It’s that time of the year once again, and this one looks to be quite different from previous iterations. EVO 2015 seems to be the changing of the guard, with prominent players getting eliminated to make way for newer generations of players (except in Smash Melee). If you’re one of those who didn’t get to watch it live or just want to watch the great matches again, then this list might help you with your viewing pleasure. Even if it’s over now, these high-level matches will live on in memory and on the Internet for all to watch.
Last year’s post on the best matches of EVO 2014 was long as hell since I insisted on curating each match I featured and not just put up the videos without any written commentary because I think the latter doesn’t bring value to the readers. I still want to do that, but I don’t want this post to be as TL;DR, so I’ve come up with a solution.
For EVO 2015, I’m just going to get 3 to 5 of my favorite matches for each game that I got to watch to make it shorter. If you want to see more, most of them should be on YouTube, so you need not miss much. If this post helps you get into watching the matches, then I’ve done my job here.
Gulty Gear Xrd -SIGN-
Guilty Gear is perhaps the only fighting game I’m competent with. I’m not amazing in it, but I can hold my own well enough (except against those monsters in Japan). That’s why this top 8 was of great interest to me, and it was indeed very hype for the EVO main stage for GG in several years. This game actually got more entrants than Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (which is only staying alive due to loyalists).
Dogura vs. Nakamura
For those who can remember from last year, Dogura was the runner-up for BlazBlue Chronophantasma in EVO 2014; he was defeated by the dramatic comeback of Garireo. Here he is again in an EVO top 8, this time for GGXrd. Unfortunately, he didn’t get near the grand finals this time; this was a losers’ bracket match.
Dogura seems to like heavy hitters, going with Sin Kiske. On the other hand, Nakamura had speed and pressure with Millia Rage, and he made the most of it by hitting at all of Dogura’s holes and lapses. This is the fast-paced GG that makes my hands cramp whenever I play online matches (I could never keep up).
Woshige vs. Ogawa
This is perhaps the most talked-about match in Xrd due to how it ended. This is a cautionary tale more than anything else. If you are competing in anything, even in casual settings, NEVER EVER celebrate a victory too early or you’ll get Wolfkrone’d.
Woshige did get himself back together and got a third place finish. Ogawa went on to the finals against the guy who kept Woshige at third place. The premature celebration actually did much to publicize the GGXrd tournament while overshadowing all the other great matches.
Ogawa vs. Nage
With Woshige out of the way, the two remaining came in with the will to win. As a former Zato-1 player (I’ve switched to Axl for Xrd), I was already rooting for Ogawa in any case. On the other hand, Nage (or “Little Faust”) was the underdog and had quite a bit of support behind him.
I’ve always found Faust players to be annoying as all hell. I have a friend who played both Faust and Zappa in GGXX and gave me nightmares. Seeing Ogawa take this one was satisfying to me.
Mortal Kombat X
The perennial champion Perfect Legend got knocked out pretty early; he actually did worse than he did with Ultra Street Fighter IV. Kung Lao players are still around, but at least there could be a new champion aside from metal hat-wearing ones. It turned out to be a kid with two characters and a lot of talent, and here are some of his best matches.
SonicFox vs. MIT / SonicFox vs. Honeybee
Lots of SonicFox in this list. This is a double-header since that’s what this video has. In both matches, he showed his versatility and fortitude. In the first match, MIT went with Covert Ops Sonya to find a way around Royal Storm Kitana, but SonicFox was just playing really good here. The finish was really good too, like an exclamation point to top off his performance.
Honeybee, representing Canada, had better luck fighting against SonicFox since they’re teammates and his Dvorah has been one of the big stories in this tournament. SonicFox opted for his old main Outlaw Erron Black. Throughout the set, Honeybee pushed SonicFox to the edge, but SonicFox would find a clutch way to win in the end.
(There’s also an ad for the upcoming online fighting game Rising Thunder, which I’ll do my best to try out when I can.)
Grand Finals: SonicFox vs. A Foxy Grandpa
SonicFox was on the backend, coming from losers’ bracket against the Kung Lao player who got through this year, A Foxy Grandpa from the UK. So it was two guys with “Fox” in their name and one of them being a former EVO top 8 placer, namely SonicFox for SkullGirls.
