LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 05: Tekken 7 finalists battle it out on stage during EVO 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on August 5, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 05: Tekken 7 finalists battle it out on stage during EVO 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on August 5, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

There’s no fighting game tournament bigger in size, scope and prestige than The Evolution Championship Series or EVO. The FGC will descend upon the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas this weekend and will be sure to provide one of the most exciting weekends in esports. Here are some of the things you should be on the lookout for at the Mecca of all things fighting games.

5. First Rodeo for Mortal Kombat 11 and Samurai Shodown

Its not often that we get two new game debuting in the FGC in the same year. But Samurai Shodown and Mortal Kombat 11 are looking to make big splashes at this years EVO. MK11 has pedigree already, NetherRealm Studios has a legacy of big tournament games like MKX and the Injustice series. But MK11 has gone all in on “esports”, creating official tournament stages and rule sets so match set up is a quick as possible. Not to mention, its been home to some of the most wild pop-offs in the FGC this year.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 17: Justin Wong attends Mortal Kombat 11: The Reveal on January 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

Samurai Shodown couldn’t be more different. Its a reboot of a very old series but its unlike anything in the FGC market currently. It’s slow, methodical, and has more ways to block than it does attack. While this may seem to be the antithesis of “exciting play” SamSho is filled with tension and could provide some of Saturday’s biggest moments. With its 1,719 entrants it beat out its fellow freshman game MK11 and the top game from 2018 Dragonball Fighterz. Dragonball finds itself in a more secondary role in 2019. Its entry numbers plummet from 2,575 to 1,191 in a year.

4. Tekken. Will. Be. Hype.

If there’s a game on this list that is the most watchable, its Tekken 7. it requires minimal knowledge of the finer points of the game. The mechanics are fairly straight forward compared to some of the other top games, which makes it easy to follow. And its commentator crew have provided some of the biggest moments in the FGC in 2019. If Rip and Tasty Steve are calling matches, strap in because you are in for a treat.

LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 05: Terelle ‘Lil Majin’ Jackson plays in the Tekken 7 finals during EVO 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on August 5, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Lil Majin was the breakout competitor from the Tekken competition at EVO 2018. But if the current field is any indication it may be tough for someone to break the hold that Korean players like LowHigh and Knee have over the scene in 2019. Here’s to hoping someone can step up and make a game filled with hype even more electrifying.

3. Can Punk Finally Win Evo?

American player Victor “Punk” Woodley is on an amazing run in 2019. He’s finished 1st in some of the biggest tournaments on the Capcom Pro Tour like Combo Breaker, Final Round and The Mix-Up. He’s ranked 1st in the CPT Global standings and only has two more tournaments to win to totally solidify his greatness in 2019. That’s EVO and Capcom Cup.

ATLANTA, GA – MAY 26: Victor ‘Punk’ Woodley, of the USA, plays against Arman ‘Phenom’ Hanjani, of Norway, in the semi-final of the ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs & Championship at Turner Studios on May 26, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

In 2017, Punk burst onto the Street Fighter V scene absolutely tearing through premier events. Eventually getting to the grand finals of EVO where he faced the veteran, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi. Tokido proved to be Punk’s kryptonite and defeated him after resetting the bracket. While the Capcom Cup is indeed big, almost nothing surpasses EVO is THE defining win of a FGC pro’s career. If Punk can win out he’d become easily the undisputed top Street Fighter player in the world.

2. FGC E3

E3 used to be the place where all studios and developers came to announce all their new games/DLC for the year. As con culture has taken over more and more games are using alternative events to making those reveals. Fighting games are no different.

If EVO is the place where fans of the genre will be the most tuned in then why not make announcements there? So over the past two years big DLC and game trailers made their debut at EVO. Look forward to some big games to layout their plans for the coming year. Tekken may have gotten some of the biggest buzz with their Seasons 1 and 2 announcements at EVO. But Mortal Kombat could wow us with gameplay from their recently leaked DLC roster. Don’t count out Street Fighter either which has released only 1 DLC fighter the entire year.

1. When’s Smash?

In 2019, Smash will take its place as EVO Prom Queen for the first time. It will have the tournaments final slot and has more than double the entrants of the next closest game, Street Fighter V.

LAS VEGAS, NV – AUGUST 05: Juan ‘Hungrybox’ DeBiedma plays Adam ‘Armada’ Lindgren during the Super Smash Bros. Melee finals at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on August 5, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)

Some could attribute this to the fact that there are really two and a half communities combined into the Smash U entrants. With no Smash Melee or Smash Wii U, the entirety of the community is playing under one game at EVO. That’s not to say that there isn’t excitement around the game. By having Smash in the top spot some feel like its the FGC’s way of finally putting it on the pedestal it deserves. Either way, the drama should be just as compelling as years past, but expect to see some new names grace the EVO stage when it comes to Smash from now on.

You can find Rip (@Reepal), Punk (@PunkDaGod) and Tasty Steve (@Tasty_Steve) on Twitter!

Related FGC Stories:
CEO 2019 Recap: Two Communities Collide
Interview with Smash Legend, Hungrybox

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