Evo 2017: Mr. Wizard Talks to SRK about the Games That Made It, the Games That Didn’t, and Why

By on January 25, 2017 at 12:00 pm
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Mr. Wizard elaborates on the games that made the cut, and some that haven’t–at least not yet.

With Evo 2017’s main games revealed–all but the final game that is, to be yet determined by vote–the stage is set for an epic battle at the (air-conditioned, presumably) Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas’ searing July heat. I asked Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar some questions about the upcoming event–particularly regarding what titles made it to the main stage this year, and why.

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Zavian “mushin_Z” Sildra: Was the decision to stay at Mandalay Bay–and consolidate the event there, rather than two separate venues again–made pretty much immediately after that spectacular arena Finals showing last year? Or were there other possible locations considered?

Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar: It was an immediate win for us to consolidate everything into Mandalay Bay in 2017. Ideally we would have used just one venue last year, but we weren’t able to book a space large enough for all our players. So last year was a bit of a scramble, but this year we think we’re incredibly happy with our space at Mandalay Bay.

mushin_Z: Street Fighter V topped a massive 5100 entrants in 2016. Are you confident SFV can break that record in 2017?

Mr. Wizard: Records are meant to be broken, so anything is possible! We have a lot of space this year, so accommodating tournaments that break records should be doable.

mushin_Z: Smash fans are likely thrilled, but not everyone is, surely–what justifies the inclusion of both Smash 4 and Melee once again?

Mr. Wizard: Having the 2nd and 3rd most entrants last year, with a very diverse cross-section of Smash players, says a lot. These are two dedicated communities and we see the value in bringing them both back. Smash is in fact a fighting game, and they deserve to be represented at Evo.

mushin_Z: Air-dashers might be surprised that both Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 and BlazBlue: Central Fiction made it to the main stage this time, more likely expecting one to edge out the other. What made you decide to let them share the spotlight? Did the upcoming release of GG Xrd REV 2 make a big difference?

Mr. Wizard: We were all set to let BlazBlue have the spotlight this year, but then that surprise curveball of REV 2 getting announced a few days ago changes things up. We wanted to make sure that we could include both games this year, as we recognize that they have different communities for those games. Evo 2014’s BlazBlue Finals were epic, so we’re looking forward to seeing what players can do this year!

mushin_Z: Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 (especially) are releasing on console pretty close to the event date; do you think publishers are taking Evo strongly into account for their release schedules? Is Evo becoming the “Oscars” of fighting games?

Mr. Wizard: If they are, it’s an honor for them to do so. We don’t dictate release dates, but them reworking their schedule around ours is crazy! We are just a celebration of fighting games, so we want to give the big stage to as many awesome fighting games that are out there.

mushin_Z: Pokkén Tournament debuted last year, and is now out of the lineup–was it a hard game to cut? How strongly was it considered? And were Killer Instinct or Mortal Kombat X even in the running this year?

Mr. Wizard: Every fighting game is in the running and is considered every year. One of the key elements that we look at is if people are still playing it, and how often. Evo can only do so many tournaments every year, so that’s why we included all those titles in the vote so that we can make sure everyone has a shot at the final game.

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mushin_Z: Why make a return to 2013’s voting model to choose game #9?

Mr. Wizard: Giving back is one of the core values of Evo that we try to always do. We thought with so many games this year and a finite amount of time and space, we thought we would leave it up the community. The Evo 2013 vote was wildly successful, and we hope to recreate that magic again this year.

mushin_Z: Considering the Marvel hype from upcoming Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3’s reissue, do you think it’s the lead contender to be voted back into the #9 spot?

Mr. Wizard: We think it has an excellent shot at claiming the top spot. There are however 8 other games that could easily make it in. If you have ever thought about getting involved, now is the time! Lets raise money for kids with Make-a-Wish International.

mushin_Z: What game do you personally wish could’ve been included, but didn’t make the cut?

Mr. Wizard: Personally I would love to see ClayFighter make a return, but there is only so much I can do!


Evo 2017 takes place at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, July 14-16. Registration is open now.

Shoryuken.com Editor-in-Chief and performing member of Kita no Taiko. Street Fighterin' since there was only a "II" in the name.