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The Road to EVO 2011: Retrospective and Discussion

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Please note that the following is a work-in-progress. There is plenty of room for corrections, editing, expansion and improvements. Feel free to make any suggestions for content you would like to see!

To say the least, it's been a crazy year so far for the fighting game community. We're just coming off of the biggest stream monster* month in history, and are now less than a month away from the fighting game tournament that everyone's been waiting for: EVO 2011.




EVO 2011 Preview

What is EVO?

From the EVO site:

The Evolution Championship Series (Evo for short) represents the largest and longest-running fighting game tournaments in the world. Evo events bring together the best of the best from around the world in a dazzling exhibition of skill and fun, as players and fans gather to honor the competitive spirit in an open format and determine a champion.

You'll also find that our tournaments are about more than just winning. Evo events are open to anyone, feature many stations available for relaxed free play, and offer unique opportunities to meet people from different countries and different walks of life who share your passion. Established champions face off against unknown newcomers, and new rivals that might have only talked or fought online meet up and become old friends.
Since its inception in 2002, the tournament has had its hype moments here (full match) and there (full match). Anticipate many great moments to come this year as well.

For more information, check the F.A.Q. on the EVO website.


When and where is the event?

This year's EVO World Finals will take place at the Rio Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, from July 29-31.


Can I still register?

Sorry, but registration for EVO has closed. Registration ended on July 18.

What if I just want to spectate, do I still have to pay?

Don't worry, spectating and use of the bring-your-own-controller area is completely free.


What about the format? Rules?

Each EVO tournament this year is an individual, double-elimination competition. Check the Player Guide for more information:

Tournament Format
Tournament Rules
Additional Rules


What games will be a part of the tournament?

This is the official EVO 2011 tournament roster:

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II
Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Mortal Kombat
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
Tekken 6


Special Events

Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Grandmaster Invitational
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 East Coast vs. West Coast Exhibition


And for reference, the roster from last year:

Marvel vs. Capcom 2
Melty Blood: Actress Again
Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix
Super Street Fighter IV
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
Tekken 6

Notice that every game, with the exception of Tekken 6, is a new or updated game. All tournament games will be played on PlayStation 3.

Namco will be bringing the latest build of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, as well as exclusive SoulCalibur V content. Street Fighter × Tekken and Skullgirls will also be at the event.

Keep in mind that the above is only an official list of games. While the old staples like Super Turbo and MvC2 are indeed disappearing (though 3rd Strike has representation through the Grandmaster Invitational) expect there to be multiple side tournaments for other games run by the players themselves.

Here's a deeper look into the 2011 roster:



BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II
This is actually BlazBlue's first year at EVO, as in 2009, the console release was only a month before that year's tournament. In 2010, with the community split between Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift –which at the time was already released in arcades in Japan and was leaked to PC– the BB community decided it was best to give up their slot on the roster, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was selected as a replacement. This year, however, BlazBlue is finally ready for the main stage. With the May release of the Continuum Shift II DLC, the console and arcade release are finally at parity.




Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
For the first half of the year, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been the new hype. While SSFIV headed into twilight as everyone waited for the inevitable AE release, MvC3 took the community by storm, and the stream monster "Fuck Tekken, when's SF?" became "Fuck SF, when's Marvel?" Tokido's victory at CEO has certainly shaken things up, a reminder that this isn't Marvel 2 anymore: this is anyone's game. As long as one plays Wolverine and/or Phoenix, that is. Is "America's Game" not America's anymore? Will there be a balance patch before EVO?

For some in-depth analysis of the current state of MvC3 play, check out Dahbomb's posts on the MvC3 Meta-game: Part 1 Part 2



Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat is the first US-made game to be a part of the tournament. NetherRealm Studios has endeavored to making this game a tournament-worthy one. The game made quite a showing at CEO this year, with over 160 entrants. Cheers to MK's inaugural year, hopefully it will be a strong one.



Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
This is the third year and third version of Street Fighter IV. New characters have joined the fray, and we've already seen the dominance of Yun from Daigo Umehara. Japan has had the game for months; most players in the US are still trying to play catch-up. Expect players to continue to grind it out over the coming weeks, trying to gain a better familiarity with the new version.




Tekken 6
SoulCalibur, Virtua Fighter, and Dead or Alive have come and gone, but Tekken has been the one 3D fighting game series that has stuck around, having had representation at every EVO with the exception of 2002 and 2009. It may not be every stream monster's delight, but Namco is adding an extra $5000 to the pot, so there's certainly money to be won. Look forward to Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to join the roster (possibly replacing Tekken 6?) next year.


So are there any other special events at EVO?

EVO will host a series of panels throughout the event, featuring games, interviews as well as a discussion of the fighting game community itself.

Panel #1: Feed the Stream Monsters: A Guide to Broadcast Fighting Games - Friday, July 29 10AM
Mr Jared of (PAYWINNER, AJ aka Potatohead of Level|Up, and Louis aka Offcast speak on the history of fighting game broadcast as well as tips for building a successful stream.

Panel #2: Skullgirls: A New Age of Heroines - Friday, July 29 12PM
Mike Z talks the game a bit, and we get a deeper look into Parasoul, the newest character to be introduced.

Panel #3: Inside the Mind of the Beast: Daigo Umehara Exposed! - Friday, July 29 2PM
Seth Killian interviews the man himself. A limited edition Umehara shirt will also be for sell for $20.

Panel #4: Marvel Vs Capcom 3: Past, Present, and Future w/ Ryota Niitsuma (producer) and Hidetoshi “Neo_G” Ishizawa (battle designer) - Friday, July 29 4PM
Two of the minds behind Marvel vs. Capcom 3 discuss the game's development process as the future of MvC.

Panel #5: THE KING OF FIGHTERS XIII: Panel and Discussion - Saturday, July 30 10AM
Producer Kei Yamamoto and Atlus Project Manager Yu Namba offer an inside look at the development of The King of Fighters XIII.

Panel #6: Street Fighter III: Online Edition, Reinventing a Classic - Saturday, July 30 12PM
Derek Neal, Christian Svensson and Dave Lang (CEO of Iron Galaxy, the OE developer) talk about bringing by 3rd Strike for another round and chat about features the fans would like to see in future fighting games.

Panel #7: Namco Bandai – Get Ready For The Next Panel! - Saturday, July 30 2PM
Tekken Team Director Katsuhiro Harada, Game Designer Michael Murray and Community Manager FilthieRich talk the future of Tekken, while SoulCalibur V Director Daishi Odashima shares info on the upcoming release.

Panel #8: New Directions in Street Fighter × Tekken - Saturday, July 30 4PM
Yoshinori Ono, producer of SFIV and SFxT and perhaps the greatest troll in the fighting game community, gives us the latest scoop on Street Fighter × Tekken.

In addition, there's the Official EVO Pre-Party, sponsored by Insert Coin(s), which will be the day before EVO, July 28. Balrog: Behind the Glory, a fan-made independent short film, will make its world premiere at EVO.


So who's streaming the event?

The EVO 2011 live broadcast will be brought to you by the collaborative efforts of iPLAYWINNER and Team Sp00ky, as well as Offcast and FinestKO. New details on the EVO streams surfaced recently.

Stream 1: Team Sp00ky
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition (Friday)
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (Saturday)
Finals (Sunday)

Stream 2: Offcast/FinestKO
Tekken 6, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II (Friday)
Mortal Kombat (Saturday)

After-hours Stream: iPLAYWINNER

Keep in mind that EVO runs things a bit different when it comes to stream archives. There may or may not be an archive for the event, so if you want to watch all the action, be sure to catch it live.


Who's going to EVO?

I think the better question for US players is, "Who's not going to EVO?" This is the fighting game tournament, so even players who usually don't travel outside of their region make sure to go to EVO.

Not attending
Lud

Questionable
Marn
MastaCJ

MastaCJ might not be going, but right now he's trying to scrape together funds to make it out to Vegas. Less than two weeks before EVO, Marn tweeted that he won't make it EVO because of an (unclarified) emergency. He also stated that he will be retiring after EVO, whether he competes or not.

