EVO Japan 2018

Went back and forth to Japan last January 22 to 31 and one of the main reasons why I actually flew to Japan was for Evolution Japan 2018. Been wanting to go to one, along with experiencing winter and going back to Japan, so hey may as well do all three right?



Despite retiring from playing competitively, the (retired) competitive FG player in me really wanted to see how an Evolution series tournament would look like and how the atmosphere was inside the world’s most premier fighting game tournament (or at least it’s Japan spin-off).

Originally called “Battle by the Bay” during 1996, Evolution has become THE fighting game tournament that you ought to watch or go to even once. The tournament’s clout has grown so tremendously that even well known sports outlets like ESPN are broadcasting it over the television networks now. The Evolution series tournament is normally held in Las Vegas, USA so it was a real treat for me when the EVO staff announced in 2016 that they will hold an EVO branded tournament in Japan on January 2018. That’s a lot closer to home than going to the USA for a tournament!


There were about 4,918 unique players who attended the tournament and around half of that joined multiple tournaments. Of course that’s not all of the players who joined EVO because there are side tournaments. EVO normally has seven to eight games as their main games which they will promote. Usually, EVO picks their main games based on tournament attendance over the past year and conversations happening around them. Sometimes though they include a game that’s relatively new (Blazblue Cross Tag battle) or a very left field one (ARMS) for marketing.


Street Fighter V: 2,217
Tekken 7: 1,202
Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2: 1,187
Super Smash Bros WiiU: 757
Blazblue Centralfiction: 595
King of Fighters 14: 542
ARMS: 327
Participation count (aka non-unique players): 6,827

Funny part was, a lot of pools actually had a lot of absentee players which includes me (for Blazblue) since I decided to make more use of my time and check Akihabara again ^^

If I had a gripe it would be how each pools were handled. I actually experienced seeing a pool of 8 players take 2.5 hours to finish, while 2 pools (mine included be concluded in less than an hour (and yes both pools had the same problem of “DQ/bye” players). Obviously the staff handling the entire event are expected to be different hence they many not as experienced as those found their US counterpart. That’s just about my only issue when it came to the actual tournament proper really, everything else was smooth as butter ^^

People were just watching Infiltration practice before his pools began. For those who don’t know him, he was an EVO champ also in multiple games and is a very strong player.
It might look boring to watch someone hit the training room and practice certain things over and over again, but there are important things that you’ll pick up like “what character is he planning to use”, “what tools does he usually rely on”, and etc. In games, base their style on a strong player or an accepted strategy and then try to deviate from it to create their own unique way of playing. So watching Pros can help you improve your game too. He also won the Street Fighter V tournament too, so keep your eyes on him!


You’ll be able to find arcade sticks and game pads everywhere, but unique controllers like this HitBox are hard to come by.


Speaking of sticks, you can make use of the gamepad in ARMS or the joycon pair to play the game. Honestly speaking, not my cup of tea since there are nuances that you can execute faster in a gamepad versus a joycon and vice versa.


Commentators were hard at work the entire three days with hardly any rest (aside from lunch and bathroom breaks). They’re the ones that help add insight and color to the matches you see on stream. A good commentator can really turn a slow paced battle (especially when people are playing defensively/turtle) into a tension filled match.


Side games were also present during EVO Japan ranging from really old (and sometimes obscure) games like Ranma 1/2 and Garou: Mark of the Wolves to games that may not be considered a 100% fighting game but whose competitive spirit and hype is still very similar like Pokken and Catherine.
Managed to join two sidegames, namely Koihime Enbu and Samurai Shodown V, but decided not to go through with it since me and some friends decided to reexplore Tokyo again and I’d have to wait another three hours before my next pool.

Koihime Enbu is a fighting game based on an eroge called Koihime Musou. As far as i remember the VN has been translated already so if you like the fighting game, why not go for the VN too ^^


Samsho is a very old franchise and it’s one of the games i enjoyed playing more than Street Fighter when I was a kid due to it being weapon based (hence why i also gravitated towards Guilty Gear and Blazblue). Really hope SNK will create a remake for this with Guilty Gear like graphics instead of 3D models.


Catherine was a very unique spectacle during the entire tournament proper as it wasn’t your usual fighting game affair but rather it was a puzzle game. Not sure how the versus mechanic works so here’s a quick vid for those interested ^^


Rule Card for Catherine in case there are people who just want to try it out.

Wasn’t able to catch any Pokken matches, anyone of you play the game?

The BYOC section, that’s Bring Your Own Console, also had people bringing in their own setup in (specifically laptops) in case there were other players who wanted to play games not included in both the main games and the side games like Killer Instinct. There are stations here where players simply enjoyed casuals with their friends or strangers who happen to want to play a game with a fellow stranger. Might bring my own setup next time, especially since it’s cheaper than going to the arcades too ^^

Promo materials everywhere. This is the official poster for EVO Japan 2018 by the way.

Any idea what this game is??
Stay tuned for the booth section of EVO Japan and the haul I got next!
For the other entries during my EVO Japan trip feel free to visit the following:
EVO Japan 2018 (Event itself)
EVO Japan 2018 Booths
EVO Japan Loots

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