With the widespread excitement for the Evo 2017 games line-up last week, there was a slight twist in the tail for some communities. In a flashback to 2013, the ninth game for Evo 2017 would be decided by a charity drive, with nine extra games being potentially up for that final spot. One of the games sent to fight in the arena is Killer Instinct–which has been at Evo ever since its release back in 2013.
While it may not garner the largest numbers, Killer Instinct has a community of incredibly dedicated fans, complete with an equally attentive developer who only wants to see the game thrive. With a storied history at Evo, a passionate cohort of players, and design which makes it perfect for the arena environment, here’s why Killer Instinct should still be considered for a spot during the Sunday finals.
Built for the Big Stage
Anyone who has played Killer Instinct knows the excitement this game can induce. Hearing the commentator shout “C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER!” at the top of his lungs is cool enough on the TV at home, let alone in an enormous arena like the Mandalay Bay. With one of the best soundtracks in the business and some fantastic sound design, Killer Instinct is made for a massive stage like Evo. There is no better way to start off the Sunday, than with the roaring sounds of a Triple Ultra while “Inferno” blasts through the arena speakers.
Counter Breakers allow for intense mind games and crazy combo potential, there is almost limitless combo potential with each character’s unique Instinct mode and, with a sizable cast of viable fighters, there is almost guaranteed character variety even in a top 8 finals. “Killer Instinct always remained very bright and exciting with its expanding (and for the most-part) well-balanced roster in any fighting game period,” says Ultra Arcade’s Bass, Evo 2015 Top 8 finalist and Evo 2016 runner-up. “Character diversity along with the representation of many different players from around the globe has grown exponentially as KI evolved.” With the addition of new character Kilgore and further balances and changes to Killer Instinct going into Evo, there is no danger of its top 8 being a series of character dittos. Bass adds that “most of the roster is still untapped, and you guys have seen how intense and crazy our tournaments can get, with all that new tech comin’ out practically every day,” so the chance of a diverse top 8 is even higher.
Plus, with characters like Rash excelling in styling on your opponent, Triple Ultras providing quite the way to showboat after a win and character Ultimates coming in February to add that extra layer of hype to a win, you can definitely expect fireworks at Mandalay Bay, should Killer Instinct grace the stage.
An Exciting Legacy and a Hopeful Future
Since its first appearance back at Evo 2014, Killer Instinct has always had a small, but action packed presence at Evo. “We showed up at Evolution 2014 (with some of your favorite Street Fighter pros included in our Top 8), expanded in Evolution 2015 (and brought the hype with 8 different characters in that Top 8, along with an unknown Japanese player), and continued to bring in the crazy diversity in Evolution 2016 (Grand Finals consisted of two friends who started playing online together)” Bass recalls, looking back on KI’s storied history at the event.
There have been heart in mouth moments like Sleep’s magic pixel comeback against MyGod, Domi coming out of nowhere with his crazy Cinder tech to 16 year old prodigy SeaDragon getting into top 8 of this year’s event. Killer Instinct has had no shortage of excitement when on the Evo stage, so you can only expect the community to bring its A-game should it make it to Sunday finals this year.
Moreover, Killer Instinct is only set to grow in the future, thanks to the work done by current developers Iron Galaxy. There are still two more characters to be added to the roster in the near future and Iron Galaxy are in constant communication with the Killer Instinct community via surveys and streams. Half of the purchases of new character Kilgore are going to fund the KI Ultra Tour, ensuring that Killer Instinct is only going to improve in 2017. “Killer Instinct found itself as the game with the highest entrant growth by percentage year after year at Evo” says Rick Thiher, tournament director for Combo Breaker–a tournament series he named after Killer Instinct. “Now in its potential 4th year at Evo, Killer Instinct continues to be the fighting game with the most open developer community relationship, as well as ongoing new character releases leading into Evo 2017.” Far from being on life support, this is the time to get into Killer Instinct–and having it on the big stage means more players joining this community. Iron Galaxy’s community support has even allowed blind players like SightlessKombat to fight alongside everyone else, thanks to its extensive audio options.
