In a surprising announcement, Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC (“SIE”) and RTS, a new venture from Endeavor’s eSports business, have acquired the Evolution Championship Series (“Evo”). Fans know Evo as the world’s largest fighting game event from Triple Perfect, Inc. Now, Sony welcomes the annual fighting game tournament into the PlayStation family.
Evo started in 1996 as small, nameless arcade tournaments that Tom and Tony Cannon started. By 2002, it became the official Evolution Championship Series. Over the years, it drew international attention and has become a staple in competitive gaming. Last year, Evo planned on continuing as an online-only venture, but they canceled the event after co-founder Joey “Mr. Wizard” was accused of sexually assaulting a minor. Although many companies began to step back from the tournament, Sony intends to bring new life into the championship series.
What better way to breathe new life into the tournament than with a new event? On August 6th, the event returns as “Evo Online,” with an online tournament taking place over two weekends. More specifically, the first competition is August 6-8, and the next is the 13-15. The event will feature the following fighting games: Arc System Work’s Guilty Gear Strive, WB Games’ Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate (only in North America, Europe, and Latin America regions), Capcom’s Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment’s Tekken 7.
Fighting games thrive on Playstation
Steven Roberts, VP, Global Competitive Gaming, SIE, said, “Fighting games have been a vital part of PlayStation’s legacy and our community since the very beginning, and we’ve been thrilled to partner with Evo over the years. This joint acquisition with RTS marks a new chapter of collaboration with Evo’s co-founders, Tom and Tony Cannon, and their passionate community of fighting game fans.”
Tom and Tony will remain as crucial advisors to “ensure that Evo remains a one-of-a-kind, grassroots competitive platform for fighting game players and fans around the globe,” as stated in the official press release. With their help, Sony and RTS seek to propel the tournament’s success in creative ways while preserving what has made Evo special: Its open-format competition. Evo welcomes all to join the fun.
Sony has the numbers to back up their decision, as well. According to SIE, gamers logged in over 1.1 billion competitive gameplay hours in 2020. That’s no surprise, given that fighting games have seen massive growth on PlayStation consoles over the years.
Sony’s ownership of Evo has fans worried
Exclusivity rights are always a point of contention when it comes to acquisitions. So, fans worry that the tournament will become an all-PlayStation event. Luckily, Evo Director of Global Business Development Mark “MarkMan” Julio dispelled those worries by announcing that it will be open to all platforms.
What does that mean for Smash Bros? Many may not be aware, but Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an exceedingly popular competitive game, especially for the Evo crowd. When Evo 2020 went online-only, they removed Smash from the event. Nintendo came forward with their statement, assuring their base that they will “continue to assess Evo, and other opportunities, as we plan for future online and offline Super Smash Bros. tournament activity.”
Sony and RTS are open to letting other platforms and games make up their lineup in future years. Ultimately, it will be Nintendo’s call, but there is hope that Smash will return! Sony will share more information over the next couple of weeks and months, so keep your eyes peeled?
Are you excited by Sony’s acquisition of Evo? Please, by all means, sound off in the comments!