He showed how much that experience on the main stage is worth by resetting the bracket, switching from Kitana to Erron Black to climb back. With the crowd behind him, he went to town on Foxy Grandpa and got a 3-0 win in the final series to become the EVO 2015 champion for MKX.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
I’ve kinda warmed up to Smash over the past year due to having played it a bit more and streams showing more of it. I’m still not fully into it, but at least I don’t feel it’s something to talk bad about. While it’s online community still leaves much to be desired, I’ve gotten into watching Melee tourneys.
Leffen vs. Plup
Sorry for featuring another match where Leffen loses, but it seems he brings the best out of his opponents with his Fox. Plup pulled out Samus for this one, and it made for a very fast-paced match. Despite Leffen’s strength, he wasn’t prepared for Plup’s amazing performance.
Mango vs. Hungrybox
Those who watched all of The Smash Brothers documentary series should be familiar with these two and their relationship/rivalry from the eighth episode. They’re yin and yang; polar opposites in both the game and real life. It was defending champion Mango’s aggressive Fox versus Hungrybox’s defensive Jigglypuff, which isn’t exactly similar to the Hungrybox vs. Leffen matchup.
Mango won the first match and Hungrybox had to play standing up to recompose himself. It went back and forth in the final match, but Hungrybox pulls it off and prevents Mango from getting the three-peat. He then welcomed the crowd’s cheers and jeers.
Grand Finals: Armada vs. Hungrybox
For those who aren’t fans of Hungrybox, I’m sorry for featuring him a lot here, but he does play out of his mind in EVO. This is his second grand final appearance and his third top 3 placing. He finally defeated his demon Mango, who eliminated him in the previous two EVOs, so it looked like he was well on his way to finally becoming champion.
However, he was coming from losers and had Armada to overcome. It certainly didn’t look easy for either players as it went back and forth in the first series.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Justin Wong wasn’t in a top 8 for any game in EVO 2015 for what may be the first time in a long time. That means last year’s Marvel champion was unable to defend his throne, and the other two gods of Marvel—FilipinoChamp and ChrisG—weren’t there either.
Whoever wins this was to become the new king of Marvel, no matter one. One of 3 Americans, 2 Japanese, 2 Mexicans, or 1 Chilean could become that man.
KaneBlueRiver vs. Justin Wong
Spoiler right off the bat—this is what
I’ve been rooting for KBR quite a lot lately due to his team—Hulk, Sentinel, Haggar. I’m all for big men, and it’s great to see him succeed in this
after all the years of Virgil teams and keepaways dominating for so long. We now have all these unique teams with characters that are supposedly not top-tier.
RayRay vs. GoldenBoyNEO
It’s not exactly full of drama, but this game was hard-fought by both players. RayRay is one of the more well-known players who somehow survived this meatgrinder of an EVO. Meanwhile, GoldenBoyNEO is one of those good players who has been on the verge of breaking into the upper echelons of Marvel.
This match went down to the wire, to the very last pixel. Definitely a good one.
Apologyman vs. RayRay
Another RayRay victory, this time against the biggest obstacle for everyone in the top 8. Apologyman’s Firebrand team is so cheap and difficult to play against that if it weren’t for the high level players on the main stage, he could easily take the tournament win.
Even with Apologyman getting to play on his favored P1 side, which KBR denied him in the winners’ finals, RayRay was in top form and got the second spot in the grand finals.
Grand Finals: KaneBlueRiver vs. RayRay
With RayRay somehow pulling off the probable comeback from losers’ bracket, he could give KBR a run for his money. However, it seems that EVO 2015 is KBR’s event for the taking. The last game was where KBR pulled out all the stops and brought the EVO championship to Chile.
KBR celebrated by shaking everyone’s hand in the audience before the admins had to call him back for the awarding ceremony.
Ultra Street Fighter IV
In its penultimate year, this game is at its pinnacle right now due to the skill ceiling being set incredibly high after 6 years. While we wait for the arrival of Street Fighter V, Ultra is still strong with what was perhaps the strongest contingent of players in EVO yet. These are indeed some of the most nail-biting matches I’ve ever seen in USF4.
