Much like last year, Evo 2013′s King of Fighters XIII provided ridiculous amounts of hype. Each top eight match provided quite a show, but it was Arcade Shock’s Reynald’s six-game return from an 0-2 deficit that got everyone pumped.
Rundowns of each top eight match has been included below, and be sure to visit our coverage hub for results.
Top 8 Winners – CafeId|MadKOF (King/Shen/Kim, Duo Lon/King/Kim) vs. MCZ|Tokido (EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim)
Surprise Japanese competitor Tokido of Team Mad Catz surprised many by showing up in a big way during this tournament, but you can never really count him out of any game he chooses to play competitively. The first top eight winners match saw him taking on CafeId’s MadKOF, last year’s champion. The former winner was placed in the corner early, but his strong King play would prove that this was hardly a hindrance. Battling with his back to the wall, he would eliminate Tokido’s EX Iori early, but go down fast against an oppressive Mr. Karate. Many trades would go Tokido’s way, as well as one last clash that would finally take out MadKOF’s King. The Korean competitor continued to play patiently with Shen, biding his time and taking advantage of a missed punish opportunity on Tokido’s part to stay in the game and go back up in character advantage. MadKOF’s overheads would finally connect solidly and he was able to quickly secure a win over the Japanese master.
MadKOF would quickly lock down Tokido’s EX Iori in the first round of the second game, dominating the screen with King’s fireballs. But Tokido fought back, rushing MadKOF down with Iori’s swipes to defeat the King threat. A few errant jump-ins by MadKOF would give Tokido the advantage in the Shen vs. Mr. Karate matchup, which he would then turn into another character elimination. Key adjustments on MadKOF’s part would lead to the demise of Tokido’s Mr. Karate, and set up an interesting Kim mirror in the final round. At average health but with copious amounts of meter, MadKOF looked okay, but Tokido would secure a win thanks to some insane rushdown.
With the game count tied at one apiece, MadKOF switched Duo Lon, one of his best characters, into the team’s rotation. Antagonizing pokes would lead to a quick elimination for Tokido’s EX Iori, but the stretchy fighter would soon be caught guessing in the corner. A defeat at the hands of Mr. Karate would bring in MadKOF’s King, who again established an early rhythm thanks to her strong zoning. Tokido was content to wait for an opening, but his guard gauge soon entered dangerous territory. MadKOF would let him go, but continued with the lock down to end the round and bring in Tokido’s final character. His Kim would find favorable hits land in the ground game thanks to a few bad fireballs on MadKOF’s part, but it was his competent anti-air game that would set up another Kim mirror. Unfortunately, Tokido took too much damage on his way to the final round, and a simple HD combo from MadKOF would seal his fate.
Top 8 Winners – CafeId|Verna (Duo Lon/Mr. Karate/Kim) vs. Hee San Woo (Ryo/Kim/Mai, Ryo/Takuma/Mai)
Verna, another strong CafeId player, would face Hee San Woo in the next winners bracket match. The Korean player would lead with Duo Lon, a favorite of the CafeId players, but lost a ton of health thanks to Woo’s great reads with Ryo. Woo went into the second round desperate to defeat Duo Lon quickly and save some health on Kim, a feat he would accomplish after a bit of keepaway from Verna. Woo would continue to pressure Verna, locking down his Mr. Karate in the corner with more dominant Kim play, setting up yet another Kim mirror on the main stage. Fantastic decisions on Woo’s part appeared to shake Verna, which led to more mistakes and a first game win for Woo.
The second game would see Verna switch Mr. Karate to the back of his team to take advantage of a possible late game meter advantage. Woo’s Ryo would control much of the first round against Duo Lon, but two costly whiffs let Verna back in the game and gave him the round. Again, Woo’s Kim defeated Duo Lon very quickly, but he was soon taken out of the game with Verna’s own Kim. This brought Woo’s Mai into the game with a huge meter advantage, though she was also locked down in the corner by Verna’s strong space control. The Korean player would counter everything Woo used to try and escape, giving him the tying game.
