EVO Acquired by Playstation

Posted by Kane Hocking March 24, 2021 in NEWS

The console gaming scene has been quite the hectic melting pot as of late with Xbox’ Acquisition of Bethesda being finalised alongside Playstation’s “Play At Home” announcements and more. Despite all that, the Esports scene seemed quiet. That was until today when Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) announced that they, alongside new Esports venture “RTS”, jointly acquired the world’s largest Fighting game tournament, the Evolution Championship Series (Or as its more commonly known, EVO).

What is EVO?

Starting in 1996 as a 40-player Street Fighter II Turbo & Street Fighter Alpha 2 tournament dubbed the “Battle by the Bay”, what we now know as EVO (name changed in 2002) was founded by Tom “Inkblot” Cannon & Tony “Ponder” Cannon. While originally consisting of just Street Fighter, EVO has continued to grow year after year with the originally planned 2020 event set to consist of:

  • Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[cl-r]
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ
  • Tekken 7
  • Soul Calibur VI
  • Street Fighter V Champion Edition
  • Samurai Shodown
  • Granblue Fantasy Versus

The event was also set to have an eight-player invitational tournament of Marvel vs Capcom 2 dubbed the “Tournament of Champions” and would consist of four previous champions.

EVO is, for my money, one of the most exciting Esports events out there with even the most casual of fighting game players being able to enjoy the extreme levels of skill on display alongside the molten crowd glued to every combo. There is almost always guaranteed to be to be one memorable moment at an EVO but none may ever come as close as the infamous “Moment #37” from EVO 2004 where Daigo Umehara faced off against Justin Wong  during the Street Fighter III: Third Strike tournament. It’s one of those moments you have to watch as words really don’t do it justice.

What’s next for EVO?

While it’s too early to say for sure, the future seems relatively bright for EVO as Sony tries to enhance it’s relationship with the fighting game community. In their blogpost about the acquisition, It was stated that Tom & Tony Cannon will remain involved as advisors with plans to use the resources and experience both SIE and RTS have at their disposal to continue the global expansion of the event for the fighting game community.

The next EVO event is also scheduled for August 2021. Sticking to an online-only event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event takes place between August 6th-8th and 13th-15th with a game line-up consisting of:

  • Tekken 7
  • Street Fighter V Champion Edition
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • Guilty Gear -Strive-

EVO put out a statement reaffirming their commitment to making the fighting game community statement safer after the 2020 event was cancelled due to multiple accusations of Sexual misconduct were levelled against former CEO Joey Cuellar.

That’s not to say that everything is bright and cheerful looking forward on EVO’s hopeful return to form. The announcement of SIE’s acquisition has left some concerned for the future of Nintendo’s involvement with the tournament with Smash Bros, a massive part of EVO’s appeal, currently not being listed. Nintendo made a statement to IGN regarding the concerns with a spokesperson saying that they will “We will continue to assess Evo, and other opportunities, as we plan for future online and offline Super Smash Bros. tournament activity.”

What does that mean for the future of Smash? Only time will tell but whatever the outcome, we hope that it continues the growth of Esports and the fighting game scene.


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Kane Hocking