On Tuesday night, Cuellar showed the world that he has every intention of making the world’s largest fighting game event live up to that motto.
Cuellar announced a nine-game lineup for EVO 2016, which will take place in Las Vegas July 15-17. Nine games will tie last year’s record for the most games in the history of the event, which began in 1996 and has been held annually since 2000.
The biggest embodiment of the “go big” philosophy, however, is the event’s venue—or rather, venues. In a change from previous years, when the event was held in a hotel ballroom, EVO 2016 will take place in two spaces. Pool play on Friday and Saturday will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, while Sunday’s finals will be held at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Event Center.
The complete lineup of games for EVO 2016 includes:
- Street Fighter V
- Super Smash Bros. Melee
- Super Smash Bros. for WiiU
- Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator
- Mortal Kombat X
- Pokken Tournament
- Killer Instinct
- Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
- Tekken 7: Fated Retribution
Cuellar also announced that Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mortal Kombat X, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator will be the five “main event” games—titles which will see their championships decided on Sunday. This is another change from previous years, when the Sunday games were announced a few weeks before the event. (The logistics of holding Sunday’s finals at the Mandalay Bay, including requiring fans to purchase tickets to enter the arena, required the Sunday lineup to be determined before tickets went on sale.)
The inclusion of Street Fighter V is of little surprise. The series has long been a cornerstone of EVO, and the 2009 release of Street Fighter IV fueled explosive growth in both EVO and the fighting game community as a whole. However, the expected amount of crossover between Street Fighter V and Ultra Street Fighter IV, the largest tournament at last year’s event, along with the December announcement that the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour will focus solely on SFV, led Cuellar to leave USFIV out of the lineup.
There was little doubt that Smash would return to EVO in some form, but there was doubt in some corners that EVO would bring both games back to the lineup. The explosive growth of both scenes—the games were two of the three largest tournaments in 2015—made both games strong contenders to return, but there were concerns that the amount of space and equipment required for each game would make hosting large tournaments for both untenable.
The biggest surprise in the lineup is certainly the inclusion of Pokken Tournament. The game, scheduled to be released on March 18, will require two WiiU systems in order to play local multiplayer, which will make it a very resource-heavy game for tournament organizers to run. There are also worries about the game’s competitiveness and interest among fighting game players and spectators, but Cuellar and the rest of the EVO staff are confident that Tekken developers Bandai Namco will deliver a game worthy of the biggest stage in fighting games.
The remainder of the lineup reflects perhaps the largest amount of year-to-year stability in recent memory. Five of the nine games in the 2016 lineup were at last year’s event. Three others—Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, and Tekken 7: Fated Retribution—are either sequels to or updates of games that were in last year’s event. Only Pokken is new to EVO in 2016, and only Persona 4 Arena Ultimax failed to return in some way.
Registration and ticket sales will begin at a later date.