Ending this weekend from the Mandalay Bay Sports Arena, the 2017 Evolution Championship Series brought some of the biggest fighting competitions in the world, with Middle East players competing against renown world champions and newcomers from all over the world. Broadcast live during this three-day celebration of fighting games, the results of this tournament have been a mix of predictable and surprising stories, and for those of you that missed the action of the weekend, here’s what you need to know.
The King of Fighters XIV – The rise of the Taiwanese E.T.
The return of SNK’s flagship license after two years was worth it, as The King of Fighters XIV EVO tournament came back with prize pool of over $17,000, and had the biggest amount of players from the Middle East including [OMN] Saeed “Mr_Flamenco” Abdul Ghafoor, [UAE] Mohammad “Zantetsu” Albanna , [UAE] Waqas “White-AshX” Ali, [UAE] Naveed “Violence” Ashraf and [KSA] Badr “BadoorSNK” Alomair.
— Robert Paul #Evo2017 (@tempusrob) July 15, 2017
While most of the Middle East players barely made it out of Round 2 of this 370+ participant competition, Waqas “White-AshX” Ali reached the top 8 finals, alongside Luis “Luis Cha” Martinez Zhuojun “Xiaohai” Zeng and ChiaHung “E.T.” Lin to name a few. With Waqas eliminated in the quarter final rounds, finishing 5th place in the tournament, the grand finals were between Taiwan’s E.T. and China’s Xiaohai. E.T. surprised everyone with a never-been-seen pick of Goro Daimon alongside Clark and Benimaru, and finished the grand finals set with 3-2, grabbing his first ever win at the EVO Championship Series.
Injustice 2 – The rise of the young dragon from Delaware
After two long days of DC comics clashes, the biggest competition from the Injustice 2 Championship Series finally comes to an end, where over 880 players competed for a prize pool of $58,000 and 2000 Injustice 2 Pro Series points. The tournament ended with a rather turn of unforeseen events from the entire community and competitors, with the win and rise of a young player from Delaware: Ryan “Dragon” Walker from team Noble.
Round 1 and 2 of the Injustice 2 tournament were no surprise for most, as the majority of known players from the Injustice 2 Pro Series advanced to the semi-finals, notably previous Injustice EVO champion Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, Frank “Slayer” Perales (who was picked by team Rogue after his win at Combo Breaker 17), Nicolas “whiteBoi” Andersen, Tim “HoneyBee” Commandeur and his brother Mathew “Biohazard” Commandeur, Denom “A F0xy Grampa” Jones to name a few, without forgetting Sayed “Tekken Master” Hashem, as the only Arab in that tournament coming from Nasr eSports.
— Robert Paul #Evo2017 (@tempusrob) July 16, 2017
The Injustice 2 semifinal rounds was a whole different story. Fan favorite SonicFox advanced to the winner bracket finals after an easy win against SylverRye, and kicking his own Echo Fox teammate Theo into the loser brackets. Tekken Masters sadly fell into the loser brackets after a 3-2 loss against Dominican Republic’s Daris “Gross” Daniel from team TopsieteGames, but our Bahraini and local champion picked up the pace by defeating Star Changer and Nubcakes.
The final 8 of the Injustice 2 EVO tournament saw some of the top 20 players of the Injustice 2 Pro Series battling for those 1500 leaderboard points, with SonicFox, HoneyBee, Hayatei and Dragon leading in the winner brackets, while Theo, Gross, Semiij and Tekken Master fighting their way out of instant tournament kick in the losers brackets.
First round saw the loss of SonicFox to HoneyBee, as well as Dragon beating Hayatei, while Theo managed to get rid of Gross, and Semiij ended the journey for Bahrain’s Tekken Master with his trusty Catwoman gameplay. The tournament continued with HoneyBee losing in the Winners bracket finals, only to come back to the grand finals after winning against Theo.
The grand finals were an epic match between Ryan “Dragon” Walker from team Noble (6th on the IPS 2017 leaderboards) and Canadian Tim “HoneyBee” Commandeur, who at that time was not even in the top 50 of the league. Being both known Aquaman players, the grand finals was a difficult match, eventually ending with a 3-2 for Ryan “Dragon” Walker, who was crowned as EVO 2017 Injustice 2 champion, and walked out with 400 IPS points and more than $20000 in cash.
This tournament affected in a major way the global Injustice 2 Pro Series leaderboards, with an almost complete shuffle of the top 8 positions in the ranks, with currently SonicFox and Dragon leading, both tied at 540 points, followed by Slayer with 390 points, then tied HoneyBee and Theo with 320, our Middle East champion Tekken Master as 4th with 300, closely followed by whiteBoi with 285 points.
Street Fighter V – Tokido’s long battle to the grand finals
At EVO, Street Fighter competitions are always the highlight of the world championship, and this year was no different. With 2600 players competing from around the world, including couple of known players form the Middle East such as [UAE] Mohammad “Zantetsu” Albanna (who lost in round 2 of the pools), [UAE] Naveed “Violence” Ashraf and [UAE] Waqas “White-AshX” Ali (eliminated in the first rounds), and [UAE] Adel “Big Bird” Anouche from the UAE’s Nasr eSports club who reached the top 32 of winner brackets, the tournament saw some great matches and comebacks.