Of the three, Lud (formerly of DMG) is the only 100% confirmed to not be attending EVO.

But it's not all about the big names. Thousands of lesser known players will take part in the tournament, looking to show their skills and experience the atmosphere and energy of the world's largest fighting game tournament.

And let's not forget about GAF. Some of our own will be making the trip to Vegas to compete and enjoy the magic of EVO. Here's a partial list:


EvoGAF
AZ Greg
BigJiantRobut
Bob White
cHaotix8
devastatorprime
dragonballjoseph
Eissan
FishStix
GalacticAE
Gegz
God's Beard
haunts
JEKKI
Joekage
Killa Sasa
macuser1of5
MarkMan
Mr Jared
notworksafe
nycfurby
Rice-Eater
rivals
The Int3rsect
viewtiful_dru

Beyond the players competing the tournament, you'll most likely see the familiar faces of the fighting game community, such as Seth Killian and MarkMan.

As for international competition, players from over 20 countries and territories (Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Trinidad, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the USA) so far have registered to compete.

Here's some of the international players and personalities to expect at EVO:

AO [Japan]
Cuongster [France]
Evans [France] (via interview)
Gama no Abura [Japan] (confirmed via Twitter)
GamerBee [Taiwan] (won EVO qualifier in Taiwan)
Gackt [Singapore] (won EVO qualifier in Singapore)
Frieda [Japan] (at KUBOSGARDEN, said that he would compete at EVO)
Fuudo [Japan] (see Shiro)
Infiltration [South Korea]
Kayo Police [Japan] (confirmed via MarkMan's Twitter)
KSK [Japan]
Laugh [South Korea]
Nyanshi [Japan]
Poongko [South Korea] (confirmed via Twitter (JP))
Shiro [Japan] (confirmed via Twitter (JP))
Shungoku Neurosis [Japan] (see Shiro)
StarNab [France] (won EVO qualifier in France)
Stev0 [Ireland] (won EVO qualifier in Ireland)
Xian [Singapore]

Unfortunately Satoshi, who took first place in BBCSII teams and singles at ReveLAtions, won't be able to make it (JP). He cites the traveling cost and the need to job search.

eLive
Kindevu [Japan]
RF [Japan]

Evil Geniuses
Choco [Japan]
Momochi [Japan]

LowLandLions
Kayane [France]
Louie [Sweden]
Ryan Hart [UK]
SLS [Belgium]

Team Mad Catz
Daigo Umehara [Japan]
Kayane [France]
Mago [Japan]
Ryan Hart [UK]
Tokido [Japan]

The above is by no means a complete list of major international players. The list of confirmed players will certainly grow in the coming weeks.


What is the schedule looking like for the event?

Below is the official schedule:

all times PDT (-7 UTC)

Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - Friday, July 29th

Pools: 8 AM – 6 PM
Quarter Finals: 6 PM – 8 PM
Semi Finals: 8 PM – 11 PM


Mortal Kombat – Friday, July 29th

Pools: 8 AM – 6 PM
Quarter Finals: 6 PM – 8 PM
Semi Finals: 8 PM – 11 PM


Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 – Saturday July 30th

Pools: 8 AM – 6 PM
Quarter Finals: 6 PM – 8 PM
Semi Finals: 8 PM – 11 PM


Tekken 6 – Saturday, July 30th

Pools: 8 AM – 6 PM
Semi Finals: 6 PM – 10 PM


BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II – Saturday, July 30th

Pools: 8 AM – 6 PM
Semi Finals: 6 PM – 10 PM


Evo 2011 World Finals, Sunday July 31st
Event finals start at 10:00 AM sharp!

BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II
Tekken 6
Mortal Kombat
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition
Marvel vs. Capcom 3


What is the EVO Tournament Season?

The EVO Tournament Season is a series of fighting game tournaments where players can earn ranking points for seeding in the EVO World Finals. Be aware that the point system only applies to Super Street Fighter IV (Arcade Edition), Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and (from CEO on) Tekken 6; there is no seeding for BlazBlue: Continuum Shift II or Mortal Kombat.

The following tournaments are a part of the season:

West Coast Warzone 3
GVN Winter Brawl 5
Final Round XIV
PowerUp 2011
Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament 7: Resurrection
Montreal Annual Tournament VIII
Community Effort Orlando 2011
NorCal Regionals 9
East Coast Throwdown 3
Shadowloo Showdown 2011


Below is the point structure:

1st place – 64pts
2nd place – 32pts
3rd place – 16pts
4th place – 8pts
5th place – 4pts
5th place – 4pts
7th place – 2pts
7th place – 2pts
9th – 16th place – 1pt (for tournaments with 128 or more entrants)

Final point standings for MvC3, SSFIV AE and Tekken 6


What ever happened to EVO Japan?

Evolution vs. GODSGARDEN was officially announced at the end of February, scheduled for May 6-7. However, in wake of natural disasters that occurred in Japan in March, the tournament was postponed indefinitely. GODSGARDEN #4 was announced in May, and new details surfaced recently (JP), but this is an SSFIV AE-only tournament run by GODSGARDEN itself and is not related to EVOGODS.


*What is a stream monster?

There is no clear definition for a stream monster, as with many terms, its meaning has shifted over time. My personal definition is as follows:

–noun
1. A viewer of a live internet broadcast ("stream"), particularly a fighting game stream, who, via an embedded chat system, trolls the broadcasters, players, and other viewers through the use of (including, but not limited to): profanity, vulgarity, racism, sexism, spam, and general nonsense.
2. A general term for any stream viewer, especially one who actively participates in the chat.


The original intention was to cover the EVO Tournament Season as well as a select few other tourneys, but I left the title a little vague to potentially reach back to any event that has happened since EVO 2010, such as Season's Beatings Redemption, SoCal Regionals and Canada Cup.

Below, the bolded are events currently covered, while the highlighted are a part of the EVO Tournament Season (sorted by date):

2010
Super VS Battle 20-X
GODSGARDEN #2.5
GVN Summer Jam 4
Tougeki (Super Battle Opera) 2010
GODSGARDEN ONLINE #2
Season's Beatings Redemption
MTLSF Massacre
SoCal Regionals
Canada Cup
NorCal Regionals 8
DreamHack Winter 2010
Northeast Championships XI
HADOCON
Focus Fire 2010
EVO Online Tournament (XBL)
Bushido Impact International

2011
MTLSF Nemesis 2
EVO Online Tournament (PSN)
Columbus Bar Battles Gaiden
West Coast Warzone 3
GODSGARDEN #3
Beat By Contest
World Game Cup 2011
GVN Winter Brawl 5
Final Round XIV
Marvel Madness

TOPANGA Charity Cup
PowerUp 2011
Stunfest XI
HADOCON II
National Mortal Kombat Tournament
Ultimate Fighting Game Tournament 7: Resurrection

OzHadou Nationals 9
Montreal Annual Tournament VIII
Community Effort Orlando 2011
ReveLAtions
NorCal Regionals 9

DreamHack Summer 2011
East Coast Throwdown 3
Shadowloo Showdown 2011
 

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EVO ONLINE TOURNAMENT (Xbox Live, PlayStation Network) | US and Canada | December 11-18 (XBL), January 22-30 (PSN)

Stream provided by: SRK Live

Results (XBL, PSN)

Just at the head of the tournament season, EVO and Galaxy4Gamers ran two SSFIV online tournaments, for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, respectively. The prize? A free trip to EVO, with airfare, rooming accommodations, and SSFIV entry fee covered, as well as an exclusive online title. WolfKrone claimed the XBL tournament, while Jewelman pull an upset over Mike Ross in a Honda mirror match.





WEST COAST WARZONE 3 | Orange, California | January 14-16

Stream provided by: iPLAYWINNER

Results

Playlists
SSFIV Top 8
The Final Chapter: Clockw0rk vs. Neo

NeoGAF thread

West Coast Warzone 3 officially kicked off the EVO Tournament Season. This was MvC2's swan song, culminating in one massive money match with over $15K on the line.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Final Chapter: Clockw0rk vs. Neo
What better way to sum up ten years of Marvel than with a $15K+ first-to-15 money match between Clockw0rk (fabled for his Strider/Doom) and Neo The Prodigy? If you haven't seen it yet, you're in for a long one, but if you love Marvel and somehow missed out on the match, be sure to take the time to watch.

