The summer months might not be great in terms of releases, but there are plenty of different events for which players can get excited.
E3 kicks things off with announcements that affect the entire industry, RTX celebrates everything about one of the biggest gaming communities out there, and Games Done Quick is a week-long speedrunning marathon for a great cause.
Then, there's EVO.
It's hard to find a genre of video game as inherently competitive as one-on-one fighters. First-person shooters may have birthed the Deathmatch, but they started off as single-player experiences — fighting games, on the other hand, have always been about proving that one player is better than the other.
With the global video game community growing exponentially, it was only a matter of time before players got together to find out who is the best in the world. Of course, the tournament has changed quite a bit since the inaugural event kicked off in 2002 — for anyone who hasn't been following the fighting game scene, it can be a little hard to follow.
With the EVO 2016 Championship kicking off later today, now is the perfect time to explain the ins and outs of the world's biggest fighting game tournament.
You can't have a video game tournament without video games, right? For this year's tournament, players will be competing in one of nine major titles. The games have changed over the past decade or so, but most fans will recognize the lineup for 2016:
• Street Fighter V
• Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
• Mortal Kombat X
• Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator
• Pokkén Tournament
• Killer Instinct
• Super Smash Bros. Melee
• Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
• Tekken 7: Fated Retribution
Of course, longtime fans will know that two of the games tend to overshadow the others: both Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom have been EVO institutions since the very beginning, and the latest version of each series will be at this year's tournament. Both tournaments feature hundreds of fighters — and you won't find any fiercer competition than these two games at EVO.
With literally hundreds of different players all vying for a shot at the finals, EVO's tournaments are structured a bit differently than other, smaller events. First, each individual tournament is broken up into three separate tiers: Qualification Pools, Semifinal Brackets and Tournament Finals.
The Qualification Pools are about as straightforward as they sound: groups of different players each compete for a shot to enter into the tournament proper. Only two players from each group will enter the next phase of the tournament — and depending on the size of the game, each pool could consist of dozens of different fighters. Obviously, this is the stage of the tournament in which most of the competitors are eliminated.
From there, it's on to the Semifinal Brackets. Depending on a player's performance, they'll be entered into either the Losers' or Winners' bracket. In order to secure a spot in the finals, players will need to make their way into one of the top eight positions — everyone else is eliminated.
Everything comes down to the Tournament Finals. The remaining eight players all fight for a shot at the gold. Again, performance in the Semifinals dictates position in the final rounds, and the last man standing takes home the prize.
While many tournaments will feature a set prize from the outset, EVO has always handled things a bit differently.
Each individual game features its own prize pool, and the cash prize is determined by the number of participants. Basically, the bigger the game, the bigger the prize — and considering that even the smallest of EVO tournaments will be made up of dozens of different players, the prize pools are guaranteed to be big.
For tournaments like Street Fighter V and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the prize pools are absolutely huge. Hundreds upon hundreds of players all contribute to the same prize pools, and at the end of the day, the payout is ridiculous. Case in point: at EVO 2015, the grand prize for Ultra Street Fighter IV was more than $72,000.
Needless to say, these players aren't fighting for chump change.
EVO 2016 will begin in full on July 15, with the Grand Finals airing all throughout the day on Sunday, July 17.