It’s been a big year for Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2. Along with the newly released update, we have seen many signings onto professional esports teams, but also support from companies like Smash.gg. Burst League, a leaderboard that rewards players from participating in sanctioned events, took a step to providing more structure to anime games. Arc System Works has taken steps to cater more to their community. Although the numbers for this year’s Evolution Championship don’t show an increase from last year, Guilty Gear is 5th overall with 818 registered entrants, still solid (it was 909 last year).
As ArcSys seems more responsive than ever to player feedback, the chance to shape the future of Guilty Gear seems to truly lie in their hands. Anyone has a chance to become a trailblazer at the event. Depending on which character emerges victorious, and we know that the odds are not exactly in favor of some underrated ones, such as Kum Haehyun or Jam Kuradoberi, the next patch could very well shift the metagame in a new direction. We’ve seen a patch with Dizzy land on Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- practically right after the Evo tournament, placing nerfs on monstrous top tiers, Sin Kiske and Johnny.
One important thing to note about this “cycle,” as mentioned in the Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 review, is that the gap between consumers and arcade players in Japan has never been shorter. With such a short time frame between the releases, as well as the availability of a Steam version posthaste (sought-after for the improved netplay), it’s obvious that ArcSys has been listening to its fans. Guilty Gear has been finding a growing audience overseas and in the console market, overshadowing its younger brother, BlazBlue, which has a much stronger following in the arcades. Team Blue’s child also scored frequent streaming on the Japan E-Sports League. Every bit of enthusiasm from the community counts nowadays, since viewership and the entrant counts at Evo are prime pickings for marketers, statisticians, and esports teams.
Speaking of esports, there’s been a few exciting signings precisely for Guilty Gear Xrd in 2017 in the American scene. Broken Alliance Gaming picked up dotNova and CleverFOXSOL in April, filling in some anime fighters amidst their burgeoning Super Smash and Counter Strike: GO rosters. The former is famous for his Jack-O’ Valentine play, a rarely seen character that is known for her tower-defense-game inspirations, which has been notoriously difficult to balance for Arc System Works. He did very well at Combo Breaker 2017, placing 4th in a vigorously diverse Top 8.
Other exciting signings for Guilty Gear happened with BjornSonOfBear (Xcel), who often dominates tournaments with his Chipp, and KidViper and Kizzie Kay (both for Fable Esports). Fable|KidViper talked about successfully devising a strategy to beat CO|Dogura at DreamHack Austin. Fable|Kizzie Kay has been a dominating force in both Guilty Gear and BlazBlue, so we can expect high placements from all of these players.
Of those unsigned, it’s definitely worth pointing out daymendou, whose Slayer has not only flourished with impressive placing but also became famous for making great use of Danger Time at Anime Ascension and besting Fable|KidViper. Keep an eye out for PepperySplash as well, another strong Johnny. Hamad’s Ky, Hotashi’s Elphelt, Foo’s Haehyun, BloodWolf’s May, and DEB’s Sol have also been putting in a lot of work this year. For the most part, there aren’t too many surprises in comparison to last year, so we’ll see lots of returning names. It’s a really good idea to check out matches from Tension Pulse and Super Steam Xrd Exhibition League to see what most of the country’s strong players have to offer.
Who’s going to come out on top (or even just in Top 8)? I’m feeling Raven will go far, so expect a Raven player to do some damage within top 64. The Fable Esports boys will certainly at least get to Top 32. PG|MarlinPie also isn’t staying down, though REV 2 doesn’t seem to favor Zato=1. It feels like more of a toss-up than ever before, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s someone totally out of left field.
Now, as for Japan, we’ll see a solid increase in their presence as compared to 2016. Jumping from 237 to 264, you’ll see many more Japanese players around for all games. Out of 264, 79 are registered for Guilty Gear. We’ve got a ton of familiar, top names you will no doubt be likely seeing at least in the top 32: Machaboo’s Sin (the previous Evo champion), GGP|Kazunoko’s Sol and Raven, NAGE’s incredible Faust, Omito’s Johnny, and Ogawa’s legendary Zato=1, as usual. Additionally, keep an eye out for T5M7, whose Leo Whitefang made some waves by winning Arc Revolution Cup 2016, kedako’s May (he’s famous for compiling frame data), purepure’s Jack-O’, Koichi’s I-no, Teresa’s Jam, and Samitto’s Chipp.
Those are just some of the names, so be sure to refer to the full list on Kakuge Checker. To get a little preview of these Japanese players, I highly recommend watching Jonio-san’s YouTube channel — the man himself is also coming!
It would be interesting to see how far a Baiken or Answer player gets. We still haven’t seen those characters show the full extent of their power much yet, as players, especially in the US, are still trying to figure things out. Let’s keep in mind that REV 2 is still a relatively fresh game. There’s a large territory to carve out yet.
I’m also eager to see how many non-Japanese players we’ll see in Top 8. This is yet another chance to prove if the perceived gap between Japan and the rest of the world is indeed shrinking. Are closer release dates enough to let America and other countries catch up? Can’t wait to see that, but more importantly, let’s get ready to see a good show — Heaven or Hell!
Let us know in the comment who you’re expecting to see in Top 8 at Evolution Championships this year!