STRIIIDER
One face to note at WCW3 was Gustavo aka 801 Strider, a relatively unknown Abel player from Utah. For as strong as Abel is perceived to be, no Abel player had made to Grand Finals since Justin Wong at EVO 2009, who chose to play Abel (and Balrog) over his primary Rufus against Daigo Umehara. Gustavo put on a strong performance, taking 2nd place, losing only to Ricky Ortiz.

In Grand Finals, Gustavo managed to ignite the rage of Ricky, who went on a tear, winning five games straight, one away from victory. Even in his loss, Gustavo pushed the match to the final round of the final game.

The Origins of Juicebox Abel

Filipino Champ and JSMaster Share a Special Moment





BEAT BY CONTEST | Lausanne, Switzerland | February 19-20

Stream provided by: BBC, Team Sp00ky (EN re-broadcast), Team NSB (JP re-broadcast)

Results

Playlist
Singles Tournament

NeoGAF thread

Beat By Contest featured Europe's best, including Alioune, StarNab, Luffy and Switzerland's own V-Ryu, as well as Mago, Tokido and Sako from Japan. Originally EG (Justin Wong, Ricky Ortiz, and formerly Marn) were scheduled to appear, but cancelled at the last minute. The only major US representation was Dieminion, who sent Sako to the loser's bracket (though Sako emerged triumphant in the re-match later into the tourney).

HIGHLIGHTS

A Downed Satellite, a Failed Strike: The Twilight of Super Rose and Cammy
At the time of the tourney, Arcade Edition had been released in Japanese game centers for two months. The balance adjustments in AE brought fundamental changes to both Rose's and Cammy's respective playstyles. BBC was one of the last chances to see Sako's world-class Rose and Alioune's amazing Cammy in high-level tournament play.

As for AE, Sako left behind Cammy and Rose in favor of Ibuki, while Alioune dropped Cammy for Yang.

Kayane defeats Luffy
One major upset at the tourney was Luffy's loss at the hands of Kayane, the winner of the SSFIV Women's Invitational at EVO 2010. Kayane's solid Chun footsie game boosted her above Luffy, the best Rose player and one of the best overall in Europe.

The Long Set: Mago vs. Alioune (casuals)
During a bit of down time, Mago and Alioune ran an extended casual set. If you want to watch a lot of high-level Fei vs. Cammy, watch here, at 1:38:00.

For America: Dieminion (Guile) vs. Sako (Rose)
In December of last year, Kevin Landon, better known as Dieminion of Empire of Arcadia, headed off to London once again, looking take some of that European fight money. He showed up at BBC, the sole (major) representative from the US in the absence of EG. Die put up a strong showing in pools, defeating V-Ryu the Makoto expert in pool finals to crack into the Top 16 in Winner's.

Then Dieminion ran into Sako (FR commentary, EN commentary [partial match]). Anyone who has watched the pre-Revival Guard Crush tourneys knows that Dieminion has a bit of Rose experience, having faced Arturo's multiple times. Those long, drawn-out matches seemed to pay off, because Kevin beat Sako convincingly in their first match, 2-0.

The two met again in Loser's Semis (FR commentary, EN commentary at 55:42). Sako turn things around in the re-match however, playing a great footsies and mix-up game and clinched it 2-0.

Dieminion overall did well for himself in his stay in Europe, seizing the SSFIV championship at World Game Cup 2011.





GVN WINTER BRAWL 5 | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | February 26-27

Streams provided by: Team Sp00ky, 8WayRun, GVN, Don't Blow This

Trailer

Results

Playlists
MvC3 Singles
MvC3 Teams
SSFIV Singles
SSFIV Teams

NeoGAF thread

This was the first major to feature Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which had only been officially released 11 days prior.

HIGHLIGHTS

New Marvel, same old Justin
Justin Wong proved himself to still be a Marvel god by claiming the very first MvC3 major title, defeating RyRy in Grand Finals. Wong would also go on to take first place at UFGT7 and NCR9.

The Rise of WolfKrone
Joshua "WolfKrone" Philpot was certainly considered a great player, long-noted for playing C.Viper, a rather execution-heavy character, on a controller pad. But people really started taking notice when Krone placed second at NEC XI last December, second only to Justin Wong. At Columbus Bar Battles Gaiden in January, Krone defeated Justin for the first time, and at Winter Brawl, he repeated the feat, and eventually went on to beat Inthul in Grand Finals, claiming his first of several majors for the year. WolfKrone has placed top 8 in SSFIV in every major he's entered this year, including wins at PowerUp, MAT VIII, and East Coast Throwdown 3 in addition to Winter Brawl.

FUCK THE KNICKS: Yipes gets his own t-shirts
At Winter Brawl, Yipes announced that he would be teaming up with BROKENTIER (the fighting game t-shirt company) to deliver the IFC Yipes Collection, his own line of t-shirts. Currently, there are two shirts in the line: CURLY and MANGO. At 28 bucks a pop, the shirts are a bit pricey, but if you want one, you can order at the BROKENTIER shop here.





FINAL ROUND XIV | Atlanta, Georgia | March 11-13

Stream provided by: Team Sp00ky

Results

Playlists
MvC3 Top 16
SSFIV Top 16
Tekken 6 Top 16
Money matches

NeoGAF thread

The deep South doesn't get much tournament representation, but everyone gathered 'round for Final Round XIV, the great southern tournament. Tokido, the winner of FINALROUNDBATS in Japan, earned a trip to the US to compete against some of the best of the East and West Coasts.

HIGHLIGHTS

DBJ sees the Truth: Reverse OCV'd by a 13-year-old
DragonBallJoseph (or DBJ for short) of Georgia is one of GAF's own. While he's pretty damn good with most of the SFIV cast, he's probably best known for his Bison and Sakura. At Final Round, he looked to show off his skill during the SSFIV team tourney, facing off against Alex Jebailey's Team CEO (at 1:14:10). Running first for his team, DBJ started off strong, making short work of Jebailey and Team CEO's second with his Sakura.

But then came CJ Truth, 13-year-old Fei player and protégé of Jebailey (1:19:42). CJ completely shut down DBJ, keeping him at bay with crouch Fierces, proper anti-airs and all-round solid play. Truth went on to reverse OCV DBJ's team, finishing it all off with a perfect.

How to Kill a Murder Face: PR defeats Tokido
Eduardo Perez, better known as PR Balrog, put on a great showing during SSFIV Grand Finals. PR's high-level Boxer was able to shake Tokido mentally and throw him off his game, and Eduardo claimed first place, despite coming from the loser's bracket.

BIONIC ARM! Marn vs. Combofiend
One of the most hype matches in the young history of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, one of several that would make Combofiend's Spencer legendary. Be sure to watch the last game in particular.

Peter would go on take the entire tournament, defeating Justin Wong in Grand Finals.

"My streams don't go down in Grand Finals": SP00KY FOR EVO
While the tournament was going on, MakotoFox created a petition thread on SRK for Team Sp00ky to stream EVO. When Arturo told Sp00ky about the petitions, Sp00ky hopped on the mic himself (jump to 21:30 for full context):

Sp00ky said:
I mean again, I'm not trying to put this in a negative light. I'm not trying to blow people up, I'm not trying to force my way into anything. The point of this is, this is my formal request. I want to stream EVO. I've kind of put the hint out there and they seem to not listen so now I'm just trying to be straight up. Listen, people tell me all the time in the stream, "Sp00ky should be streaming EVO." So here you go, if that's the truth and you really feel that way tell the guys directly. Don't tell me, tell EVO. So there you go, that's pretty much my philosophy.
Arturo said:
I mean no disrespect to Level|Up, but real talk, Sp00ky's out in the trenches man.
Sp00ky said:
No, no, no. Listen, I'm gonna keep it real: my streams don't go down in Grand Finals. Keep it 100% real, thank you very much. [Sp00ky walks off]
Arturo said:
Wow. Yo damn.
Whatever Vic's intentions were, his statements sparked a lot of controversy. The last line was a direct shot at Level|Up, who ran into streaming problems during the last match of SSFIV. Alex Valle's response:

Alex Valle said:
By the comments/production made this weekend clearly shows how one is not qualified for a professional broadcast. Keep digging your own grave.
This lead to the Poverty Conference, a discussion and Q&A session where Vic addressed some of the controversy of Final Round, including the temporary stream hijack during which porn was streamed; the comments toward Level|Up; and the removal of Keits from commentary. He issued an apology to Level|Up in order to clear the air (at 20:24), Level|Up formally accepted, and everyone moved on. Except the stream monsters.
 

