The EVO Japan 2018 Experience: A Scrub’s View

EVO Japan was a dream come true event for any fighting game pro-players in Asia. Here’s what our guest writer shared in his adventure.

Last weekend, thousands of fighting game enthusiasts from around the globe gathered at the Sunshine City in Ikebukuro for the first-ever Evolution Fighting Game Championships Japan (aka EVO Japan). Regarded as one, if not the top fighting game tournament in the world, EVO has always been the pinnacle of fighting game competitions. Thus it comes as a shock that it has taken this long to have an EVO tournament happen in Japan. And for some Filipino fighting game players, it is an opportunity that simply cannot be passed upon.
It’s pretty much exactly why me and the rest of my friends (collectively known as Team NTR) braved the near-zero temperatures of Japan. Armed with our trusted fightsticks, we went to EVO Japan primarily to test our mettle on the world stage. We’re no strangers to tournaments ourselves, but wait awaited us in EVO Japan was nothing short of impressive. Sunshine City’s Bunko Halls are divided into a Hall A and a Hall B, with most of the Street Fighter pools in day 1 happening in the lower hall and the main stage on the other. Different booths also graced Hall B’s floor, with SNK, Bandai Namco, Arc System Works and Arika providing game demos of upcoming titles like Soul Calibur 6, Blazblue Cross Tag Battle and Fighting EX Layer. Japanese telecom giant NTT Docomo also had a booth offering free Tekken play to attendees. Merch stands were also present with Sanwa and Attasa showing their wares.
But the true meat of the event was the competition. Having played the night before at the famous Mikado game center, we all felt that we were ready for the competition. Reality quickly sets in though, as we drowned in pools. But it wasn’t all that bad: some of us in the team managed to take some rounds, some even won a game or two. The rest of the Philippine contingent ended up with pretty impressive outings: Playbook Elite’s Jamse reached the Top 64 for SFV, Noob almost made it to the Top 32 of Guilty Gear. PBE.AK was one win away from Tekken 7 Top 8, falling only to Echo Fox’s SAINT during Day 2 of EVO Japan. Secret Base’s Secret Boss also managed to get a couple of victories in SFV too. Though there was no Filipino player that made it to Top 8 of any game, all the players that joined ended up learning more about their playstyle, and would only strive to improve from this point on.
If there was only one negative in the whole EVO Japan experience, it was the fact that the tickets for Day 3’s finals were sold out rather quickly. The finals, which took place in Akihabara’s UDX theater, also happened to give their share of EVO Japan memories: from the intense battle of ROX teammates Knee and Chanel in Tekken 7, to Nage’s sweet victory in Guilty Gear (made even sweeter thanks to Majin Obama and Tasty Steve’s commentary) and GRPT|Infiltration and Daigo “The Beast” Umehara’s romp in Street Fighter V. Though we were not there in person, we managed to catch most of the action thanks to the Twitch stream and Japan’s wonderful 4G infrastructure.
EVO Japan truly has lived up to it’s hype. If there would be another event like this next year, I would gladly join again. Even if you’re a scrub, you can definitely have a salty fun time at an event as big as EVO.
Written and photos by Khrysler Jerikho, you can catch him and his shenanigans at the PinoyPS group and in local fighting game events with Team NTR.
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