Evo releases an updated ruleset for game controllers

The in-depth guide on what controllers will be allowed at Evo has been updated.

Image via Evo

The team behind the biggest fighting game tournament series in the world, Evo, is trying to get ahead of next year’s deadline by updating its policies on controller usage early. This is a way for the companies making controllers to get them up to standards, while also giving players a better idea of what will be legal.

Evo defines a controller as a device a player manipulates to interact with the game, like a gamepad, fightstick, or any other applicable device (like a Guitar Hero guitar controller.) This is what the new requirements and illegal mechanics for controllers. 

  • Legal: A lever which sends the Down+Right inputs when held in a certain position.  Down and Right are both cardinal directions and therefore can be activated simultaneously by a single input mechanism.
  • Illegal: A push-button that activates a hardware macro which sends a series of game inputs at a specific timing.
  • Illegal: A push-button that when pressed will send an “all three punches” input (i.e. PPP).   One input mechanism activation may not send multiple game inputs.
  • Illegal: A slider that when moved from left to right will send a series of inputs, one after the other.  One input mechanism activation may not send multiple game inputs.
  • Illegal: An analog push-button which sends either game input A or input B depending on how hard it is pressed.

If a method of movement or attacking isn’t in the game naturally, players will not be allowed to map their own into a controller.

The only exception to this rule is Cardinal directional inputs (Up, Down, Left, and Right), which can all be mapped unless they violate another rule later. 

  • Legal: A push-button that when pressed sends a game input that the analog stick is 75 percent to the right.
  • Legal: Two push-buttons (A and B) that produce different analog outputs depending on whether one, the other, or both are held (e.g. the R2 analog game input is at 25 percent held when A is pressed, 50 percent held when B is pressed, and 100 percent held when both A and B are pressed).
  • Illegal: A push-button that when pressed will sweep the analog stick from 100 percent left to 100 percent right over one second. This violates Rule One by sending multiple analog game inputs from a single input mechanism activation.

The controller can’t send multiple inputs for alternate Cardinal directions, which need to be cleaned using SOCD (Simultaneous Opposite Cardinal Direction) firmware on some fightsticks. This includes Left + Right and Up + Down inputs. 

Controllers like the PlayStation 4  DualShock are excluded because they are considered stock and do not have that capability out of the box. Evo does note that this rule will be removed on April 31, 2021, when the current hardware will be reviewed. 

  • Legal: A lever which sends the D+R inputs when held in a certain position.  This is specifically allowed by the SACD ruling.
  • Illegal: A push-button that when pressed sends L+R inputs.  L+R are not adjacent cardinal directions and therefore cannot be bound to a single input.
  • Illegal:. A player mods his fight stick to add an additional button to press R without adding a SOCD cleaner.  The player can hold L on the lever and hold this new button to also send the R game input. Since this results in sending SOCD inputs to the game, this stick is not tournament legal in 2020.  It would become tournament legal after April 31, 2021.

All of these are just detailed methods to keep a somewhat stable frame of controller reference available for what is usually the biggest tournament for major fighting game titles. Evo’s rules also override any pro tours going on for the titles featured at the event, such as the Capcom Pro Tour.


This list of changes is not completely finalized, but is in the process of being reviewed by professionals. The Evo team is asking for community feedback over the next month to make the best possible ruleset.