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MARVEL MADNESS | Calgary, Alberta | March 19-20

Stream provided by: Vesper Arcade

Results

Playlists
MvC3: Day 1 Day 2
SSFIV: Day 1 Day 2

NeoGAF thread

HIGHLIGHTS

The minds behind Canada Cup last year brought us another tourney. Despite the name, this was both a MvC3 and SSFIV tourney featuring teams and singles as well as two Calgary-Edmonton exhibitions. Justin Wong and Gootecks returned to Calgary for a second time, bringing Marn and James Chen along with them.

Canadian money matches, lol
Everyone knows Canada does things a bit different. There's the bagged milk. There's cross-up air Tatsu, which is unblockable in Canada. And there are Canadian money matches. Lapchi, the man behind Canada Cup challenged Justin and Marn to a few money matches. The stipulation? One-handed play.

After losing to both, Lapchi then challenged Justin to a blind match, with both players physically turn away from the screen (at 42:32)

DAN FINALS: Air (Ryu) vs. Justin Wong (Dan, Makoto, Akuma)
Air is perhaps the best player in Canada. His time in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber has helped his game a lot, and his great Ryu knowledge makes him one of the best in North America.

At Marvel Madness he faced Justin for a third and fourth time. Kenny had blow up Justin prior, at both Canada Cup and West Coast Warzone 3 (at 15:50, continued [partial match]). In Winner's Finals, Air defeated Justin yet again, beating Justin's Adon and counter-pick Rose.

They met again in Grand Finals (de-snyc sound). With Rufus, Cammy and Adon all having failed, Justin went for his next best option: the troll. After hovering over Abel on the select screen, he went for Dan for just "one game." The Dan pick was a smart play, getting the Canadian crowd behind him. When Justin took Game 1, Air couldn't help but face palm. In Game 2, Justin straight-up disrespected Air, showing off his Saikyo-ryu by taking Round 1 after falling out of EX Tatsu and the second with low Forward → taunt Super → Ultra.

Air wasn't done yet, however. A game away from a reset, Air shook off the mind-fuck, and finally took a game off Justin's Dan. Wong then tried his hand at Makoto and Akuma, but Air clutched it out to take the SSFIV tournament.





POWERUP 2011 | Cincinnati, Ohio | April 29-May 1

Stream provided by: Team Sp00ky

Trailer

Results

Playlists
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Top 8
Mortal Kombat Top 8
Super Street Fighter IV Top 8

NeoGAF thread

PowerUp is noted as the first Mortal Kombat major, as well as one of the most controversial fighting game tournaments to happen in recent history. Beyond the supposed shenanigans of Justin & Friends, it was a nice tournament with some otherwise underrepresented games, including some incredibly rare sightings of The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match and The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match*.

*If you're a fan of KOF, check out Game Versus. Every Wednesday at around 19:00 JST (+9 UTC), they stream 2002 UM casuals.

HIGHLIGHTS

Tom Brady wins MK
Grand Finals was an intense match between Perfect Legend (at the time EMP, now a part of DMG) and EMP Tom Brady. Brady was a favorite to win the tourney, but since he and Carl were playing partners, they were very familiar with each other's playstyle. After losing early, Perfect Legend switched from Kung Lao to Lui Kang and managed to force a reset. A game away from defeat, Tom Brady switched from Johnny Cage to Noob Saibot, shifted the tide, and in a clutch X-Ray finish, took the first MK major.

Sandbagging, bracket shuffles and 3-out-of-5s
I could write an entire piece just on the controversy from the tourney, but I'll try to keep it concise. Ultimately, there were three points of issue:

1. During MvC3 finals, despite the rules stating that the matches would be best-of-3, through the inexperience of the tournament organizers and the supposed behests of one Noel Brown, the matches are changed to 3-out-of-5. This had a massive impact on Loser's Finals (Team IFD vs. Team Protein Cannon, at 6:45), stealing the momentum from NerdJosh's team, who thought they had already won the match.

2. The Top 8 bracket of SSFIV singles is shuffled, and it appears that Justin Wong is allowed to choose his opponent for his Top 8 match.

3. Justin Wong supposedly sandbags during his match against Noel Brown in MvC3 singles Loser's Finals, initially picking a Phoenix-on-point team with which he seemed unfamiliar.

The infractions in the tourney were of such a nature that EVO itself stepped into the matter, giving Justin a yellow card for his performance in MvC3 Loser's Finals and invalidating his ranking points earned for that specific event (read the OP for details). The team tournament however was not an official part of the EVO season, while the bracket shuffle was the fault of the organizers and not the players.

The controversy also led to what I will simply call "The Pop Off" (starting at 52:00), an impromptu Skype conference call with Sp00ky, Arturo, Min, NerdJosh, NerdJosh's mom (aka NerdMom) and (later) Banana Ken. With Sp00ky as the moderator, the group tries to discuss the controversy at PowerUp, particuarly during the team tourney, which personally affected Josh. Even NerdMom pops off, going in on Noel Brown and expressing her disappointment with Justin Wong for not stepping in.




NATIONAL MORTAL KOMBAT TOURNAMENT | Las Vegas, Nevada | May 14-15

Stream provided by: Team Sp00ky

Results

Playlist
Top 16

NeoGAF thread

The National Tournament, organized by PDP, dedicated entirely to the newly-released MK reboot. The $21K prize pool got even the SF heads turning, and players associated with Street Fighter such as Justin Wong and fLoE competed against MK veterans like LI Joe, as well as new faces, Michaelangelo being a notable one. Tom Brady, due to his involvement with the development of the game, was unable to compete, though he still appeared at the tourney to provide commentary and analysis.

One interesting stipulation of the tourney was that the entire event was run on the PDP Mortal Kombat Fight Stick. Evil Geniuses' Justin Wong placed first, claiming the $10K cash prize.

HIGHLIGHTS

Hype guy
Throughout the tourney, especially the first day, one man stood above the mostly subdued crowd: Hype guy. You can hear him yelling and antagonizing players the entire time.

The Justin Wong Troll Hour (starts at 1:06:20)
During a bit of down time, Justin Wong hopped onto the mic and proceeded to troll the shit out of Marn and Perfect Legend. It was absolutely hilarious to watch live, but if you missed or just want to relive the hilarity, you can always check the archive.





ULTIMATE FIGHTING GAME TOURNAMENT 7: RESURRECTION | Chicago, Illinois | May 27-29

Stream provided by: Level|Up

Trailer

Results

Playlists
AH3 Top 4
MvC3 Top 8
MK Top 4
Mystery Game Top 8
ST Top 4
SSFIV Top 8
Tekken 6 Top 8
Vampire Savior Top 8

NeoGAF thread

UFGT7 was a Midwest tournament run by Keits. One of the unique features of the tournament was the payout system, designed so the number of players getting paid extended well beyond the 70%/20%/10% structure that has dominated the fighting game scene. It was also nice to have a tournament run and finish on time, early even.

As for the actual tournament play, dozens of games were showcased, some not being fighting games at all. There were plenty of special events, such as the Character Auction tournaments as well the fan-favorite Mystery Game tournament.

HIGHLIGHTS

The Mystery Game Tournament
The biggest treat of the event was certainly this tourney. The premise was simple: each round of the tournament is a different game. From Deadliest Warrior to Pong Generations to New Super Mario Bros. Wii to Street Fighter to four-button infinite X-Factor lag simulator Marvel 3, the random factor made this an amazing watch. You will never see anyone get so hype for a Shoryuken ever again.

