The world’s biggest fighting game championship concluded in Las Vegas on Sunday. And the only thing that stood out more than the great matches was the amount of emotion on display.
The final day of the Evolution Championship Series started on a high note. The BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma tournament came down to two top Japanese players, Keiji “Garireo” Okomoto and Dogura. Emerging from the lower bracket, Garireo was forced to win two consecutive sets against Ryo “Dogura” Nozaki, and he did exactly that. The matches were tense, with Garireo finding himself on the brink of elimination multiple times.
But each time he was able to come back. Appropriately, the two players went down to the final round of the final set, and it was then that Garireo was able to break through and snatch his victory.
The emotional release that followed lasted throughout the awards ceremony, and when Garireo was handed the trophy Dogura couldn’t help but be overcome with his disappointment after having come so close to victory only to see it ripped away by his fellow countryman.
The Killer Instinct tournament stirred up similar emotion for its winner. Emmanuel “CD Jr” Brito rode a wave of momentum to the title, never dropping a match and sweeping likely tournament favorite Justin Wong in the semifinals.
Like Garireo, Brito was immediately overcome by the release of pressure that followed his victory. And while he did his best to retain his composure, he couldn’t help but let the tears flow upon receiving the championship trophy.
While there was no crying involved in the finals of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the finale was no less emotional. Justin Wong recovered from his disappointing defeat in the Killer Instinct tournament to mount a fierce run through the Marvel vs. Capcom field.
Wong’s win in the upper bracket final over Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez required an unlikely comeback in the final round against Ramirez’ Phoenix character, one of the most feared in the game. That win sent Wong running across the stage in excitement, and his night still wasn’t over.
In the grand final, Wong faced Christopher “Chris G” Gonzalez, the man widely considered to be the best in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 despite his never having won the game’s biggest title at Evo. He wouldn’t win it on this day either, as Wong rolled to a three games to one victory and dove onto the stage floor in exuberance as he reclaimed the Marvel vs. Capcom throne.
The final day of the event also played host to a bittersweet moment. Following the completion of the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, Wynton “Progducto” Smith officially announced his retirement from the community.
The announcement was expected, as Smith had spoken openly about his need to walk from the rigors of his involvement in the scene due to medical concerns. Smith had played a vital role in the revitalization of Smash Bros. and of Super Smash Bros. Melee in particular, and is one of those most responsible for the game’s triumphant return to Evo and reintegration into the fighting game scene at large.
Smith gave an emotional speech to those attending and watching on stream. While it was sad for fans to see him go, there was little denying that he went out the best way he could ever have hoped for: Calling the finals at the biggest Smash Bros. tournament in the world.