Woo dropped Mai in the final game, opting to put his Kim last in the order and bring in Takuma to occupy the second position. Woo’s Ryo would finally drop Verna’s Duo Lon, and went into the second round with near full health. Verna baited a few costly uppercuts from Woo, evening the character count in a close back and forth matchup. Woo’s Takuma would earn his spot in the team by quickly destroying Verna’s Mr. Karate, though Kim would return the favor and put the Japanese player into another mirror match. Both players would trade overheads throughout the final match, but it was Woo who would eventually squeeze by with a win to continue his run through winners bracket.
Top 8 Losers – AGE|Romance (King/Yuri/Benimaru) vs. AS|Reynald (EX Kyo/Benimaru/Kim)
The first losers match would see crowd favorites, Afterglow Elite’s Romance and Reynald of Arcade Shock, step up to play. The former dominated much of 2012′s competition in the United States, but Reynald constant improvement throughout the year definitely set this up as a marquee matchup. Romance gave a quick flash of a Team Mexico shirt before heading into the elimination set.
Romance would try to establish control of the screen early with King’s fireballs, but Reynald got through them quickly and secured a quick first round win thanks to a number of overheads. Though normally saved for last, Romance’s Yuri came in second, possibly in an effort to subdue Reynald’s EX Kyo. This move would prove fruitless, as Reynald blew through that character as well while taking very little damage in the process. Left with Benimaru, Romance was desperate to take out at least one character, but missed an opportunity early on to punish Reynald’s dominating offense. Luckily, he would eek out a win thanks to a poor mistake by Reynald, setting up a very short Benimaru mirror that would end in a win for Reynald.
Patient play from Romance’s King would establish an early lead on Reynald by taking out EX Kyo, last match’s definite MVP, but he was left with very little health going into round two. Reynald’s Benimaru quickly defeated the zoner, bringing in Yuri. After taking the life lead, Reynald would play the keep away game, prompting an activation from Romance that would be wasted after Yuri was defeated. Using HD meter to extend a strong corner combo, Reynald would read Romance incorrectly and be punished accordingly, leaving him with Kim to finish the fight. A dropped punish on Romance’s part lost a sure victory, but he would continue to play smart around Reynald’s Kim pressure, eventually tying up the game count.
Strong reads on Romance’s defense would give Reynald the advantage in the first round very early on, but the former would continue to stick to his guns and take the round thanks to optimized punishes. Yuri barely had a chance to get into the fight before being eliminated by Reynald’s Benimaru, setting up another mirror against Romance’s final character. Romance burnt all the meter he had stocked up to gain the edge with his own Benimaru, putting Reynald on the ropes and leading into the final round. Reynald would remain composed, however, and eliminate Romance with with some strong Kim play.
Top 8 Losers – Fox (Ryo/Mr. Karate/Chin, Chin/Mr. Karate/Iori) vs. DM.MCZ|Xian (EX Iori/EX Kyo/Mr. Karate)
French competitor Fox would come into this match against Xian strong, ready to show the crowd he had what it took to eliminate the multi-game specialist. Fox’ Ryo started things off solid, keeping even with Xian’s EX Iori until a super punished a whiffed poke and gave the round to Xian. The damage done to EX Iori would be too much to overcome though, leading Fox’ Mr. Karate into a match against EX Kyo. Xian closed out the game with a low to punish Fox’ errant activation, putting the French player on his heels with Chin. Another quick round against a low-health character on Xian’s team would put the two on even footing in character count, though a few smart counters and good chip damage would secure a first game win for Xian.
The second game saw Fox place Chin in the first position of his team, hoping to set the tone early with his strongest character, leaving Iori last to make the comeback if need be. A first round win against EX Iori would send Chin to the second with decent damage, and he would give Fox another win thanks to Xian’s poor defense against overheads. Though he would miss a few opportunities to take out Fox’ Chin, Xian would avoid the OCV and set up a mirror match. With his back to the wall, a few bad button presses on Fox’ part would give Xian the advantage he needed to take the game to the final round. A dropped combo by Fox would appear to put Xian back in the game, but a nice punish by Iori evened the game count.
