The wheel of Fate is turning once again. For the third time in its history, BlazBlue returns to the Evo main stage this year, with BlazBlue: Central Fiction. Though a lot of eyes are turned to Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2, Team Blue’s title has been given a spot in the Sunday finals, and has also increased activity through the Burst League and the Japan E-Sports League. Though it is lower on the entrant list compared to other titles, the quality of competition will certainly make up for it. Nearly 500 warriors have journeyed from around the world to Las Vegas in their quest to obtain the Azure. With so many competitors, and many top players from Japan making the journey out, it could prove to be anyone’s game.
The American Contingent
Panda Global’s SKD is arguably in the driver’s seat, coming off of back-to-back victories at Combo Breaker and CEO, which include a huge victory over one of his biggest rivals, Cyclops Osaka’s Dogura, who’s no doubt hungry for redemption after getting 2nd place at Evo 2014. Fable|Kizzie Kay has also proven himself a multi-game threat, with victories at Texas Showdown and Northwest Majors XI.
However, they’re not the only two threats from the USA. Players like InC|Flux, TheArm, BetaDood, 482|Mastastef, 482|Doza, who upset Dogura at Final Round 20, the BeautifulDude, Nakkiel, Grover, IxR|BurgerMcNasty, Anime Ascension 2017 champion BrkrDave, Jona, Havoc_Noah and the Evo 2011 champion Spark will look to defend their home turf.
With 72 Japanese players descending upon Las Vegas, this will be the strongest level of competition we’ve seen in Central Fiction to date, with many gods of the arcades coming to America for the very first time, alongside frequent travelers and former champions. Cyclops Osaka’s Dogura began the year with victories at Frosty Faustings XI and Final Round 20, before finally falling to SKD at Combo Breaker, but his Azrael remains as vicious as ever. Evo 2014 champion PONOS|Garireo, who left the game following the release of CPEX, has returned in an attempt to claim a second title with his Litchi. The legendary Jin player, IO|Fenrich, will be making his first appearance on American soil. Widely considered to be Japan’s strongest BB player, his status is comparable to Ogawa in Guilty Gear. He is undeniably a favorite to win it all, but he’ll certainly have his work cut out for him, after falling to Monster at KVOXTSB 2017.
The likes of Dora_Bang, Evo 2016 Guilty Gear Xrd -REVELATOR- runner-up Machabo, Tiku, Kiyoshi, Tochigin, Fumi, Fumo, KVOXTSB 2017 champion iGS|Monster, Poropiccho, TOKYO VERDY|Souji, Yoshiki, Ryuusei, Kogatan, Matoi and Koike will also be looking to make their mark. It’s not all about the Land of the Rising Sun though, as Canada’s Psykotik, and MVA|Pochp will represent the Great White North, while the U.K.’s Kiba’s Valkenhayn will certainly be on the prowl, along with many more.
Though there is a lot of talk about the current state of the game’s balance and the power of the top tiers, there should be plenty of character variety throughout the weekend, though Izayoi, Nine, Arakune and Izanami certainly have the potential to go pretty far in the bracket.
With the series’ main story seemingly concluded with CF, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 in full-swing, along with rumors of Toshimichi Mori wanting to work on an RWBY fighting game that could be announced at the event, the future of BlazBlue following this event seems a bit uncertain — barring a surprise announcement at the Sunday finals. Though if this is indeed the final time the Wheel of Fate turns, these competitors will be sure to make the game go out with a glorious Astral Finish.
If you’re new to the series, check out Ebonic Plague’s spectator guide to better familiarize yourself with the characters and mechanics of the game before you watch the action this weekend. Can America close the gap between us and Japan, or will someone make an impact from out of nowhere? Let us know who you expect to see in top 8 in the comments below. REBEL 1! ACTION!