While attending the inaugural Evo Japan, it crossed my mind that an article talking about the differences between the event and the original Evo in Las Vegas might be a great read. That said, there was just one little problem. Well a big problem: I’ve never actually been to Evo in Las Vegas. Yes, there it is, hold the presses — one of Shoryuken’s longest-tenured writers was an Evo “virgin,” and hasn’t gone to the big game in Vegas.
It’s not like I haven’t tried. However, real life always seemed to find a means to get in the way of my plans. The first time I tried to go, I got laid off when the company I worked for got bought out, and after that, I’d focused more on helping build the scene here in the Philippines. The Evo trip kept getting moved back further and further. It certainly didn’t help that flying to Las Vegas from the Philippines wasn’t exactly an easy task — what with the Visa requirements, on top of the actual cost (at least a thousand US dollars for the flight alone).
The thing is, I’m not actually alone in this now. The viewership numbers alone indicate that there’s a large audience of players who are interested in Evo, but aren’t able to go. And I’m pretty sure a number of these are players like me — stuck on the other side of the world, and not easily able to travel to Las Vegas.
We call ourselves the “Fighting Game Community,” but we’re actually quite divided in more ways than one. Geography — specifically, the Pacific Ocean — is one of those great divides. While Evo is supposed to be where the community gets together, for the longest time, only a limited number of people from the East have been able to come over — usually the top players from Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, or China, fighting to represent their countries in their games of choice.
With Evo Japan though, players from all over the Asian region now have a chance to actually fulfill that dream: from top players who stood good chances of winning, unknown talent capable of causing upsets, fighting game fans who want to experience something like Evo, to veterans who just want to reconnect with old friends (and make new ones in the process). For the most part, the same kinds of players you see at the Evo in Las Vega — only now, it’s in Tokyo.
With this in mind, perhaps the really important point to make isn’t about the differences between Evo Japan and the original Evo venue. Rather it’s about how they’re similar. Both represent the most prestigious tournament in the world of competitive fighting games. Both are where the fighting game community at large comes together to celebrate this genre that we’ve all fallen in love with. The only real difference — or at least the only one that matters — is that now one of them takes place on the other side of the world, opening the Evo experience to an even greater population of fans and players, and finally letting those who wouldn’t couldn’t attend before do so.