Again leading with Chin, Fox quickly eliminated Xian’s EX Iori, heading into the second round with full health. Xian would finally burn meter in an attempt to take out the problem on Fox’ team, but Chin would survive with a sliver of health to punish a chip opportunity and leave Xian with one final character. Xian saw success early on in the second Mr. Karate mirror of the set, baiting a few bad decisions on Fox’ part and sending the third game into the final round. Xian controlled the early part of the round thanks to his dominant normal game, but it was ultimately a huge missed opportunity by Fox later on that gave Xian the win.
Top 8 Losers – CafeId|Verna (Duo Lon/Mr. Karate/Iori) vs. AS|Reynald (EX Kyo/Benimaru/Kim, EX Kyo/Benimaru/Chin)
Crowd favorite Reynald would come into this game leading with his dominant EX Kyo, but Verna quickly eliminated the threat with his own powerhouse, Duo Lon. Fortunately, Benimaru did some great work for Reynald and he was able to eliminate Duo Lon with decent health remaining for the next round. Verna would return the favor, taking out Reynald’s second character quickly to bring in Kim. A missed link would keep Verna in the game, but Reynald’s outstanding pressure with Kim eventually opened Verna up and brought on the final round. Verna was let with a sliver of health thanks to an HD combo from Kim, and Reynald would read Iori’s corner options perfectly to gain the game advantage.
Reynald would soon turn the tables from the last game’s first round, gaining traction with his EX Kyo and doing all he could to take out Verna’s Duo Lon early. A huge punish would allow Reynald to take a chunk of life from Verna’s Mr. Karate before he lost his point character, leading into an interesting matchup against Benimaru. Verna burned much of his meter in an effort to take Benimaru out of the game before he had a chance to establish any control, but Reynald ignored the low health of his character and rode a smart raw NeoMax to victory. His Benimaru would quickly be eliminated by Verna’s Kim, setting up yet another Kim mirror for the final round. Reynald nearly scored his second game by back dashing a late punish by Verna, but it was a final overhead from the Korean player that would end the game and tie up the games at one apiece.
The third game would see Reynald bring in Chin to replace Kim as anchor. He again started the first round strong against Verna’s Duo Lon, but expended a bit too much health in the process. A rush punch from Reynald would connect, but he was just outside of range to continue the combo and defeated by Verna. Duo Lon was left reeling, and was quickly eliminated by Reynald’s Benimaru. The Korean player would soon return the favor, setting the tone once more with Mr. Karate. But Reynald, refusing to back down, continued to push with Benimaru to force Verna to bring in his final character. Reynald would continue to do more of the same, eventually winning the game and continuing on in losers bracket thanks to his impeccable Benimaru punishes.
Top 8 Losers – MCZ|Tokido (EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim) vs. DM.MCZ|Xian (Elisabeth/EX Iori/EX Kyo)
Two Mad Catz players entered the next losers bracket match, but only one would leave. Xian would lead with Elisabeth, an unorthodox choice against stronger choices like Tokido’s EX Iori. She would be dropped, but not before dealing out a ton of damage on Tokido’s point character. Xian would win the EX Iori mirror quickly, though Tokido’s amazing Mr. Karate play would steal away another round and leave him with lots of meter to work with. Down to his final character, Xian continued to battle back, eliminating Mr. Karate with smart, calculated pressure in order to enter the final round with near-full health and drive meter. Tokido’s Kim would answer with great usage of his own high meter count, giving him the first game advantage.
Team DLC would see a return for Xian as he opted to remove Elisabeth from his squad for the next game. The first round would see the two engage in another EX Iori mirror, with Tokido going down early to Xian. Unfortunately, all the work done by Xian would be undone with a few timely punishes by Tokido, who would take the first round but drop fast in the second due to the health disadvantage. Xian would rush down Tokido’s Mr. Karate in the mirror, pushing his guard gauge to the limit and pushing him to near-zero health. Xian was content to waste time and build meter for his final character, a move Tokido seemed hesitant to punish before finally eliminating Xian’s second character and bringing in EX Kyo. Tokido’s Mr. Karate would enter the next round with low health, and was eventually chipped out by Xian. But, it was strong meter usage with Kim that would again secure Tokido a victory and allow him to head even further into the bracket.
