Day 2 of the Evolution Championship Series features four Top 8s for the featured games: UNIST, DragonBall FighterZ, Samurai Showdown, and Mortal Kombat 11. Here's what's going down.
Mortal Kombat 11
With another Evo victory, Dominique "SonicFox" McLean continued his one-of-kind resume and legacy and proved that he belonged in the short conversation of the greatest fighting game player of all time. He took down his latest championship over beastcoast's Ryan "Dragon" Walker in a rematch of winner's finals. All of the factors to destroy Dragon were there: the reads, the pristine blocks, an otherwordly ground game, and he never jumped -- all were needed for the 3-0 victory.
Despite a field of 1567, the biggest Mortal Kombat tournament of all time, the top eight was a list of very familiar faces. Outside of the breakthrough performance of UYU's Julien "Deoxys" Gorena, the rest of the seven kombatants were regular fixtures of the past competition top eights. The ever-evolving play of kompetitors like Deoxys (non-traditional combo routes and setups), Noble's Andrew "Semiij" Fontanez (character change) and PXP's Denom "A F0xy Grampa" Jones (addition of multiple characters for matchups) showcase the dedication and commitment you need to be a top-placing player.
Goichi "Go1" Kishida finally won the big one. With his patented defense and otherworldly patience, he amended for his 2018 runner-up performance to become the 2019 Evo Dragon Ball FighterZ champion. In a repeat of last year's Evo grand finals, Go1 entered the matchup from the winner's side against his familiar rival,SonicFox. The duo faced each other from the winner's finals and dialed in another classic set that had its own share of climatic moments. SonicFox looked destined to reset the bracket in his vintage unbeatable loser's bracket form coupled with the momentum of beating Go1's teammate and training partner, Shoji "Fenritti" Sho, before Go1 stepped on the gas and took the entire set behind his impressive Goku play.
The theme of the top eight was defense and familiarity -- with so many different team combinations and the power of newcomer GT Goku in the mix of so many top player's hands, it was integral to have the right answers for every incoming threat. The championship bracket was more than just a battle of regions, but also a fight between competitive locals. From Japan, it was a clash between Tokyo's "Fighting Tuesday" and Osaka's Cyclops Osaka fighting tournament. The two locals boasted five of the top eight player bracket and proved to the world that their weekly tournaments were the hardest to beat in Dragon Ball FighterZ. It was also a great showing for the USA and Spain with representatives, Christopher "ChrisG" Gonzalez and Joan "Shanks" Namay respectively surprising the rest of the world with their elite tournament runs.
Lee "Infiltration" Seon-woo came back from the loser's bracket with Genguro to take Evo 2019. In the grand finals, he reset Ryoto "Kazunoko" Inoue's Haohmaru, 3-0 and won again 3-1 in the second set. Despite Kazunoko's success against one of Japan's best Genguros from "Fighting Tuesday," he was thoroughly defeated. Infiltration returned to Evo after facing domestic abuse allegations last September and was dropped by his team, Panda Global, in November. Infiltration's run was reminiscent of his past tournament when he was a prominent name among the top players of the world.
Samurai Shodown's debut at Evo was a success. Every match showcased excitement and anxiety as players took advantage of the mind game that the engine allows. The game is without a doubt the scariest match of "chicken" in the fighting game roster and provided plenty of highlights for those unfamiliar with the franchise.
The dread before Evo for Samurai Shodown centered around the overpowering nature of Genguro and whether the finals would be littered with the character, but the top eight thankfully showcased a strong mix of play styles and character variety. Between the veteran play of USA's Alex "Calipower" Valle and Justin Wong that prioritized long-range play and runaway tactics and the dash-heavy styles of Reynald Tacsuan and Arubi "RB" Kao, there was a match for everyone. Although there were still four Genguro players in the top eight of the tournament, there was plenty of reason for optimism. If the game continues to reward players for individuality within their character choices, this game will have some legs for the future.
The Top 8 for Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st] featured seven players from Japan and one from Canada. The losers final featured a heavily contested back-and-forth between Hishigata and Oushuu-hittou, but ultimately went to Oushuu-hittou 3-1. The finals featured a lot of momentum shifts, with Oushuu-hittou finding ground and making the most of his chances against Clearlamp_o, who sat on the winners side of the bracket. Still, Clearlamp_o's control with Byakuya outpaced Oushuu-hittou's Seth 3-1, giving him the Evo 2019 win.