Tokido vs. Kazunoko
Two of the best players in the world vying for a spot in the top 8 winners’ bracket. It was Kazunoko’s Guilty Gear-inspired rushdown Yun versus Tokido’s signature vortex (actually known in Japan as “Tokido-shiki”). This set boiled down to the final round, and Tokido came out on top with a great final rally.
Nemo vs. AiAi
Another Nemo match since he’s such an exciting player. Whenever he gets resistance from AiAi’s Juri during the first two games, Rolento would get back by getting more hectic. Lots of stuns and insanity in the first two games.
Then AiAi adjusted and started fighting back, turning up the hectic switch even more and got his own stuns and big combos to get back in the set. In the final game, AiAi had the momentum and was running with it, but Nemo would then capitalize on mistakes to finally take the set.
This set was all about making beginners sweat; only an elite few can play this good. Despite being eliminated here, AiAi still did great by being the guy who sent Daigo Umehara to the losers’ bracket and reaching top 8 while being backed by the Kappa subreddit.
Winners’ Finals: Infiltration vs. Momochi
This is a battle between the elite of the elite. Momochi has his strong Ken and Infiltration has his whole roster of characters for counterpicks. As with a lot of great matches in EVO, this went down to the last set, where Momochi counterpicked Infiltration’s counterpick to go for first grand finals spot.
Since they weren’t playing their main characters, it was all about who made the most mistakes. Unfortunately, it was Infiltration who did just that, which had Momochi sending him down to losers’ finals.
Losers’ Finals: Infiltration vs. Gamerbee
This set is a long one; it took both players to their absolute limit, and it still wasn’t the grand finals yet. This was counterpick vs. counterpick again, but they decided to stick with what they ended up with and went all out. Unlike the craziness that was Nemo vs. AiAi, this was more of a tactical battle. It’s not to say that it wasn’t fast-paced at all, but you could see the rapid-fire decision-making here.
After being taken to the edge, Infiltration thought long and hard about a counterpick, so long that the admins had to put the clock on him. He made his mind with Juri, and he made a remarkable comeback with her. At the last game in the last round, Gamerbee went for the win with a timer scam to win what was perhaps the most mentally-draining set of Ultra yet.
Grand Finals: Momochi vs. Gamerbee
This time, Gamerbee has to conquer one last demon in order to close out what has been looking to be his year. But Momochi’s overall strength has been incredible, to say the least. Appropriately, they went with their mains for this one, at least at first. When Gamerbee reset the bracket, Momochi was suddenly pressured.
After a bit of self-regrouping, Momochi picked Evil Ryu, staying with shoto but upping the offensive quotient. This seemed to have done the trick as it gave Momochi more ways to attack Adon. However, Gamerbee was unfazed by his opponent’s early success in this final set and still got his whenever he could.
Gamerbee showed great mental fortitude even after that intense match against Infiltration. Perhaps the anti-climactic controller mishap may have taken him out of his zone because once his opponent’s stick got fixed, Momochi got one last rally to take the last round for the win.
BONUS: Killer Instinct
UPDATE (2015.07.22): I wasn’t able to watch the Killer Instinct tournament since they weren’t featured on the main stage (I didn’t watch much of the second day), but I had to put this one in. It was too good to not feature here.
Sleep NS vs. My God
In what most likely is the most insane comeback of EVO 2015, Sleep NS with Kan-Ra had been reduced to a single pixel of life by My God’s Sabrewulf. Tensions was high since it was a top 8 match, even though it was only the first game of the set. My God could have pressed his luck with his gigantic life lead and finish Sleep off, but he may get caught and a combo breaker may come too late. Therefore, he just planned to stay back and block everything until the timer ran out.
This is where Sleep showed patience and persistence. It looked like it was going to be a timer scam, but My God made some mistakes and Sleep capitalized for the amazing comeback win.
In terms of stories, this EVO is not as powerful as the previous ones. But in terms of skill, there’s no denying this EVO had some of the best matches ever played in history. In the end, displays of great skill and insane action are what makes people watch videos of these matches down the line, even after several years.
Once again, here’s to next year’s EVO hype.