Injustice 2 will return to the Evolution Championship Series this year with a very different tournament landscape. With the game now into its second year of competitive play, the honeymoon phase is over — the players who were interested in exploring a new game have given way to those who were willing to keep up with the waves of patches and DLC characters that have redefined the game.
For those that remain invested, Evo 2018 is the fourth premier stop on the 2018 Injustice Pro Series, with a pot bonus of $10,000. Multiple balance changes and polarizing match-ups have led to a metagame fueled by counterpicks, forcing top players to adapt quickly or learn more than one character to stay ahead of the field.
The overall field is certainly smaller than last year, with a decrease in players from 880 to 361. A few factors outside of the game may have had an adverse effect on the community’s growth, including NetherRealm Studios’ late announcement of the 2018 Injustice Pro Series and speculation over the potential announcement of Mortal Kombat XI. Regardless, the players at the top of the game continue to push Injustice 2 to new heights.
The Regime – Players to Watch
Each of the pro series events so far this season has been won by a different player and a different character. Last year’s Evo and ELEAGUE Injustice 2 champion, ALG|Dragon chose to withdraw from this year’s pro circuit for personal reasons, leaving the door open for a new player to claim the crown.
Top seed bc|Biohazard is the only player to reach top 8 in all of the premier events so far, using a mix of Black Adam, Starfire, Bane, and Cheetah. Noble|Tweedy earned the second seed after winning Combo Breaker and finishing second at CEO with Starfire and Doctor Fate.
Third seed Noble|Semiij and his Catwoman have dominated the War of the Gods online tournament circuit and performed well at several offline events, but he finally broke through to win his first major tournament with a grand finals reset at CEO. While other players have adopted secondary characters as potential counterpicks, Semiij has shown that Catwoman is well equipped to deal with a variety of match-ups.
Two more character specialists, bc|HoneyBee and PG|Hayatei, earned top seeds with the Flash and Robin, respectively. HoneyBee was the Evo 2017 runner-up, winning over the crowd with his lightning-paced Flash play. Hype for underused characters doesn’t translate to wins though, as both players have yet to take home the top spot at a Pro Series event.
Of course, no NRS tournament is safe with Echo Fox|Sonic Fox in the bracket. Last year’s Pro Series champ has admitted that he is prioritizing Dragon Ball FighterZ over Injustice 2 this year but he continues to post solid results. With less conventional picks like Captain Cold and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sonic Fox seems determined to win with his own style in spite of the characters currently dominating the game.
God Tiers Among Us? – Character Picks
Injustice 2 features some of the strongest zoning strategies in modern fighting games; Starfire, Black Adam, Doctor Fate, and Firestorm are just a few of the characters capable of controlling the pace of the game at long range. Starfire in particular has drawn the ire of many players, her wide range of tools and safe reversal moves have made her a common pocket character. The strength of the zoning game is what results in the game’s frequent counterpicks, as some characters lack the tools to succeed in certain match-ups.
Reminder! I'll play any Starfire in the mirror for $100 at EVO.
I'll also use Black Adam vs any Starfire for $100.
— Tweedy (@Noble_Tweedy) July 20, 2018
Zoning certainly isn’t the only winning approach; Catwoman is still considered one of the strongest characters in the game despite their lack of true zoning tools. Batman’s unique trait and diverse moveset have kept him in the upper tiers of the game since launch. Brainiac, Blue Beetle, and Atrocitus can still find plenty of success at mid to close range, too.
Though some of the more popular characters seen at the launch of the game have seen nerfs in the past year, Superman, Green Lantern, and Supergirl remain solid picks for their balance between zoning and close range fighting. Hellboy and Black Manta have shown themselves to be the strongest among the second wave of DLC characters and will likely see a good bit of use at Evo too.
Injustice 2 pools and Semi-Finals will be held on Friday, Aug. 3 starting at 8:00 a.m. PT/ 11:00 a.m. ET on Twitch.tv/Evo5. The top 8 finalists will play on Saturday, Aug. 4 at Noon PT/3 p.m. ET on Twitch.tv/Evo. Brackets are available on smash.gg.
Be sure to check the full schedule for Evo 2018 and follow all of Shoryuken’s coverage of the biggest fighting game weekend of the year!