Despite Certain Omissions, Here’s Why the EVO 2019 Lineup is Rad

Every year, the Evolution Championship Series- or EVO, as it’s known to some- enthralls the fighting community with its tremendous match-ups straight out of Las Vegas. And this year is no exception with EVO 2019, as the team behind the event revealed the games that we can expect this time around.

EVO 2019

And while there are some omissions that are a bit on the painful side (is Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite really that much of a letdown?), the inclusion of some favorites is a welcome sight. Although there is the question as to why a couple of fighting games that are debuting this year are being left out.

First, let’s take a close look at the games that will be included this time around, including a couple of big surprises that should be worth watching.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle: One of last year’s most engaging 2D fighting games, BlazBlue stirred up all kinds of attention when it released on multiple consoles, including the Nintendo Switch. So it no doubt will be a welcome addition to the EVO roster this year, with many fans picking favorites from a number of characters from various universes, coming together for one great superbrawl. We can’t wait to see how these fights go down.

Dragon Ball FighterZ: After being painfully left out of EVO Japan earlier this year (reportedly due to rights issues), it appears that one of last year’s strongest titles, FighterZ, will be making a welcome comeback. Now the real question is if the game will be getting more attention than the usual headliner Street Fighter V, which easily got overshadowed, despite the build-up to the finale back in 2018. We’ll have to see where the placement order is, but don’t be shocked if Fighter steals the show once more, especially with its second season of content in tow.

Mortal Kombat 11: Another newcomer that is set to take the stage in a big way, the newest Mortal Kombat will be a heavy-hitter at the fighting event, replacing previous fan favorite Injustice 2. That’s fine with us, as we get to see a number of ‘Kombatants’ mix it up across a number of arenas, spilling all kinds of blood and creating chaos from fatalities and brutalities. It may not be for the squeamish, but Mortal Kombat 11 will get its fair share of fans when it makes its debut this August. Fatality!

EVO 2019 samurai showdown

Samurai Shodown: Perhaps the biggest surprise that was announced with the line-up this year is SNK’s revival of its weapon-based fighting series, which will debut on the PlayStation 4 in early summer. Featuring a number of returning favorites (Haohmaru!), along with some new faces, and 2D gameplay along the lines of the King of Fighters series, Shodown should get a great deal of attention. Now give it to us already, SNK!

SoulCalibur VI: We won’t lie, we’re thrilled to see the newest SoulCalibur get the nod for the tournament scene this year. EVO fans will love what this weapons-based brawler has to offer, with favorites like 2B from NieR: Automata and Geralt from The Witcher included, along with a number of great characters we’ve become accustomed to over the years. Expect lots of great tactics and fierce battles when this game takes the Evolution Championship Series with a vengeance.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition: We’re not too surprised to see this game make its return to EVO, if only because it’s become one of its biggest staples over the years. Part of that is due to the undying support of Capcom, which actually makes custom skins and arena stages just for the EVO community. Now the real question is what it’ll be debuting with this year’s event. A new season of content, with more fighters joining the fray or perhaps new tournament options to keep the popularity of the game thriving? It could be anything, really but we can’t wait to see what they bring.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: We remember the days when Nintendo frowned upon the idea of including its Smash series in EVO events, and we’re perplexed as to why. However, it’s changed its tune, as the tournament will officially see the debut of Ultimate and, with it, some of the best match-ups we’ve seen on the competitive side. This should be a lot of fun, especially given the number of characters that are available. Plus, Nintendo could totally use the showcase as an opportunity to debut a potential new downloadable character as part of its season pass. Give us Banjo Kazooie already!

Tekken 7: The popularity of the latest Tekken game continues to be sky-high, mainly due to the two new characters, including The Walking Dead’s Negan, that will be debuting later this week. So we’re happy to see that it’s coming back to EVO alongside Dragon Ball FighterZ and SoulCalibur VI, solidifying Bandai Namco’s presence at the event. As for what we’ll see from the game, there’s a chance that even more characters could be introduced, along with potential modes that might keep things interesting. Or, hey, maybe we’ll finally get a glimpse at the oft-delayed Tekken vs. Street Fighter game that the team has been working on. Please?

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]: Some of you fans may not have heard of this game, and, hey, a few of us are right there with you. But to ignore what Aksys Games has created with this sleeper would be criminal, even with BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle taking the spotlight first. Under Night has a favorable fighting community standing behind it and its many fighters, along with balance and tactics that many have come to embrace over the past few months. Plus, its arrival at a major tournament such as this is sure to boost its popularity, which wouldn’t hurt the publisher in the least.

So What’s Missing? Even though the line-up that’s coming to EVO 2019 is star-studded, there are a few games that are missing, although we have a pretty good reason why. Let’s take a look at some of the obvious titles that aren’t making the cut once August rolls around.

First off, no Super Smash Bros. Melee. A lot of fans have been wondering about this one, since it’s a staple fighting game. Well, with Ultimate on the scene, some feel that having two Smash Bros. games on the roster is a bit much, despite them being somewhat different. Indeed, its time has probably come, and Nintendo probably gave the go-ahead with the idea that Ultimate would be getting attention. So, sorry, fans, we know this one hurts, but there’s reasoning behind it.

Then we come to Dead or Alive 6. The fighting game, which is set to debut this Friday, is sure to be a big hit with its fans, but as far as EVO goes, it doesn’t fit into its “core values”. That’s an interesting decision, particularly after what went down when the game stream from EVO Japan was stopped, but it looks like it was made to keep focus on the more traditional fighting games. Don’t worry too much, though,as Koei Tecmo already has tournaments planned for the forthcoming sequel, and they’ll be freshly packed with competition.

There’s also Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and…sigh. Capcom has given this crossover fighter the cold shoulder, and it looks like Marvel has as well, despite the fact that its characters will be featured in upcoming films like Captain Marvel and Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. So what’s the deal? Well, actually, there’s a slight chance that Capcom could bring this game back as Marvel vs. Capcom 4, adding new characters from the X-Men universe (favorites like Magneto, Wolverine and, of course, that Mango Sentinel) and a few other favorites. EVO would be a great relaunching ground for the series, if it doesn’t happen at E3.

Then there’s Jump Force. While this game has some engaging 3D fights going for it, there’s also a lot working against it, as you can see from our recent review. There’s just way too much loading time to go around, which could easily throw off the momentum of the tournament as we know it. On top of that, there are some folks that prefer to watch traditional fighting compared to, say, arena-style 3D tactics. That would explain why we haven’t seen games like the Naruto titles in the tournament in the past.

As for why Injustice 2 wasn’t included, the case could simply be the same as it was for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 a few years back. As engaging and fun a game as it is, it’s time has simply come when it comes to the fighting tournament scene. Even though it’s bound to have some hardcore appeal with fan-held battles, its place on the main stage passed once NetherRealm was finished with its DLC plan. Besides, now Mortal Kombat 11 can get the focus, and that works best considering its popularity.

EVO 2019

Finally, where is Killer Instinct? Alas, probably waiting for a new season at this point. I do hope we get it, because this is a fun game to watch.

There are other titles we could mention here, such as Fantasy Strike, EX Fighting Layer and even SNK Heroines, but the fact of the matter is there’s only so much room for competition, and the EVO team did a good job with its selections this year. We’ll see how the event goes down when EVO 2019 takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 2-4. See you in the fighting ring!

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