The inaugural Evo Japan concluded Sunday with finals in major titles and fan favorites alike, including Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, among several other games. A prize of ¥ 1 million ($9,200) was doled out for each of the seven main games except Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Arms, which did not have a prize pool.
Street Fighter V
Grapht's Seonwoo "Infiltration" Lee came back from the losers bracket to take the tournament from John Takeuchi.
Infiltration took much of 2017 off from competitive play in order to recalibrate. The Evo 2016 champion was feeling some character anxiety going into the tournament but finally landed on maining Juri. It was an interesting choice, considering Juri is far from considered the best character in the game. But clearly Infiltration was in the lab, finding new approaches to slip up his opponents.
Throughout the first set, Takeuchi played aggressively with his Rashid. But Infiltration took a slow and patient approach, standing back, blocking and waiting for an opening.
After the bracket reset, Infiltration continued to counter Takeuchi's aggression with strong defense and mixups. It was as if he was reading exactly what Takeuchi was going to do, and countered everything he threw at him. It was a dominant set.
Evo Japan 2018 was also a strong tournament for Twitch, Red Bull, HyperX, and Cygames' Daigo Umehara, who came in third. After a contentious two years in Street Fighter V, it seems that he's coming closer to finding his true form with Guile.
As for the Evo 2017 champion, Echo Fox's Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi came in fourth, being knocked out by The Beast himself, Daigo.
Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2
The grand finals in Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 was special for fans. It came down to the top two players in the world, with the No. 1 player, Omito "Omito" Hashimoto coming from losers against Nage.
Omito came into grand finals flying, taking the first two sets with ease. But it came down to the last set, with Nage putting a lot of corner pressure on Omito with his Faust. But Omito caught a second wind and threw Nage to the air, finishing him off and causing a bracket reset.
In set two, both Nage and Omito stuck to their respective Faust and Johnny. The second set was largely momentum based, with the player gaining the first advantage usually taking their opponent's health bar to zero.
Given the talent of both players, it wasn't surprising that it went to a final game, final round. Nage went all in, with pure aggression. After an 11-move combo, he continued attacking Omito until it was over.
This was Nage's first win in a grand slam tournament.
It was an all-Korean grand finals for Tekken 7 with both of ROX Gaming's Tekken pros, Sung-ho "Chanel" Kang and Jae-min "Knee" Bae, battling it out for the title of Evo Japan champion.
Unfortunately for Chanel, it was looking like a winners semi-finals recap, were he fell to Knee 2-0. But Chanel, using some patience and strong footsie play, put himself on the board. And in an intense game five, with the rounds tied at 2-2, Chanel was able to eke out a bracket reset.
In the second set of grand finals, the first game resoundingly went to Chanel. That's when Knee switched characters from Bryan to Steve, in an attempt to halt Chanel's losers run momentum. And it worked, as Knee was able to reverse 3-0 Chanel in the following game. This forced Chanel to switch from Alisa to Lucky Chloe, a character largely considered to be the worst in the game. While he made a valiant effort with Lucky Chloe, tying the round at 2-2, Knee was able to seal it. Chanel finally bet his tournament life of Eliza, but it wasn't enough to upset Knee, who took the second set of grand finals 3-1.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
On the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U end, Echo Fox's Leonardo "MKLeo" Perez took first place against Yuta "Abadango" Kawamura, in a winners finals rerun. With MKLeo coming in from the winners side, he clearly wanted to finish the set when he made the switch to Marth from Cloud in game three.
MKLeo has been starting off with Cloud against Bayonetta at many tournaments, but opts to switch to Marth after a loss. It was the exact same strategy that made him Genesis 5 champion earlier this January. Being the best Marth player in the world, and since so few top players use Marth, it usually catches players off guard.
His excellent spacing against a rush-heavy character like Bayonetta is impressive. But in game four of set one, after winning with Marth, he switched back to Cloud to keep Abadango on his toes. His ability to dual main two wildly different characters on the spot makes MKLeo lethal .
Abadango started getting antsy, throwing out back-airs to keep MKLeo at bay. But MKLeo was able to read the rhythm of his jumps and attack on the landing to take a stock and the trophy.