THANK GOD FOR THE MACHINE aka FLOEFACE aka fLoE vs. Rex0r
Perhaps the most hype match of the tournament was fLoE vs. Rex0r. Rex0r, the hometown favorite, pulled off a disgusting 4-bar Sentinel combo (in GIF form) to kill fLoE's near full-health Dormammu, sending Ari packing while earning himself a spot in Loser's Finals. Rex0r claimed second place at the tourney. fLoE claimed a bucket of salt (GIF).





MONTREAL ANNUAL TOURNAMENT VIII | Montreal, Quebec | June 4-5

MAT VIII was Canada's sole EVO tournament. A handful of US players including NerdJosh, Sabin, Dieminion, Twisted Jago, and WolfKrone crossed the northern border to challenge the eastern Canada scene. Canada proved itself to not be free, actually winning the MvC3 tournament.

Stream provided by: e-Sports Championship TV

Trailer

Results

Playlist

NeoGAF thread

HIGHLIGHTS

GO HOME AND BE A FAMILY MAN
In an upset, NerdJosh is eliminated from Marvel singles by a player from Ottawa named Family Man (match starts at 1:57:11, continues to Part 2 here). Josh missed Top 8 because of the loss, making him a complete pot monster.

"JEEEEAN!": Phoenix claims her first major
Most remember the Phoenix victories at CEO and ReveLAtions, but her first big win as at MAT VIII. In Grand Finals, EMP's Andre "Twisted Jago" Lambert faced off against Canada's Song aka Akumamatata. Andre tried multiple times to lame Song out, taking out his first two characters than run away from Phoenix (without triggering her dark transformation) for the time-out victory. The strategy ultimately failed however, and despite Jago's reputation as one of the East Coast's best in Marvel 3, he went home with an L.
 

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COMMUNITY EFFORT ORLANDO 2011 | Orlando, Florida | June 10-12

CEO returned in its second year in a much larger and organized fashion. The East Coast came out in force, and stars from the West Coast (fLoE, Gootecks, James Chen, Justin Wong, Marn, Mike Ross) and overseas (Tokido, GamerBee) also appeared to spice things up. This tournament, along with ReveLAtions, was the first major in the US to feature Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, which was released as DLC only three days prior.

Stream provided by: Team Sp00ky

Trailer

Results

Playlists
MvC3 Singles
MK Top 8
SCIV Top 4
SSFIV AE Singles
Tekken 6 Top 8

NeoGAF thread

HIGHLIGHTS

SP00KY FOR EVO
The EVO 2011 Preview trailer revealed a big surprise: The tournament would be streamed by iPLAYWINNER × Team Sp00ky. I personally thought with Level|Up's connections with the so-called "SRK Illuminati," they would be shoe-ins for streaming the event. Regardless of the specific reasons, Victor's work in the trenches paid off, and Haunts and he will be taking on what is guaranteeed to the biggest tournament in fighting game history thus far.

Japan's Game: Tokido takes MvC3
Tokido had shown off his Marvel prowess at Final Round by making it to top 8. He then won big at Stunfest XI in France, taking first place over Alioune. But no one expected him to beat America at "America's Game." Tokido combined two characters who are universally considered the biggest threats in MvC3: Jean and Logan. With his Wolverine/Sentinel/Phoenix team and unorthodox play, the Murder Face defeated the likes of Justin Wong and Chris G on his way to the top.

Grand Finals (aka The Fate of Two Logans) was an very interesting match simply because of what it devolved to: a showdown between Justin Wong's and Tokido's Wolverines. Whoever got the first hit, won.

And to top things off, Tokido also won AE as well as BlazBlue.





REVELATIONS | Los Angeles, California | June 10-12

Streams provided by: Level|Up, Offcast, Team NSB (JP re-broadcast)

Trailer

Results

Playlists
AH3 Top 8
KOFXIII Top 4
MvC3 Top 8
MK Top 8
SSFIV AE Top 8
Tekken 6 Top 4

NeoGAF thread

ReveLAtions will be remembered for two things (among others): The return of The Beast to the US tournament scene, and the incredibly massive pot. Over $30K in prizes, including $10K for first place in AE. There was a strong international presence as well, with Umehara, Mago, Sako, Satoshi, Laugh, Infiltration, and ToXY competing.

HIGHLIGHTS

Daigo and Yun: The best playing the best
Daigo Umehara had been noticeably absent from the tourney scene in the US or otherwise, only making a single tournament appearance (at the TOPANGA Charity Cup) since the release of Arcade Edition. That all changed at ReveLAtions. The path to victory wasn't necessarily an easy one, but no player –American, Japanese, or otherwise– was able to stop The Beast. And Umehara was paid well for his efforts, seizing the $10K prize for first place in Arcade Edition.

I think Combofiend described the situation perfectly in the Cross Counter recap of ReveLAtions and NCR9 (at 19:24): The best player, with the best mindset, playing the best character.





NORCAL REGIONALS 9 | Milpitas, California | June 18-19

Stream provided by: iPLAYWINNER

Promo video

Results

No playlists currently available, but check iPLAYWINNER's YouTube channel and JTV page for footage.

NeoGAF thread

The hype of the NorCal scene returned with NCR9. Cali's finest (as well as a few odd invaders) put on a great performance in both AE and MvC3. At the tournament, Daigo made his debut MvC3 appearance, showcasing his Wolverine/Dante/Akuma team to the world for the first time.

HIGHLIGHTS

Daigo takes on Marvel
If you've been keeping up with fighting games this year then you've probably already seen EVO 2011, A Message from Daigo. Before EVO, however, Umehara decided to test his skills at NCR9. The result? A respectable Top 8 finish, defeating Lamerboi, king of the reverse clutch (in their first re-match since the online rage quit incident last year) not once, but twice along the way, but losing to fLoE and X-Ray. Some players who have commented on Daigo's performance cite his lack of experience as his biggest weakness. Who knows what The Beast can do when he does get that experience.

SIT THE FUCK DOWN: Daigo Umehara vs. Larry S.
In Umehara's SFIV tournament history, there have been a few relatively unknown players that gave him a run for his money. At Season's Beatings Redemption, there was German Luger, the Vega player. At Canada Cup, there was Riceata, the Blanka player. And at NorCal Regionals 9, there was Larry S., the incredibly animated Rufus player.

Larry played a great first game, using Rufus's own dive kick pressure and the occasional EX Messiah to keep Yun in check. And he was definitely feeling himself. With each round victory, Larry would stand and signal to the crowd. Daigo didn't look impressed, but despite the stoic face, Umehara was making some uncharacteristic execution errors, keeping Larry in the fight. A critical Gen'ei Jin miss in Game 2 put Larry at match point, bringing the crowd (and Larry) to their feet. Refusing to lose, Daigo stepped it up however and took the second game.

By the final game, Larry wasn't smiling anymore. Though he did push the match to the final round, Umehara emerged triumphant, and with a simple handshake, Larry walked off the stage, humbled.

Two matches a world apart: Filipino Champ (Dhalsim) vs. Umehara (Ryu, Yun)
During some tournament downtime (while waiting for Vangief to arrive), there was a concept match between Filipino Champ and Daigo Umehara consisting of two sets: one in which Umehara played his classic Ryu and one in which he played Yun. The Dhalsim-Ryu set? A slow, deliberate, yet nail-biting set between two equal opponents. The Dhalsim-Yun set? An utter slaughter, with Umehara destroying Champ in four minutes. Filipino Champ holds the distinction of being the only Dhalsim thus far to take a round off Daigo's Yun. Now that really says something.

-殺意の波動- Mr. Naps (Evil Ryu) vs. Justin Wong (Yang, Rufus)
Definitely a highlight match. Mr. Naps may be best known for his Tekken 6 Bryan, but he's also a great SFIV player (his MK play ain't shabby either). Originally a C.Viper player, Jimmy made the switch to Evil Ryu for Arcade Edition. In the tournament match, Naps played a solid first game, even getting Justin to switch to Rufus. But even Rufus wasn't enough, as Naps styled and Demon'd (GIF) his way to victory.

