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You can find out more about EVO on their official website, on Twitch, on X (formerly known as Twitter), and on Facebook.

You can see all of EVO 2023’s Top 6 Matches on YouTube.

EVO is for everyone, no matter how much or how little you are into fighting video games.

When I showed up to the second and third days of EVO, I was expecting to be overwhelmed with talk about hit boxes and tech hits every time I turned around by an FGC community that would instantly know I was not a ‘real’ competitor and shun me. Instead, I found an extremely welcoming crowd who didn’t care how much I played fighting games as long as I could have fun.

If you’ve ever watched the Evolution Championship Series (or “EVO”, for short) on Twitch, then you know the basics: double elimination-style open tournament. In other words, anyone who enters can potentially win a chunk of the prize money, and they get two chances to do it per fighting title. With over 7,000 people competing, you would expect it to be mass chaos with people not knowing where to be or who to be competing with. Instead, I saw very, very organized brackets being run by referees in exclusive-jackets who would call names, set them at a station, let them play, record the win/loss results, and do this repeatedly all day long. There were often crowds gathered around random tables, and you would sometimes think it was a Top 6 Grand Finals with the way the pools were being cheered on.

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Speaking of the Top 6: the energy at the Grand Finals, whether it was in the Michelob ULTRA ARENA on Sunday or on the EVO grand stage at the convention on Saturday, was unmatched by anything else I’ve ever witnessed. You could FEEL the electricity burning in the air and the crowds ROAR for their champions. Everyone had a favorite competitor or two, even if they didn’t discover their choice until the Top 6 was revealed. Having watched EVO for years on Twitch, I was simply not ready for the energy brought to every single finals match, and how everyone watched every hit, every read, and every win or loss go across the screen. Those competitors who survived their way to the Top 6 Finals are FGC royalty and FGC rockstars, and there were several who proudly wore their EVO medallions throughout the remainder of the weekend no matter how they placed in the Grand Finals.

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If you could somehow tear yourself away from competing or watching the competition on Friday and Saturday, there was a surprising number of activities to do and see. Companies such as CAPCOM, BANDAI NAMCO, Arc System Works, Crunchyroll, and others set up booths with different panels presented by developers, fun prizes to win, and of course…fighting video games to play. I am by no means a fighting video game master, and I found there was plenty to see and do. I even won a couple of CAPCOM Pro Tour shirts and an EVO x Chipotle branded bag from the CAPCOM booth! Intriguingly, Riot Games was present to show off their upcoming fighting game influenced by League of Legends titled Project L. There was also a constantly packed artist’s gallery and fighting game accessories area that had lines stretching across the floor.

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Everywhere I went, I found myself striking up conversations with complete strangers about fighting video games ranging from STAR WARS: Masters of Teräs Käsi and BUSHIDO BLADE to STREET FIGHTER 6 and TEKKEN 8. No matter how obscure or how little I played, there was someone around to talk to. There was also a LOT of cosplay around, and you could tell that people put a LOT of effort into perfecting the characters. If anything, it made me wish that EVO did a cosplay competition of sorts, as I think it would absolutely draw a ton of people to watch and participate.

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And if you decided you wanted to do something entirely different…You could head over to the arcade and play new and old video games. Feel like throwing down against an opponent you can’t see? Versus City is where it is at. Dancing the night away like you’re in Yakuza 0? There’s Dance Dance Revolution. What about if you just wanted to be a train conductor and take a train down the railroad tracks? Well…surprisingly…there is a game for that too, and it is called Denshade GO!!!. With a handful of exceptions, everything encouraged you to play with other people around you, and to do your best and that was the busiest section of the entire EVO floor at the end of the day.

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The Grand Finals on Sunday at Michelob ULTRA ARENA were amazing. Every seat there was sold out, and the crowd was up on their feet cheering when FGC titans (and even a couple of ‘gods’!) fought and won or lost their matches. I purposefully walked towards the back of the arena at one point, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that even the seats in the back were just as emotionally invested as the seats in the front row by the main stage.


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There were also so. Many. Announcements. And. Surprises.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coming to STREET FIGHTER 6. New characters in different games such as TEKKEN 8 and GUILTY GEAR -Strive-. EVO has its own day now in Nevada even! And the dates for EVO Japan 2024 and EVO 2024 were announced. EVO really showed that it is the center of the FGC world.

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When the Twitch stream was on a commercial break or when we were between Grand Finals, the presenters would play games with the audience for prizes such as PlayStation 5s or the gold/silver/bronze fighting sticks through games such as Rock/Paper/Scissors or High Card. There were even guessing games such as where they would start a video clip and the audience would have to guess if the attack would kill the opponent or whether the attack needed to be high or low blocked. All of these little games helped to fill the (sometimes frequent) dead time during the event. I would also be remiss if I did not mention that the food prices were extremely affordable, and not as extravagantly rip-off like I was expecting from an arena inside Las Vegas. I got there when the doors opened at 9 AM, and I did not leave until the very, very end of the event.

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If there is one more thing that I have to bring up, it is the fact there was free water available everywhere on the show floor on Friday and Saturday. Everyone was handed a bottle to drink from when they checked in, and people were encouraged to drink water frequently. It seems like a small thing, but it was amazing that I didn’t have to spend $5 or $6 for a bottle of water on Friday or Saturday while on the show floor. Instead, I could just go hit up the water station (for which there was never a line because of how many there were scattered around) and then get back into the mix of it all.

EVO | Band
While the CAPCOM band was playing live music…there was an attendee breakdancing right below them.

EVO | Breakdancing

In short: EVO is not just for the fighting elite, but it is for everyone who has even a passing interest in video games. I promise you that if you attend, you will get swept up into the EVO madness and you WILL be on the edge of your seat while watching a fighting game that you’ve never seen before until that day, even if it is a small Community Event and not on the main stage.

I’m already planning on attending EVO again next year, myself. And I will have an amazing time, even if I don’t know exactly what a tech hit is.

EVO | Set us Free
EVO always will set us free at the very end.

Did you attend EVO 2023? Are you planning on attending EVO 2024?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.