If you are someone who enjoys playing and/or watching fighting games, you’re probably aware of EVO 2019 coming right around the corner in August. This year is going to be especially interesting considering the inclusion of three new titles (Mortal Kombat 11, Samurai Shodown, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), the inclusion of the obscure game Under Night In-Birth, and the absence of Super Smash Bro. Melee from the main line up. It’s crazy to consider all of this back when we got the announcement at the start of the year, but Joey Cuellar, the EVO organizer also known as Mr. Wizard, made a very fascinating poll on Twitter.

The Significance of “The Final Game”

So you might be asking: “What exactly is the big deal about being the final game at EVO 2019?” Honestly, that is a touch hard to explain without going into some detail. If you were to look into the history of EVO, you will know that the tournament itself is “Capcom”-oriented. No surprise considering how back during the turn of the millennia, Capcom was cranking out heavy-hitters like Capcom vs. SNK 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and the wide variety of Street Fighter games. It didn’t take long for other games like Tekken or Guilty Gear to start getting some love too, but for the most part, EVO was a Capcom showcase. Until this year.

Source: EVO 2019’s Lineup Reveal

EVO usually wraps up during the evening, with four or five back-to-back TOP 8s, which highlight the best fighting games out there. You do have various games here and there, but when it was time to get to the “Main Event!” it would be Street Fighter 4 (and later Street Fighter 5) wrapping things up. As of late, however, Street Fighter 5’s interest has kind of fallen over the years, which can be attributed to a number of reasons. Perhaps it’s the lack of a “Season 4”, as we didn’t see any new characters or developments after Kage back in December last year. And with how big the other games are right now, it could finally be time to rotate the top game.

So could there be a possibility of any of the other Sunday games becoming EVO 2019’s main event? Let’s talk about the four games and figure this out.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle

Out of the four games playing on Sunday, it’s probably safe to cross out BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. Why? Well if we look over Mr. Wizard’s “EVO 2019 Registration Numbers” for July, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle actually has the fewest participants.

In spite of many writing this game off as quickly as I did, let’s explore this game and the chances of it not being the first game on Sunday.

Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle
Source: BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle

While games like BlazBlue Central Fiction or Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 would have been Arc System Works’s flagship title at EVO, this year is all about the 2v2 game that features BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth and RWBY (and Arcana Heart back in February). Cross Tag Battle features some rather intense action as you can swap back and forth between your two characters pretty fast, and the combos can be fun to watch (although many prefer “Team Scythe” of Ruby and Gordeau). With the tease of a 6th series joining the game and more characters likely coming to the game, it will be fun to see where Cross Tag Battle goes from here.

Could it become one of the biggest crossover fighting games in the future? Maybe, but for the time being, there is another crossover fighter that many onlookers have their eyes on.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

After the unfortunate sendoff Smash 4 got at last year’s tournament (on the back oftwo Bayonetta players charging B for a minute and disrespecting fans, onlookers, and tournament organizers), this year looks to be monumental as the inaugural year for Smash Ultimate. In spite of the huge cast of characters that can range from plumbers to giant sword-wielding anime protagonists, each character feels very balanced against each other. From the various tournaments leading up to EVO 2019, Top 8 shows us how you can have a pretty wide range of individual characters rather than one character hogging the spotlight.

Source: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate

So should Smash Ultimate take the spot of “The Main Event at EVO 2019?” Well at the time of posting this, the poll on Mr. Wizard’s twitter post has it leading at 58% out of 67,000 voters. Who knows if these statistics will be used to determine the final game (alongside registration numbers, which Smash Ultimate also leads), but the numbers seem to paint it as the fan-favorite at this year’s event.

However, one thing we have to bear in mind is the history between Nintendo and EVO. Nintendo once tried to stop Super Smash Bro. Melee from showing up on EVO’s broadcast, a game that was put into the EVO lineup after a charity event. Furthermore, the Smash community hasn’t been the most “welcoming” as of late, with players recently harassing a 15-year-old girl after she beat the now-retired Ally. Hard to give the spotlight to a game whose community can be so unpleasant at times…

Street Fighter V

So why exactly should Street Fighter V continue to be the top game at EVO 2019? Well, that in itself is very difficult to answer at the moment. In the past, you couldn’t really argue the importance of the Street Fighter games at EVO. Lately, we haven’t really heard much of what’s going on with Street Fighter V, even with the Capcom Pro tour still ongoing.

Now, if you’ve been following the Capcom Pro Tour, you can probably point out the various events where Street Fighter V had a good showing. The overall “support” however, looks to be slipping as there doesn’t seem to be as many players as there were in previous years. As with BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Street Fighter V’s numbers fall behind both Smash Ultimate and Tekken 7. It also doesn’t help that it feels like the development for Street Fighter V came to a screeching halt since December.

Source: Street Fighter V

Now, this isn’t to say Street Fighter V’s Top 8 are boring, and they can definitely win people over because of how insane the fights can be. But perhaps it might finally be time for the mantle to be passed to a new game. If Street Fighter V were to be the final game, it would be understandable, but one can only hope that we see something significant for the game soon. There isn’t much else left for newcomers, and veterans want more.

Tekken 7

Oh, how far Tekken 7 has come. What started off as an exclusive arcade title in Japan has since evolved into a much bigger beast with a roster that not only spans 48 characters but also into two other fighting games, one RPG and an AMC show.

Source: Tekken 7

It seems like with each passing year, Tekken 7 continues to evolve with more and more characters finding their way into the game, including Akuma, Geese Howard, Noctis, and Negan. With the latest season of characters unleashed into the game and the changes to the overall mechanics, Tekken 7’s presence in the tournament scene continues to be explosive, and it continues to see high registration numbers across the board. While there’s a good chance we may see even more jump on later in the game’s lifetime, it currently sits in a really good spot.

So would there be any negatives to say as to why Tekken 7 shouldn’t have the top spot? That in and of itself would be difficult to say since, for the most part, Tekken has a clean record with regards to both community and support. At this point, if you did want to explain why Tekken shouldn’t have the Top Slot, it likely would be more of preference for one of the other fighting games. Overall though, Tekken would certainly have earned it if the EVO organizers decide to go down this route.

What Do You Think?

Which of the four Sunday games deserve to be the Main Event? Arc System Works’ giant crossover? Nintendo’s Ultimate Fighter? The King of Iron Fist? Or should Capcom’s flagship franchise remain at the helm? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming as we will be covering the major announcements to come out of EVO 2019, fighting games, and all things in the gaming world.

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