With a prize pool of over $76,000, the Street Fighter V challenge needed nerves of steel, and while there was hope for Adel “Big Bird” Anouche to continue as the only Middle East player reaching the semi-finals rounds, it was too much for him as he faced Rashid player Naoki “Moke” Nakayama from Japan (Currently ranked 9th on the Asian Capcom Pro Tour leaderboards) and dropped to loser brackets where Takahashi “Bonchan” Masato kicked him out of the competition. Ending as 33rd, he walks away with 70 CPT points and is now ranked 25 on global leaderboards and 4th in the European ranks.
The Street Fighter V final rounds saw probably the most epic line-up of a top 8 from around the world, starting with Japan’s Hiromiki “Itabashi Zanghief” Kumada, USA’s Victor “Punk” Woodley (1st in CPT), USA’s Du “NuckleDu” Dang (2nd in CPT) and Japan’s Ryota “Kazunoko” Inoue in the winner bracket. The loser bracket had on the other hand Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, Ryan “Filipino Champ” Ramirez, Jo “MOV” Egami and Naoki “Moke” Nakayama.
While it seems the tournament was pretty much set for Punk to grab, after his devastating 3-0 wins against Japan’s Itabashi Zanghief and Kazunoko, Tokido worked his way through the loser brackets and advanced to the grand finals against the USA player after removing his fellow countrymen from the tournament.
The two titans battled in an amazing Japan vs USA, Karin vs Akuma, match fit for a Hollywood movie, resetting the bracket with a 3-1, and continue for one last Best of 5. With a tight set of great combos and precise hits, the Japanese beat Punk 3-0, with a final combo projectile paired with a Raging Demon combo in the right corner, to take home the EVO 2017 Street Fighter V trophy and becoming 2nd on the Capcom Pro Tour global leaderboards with 1605 points (315 points behind current leader Punk).
Super Smash Bros. For Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Melee – The might of the Swedish Armada
When it comes to Super Smash Bros. Melee, everyone expected the final 8. The final by 2016 champion [USA] Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma from Team Liquid and his rival [SWE] Adam “Armada” Lindgren from Team Alliance, as well as Cloud 9’s Joseph “Mang0” Marquez and veteran player Jason “mew2king” Zimmerman from team Echo Fox.
Determined to solidify his legacy, Armada reached the grand finals against Mang0, after the latter got rid of his rival Hungrybox in the loser finals 3-2. The finals against Mang0 was sadly a quick win for Armada, with a 3-0 besting the Fox-main player from South California, and crowned Super Smash Bros. Melee’s EVO champion for the second time.
— Robert Paul #Evo2017 (@tempusrob) July 16, 2017
On the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U side, things got feisty with the tournament actually aired in the Sunday highlight event of EVO and aired in the US on ESPN and Disney XD. The tournament had a bcunh of newcomers, but it all ended with Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young and what is considered the best player in the world Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios (winner at EVO 2015). Sadly the Diddy Kong main from Team SoloMid had it rough, as he had difficulties countering Salem’s Bayonetta gameplay, finishing in a 3-2 match, crowning the underdog as the EVO 2017 Super Smash Bros. for Wii U champion.
Tekken 7 – The battle of South Korea’s titans
Like the Capcom Pro Tour and the Injustice 2 Pro Series, Tekken 7’s tournament at EVO 2017 is part of the Tekken World Tour, with the largest prize pool in the world series (over $27,000) and the largest chunk of pro points in the global leaderboards.
With no Middle East players reaching the final rounds, with Omani player Saeed “Mr_Flamenco” Abdul Ghafoor losing in round 1 and Bahraini Sayed “Tekken Master” Hashem gone in round 2, the tournament ended up with a South Korean grand final between two teammate from team Echo Fox: Hyun Jin “JDCR” Kim and Jin Woo “Saint” Choi. With the set to defend his 2016 Tekken EVO Championship title, he managed to reach the grand finals after winning in the loser brackets against Jae Min “Knee” Bae, and reset the brackets as he meet JDCR. Playing as Jack-7, Saint couldn’t keep up with JCDR counter-grabs, which ended with a 3-1 for the Korean player and winning his first ever EVO Championship title.
Want to get your fighting game career kicked off in the Middle East? The upcoming UAE Live Qualifier of the PLG Nationals Injustice 2 Tournament Series are happening on July 22nd at Vox Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates. Registration is live right now on our website, and is your last chance to reach one of the last 2 spots in the regional finals, for a prize pool of $5000, and a chance to continue on to the PLG Pro Tour and PLG Grand Slam for bigger rewards. Prize pool at the Regional Finals will be split into $3000 for first place, $1500 for second place and $500 for third place. The grand champion will also be flying and accommodated in the UK, to compete at VSFighting 2017, one of the international Injustice 2 Championship Series Premiere Event, for a prize pool of over $20000 and ranking points for the global tournament, from the 12-13 August, Millennium Point, Birmingham. For all the latest information about the PLG Nationals Injustice 2 Tournament Series, you can follow us on on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, as well as the official or you can also click here to visit the dedicated PLG Nationals Injustice 2 Tournament Series page.