Winners Finals – CafeId|MadKOF (Duo Lon/King/Shen) vs. Hee San Woo (Ryo/Takuma/Kim)
The winners finals would see last year’s champion MadKOF placed against Hee San Woo. The Japanese competitor would put in a ton of work with Takuma in the first game, but MadKOF’s Shen and his dominating pressure would even it up heading into the last round. Ultimately, Woo’s Kim would snatch away an easy victory and give him the game advantage over the Korean powerhouse.
The second game would be a different story, as MadKOF’s strong poking and zoning with Duo Lon and King would chip away steadily at Woo’s defenses. Duo Lon in particular found solid ground on Ryo to eliminate Woo’s first character and then deal out decent damage on Takuma before hitting the bench. Woo used much of his meter to put Duo Lon down, leaving him unable to counter much of King’s lockdown game. This would bring in Woo’s Kim, the final character on his side, who saw similar difficulty against King. Luckily, a number of lows would connect, leaving him at nice health to take on MadKOF’s own Kim in the final round. The mirror would go entirely Woo’s way, leaving him with a seat in the grand finals as MadKOF headed to the losers bracket.
Losers Semifinals – MCZ|Tokido (EX Iori/Mr. Karate/Kim) vs. AS|Reynald (EX Kyo/Benimaru/Chin)
The crowd continued to support Reynald as he eyed losers finals against MadKOF. Smart decisions by both players would keep the first round close, but a few missed dropped punish opportunities would allow Reynald to stay in the game and eliminate the first threat on Tokido’s team. Mr. Karate would also fall to EX Kyo, leaving Tokido with Kim to finish the game out. He would finally take out EX Kyo, but the damage done to his team proved to be too much. Reynald again secured a game solely with his first two characters, giving him the game advantage in this crucial elimination match.
Tokido stuck to his guns heading into the next game, again trying as hard as he could to eliminate the EX Kyo threat from Reynald’s team. His overaggressive tendencies would lead to him being trapped in the corner though, unable to block Reynald’s lows and overheads. Reynald’s ridiculous EX Kyo play would once again force Tokido to the brink with only Kim to make the comeback. Like the last game, Reynald’s Benimaru proved to be too much for Tokido, and he would be eliminated at fourth place.
Losers Finals – CafeId|MadKOF (King/Duo Lon/Kim, Duo Lon/King/Kim) vs. AS|Reynald (EX Kyo/Benimaru/Chin, Benimaru/Takuma/Chin)
MadKOF would enter this losers finals match leading with King in an effort to keep space between his team and Reynald’s dominant EX Kyo. This move would prove to be fruitful, as he defeated that problem quickly and entered the next game with very high health on his point character. Soon dropped to only Chin, Reynald would fight back valiantly with victories against both King and Duo Lon. Drops by MadKOF in the final round would nearly give Reynald the reverse OCV, but Kim would ultimately win out and give MadKOF the first game.
Interestingly, Reynald would remove EX Kyo from his team entirely for the next game, placing Benimaru on point with Takuma in the second position. MadKOF would also adjust his team by putting Duo Lon in the first slot to set the tone early. While Benimaru fell fast, Reynald would even things up with a fortunate Takuma finish in the second round. King would also fail to establish any sort of screen control against Takuma, leaving MadKOF with Kim against Reynald’s last two characters. Left with Chin later in the game, Reynald was able to clutch out a victory and tie up the game count against Evo 2012′s champion.
Reynald set the pace in the second game with his point Benimaru, quickly eliminating the threat of MadKOF’s Duo Lon. The Korean player did his best to slow things down in the second round, but would see another character fall to Reynald’s overpowering Benimaru. With an OCV in sight, MadKOF pulled out a smart anti-air to finally take out Benimaru, leaving Takuma and Chin on Reynald’s side. Lax defense on Reynald’s side would appear to put the match back into MadKOF’s favor, but the crowd favorite would ride the support of the audience to secure his spot in grand finals.
