For fighting game fans, it’s the most wonderful time of year.
EVO is the biggest event in the fighting game calendar for fans of multiple games – while there are very big, publisher-sponsored events like Capcom Cup for individual games, EVO is the single biggest couple of days for fans of fighting games in general, when thousands of players and fans invade Las Vegas to battle it out in both official and side tournaments for just about every game you can imagine.
This year will be EVO’s fifteenth, and the tournament has come quite a way. From garages and local arcades, it now takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Vegas – and the grand finals on Sunday 16 July will take place in the Mandalay Bay Arena, the 12,000 seat arena where a lot of boxing and UFC bouts take place – somehow appropriate.
Given that EVO is this weekend and I’m an absolute addict, I figured I’d put together a little EVO hub to help you watch too. If you’ve never watched before, EVO is the perfect place to jump into the fighting game community for the first time. So – let’s do it.
What games are at EVO 2017?
The official main event games at the show are:
- Street Fighter 5 (2622 entrants)
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (1506 entrants)
- Super Smash Bros. Melee (1428 entrants)
- Tekken 7 (1283 entrants)
- Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 (817 entrants)
- Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 (650 entrants)
- Blazblue: Central Ficton (497 entrants)
- King of Fighters 14 (374 entrants)
In addition to this, fans run an absolute shed load of side tournaments for just about every game you can imagine. If you’re still clinging to Super Street Fighter II Turbo or Street Fighter X Tekken, the community has you covered. Likewise for things like Skullgirls, Pokken Tournament, Persona 4 Arena, Gundam Versus and even things like Puyo Puyo Tetris and Catherine.
Where to watch EVO 2017 streams
From 10am Pacific time on Friday 14 July you’ll be able to tune into several EVO channels to watch different games. At its most intense there’ll be a whopping nine channels of action covering different games. Here are all the channels, plus a smattering of what to expect on them:
Featuring Street Fighter, Smash Bros. Melee, Tekken, Smash Bros. Wii U, Guilty Gear Xrd, King of Fighters XIV, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Blazblue, Injustice – this channel switches about between games, giving you a glimpse of every facet of EVO. The grand finals of every game is played on this channel, and on Sunday this channel is the only one airing.
Running on Friday and Saturday from 10am Pacific until finish, EVO1 is dedicated to Super Smash Bros. Melee, right up until semi-finals.
Running on Friday and Saturday, the EVO2 channel is dedicated to Smash 4. It ends on the Smash semi-finals, with the finals taking place on the main channel on Sunday.
On Friday this channel is all Guilty Gear, and on Saturday it’s all Marvel 3.
On Friday EVO4 is dedicated to King of Fighters 14, while on Saturday it’s all Blazblue.
If you’re new to EVO, The Jump Off will feature commentators providing introductions to every official main event game, jumping about between each to give you an overview of the entire tournament.
All the Friday and Saturday Street Fighter 5 action will be taking place on Capcom’s official channel.
Namco’s official Tekken channel will air all day Friday whittling the 1200 Tekken competitors down to just 8.
Injustice action goes here, beginning at 4pm Pacific on Friday running right into Saturday.
The Top 8 Grand Finals of Street Fighter 5 will also be televised on ESPSN2, while the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Grand Finals will be televised on Disney XD.
EVO 2017 stream schedule
There’s a handy visual version of this info with stream times, too. Here it is:
What should I watch if I’m new to EVO?
If you’re new to EVO or Fighting Games at a competitive level, on Friday and Saturday you should try The Jump Off – a special show found on the EVO5 channel that jumps between all the main stage games at EVO, putting commentator teams together who can break down the games and explain what makes them special. It’s basically a way of learning about all the games at EVO, which is cool, and it should in theory work just as well for beginners as it might for a Street Fighter player who wants to learn more about competitive Smash. We’ll embed that below.
If you feel like you know all about fighters already but want variety, use the EVO main channel, embedded above – all nine of the major games will feature on there.
When are the grand finals of each game?
Over the course of the weekend each game will have its massive entrant numbers reduced through elimination until they reach the top 8 players. These top 8 players will make up the ‘grand finals’ of each game – and this is where you’ll really get players making the biggest effort and where the stakes are raised particularly high.
For posterity, here’s the grand finals times if you want to catch these often nail-biting matches:
- King of Fighters 14: Friday, 8pm Pacific US time
- Guilty Gear Xrd: Saturday, 2pm Pacific US time
- Injustice 2: Saturday, 5pm Pacific US time
- Super Smash Bros. Melee: Saturday, 8pm Pacific US time
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Sunday, 7:45am Pacific US time
- Blazblue: Central Fiction: Sunday, 10am Pacific US time
- Tekken 7: Sunday, 12:20pm Pacific US time
- Super Smash Bros. for Wii U: Sunday, 3pm Pacific US time
- Street Fighter 5: Sunday, 7pm Pacific US time
Seriously, though, why should I watch this?
For my money, the reason you should watch EVO is simple: pound-for-pound, fighting games are the most exciting, easy to grasp eSport going. There’s no worrying about some of the more obtuse aspects of MOBA games or struggling to understand the greater perspective of a match as you might in a competitive FPS: fighters are easy to understand. Two people going at it. Life bars.
Fighting games were bred and built for competition in arcades, where two people would stand as little as inches apart and duke it out. That element of competition is baked into the genre deep, and that’s felt in every pore of EVO and other fighting tournaments. Honestly, it’s amazing stuff. Give it a shot.
Will there be game announcements at EVO?
It’s extremely unlikely any actual games will make their debut at EVO, but companies do exhibit at the show and often bring announcements such as DLC or new reveals for upcoming game. The following companies are around:
- Capcom: Expect announcements on Street Fighter 5 DLC and the upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
- Square Enix: A first for this JRPG giant, they’ll be showcasing and possibly making announcements around the RPG/fighter cross-over Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT
- Ark System Works: With Arc holding a panel featuring SNK and Bandai Namco, there’s a chance for some news on one of their fighters or even some crossover news.
- Nintendo: They’re unlikely to announce anything major, but Nintendo will be at EVO with Pokken Tournament DX.
There are also a lot of indie fighters showing up there – more than we can mention here.