When the line-up for Evolution 2017 was announced last Tuesday, something was noticeably different, something important was missing. For the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2002, there was the threat that a Marvel vs. Capcom game would not be in Evo’s roster.
Now, some of the younger readers and players out there may be thinking to themselves “so what?” What you need to understand is how much Evo and the Marvel vs. Capcom series are tied to each other. If Street Fighter can be said to represent the heart of Evo, then Marvel represents its soul–and that’s not just because it was there from the start.
The History of Hype
That isn’t to say that the Marvel vs. Capcom’s series’ history with Evo isn’t important–it is. The rivalries and hype moments that the series has brought into Evo have become an important part of its history.
Take a look at Echo Fox|Justin Wong. As much as he’s remembered for his unfortunate part in “Evo Moment 37,” it was also at Evo where his reputation as the king of comebacks was cemented. His amazing match against Michael “IFC Yipes” Mendoza at Evo 2007 was similarly immortalized as part of the Evolution Pro Tips series’ “Pro Tip #7: Never Give Up.”
In this match, Justin uses his last remaining character, Cyclops, to take out Yipes’ entire team of Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke. This amazing show of skill, nerves, and heart is now a favorite examples to encourage newcomers not to give up, even against overwhelming odds, when they fight at Evo (and a fitting metaphor for the community not to give up on getting the game into Evo 2017).
Justin would then continue his penchant for amazing comebacks at Evo with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3–making amazing victories throughout the years against various top players, such as EG|Christopher “NY ChrisG” Gonzales, PG|Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez, and more.
Of course, Justin and his comebacks aren’t the only source of memorable moments at Evo. The Marvel vs. Capcom tournament has always been a stage for amazing stories. Take for example, Duc Do’s win at Evo 2005 with his team of Spiral, Sentinel, and Cable.
At that time, Duc’s team wasn’t considered to be as strong as it once was. This was when Marvel vs. Capcom 2’s metagame had shifted towards a more rushdown-centric game over the previous emphasis on zoning and trapping. Many top players were using Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke at Evo including Justin Wong, EG|Ricki Ortiz, and Yipes – who Duc faced at grand finals. Despite all this, Duc showed that there was still life in his team and that he was still a threat, beating Yipes 3 games to 2 in grand finals.
Speaking of notable stories, let’s not forget the more recent ones. Long considered to be “America’s Game” Evo 2015 turned out to be a massive eye-opener with a Chilean, Nicolas “Kane Blueriver” Gonzales tearing his way through the ranks to finally show that that the US couldn’t sit on its laurels. He even did it with Hulk, Haggar, and Sentinel–historically considered one of UMvC3’s weaker teams.
Now, the tournament itself isn’t the only source of great stories and from the Marvel vs. Capcom series at Evo. Numerous exhibitions and grudge matches have taken place at Evo as well. Who could forget Justin Wong’s memorable exhibition match against Dark Prince, where he had to use a low tier team selected at random. Despite this handicap, the set was still close with Justin almost winning against Dark Prince who was using a pre-set “god tier” team.
Dark Prince himself is something of a controversial figure at Evo, being one of the first people to ever be banned from the event.
These stories, these moments from the Marvel vs. Capcom series have become part of the Evo “lore.” The hype that they’ve brought has become a part of that which makes Evo what it is today. More importantly, the Marvel vs. Capcom series, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 still remains a source of great stories.
2016 was supposed to be a year where UMvC3 was a dead game, yet it gave us what is arguably one of the best stories of the past decade. Christopher “NY ChrisG” Gonzales had long been considered one of UMvC3’s “gods,” but he had yet to win himself an Evo championship. This year looked to be more of the same, simply because, standing in his way was his nemesis, Justin Wong, who had beat him and sent him home every time they fought at Evo. 2016 however was different, that year, a more relaxed, more confident ChrisG was finally able to defeat Justin, even stopping one of the latter’s fabled comebacks, paving the way to his eventual championship win.
Even with all that’s already happened, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is still a place for new stories to happen. Last year’s event was also building to another story with Kane Blueriver almost becoming the first player to win in UMvC3 twice at Evo, only to be stopped by ChrisG. This year, many of the existing champions are on the lookout to try to get that elusive second win and put themselves above the others, if they’re given the chance. That said, there are also a crop of players who’re looking for make their mark, players like Raynel “RayRay” Hidalgo, and Daniel “Clockw0rk” Maniago who have at times been considered as part of the games “gods” but have yet to win Evo, to perennial top 8 contenders such as Vineeth “ApologyMan” Meka, Luis “Paradigm” Cervantes, Armando “Angelic” Mejia, and the like. All of these and more are possible sources of great stories and hype from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, if the game is given the chance to be at Evo one more time.
The Grassroots Soul
All this history, all these stories that have come and are yet to come from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, are not the only reason however why Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 needs to return to Evo. There’s another, just as important reason for it. As stated above, the series is the “soul” of Evo, and this is because of how it represents the undying grassroots spirit of the community.
Even before the first Evo in 2002, all the way back to its roots as the Battle by the Bay, or B3, the tournament has always been about the community. These tournaments started out simply as a place for the community to come together and compete. People came and competed in the games because they loved them, regardless of whether or not there was any sort of support from the developers.
Of course, Evo has come a long way since those early days. The event has become important enough that many companies, beyond just the developers and publishers are paying attention to it. And with this attention has come a lot of support. Not to say that this is a bad thing, in fact all this support has helped the tournament grow and the genre reach out larger audiences. That said, despite all this, there was one game in the Evo line up that always seemed to be there simply on the strength of its community alone–Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
Due to its nature as a licensed game, alongside the sometimes confusing nature of Marvel’s video game licenses, UMvC3 never really got the same level of support as fellow Capcom series Street Fighter. However, despite this, the game’s tournament scene continued to thrive. This wasn’t really surprising of course, the Marvel vs. Capcom community had come from playing a single game competitively for a decade, and making it thrive despite the lack of any support. The community then was simply doing what it had been doing since Evo’s early days.
In this way then, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is one of the few games that fully captures the original grassroots spirit of Evolution. It’s a game that survives and even thrives in the tournament circuit because of its community.
Evo was started on passion: on a community’s passion for their games, and for playing and competing with others in those games. The Marvel vs. Capcom community continues to pour this same passion into their current game–Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3–into its events and tournaments, into the content they produce to help other players, and even into all the effort that we are now putting into getting the game into Evo, this article included.
If the player’s passion–their love for their games that got these grassroots efforts started–is the “soul” of Evo, then Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is the game that, out of all the Player’s Choice picks, that embodies that soul the most. To have an Evo without this soul would be a travesty. As such, I implore all you players who care about Evo, about the games, and most importantly about the community, to give Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 its rightful place at Evo 2017.
Vote for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 on generosity.com here. Voting closes at 12:00 PM PST on February 8, 2017.