EVO tournament shows the value of overcoming adversity

Have a great fall semester everyone! Whether it’s your first or last fall at USC, be sure to make the most of it.

Although this ushers in my fourth and final year here, I still can’t get into the right frame of mind for school. It seems that after spending all summer lazily playing video games, I’ve become too soft and spoiled to get down to business. As such, while I’ll do my best to provide top-notch feedback, please forgive me if these first few columns have a rush transition or two. Contrary to what long-time readers may tell you, they are an anomaly and absolutely not a long-time tradition in this column. No, no need to check.

Still, it’s not like I threw all my professional standards out the window once the summer started. Even though I barely got out of bed all these months, I always kept an eye on what was happening in the professional gaming scene. And while I’d love to be called a “dedicated columnist,” that’s mainly because EVO 2022 was underway.

For those of you who don’t know what EVO is, let me explain. Evolution Championship Series is one of the largest fighting game tournaments in the world. Featuring a list of the most popular games of the year, as well as some fan favorites, the event is usually a great showcase of the best in the fighting game community.

This year was no exception, and every game had some amazing matches. We got the show that saw pro gamer SonicFox win the Skullgirls Championship and canonize himself as one of the best fighting game athletes in the world. We also had the thrilling matches of Tekken 7, where the game’s highly advanced technical elements were once again pushed to the limit as longtime player Knee earned his third EVO win. But for me, the game that shone the brightest this year was Guilty Gear Strive, the latest in the popular Arc-System Works series of the same name.

Now full disclosure, Strive is the only game featured in EVO that I actively play. But, even without a lot of knowledge, it’s not hard to see exactly why the game has taken center stage in the competition. Blending a low barrier of entry with a high skill ceiling, Strive creates an environment that welcomes casual gamers and professional gamers alike. Not only that, but with its colorful cast of characters with charming moves and specials, the game is downright fun to watch, even without any understanding of its inner workings.

Still, what made me stand out had nothing to do with the game itself. No, Strive was one of the best games in EVO because of its amazing players. Featuring a roster of players from around the world, the athletes on stage were filled with incredible personality and skill. The games were incredibly close and every minute was filled with tension and anxiety as the best players faced off. In the end, professional player Umisho took home the trophy after an incredible grand finale, becoming the first-ever Guilty Gear Strive EVO Champion.

But why am I talking about this now?

Well, I usually try to use something that happened – especially a failure – as a learning experience for the rest of the esports industry. Sometimes I go the other way, showing something positive and drawing larger conclusions. In other words, I’m using something that happened as a starting point towards a better possible future. This time it’s neither here nor there. No, the reason I chose to speak specifically about the Guilty Gear Strive EVO 2022 Championship is that it shows, in purely realistic terms, how a tournament should play out.

I know some readers may be scratching their heads since I built this tournament as a perfect championship. In many ways he was, but perfect doesn’t mean he didn’t suffer any setbacks. And when it comes to the 2022 Strive EVO Championship, there have been almost too many setbacks to count. Take for example the moment when an avid fan distracted an athlete in the middle of a match with his incessant shouting, forcing the professional player to face him directly, or the fact that the championship itself took place with nearly two hours of delay, which resulted in the Grand Finals being held. the early hours of the morning. These errors, both of which could lead to a disastrous performance by leading athletes, are incredibly difficult to recover from, and a disorganized tournament could lead to a fatal end.

And yet, this was not the case for EVO. Even as the hours dragged on and the production lost its grip on the show, all the different components of the tournament still came together to put on the best show possible. The staff and commentators displayed incredible levels of energy to keep the hype within the audience. The viewers, on the other hand, also cheered on the players wholeheartedly, directly interacting with them after each win and loss like a typical fighting game. And of course, the athletes themselves overcame all their fatigue to put on the show of their lives.

While I love talking about what should ideally happen, we now have a tangible, real-world example of how to run a perfect esports tournament even when everything seems to be falling apart. And while all some readers can get out of it is to “get it through,” the real reason Strive’s EVO run didn’t end in complete disaster has nothing to do with endurance, but rather the dedication and support that each component has given to one another. For a few brief hours, everyone in the room came together in the hopes of striving to put on the best tournament possible, creating a perfect tribute to the game, if only in name.

Guilherme Guerreiro is a senior esports writer. His column, “Press Start to Play,” airs every other Monday.

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