Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC and RTS, Sony’s esports joint venture business, announced on March 18 that it acquired the Evolution Championship Series (Evo) from Triple Perfect Inc. via a joint venture esports partnership. Evo is the world’s largest fighting game tournament that has been running for over 20 years back since the early 2000s.
Evo was founded by Tom and Tony Cannon as a unique grassroots tournament for fighting game players all around the world, so this acquisition comes as a surprise to many. Evo prided itself as being the grassroots project by the players for the players.
Sticking to Founding Principles
Tom and Tony Cannon will continue to work closely as key advisors to ensure Evo stays true to its grassroots tournament origins. In a blog post on its official blog, Sony says this acquisition “marks a new collaboration” and will bring new resources and its expertise to “elevate the global reach, scale, and fan engagement surrounding [Evo].”
To me, this reads as an increase in marketing and advertising efforts for the tournament.
— EVO (@EVO) March 18, 2021
Some of Sony’s big games are fighting games. Street Fighter 6 is currently in production and future titles like Guilty Gear -Strive- are almost out. Sony’s blog post goes on to further hammer home the point that “preserving the authenticity of Evo” is a big deal.
Return of Evo
With developer support, Evo is returning this year as a full online tournament from August 6 – 8 and August 13 – 15. Entry is free and players in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America will be able to compete in the following games: Tekken 7, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, and Guilty Fear -Strive-.
At first glance, this may appear that Evo has become a Sony exclusive event as all those games are available on the PS4 and PS5. But this might not be the case as Tekken 7 will be played on PC for this tournament and will allow crossplay with other systems.
Also very important to note. @EVO is still open to all platforms. The teams at PlayStation and RTS are enabling us to continue working with our community to support fighting games. https://t.co/NKMQUSvkfj
— Mark Julio (マークマン) (@MarkMan23) March 18, 2021
The elephant in the room is that Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is not on this list and this could be due to two reasons. 1): Nintendo does not want their game in a Sony-owned tournament which makes sense business-wise and 2): Smash Ultimate is well known for having online issues. Other fighting games known for having online connection issues, such as Soul Caliber 6, have also been excluded from the roster.
What’s in Store?
2020 was a rough year for Evo. Despite the pandemic, Tom and Tony Cannon manage to pull together an online tournament that had mainstay games as well as some indie games. The tournament was eventually canceled when developers, competitors, and hosts pulled out amid sexual misconduct allegations against Evo organizer, Joey Cuellar, also known as “MrWizard”.
The absence of Smash Ultimate at this moment feels a little weird. Nintendo wrote a note stating, “[we will] continue to assess Evo and other opportunities as we plan for future online and offline Super Smash Bros. Tournament activity.”
Evo is entering uncharted waters and no one knows where the ship will end up.
What do you think of all this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.