The biggest fighting game tournament of the year, Evo 2017, takes place in Las Vegas this weekend, July 14-16, bringing together some of the best fighting game players from around the globe. If you have even a passing interest in fighting games, or just want to see what the fuss is about, this is the esports event to watch.
Evo 2017 will feature nine games as part of its main tournament: Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, Injustice 2, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, The King of Fighters 14 and — possibly for the final time — fan favorite Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Capcom’s Street Fighter 5 is, just like last year, the most popular game at Evo 2017, with more than 2,600 registered players. It’s also the only game that will be broadcast on ESPN; the sports cable network will air the Street Fighter 5 finals on Sunday, July 16, on ESPN2 and via the ESPN app.
Evo 2017’s second most popular game, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, will also appear on television. Disney XD will broadcast the Smash Wii U finals on Sunday, July 16, as part of the network’s new gaming-centric programming block, DXP.
When does Evo 2017 start?
Evo 2017 kicks off Friday, July 14, at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET and runs late into the night. The action starts again on Saturday, July 15, at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET. On Sunday, the finals start bright and early at 7:45 a.m. PT / 10:45 a.m. ET.
Where can you watch Evo 2017?
This weekend’s action will be broadcast across nine official Twitch channels, some hosted by Evo itself, with companies like Capcom, Bandai Namco and NetherRealm Studios hosting streams dedicated to their own games.
Here’s a breakdown of each Twitch channel and which games they’re showing.
- /evo - Streaming a variety of games, including Street Fighter 5, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Tekken 7, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, BlazBlue Central Fiction and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The channel will also host the top eight finals for all games.
- /evo1 - Super Smash Bros. Melee pools and semifinals
- /evo2 - Super Smash Bros. for Wii U pools and semifinals
- /evo3 - Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 pools and semifinals
- /evo4 - The King of Fighters 14 pools and semifinals
- /evo5 - Hosting The Jump Off, a fighting game community commentary and talk show
- /capcomfighters - Street Fighter 5 pools and semifinals
- /tekken - Tekken 7 pools and semifinals
- /netherrealm - Injustice 2 pools and semifinals
As previously mentioned, the Street Fighter 5 finals will be broadcast on ESPN2, starting at 7 p.m. PT / 10 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 16. The Super Smash Bros. for Wii U finals will be broadcast on Disney XD starting at 3 p.m. PT / 6 p.m. ET.
Here’s the official streaming schedule from Evo.
What do you need to know to watch Evo?
If you've never watched a fighting game tournament like Evo, games like Street Fighter, Tekken and Super Smash Bros. are good gateway games. The action is generally pretty easy to understand, even if you aren't familiar with the technical intricacies of each title.
If you do find yourself confused by or curious about fighting game terminology, you can brush up on some commonly used terms with Shoryuken's fighting game glossary, so you'll know your "footsies" from your V-Triggers. This Smash Bros. glossary on Reddit helps explain terminology like "teching" and "wavedashing." Polygon’s Street Fighter 5 guide can help you better understand how the current premiere fighting game works.
For a bit more depth, you might want to read — or at least skim — Patrick Miller's From Masher to Master: The Educated Video Game Enthusiast's Fighting Game Primer. Miller's free ebook touches on beginner strategies and fighting game fundamentals, with an emphasis on Capcom's Street Fighter games. The book provides a bit more explanation on some of the fighting game terms you might hear discussed by commentators during matches.
Why should you watch Evo?
It’s exciting! There’s action, player drama, and real money and stakes on the line. Here are a dozen highlights from Evo 2015 that show how intense the competition can get.
But the best example may be Evo's most popular moment: this legendary Street Fighter 3: 3rd Strike battle between veteran fighters Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong from Evo 2004. It's more than just an astounding display of fighting game skill, it captures the thrill and atmosphere of the competition — and it features excited commentary from fighting game expert Seth Killian, who, to this day, provides smart, concise analysis for Street Fighter matches at Evo. I've found that showing non-fighting game fans that particular match and explaining why it's so captivating can be a good introduction to spectating competitive fighting games. The fact that those two players are still competing at Evo helps. It gives new fans someone to root for (or against).
For a more detailed explanation of why the Umehara-Wong fight is so interesting, you can read a moment-by-moment breakdown of the fight — analyzed by Killian — in this archived post from the defunct Penny Arcade Report.