Photo of two players on an Evo stage shaking hands after a set.
Photo via Evo

‘A buffet’: How Evo is serving up tournaments in FGC’s most ‘invested’ era

Everyone can find something to enjoy.

Fighting games are riding high on almost three straight years of incredible success, with the most recent wave of quality releases only cementing the genre in its modern golden period. At the pinnacle of all that success sits the biggest tournament in the scene—Evo. 

Recommended Videos

Since its return under new ownership in 2021, Evo has set new standards as the premier fighting game community (FGC) experience, growing and iterating each year to evolve into something beyond just a tournament. And it only helps that we are sitting at a buffet of fighting games where dozens of developers are invested in cooking up things for the community, only helping Evo general manager Rick “TheHadou” Thiher and his team craft an even better product.

A look at the main stage for Evo 2023.
A look at the Evo 2023 main stage. Photo via Evo

“Anytime you have rapid releases of new titles, the entirety of that community seems to rally around [the idea of] ‘let me try everything, it’s a buffet!’ And I’ve yet to experience anybody who goes to a buffet and doesn’t find a type of food that is their favorite,” Thiher said to Dot Esports. “The cool thing about the FGC is there are, at this point, a small legion of titles to pick from. And if any of them are your favorite, you’re part of the fighting game community.”

While the community is dealing with that buffet, Evo gets to use that same lineup to help grow and evolve its events. Thiher noted this era of fighting games is helping Evo live up to its name—the Evolution Championship Series—because it is letting them zero in on exactly where the event needs to improve to better serve the community.

Just over the last month, Evo has started creating new content on YouTube and socials to try and engage the FGC and try and draw new fans into the stories that make the community great, with the end goal being the same as the Evo event series: “to create and renew fighting game fandom.” It isn’t just about making Evo bigger; it’s about celebrating the spirit of competition and the FGC’s history in a way that can be put on display in a “natural and holistic way.”

For Evo 2024, the name of the game was improving things like the admission line and bringing back the three-day Evo experience were key while balancing a need to refine the rest of the show’s offerings and how it connects to the genre it’s celebrating. This event will do something special to bridge that gap as it brings back Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike as the game hits its 25th anniversary, and Evo itself can harken back to its most famous clip, Moment 37, on its 20th anniversary. 

As Thiher put it, Evo is still a tournament first and foremost. But the team started looking at it as a festival for fighting games that can help feed the curiosity of anyone with any interest in the scene. 

“We’re going back to that buffet analogy, but if you bring a bunch of people into a buffet, and everybody’s hungry, it’s not hard to get a whole bunch of people to have a bunch of plates at a table. And if you have enough things in that buffet to then everyone at the table can have a conversation about what they’re eating what’s good about it, what is intriguing about the plate next to them, that conversation keeps the people together,” Thiher said. “And if you keep people together around a central subject matter, by and large, I think you wind up with fandom. And better yet, sometimes you wind up with passion. Passion and fandom are going to fuel what Evo is and can become.”

Evo 2023's main show floor during a hype bracket matchup.
Thousands of players gather to compete and watch their favorite fighting games. Photo via Evo

With the continued success of big releases like Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 to the Dragon Ball FighterZ finally getting rollback and Riot’s 2XKO on the horizon, fighting games will continue to expand. 

Old players are welcoming new fighters into their games and helping them learn; there are more resources than ever to improve or get involved with your community of choice, and everything builds to make a connection for people who show interest. Thiher noted this just means that nothing feels isolated. Whether you attend a local, region, or Evo, the “bullhorn is on all year round” and brings passionate people together to play fighting games.

“I think it’s uncanny to get to experience fighting games in an era where all of the publishers are engaged, where the developers are producing more intentional fighting games than have ever existed before, and where the fan base is creating more resources, more tools, more content than is even consumable,” Thiher said. “At no point do I feel like we are running out of opportunities in fighting games, that we are running out of connection points in fighting games, or that we are running out of new reasons to be excited about fighting games.”

Evo 2024 will run from July 19 to 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, bringing eight games to the FGC’s biggest stage—including four titles making their first appearance at Evo, like Mortal Kombat 1


Dot Esports is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Street Fighter 6 jokes about Honkai: Star Rail crossover after Monster Hunter items drop
Pom Pom mech against Chun-Li.
Read Article Guilty Gear Strive’s most requested character is finally on the way as ArcSys teases next season
Sol Badugy from Guilty Gear Strive.
Read Article ARC World Tour 2023 Finals: Full Guilty Gear Strive and Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising top results
Arc World Tour Finals 2023 banner.
Related Content
Read Article Street Fighter 6 jokes about Honkai: Star Rail crossover after Monster Hunter items drop
Pom Pom mech against Chun-Li.
Read Article Guilty Gear Strive’s most requested character is finally on the way as ArcSys teases next season
Sol Badugy from Guilty Gear Strive.
Read Article ARC World Tour 2023 Finals: Full Guilty Gear Strive and Granblue Fantasy Versus Rising top results
Arc World Tour Finals 2023 banner.
Author
Cale Michael
Lead Staff Writer for Dota 2, the FGC, Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and more who has been writing for Dot Esports since 2018. Graduated with a degree in Journalism from Oklahoma Christian University and also previously covered the NBA. You can usually find him writing, reading, or watching an FGC tournament.