Grand Finals – Hee San Woo (Ryo/Takuma/Kim, Ryo/Kim/Mai) vs. AS|Reynald (Kim/Benimaru/Chin, EX Kyo/Benimaru/Chin)
Reynald would enter grand finals from losers, needing to win two sets in order to take first place. Hee San Woo would provide quite a challenge with his slow and methodical Ryo play. The Japanese player succeeded in establishing an easy pase early on by taking out Reynald’s Kim, though he would soon fall to Benimaru. The two players would go back and forth, eventually finding themselves in the final round with their third characters. No stranger to Kim, Reynald would block much of what Woo through at him, but his Chin failed to find much offense of his own before falling and giving Woo the game advantage.
While Ryo would fall early, Woo’s Takuma would put in some great work against Reynald’s Benimaru, closing out the round with a smart read. Reynald would get caught in the corner by Takuma, but escaping with Chin and countering an attempt at punishment would carry him into the final match. Drinking with Chin ended up costing him the game, giving Woo a two game advantage.
With his back against the ropes, Reynald would finally break out EX Kyo to carry the early game against Woo’s Ryo. Missed opportunities on Woo’s part would give Reynald a two character advantage, leaving Kim as the final character on Woo’s team. Low on health, Reynald went crazy with EX Kyo, doling out great damage on Kim before finally being eliminated. Once again, Benimaru would enter the fray and seal the deal for Reynald, shortening Woo’s lead to 2-1.
The first round of the next game would be much closer, but Reynald would again demolish Woo’s defenses when it mattered. Ryo fell quickly, but Takuma would be called in to slow down Reynald’s intense pacing. Reynald would eventually be left solely with Chin, all of his tournament hopes riding on the old man. Near death, he would eliminate Woo’s Takuma and challenge Kim with tons of meter at his disposal. That advantage would prove to be his greatest asset, as the final combo would carry Woo’s Kim to the corner, spend all of his meter, and tie the game count up at two games apiece.
Again, Reynald would force the match to play out in his speedy rhythm, taking out the Ryo threat on Woo’s team early before eventually losing his EX Kyo to Takuma. His Benimaru started the round out with a lengthy HD combo that led to Takuma’s elimination, setting up another match against Kim. Smelling blood in the water, his intense rushdown would make quick work of Woo’s Kim, resetting the bracket and making Woo step aside to consult his compatriots.
The frenzied pace was slowed a bit by Woo’s Ryo, who finally found traction against EX Kyo to seal a first round win. The Japanese player was able to make Reynald hesitate enough to deal some nice damage against Benimaru, but the second character on Reynald’s team would utilize meter to quickly drop Takuma. Left with only Kim once more, Woo would fight back admirably, but Reynald would prove to be too much as he forced numerous mistakes from his competitor and took his first advantage in grand finals.
The second game of this final grand finals set saw Woo switch mainstay Mai back into his team to hopefully thwart the tide of Reynald’s attacks. His Ryo would easily take out EX Kyo, but Benimaru would continue to be the star of Reynald’s team by removing Woo’s solid point character. Woo utilized Kim’s wheel kicks to take the advantage, leaving Reynald with Chin. Reynald would burn all of his meter in various attempts to catch Woo slipping, but eventually stole the round away off a smart poke. Read after read would keep Reynald in the game in the final round, allowing him to go up two games against Woo after being on the brink of elimination in the first set.
Down heavy against the crowd favorite, Woo appeared to be broken between games. He would score a nice victory against Reynald’s EX Kyo to slow down his offense for a bit, but Benimaru took advantage of Woo’s susceptible defense to even the character count for Reynald. A failed reset opportunity by Takuma would be met with copious amounts of damage from Reynald’s Bemimaru, who then had only Kim to fight through for the championship. Down to a sliver of life with Benimaru, Reynald would fight his way through Woo’s dominant Kim, punishing a whiffed flip kick at the end of the game to sweep the Japanese competitor.