Unfortunately, Mr. Naps wasn't able to make it out of pools, losing to Vangief. Still, he put forth a great performance, and I look forward to seeing more of his Satsui Ryu. As for Justin, he was eliminated off-stream by Future Champ and his Fei Long.





EAST COAST THROWDOWN 3 | Morristown, New Jersey | June 25-26

Streams provided by: Team Sp00ky, St1ckBuG, GVN

Official trailer
Extended trailer
3rd Strike preview

Results

No playlists currently available, but check Team Sp00ky's JTV page for footage. Playlists will be at their YouTube channel when available.

NeoGAF thread

ECT3, run by LI Joe and SweetJohnnyCage, returned for its third year. Though many of the players who made ECT2 such an explosive event, like Justin Wong, Inthul, Sanford and FlashMetroid weren't in attendance, the tourney still had a great turnout and plenty of moments.

HIGHLIGHTS

RUSH HOUR 4: Chris Hu + AquaSilk
There are some great commentary pairings in the fighting game community: Mike Ross and Gootecks. James Chen and UltraDavid. But then there's Chris Hu and AquaSilk. ECT3 was filled with great moments like awkward stories of gender mix-ups, countless Chris Hu-isms, and Aqua admitting that half of the time, he doesn't understand the words that are coming out of Hu's mouth.

And perhaps the best of it all was Chris Hu commentating alongside Seth Killian for the Top 8 of AE. But sure to check that out as well as Guard Crush 18, Team Battles and 19 for more Chris Hu and Aqua.

Who needs block infinites? Michaelangelo dominates MK, gets sponsored
Michaelangelo and his nasty Kabal has been a major force in MK's young tournament life. At the National Tournament, he placed within the Top 8, but since then, with the exception of UFGT7, he's won every MK major he's entered, taking first at ReveLAtions, NorCal Regionals, and East Coast Throwdown. At ECT3, Michaelangelo defeated the East Coast prodigy Chris G, the CEO champion, in both Winner's Finals (at 1:01:00) and Grand Finals (at 1:49:50, continues here).

In an ECT3 interview, Michaelangelo stated his intention to play MK mostly on a casual level after EVO, citing costs of constant travel and a desire to enter school again. That changed a few days later, when Delta Red Squad announced they would be sponsoring him.

Sonic Refreshing Wind Blast: Guileminion presses on
Many players have complained about the balance changes to their characters in AE. It certainly hurts to see your character weakened while Capcom laughs in your face and throws in the incredibly powerful Yun. But if anything, tournament performance so far has proven that skill trumps everything. Arturo took 2nd at CEO with his Dhalsim, Mike Ross upset Mago at Shadowloo Showdown (see below) with his Honda, and Dieminion played his usual strong game with Guile at East Coast Throwdown, taking second overall. While WolfKrone has had Die's number for a while, defeating him at MAT VIII (SSFIV) and Guard Crush 18 (SSFIV AE), and again in ECT3 Grand Finals, Kevin at least kept it competitive, despite only having a refreshing wind blast to aide him.

Dieminion will have more than C.Vipers to worry about at EVO. The East Coast in general has stuck to their guns in AE, with most players playing their mains from Super, and very few competitive Yun players. EVO however will bring a slew of Yuns, Yangs, and Feis, the last being a match-up with which Kevin has struggled, despite being in Guile's favor. Best of luck to him.





SHADOWLOO SHOWDOWN 2011 | Melbourne, Australia | June 25-26

Stream provided by: The Shadowloo Syndicate

Trailer

Results

Playlist
SSFIV AE Top 16
NOTE: The above playlist is of raw game footage. Check TheShadowloo's YouTube page for match footage with commentary.

Tekken 6 Top 4

NeoGAF thread

The first Shadowloo Showdown was a resounding success. But the guest list for this year's tourney went far beyond just Tokido, Mago, and GamerBee. Shadowloo grabbed +10 players from Japan, even managing to pull Makoto, the Claw player who had decided to go home and be a family man, out of retirement. Poongko from Korea, Xian from Singapore, and Gootecks and Mike Ross of the US also joined the battle. If you were looking for an AE singles tournament to watch, this was it.

OzHadou Nationals 9 was originally planned to be Australia's EVO tournament, but because of the prominence and magnitude of Shadowloo Showdown, SS2K11 because a part of the season.

HIGHLIGHTS

I Believe in Mike Ross: Victory over Mago
This match was a clash of the titans: Mago, the best Fei Long in the world, against Mike Ross, the best E.Honda in the US. At one point, it looked like the match was over; Mago was up a game, and a round away from clenching the win. But for anyone who has watched Ross over the years, you'll know him to be one of the most clutch players ever. With a few incredible moments along the way, like Fierce-into-Super (GIF), Mike stole the momentum and in a pixel finish, took the match over Mago.

After the loss, Mago challenged Ross and Xian (the Singaporean Yun player who sent Mago to loser's) to a money match. If you want to find out the results of the match though, you'll have to ask Mago.

GO GRAB MY BELT: Poongko wins SSFIV AE
Poongko was most definitely the highlight of SS 2K11. Playing his highly aggressive no-fear Seth, Poongko defeated a slew of high-level players from Japan and beyond. In Grand Finals, the man plowed through Momochi, a favorite to win the tourney, with tens of calculated, no-FADC Shoryus and disgusting Seth mix-ups.

One of the most hilarious things about Poongko was his match preparations. Before his pool match with Itabashi Zangief, Poongko took off his jacket, removed his lanyard, and cleared his pockets just to feel more comfortable while playing the match. Poongko took the first game, but after his loss in Game 2, the belt had to go.

Congrats to Poongko, and hopefully he can find his way out to EVO.
 

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You can't sum up the first half of 2011 with just recaps of major tournaments. Here's a summary of various news stories and events that have occurred throughout:

OH SHIT, THE CAPCOPS: The Tale of Evil Ryu and Oni
Last December, the end of second trailer for Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition briefly teased two more characters that would join the cast: Evil Ryu and what appeared to be a new form of Shin Akuma (referred to as the redundant "Oni Akuma" by many). Capcom was pretty hush otherwise, and most assumed the characters would be released via a time-release or password system some time in the future.

But you know, things leak. What exactly happened isn't entirely clear, but in January, supposedly some hackers in China cracked the game, found the passwords to unlock Evil Ryu and Oni, and spread them across the globe. In Japan, the AE cabinets are linked to a network for uploading of stats, etc., so the appearance of new character data would certainly trigger red flags. That didn't stop arcade owners in the US, however, and Evil Ryu and Oni were unlocked at multiple game centers, including Arcade Infinity and Chinatown Fair. Pictures, videos, movelists, and impressions spread across the web; there were even a few live streams of hidden characters, the most notable being Offcast's stream via mobile.

The leak certainly wasn't a part of Capcom's PR plans. The Capcops went crazy, pulling down footage of the characters left and right, even banning JR Rodriguez's entire YouTube Channel (which was subsequently unbanned some time later). Yoshinori Ono, the producer of the SFIV series, in his usual troll form, implied that the character leak cost him his job. In an interview with MTV's Multiplayer blog, Seth Killian, the Community Manager at Capcom, expressed his feelings on leaked content:

Seth Killian said:
Leaked info and ripped games can be pretty heartbreaking. I understand the motivations, and often it comes from your biggest fans that are extremely hungry for information or a chance to play early, but it can really end up hurting the game and a company's relationship with its fans over the long term.
Fearing retaliation from Capcom, some arcades re-locked the characters, while others left the characters unlocked but refused to allow streamed footage of the characters. Eventually, Capcom officially released the Evil Ryu being unlocked on March 25 and Oni following two weeks later on April 8.


So long, Arcade Infinity, Chinatown Fair: the death of the American arcade
The slow death of American arcade scene is certainly nothing new. For many members of the fighting game community however, the closures that happened at towards the beginning of the year hit close to home.

First, there was Arcade Infinity in southern California. News of Arcade Infinity's closure first cropped up at the end of 2010. It turned out to be a false alarm, however, as the Diamond Plaza, the owners of the complex where AI was located, temporarily saved the arcade. Unfortunately, the rescue didn't last long, and on February 26, the arcade shut down for good.