Plus, it couldn’t be easier to join in on the fun. Rather than having to buy an old console to run it, or having to scour the Internet just to find to people to play with, Killer Instinct is free to play. If you are at all interested in playing, you can download it right now and start learning with starter character Jago and the weekly rotating character. Killer Instinct Season 2 is even free until February 15th if you have Xbox Live Gold, meaning you can play with 17 of the game’s 27 characters right now. The game’s extensive Training Mode and tutorials are one of the best out there for teaching brand new players how to fight, and its unparalleled netcode mean that you can play almost anyone in the world with few connection issues.
A Killer Community
Most importantly, Killer Instinct has one of the most passionate communities out there. From its thriving online community with regular tournaments like 8-Bit Beatdown, KI Pro League and Kross Up, it has a continued presence at other big FGC events like CEO, Combo Breaker and SCR. On top of this, its own dedicated offline events like Kombo Klash and the upcoming Killer Instinct World Cup make it so Killer Instinct fans are fiercely dedicated to any event that will have them. “6 million unique users have come together to create one of the FGC’s most welcoming communities and it would be a shame to turn a blind eye to their collective interest before Killer Instinct has stopped releasing new content” says Thiher, as someone who is acutely aware of the passion of the KI community through their place at events like Combo Breaker.
It’s also a game with a global presence, with a substantial following in Europe and even an enthusiastic, if small, Japanese scene. The current KIWC bracket is set to have players from over 7 different countries at present, so expect that continent spanning community to also descend on Evo, should it make the cut. “To me KI at Evo is special,” says Ki4Life, member of the Dutch Brawlers and top European community leader. “When I saw KI at Evo in 2014 I knew I had to be there for the game, the KI family but overall for the FGC in general. Then in 2015 I flew 16+ hours from the Netherlands, first time in USA and had the time of my life.”
It’s a community where it does not matter if you are a new player, an online warrior, a stream monster or a veteran contender; everyone is welcome in the Killer Instinct family. With community members like Infilament creating free in-depth guides to aid new players on the path to competition, groups like Ultra Arcade sponsoring new players and running community events, along a developer which only wants the best for its players, Killer Instinct has nothing but love for getting people into the FGC. “I was an online warrior, who somehow got fully sponsored in a 6 month span, and now I’m known not just in the Killer Instinct community, but rather, the fighting community as Ultra Arcade’s Bass,” says the Spinal master when discussing the community’s positive effect on his life. “I started traveling everywhere, won many majors, both nationally and internationally, and now I’ve met many friends and now family, for a lifetime.”
Currently situated in the third spot behind Pokkén Tournament and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Killer Instinct still has the potential to pop its Instinct and surge to victory. However, if it does not get in, it is not the end of the world. Killer Instinct is certainly not going anywhere, with its own World Cup in March, billing at events like CEO and Combo Breaker, alongside continued online tournaments for the legion of online warriors. It would of course be great to have another big stage to show Killer Instinct off, any of the other games currently in the running for that top spot would make for fantastic Sunday viewing, so show your support to them after this donation drive is over.
If Killer Instinct is still lagging behind and no Jago Spirit Bomb comes to save the day, spread the love in other ways. Buy a friend a copy of the Definitive Edition and play together, direct new players to the plethora of learning resources and most importantly, keep cheering for Killer Instinct! Evo is ultimately about spreading a shared love of fighting games out there to anyone who cares to watch a match or pick up a controller, so show that love whenever possible and show the FGC just how much they may have missed by not getting KI as their Sunday opener. However, as Killer Instinct is lucky to actively aid players in their journey to compete and have a developer that is constantly putting players first and a close-knit, supportive community, I feel Killer Instinct is one you should consider to fill that ninth spot. Fight on!
Vote for Killer Instinct on generosity.com here. Voting closes at 12:00 PM PST on February 8, 2017.
Special thanks to Kenneth “Bass” Armas, Rick “TheHadou” Thiher and Chi-Man “Ki4Life” Cheung for contributing their thoughts.