looks to be one of the tournament’s most important installments to date. And by the looks of things, it may be the final year for many of its selections. EVO 2021 might look entirely different if a wealth of FGC rumors end up coming true – the sixth mainline Street Fighter might not be that far off, plus Tekken X Street Fighter may still be deep in development. We all know for a fact that Guilty Gear–Strive- is releasing sometime after EVO 2020, which means its main game spot at EVO 2021 should be a given.


The FGC will come out in droves for this year’s EVO and put their mastery of the hype genre on full display once again. Your favorite fighting game may not have been given its just due this year, but that shouldn’t be a huge cause for concern. No, Mortal Kombat 11 isn’t dead or on life support. And it’s no less important than its fellow genre stalwarts. Fighting games everywhere are still kicking (pun intended) and are bringing in plenty of attention at EVO and FGC tournaments worldwide.

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