On the opposite side of the country in New York, Chinatown Fair, the longest-running arcade in NYC, was also running to operational troubles around the same time. The reasons for the closure were allegedly shady, with the landlord deliberately trying to push Sam, the owner of the arcade, out. Despite efforts to save the arcade and talks of relocation, on February 27, just a day after AI's death on the West Coast, CF closed its doors, permanently.

This wasn't the death of NY arcade scene, however. Word spread that Henry Cen, manager of Chinatown Fair and golden stick owner, would, with the CF AE cabinets that he himself purchased, open a new gaming center in Sunset Park. Back in March, NerdJosh streamed the first footage of the new center, dubbed the "Next Level." At the time, the interior was nothing more than white walls and several AE cabinets, but it was something.

This wasn't to be "the new CF," however. The plan was for Next Level to not be a full-on arcade (which would require special licensing), but a LAN center, focusing on multiple console set-ups with a limited number of cabinets. For months, Next Level had very limited access, but in June, the gaming center officially opened to the public.

As for AI and CF, the two arcades had a lot of memories:

The End of Infinity - An Arcade Story NOTE: this video was created before final word of AI's closure.
Photos of Arcade Infinity after its closure

Ode to Chinatown Fair
Dismantling the Chinatown Fair Arcade
Arcade: The Last Night At Chinatown Fair Trailer


NOEL BROOOOOWN: The Noel Brown-Smooth Viper fight
The Break Weekly #101 will always be remembered for the brawl between Noel Brown and Eric "Smooth Viper" Arroyo of Empire Arcadia. Throughout the night, Smooth taunted Noel from the sidelines, pushing him to the edge. Noel, fed up with Eric's smack talk, retaliated physically, punching Arroyo, who was still in a leg cast from his failed balcony jump at NEC XI. Even after the two were separated, they clashed again for Round 2, breaking the Samba de Amigo cabinet in the process. While Noel did apologize after the fight, the organizers of the Break tournament temporarily banned him from competing.

The day after, Empire Arcadia posted a video discussion of the incident. In the video, Eric called Noel a "Justin dick rider" and "Justin Wong's pet," and challenged him to a first-to-five grudge match at the then-upcoming Guard Crush Revival.

The grudge match never went down, but they did happen to face off in tournament at Guard Crush 16 in a loser's bracket match (at 59:54). The hype at Next Level was through the roof. In the words of IFC Yipes, you could see "the Dragon Ball aura" emanating from both players. The match itself though was fairly anti-climactic, with Noel taking the victory 2-0.

And don't worry, the Samba machine is fine now.


Sponsorships, sponsorships, sponsorships
Sponsorships so far has been somewhat of a mixed bag in the community so far, with some players like Marn (formerly of EG) and Filipino Champ (formerly of BLG) having negative experiences. Other players have shuffled back and forth, while yet others have had a seemingly healthy relationships with those sponsoring them.

April saw the formation of Team HORI, featuring several of SoCal's finest –AndyOCR, Tatsu and Warahk– as well as one addition from Japan, Sakonoko. The team made their professional debut at ReveLAtions.

For a long time, Team Mad Catz (MCZ) was just Daigo "The Beast" Umehara; that all changed last month. At ReveLAtions, Mad Catz announced that they would sponsor Japan's Mago, as well as the entire Dominion Method Gaming (DMG) team. Then at Shadowloo Showdown 2011, Tokido was officially announced as a part of Team Mad Catz, while still representing his first team, The Traveling Circus (TTC).

Mad Catz still not finished, they announced at the West Coast SBO qualifier that they would sponsoring LowLandLions, bringing Ryan Hart and Kayane under their wing.

Mad Catz wasn't the only one making sponsorship deals. At the end of June, Mike "Mike Ross" Ross and Ryan "Gootecks" Gutierrez became a part of compLexity gaming, forming compLexity: CrossCounter (coL.cc). Mike was signed on as the coL.cc Player Manager, while Ryan joined as the Media Manager.

CompLexity stated they would be announcing its roster of players in the coming months, and at the beginning of July, they revealed that Peter "Combofiend" Rosas and Ryan "Filipino Champ" Ramirez would be joining the team.

After Marn's departure, Evil Geniuses (EG) was left with only two members of the fighting game community: Justin Wong and Ricky Ortiz. Just two weeks before EVO, EG announced some expansions, picking of fLoE as well as Momochi and Choco of Japan.


Re-born: Kayo reveals herself
In September of last year, Kayo Satoh, better known to the gaming world as Kayo Police, revealed on "Majotachi no 22-ji" (a Japanese variety show) and her blog (JP) that she was born male (translation via Tokyohive):

To everyone who received my message.

Thank you everyone for the comments. I have received so much courage from them.

As I said on the show I was born a boy. I feel really good about being able to tell everyone about my past.

I appreciate you guys giving me this opportunity.

I will continue to work as Kayo Sato and keep moving forward. I'm really happy that many people have accepted me and my new start.

Thank you all very much.
On June 23 of this year, the 22-year-old model and TV personality released Re-born, a photo and essay book featuring 80 pages of glamour photos, including some semi-nude ones revealing her "miracle body" *NSFW*. In the book, Kayo reveals that, other than hormone injections from the age of 15, she hasn't undergone any other form of surgery. She also talks about her past sufferings with gender identity disorder and how the gap between mind and body pushed her to thoughts of suicide (JP). With the book's release, Kayo seeks to give a positive outlook to others who have experienced the same worries as she once did.

On the gaming side of things, Kayo Police is known for her solid C.Viper. In October of last year, she defeated Umehara's Ryu in a surprise online match. MarkMan confirmed via Twitter that Kayo will be attending EVO 2011.


And now for something a little bit different:

THE BEST AND WORST OF 2011 FIGHTING GAME MEMES (in approximate order of creation)

Mike "Mike Ross" Ross
The believers of Mike Ross love to give him nicknames, the most popular certainly being Mike "Mike Ross" Ross. This is frequently expanded even further to Mike "Mike "Mike Ross" Ross" Ross, and you know you have to be pretty godlike when you're nickname (which isn't a nickname at all) has a nickname.

Stream monsters do the (usually unfunny) nickname thing for other players, but the only other nickname that has stuck is probably Noel "3/5" Brown.

YOU'RE ALL FREE NOW
YAAAAAY!

For most of the year, at the end of every Team Sp00ky broadcast, Vic closes out with a clip from the end of Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky.

Over the months he has also run several other promos, as well as a few clips from Knightmare, a British fantasy-virtual reality show and the Legend of Zelda cartoon of the late 80s.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Happy Birthday is the most popular term for catching two (or more) characters at once in MvC3, the second character being a gift. Those strange NorCal folks however have a liking for BOGO, Buy One Get One (Free).

SP00KY FOR EVO
At Final Round XIV, Sp00ky declared his interest in streaming this year's EVO. Soon after, if any other stream ran into a hitch, no matter how large or how small, you would instantly see "SP00KY FOR EVO." Who knows, maybe it worked.

PJSalt
Salt is so popular in the community that it eventually got its own JTV emoticon. Another incredibly popular one is DansGame, which amongst the viewers is universally known as "FloeFace."

YELLOW CARD
After the Justin Wong yellow card aftermath (see the PowerUp entry above), any hint of sub-par performance from any player was grounds for a yellow card, for the stream monsters at least. Even now, you'll see the occasional yellow card spammed in chat and even in GAF threads.

THANK YOU BASED GOD: We cooking, SWAG
One of the more... interesting figures to rise to spotlight this year is Jaha, a member of the Korean yakuza (joking). Since moving back to Jersey from SoCal earlier this year, you can frequently catch Jaha behind the mic at the Break Weekly, spouting a myriad of Lil B one-liners, many cooking-related, with such classics as "CHEF. KNIFE. COOK," "let that boy eat!" and "we cooking!" And for him, there's nothing wrong with adding a little SWAG to everything: Swagneto, Swaggity Squeeze, you get the deal. Some hate him, but most of the stream monsters eat him up. If you're not a fan, just make sure to never leave him with the mic alone, because he will stay based, SWAG.

