If you're a fan of League of Legends, CS:GO, StarCraft II, or any other esports title, you may not know what all of the hype is about with the Evolution Championship Series.
As one of the longest-running fighting game tournaments, the best players from around the globe make their yearly pilgrimage to the City of Sin to throw down for the title of the best in their respective games. Though the structures of several circuits have placed varying values on Evo this year, it's still the tournament that awards the most prestige, even if it's not the grand prize for these circuits.
1) Step Right Up, Anyone Can Have a Try
The rallying cry for the FGC has always been that anyone can enter. With Evo, this is no exception and is taken to the extreme - over 14,000 people have entered this year across 9 titles. No other esport offers such an unrestricted cap on entrants.
2) Vegas, City of Lights
While other esports events have taken to Las Vegas lately, Evo is the OG when it comes to events, and it shows. Even cabbies know what this event is, as they see fighting game players there every year - and will be quick to offer up places to go and see.
3) Salty Suites
Just get knocked out 0-2? Don't worry. There's plenty of places to play, especially at night. TeamSpooky is famous for hosting a salty suite every year, and it tends to be pretty hype. You'll get to play against top players, and watch some rematches from earlier in the tournament if you're lucky. Just bring some booze to smooth things over when you show up, otherwise, you may get some weird looks if you weren't invited.
Other esports simply don't do this - especially PC games, due to hardware restrictions.
4) Talk to Pros
Do you want to know what was going through Filipinoman's head as he was knocked out? Go ask him. Unlike other esports events, where players are largely kept behind the scenes in green rooms, Evo is more like a convention. Though this is somewhat changing now that the finals are at the Mandalay Bay Arena, days 1 and 2 will be a great time to socialize with your favorite players.
The way I've always looked at Evo is that its more like a family reunion. People you may not know may have never heard of you, or even only be vaguely aware of you - but are always friendly.
Do you like games? How about things with game related stuff printed on them? Boy, are you in for a treat with Evo. There's so many vendors at Evo every year - more than most other esports events. And the coolest part about it is, most of them are handmade by community members. Whether it's that custom arcade stick you've been eying, some sweet pixel bead art or the best fanart in the business, Evo always has it all.
Other esports events have swag, but they usually keep it to one shop or developer supplied goodies - Evo's emphasis on community beats out most events here.
6) The Parties
We've written about the parties that Vegas hosts in relation to Evo, and this year is better than ever. Get ready with our post of the parties you can't afford to miss.
While other esports events may have parties, they typically have one big Twitch party and that's it - not so with Evo.
7) The Spectacle
Evo always plays host to not only the best fighting game plays of the year but some of the best that esports as a whole has to offer. If you have a list of top plays from the year, you're doing a disservice to yourself and others when you don't include some of these. Five of this year's games are to be played at the Mandalay Bay Arena so you know that the pop offs are going to be real - especially to a sold out crowd of 12,000 roaring FGC fans.
This is one area that other events usually had Evo beat, but now that it's in an arena, the FGC will prove that it can run with the big dogs.
One thing's for sure - this year's Evo will be the best yet, and will only keep getting better as we approach Sunday's finals.