When he isn't too preoccupied with thanking the Based God, Jaha does offer some fairly competent commentary and plays the occasional Rufus in Street Fighter. SWAG.

Great tournament, great experience and Mr. Victor Font
Oddly enough, some good things do come from stream failures. Both were spawned from the same (accidental) method: Sp00ky's broadcast froze, catching two or three seconds of audio and looping it repeatedly. "Great tournament, greate experience" came from a line from Tom Brady at PowerUp (at 19:20), while "Mr. Victor Font" is two-thirds of Sp00ky's full name (Victor Fontanez, for those who don't know), spoken by James Chen at CEO (at 40:45).

You may not remember, but this isn't the first time this happened. At Guard Crush Revival, there was LOST THE FIRST ROUND (at 1:20:22) and OH MY GOD MY GOD (at 1:12), the last one happening when Sp00ky's stream infamously went down in Grand Finals.


Marn is in jail
A few days before UFGT7, Marn posted some mysterious tweets about a court appearance:
Days later in the UFGT7 stream chat, word was spreading like wildfire that Marn wasn't at the tournament because he was in jail. The reason? Inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old girl. Or speeding and attempting to evade the police. I'll let you figure that one out.

No, Marn didn't go to jail, but he enjoyed the free publicity:
#fuckhaunts
I'm not even entirely sure of its origin, but seriously, #fuckhaunts.

DPG at Law
David Philip Graham, better known as UltraDavid, is certainly a multi-talented individual. He's a skilled Dan, Hakan, T.Hawk, and Zangief player in the SFIV series. He's a frequent commentator at Wednesday Night Fights and various majors, offering excellent match analysis. But he's also an attorney, focusing on the entertainment industry. He's written multiple pieces looking at the legal side of video games, including one on Mortal Kombat and its online code system and another on the implications of Senate Bill 978, which could potentially making streaming copyrighted material a felony, as a well as a response to critique on the piece.

But the stream monster highlight of UltraDavid's ventures into law is the commercial released for his firm. The awkwardness and cheese factor make it a great laugh. DPG AT LAW has quickly become Level|Up's YOU'RE ALL FREE NOW (see above), often finishing off their streams.

Be sure to check out UltraDavid's site at dpgatlaw.com.

Oni is banned
"Oni is banned" originally started from early Arcade Edition tournaments, on actual arcade cabinets, before the official unlocking of Evil Ryu and Oni. But back then, it was a legitimate question, as in many tournaments, the character was banned until the official release. Well after the release of the characters, a small troll from Sp00ky coupled with the stream monster tendency to latch on to anything turned it into one of the most annoying memes ever.

ESTAKA! (at 1:57:00)
This is a simple Chris Hu-ism spawned during Guard Crush 18. Hu thought that Magneto shouted "Estaka!" when firing his beam projectile, the EM Disruptor. Min corrected him, but "Estaka" stuck with the viewers.

For more Chris Hu-isms, check out "Engrish Class with Chris Hu" Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
Stream monsters love spamming shit. There are the aforementioned memes, DANCE PARTY. Now table flipping is all the rage. And after James Chen flipped a table on Wednesday Night Fights, it exploded even more.
 

Stabby McSter

Member
Jul 24, 2006
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san jose, ca
ITALIA! MONEY MONEY MONEY!

Anyways, I'm super hyped for EVO this year. DAIGO FOR THE THREEPEAT(?) OR SOMETHING!

Although I just saw that Poongko vs. Momochi Grand Finals match. Poongko was the reason I picked up Seth at one point. <333
 

Aruarian Reflection

Chauffeur de la gdlk
Jan 17, 2005
7,917
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Awesome thread, USD. Do you by any chance have the EVO point standings? (i.e. 1st place SSF4 is probably Wolfkrone with ??? points)
 

AAK

Member
Sep 30, 2006
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Ottawa, ON
Awesome Awesome Awesome Job with the thread!

USD said:
Looking forward to Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to join the roster (possibly replacing Tekken 6) next year
Unfortunately, Tekken Tag 2 will not work outside the Pacific Region. This may be the last Tekken tournament in a major for a very long time in North America unfortunately.

I can only see it returning in Final Round or East Coast Throwdown.
 

USD

Member
Sep 14, 2006
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I sunk way too much time on this shit. The last post in particular is halfway done, as there are plenty of other news stories and lots of other subjects to talk about. Don't be surprised at poor grammar, spelling, etc. And now that I think about it, it would probably be a good idea to recap EVO 2010. Funny that I didn't think about it until now.
haunts said:
#fuckhaunts needs to be under the memes. ;)
Oh, it will definitely be there.
 

ThirtyPlus

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Apr 12, 2011
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The Pop Off after PowerUp (which I personally got to attend) was some of the most entertaining stream content ever. Shit was riveting, yo!
 

BiggNife

Member
Aug 15, 2007
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Personally I think another highlight of ECT3 was Dieminion getting all the way to the Grand Finals of AE with Guile, which is something that had been pretty much unheard of up to that point due to Guile's huge nerfs in AE.

But yeah, holy crap good job on that OP. I actually didn't know about the PowerUp controversy because I was swamped with finals at the time, and I'm kind of dumbfounded by it.
 

Octorockin'

Member
Jan 24, 2010
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Thanks for all the info and hype USD. : ) Last year was very entertaining, and Evo '11 looks to be even better.
 

XANDER CAGE

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Mar 21, 2011
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I'll be there. Can't wait, but I'm also dreading watching/playing the onslaught of Yuns.

Bringin' my AE, MK9, and Arcana Heart 3 game yo, and maybe my Genesis and Time Killers to give people a laugh.
 

Amagon

Member
May 18, 2010
13,875
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Holy shit, this thread is already legendary. Just got done reading this year's recap is just information overload. I luv it!!!! Kudos to you USD!
 

Kintaro

Worships the porcelain goddess
Jun 10, 2004
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If there is one thing I remember from this tourney season, it is "salt." Tourney players salty at AE. Tourney players salty at MvC3. Tourney players salty at MK9. I expect this to continue.
 

USD

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Sep 14, 2006
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Feel to make suggestions on highlights, news, memes, etc. you want to see. I'll probably add more highlights as well as minor highlights with simple links to matches. For now, at least try to keep on a focus on 2011.
 
Dec 5, 2008
23,812
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Great thread and it was cool to know ComboFiend got sponsored as well.

And while on the topic you forgot about Team Hori
 

Nedjoe

Neo Member
Nov 9, 2008
267
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Catching up on ECT thanks to this thread, missed it because I was at Shadowloo. I want Chris Hu commentary for all of evo.
 

Master Milk

Member
Aug 23, 2010
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I want to get hype for this, I really do, but I just can't.

I fear that almost everything is going to suck actually being played.

Blazblue because America is free. Mortal Kombat because Mortal Kombat is free. SFAE because Yun ain't free. Tekken because Electric Boogaloo everywhere.

MVC3 is the only thing kind of interesting at the moment, and that's only because watching everyone get salty over Phoenix and Japan hasn't gotten old yet.

I hope my hype returns by the end of the month.

Any word on if Skullgirls will have some stream time?
 

notworksafe

Member
Jun 17, 2008
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Can't wait for EVO! This is my first year playing and I'm registered for AE and MK.

I plan to play in the inevitable KOF side tourney and I hope to find some Jackie there too! :D
 

USD

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Sep 14, 2006
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DryEyeRelief said:
Kayo Police
Thanks. I found a link for confirmation.

If anyone knows of other international players that will be EVO, if you have a link or a reason (won a qualifier, etc.) it would be really helpful.
Master Milk said:
Any word on if Skullgirls will have some stream time?
Sorry for the late answer, but according to the preview trailer, there will be a Skullgirls developer's journal with Mike Z. I'm not entire sure whether it will be streamed, however.
 

Mr Jared

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Sep 19, 2005
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This will be my sixth EVO but my first not competing as I'll be assisting Haunts and co with the broadcast. It should be pretty spectacular. We've got a lot in store and plenty to keep you stream monsters glued to your chairs all weekend.