EVO is the largest fighting game tournament in the world. Here's 4 reasons why it's worth the trip to go as a spectator.

Why It’s Totally Worth Going to EVO as a Spectator

EVO is the largest fighting game tournament in the world. Here's 4 reasons why it's worth the trip to go as a spectator.
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Just last weekend, I went to EVO for the first time. However, I didn’t go to compete—I went to spectate. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking “How is that any different from watching EVO via livestream?” or “Why did you go if you’re not even competing?” Heading to Las Vegas to experience the convention myself was really exciting and here are a few reasons why it’s worth making the trip to spectate the world’s largest fighting game tournament.

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Exclusive Panels

One thing that the livestreams don’t cover are panels. There weren’t many panels with only 4 on Friday and 4 on Saturday, but it allowed con-goers to know firsthand what’s happening in the gaming industry. I attended the Capcom/Street Fighter V Panel on Friday where Capcom developers came all the way from Japan to talk about new costumes, Cinematic Story Mode, and an exclusive stage (which made an appearance during the SFV Grand Finals) that would be released in the future.

Twitch also hosted a panel where livestreamers and other staff from the website gave advice about how to get sponsored by the company. Current livestreamers and those who were interested in livestreaming were able to get advice from employees and also learn about future improvements to the website that might come in the future.

Merch Booths

These are common at every convention, but getting merch at EVO is fun if you’re a fan of fighting games or just want some cool EVO merch. If you do end up going next year, I suggest getting EVO merch the first day — the second you get into the convention center. I had to wait in a line that reached the opposite side of the convention room for 2 hours before I was finally able to purchase my EVO gear. Since players are trying to win their pools, none of the merch will be sold out…yet. Just be sure you get there early.

Aside from official EVO merch, you can get cool gaming merchandise such as shirts, prints, keychains, and perler bead charms (which sold really well since almost everyone had one on their lanyard). For those looking to get into the competitive scene, there were also a number of booths that sold custom controllers and custom arcade sticks. They are a bit expensive (usually $300 – $400) so if you’re looking to get one, save some money.

Free Play Areas

Even though EVO is a fighting game tournament, there were still plenty of free play area for spectators. They even had some arcade machines for Street Fighter II, Killer Instinct, and more! They had a small Smash Wii U setup where I played a few matches with a Meta Knight player. Despite getting destroyed, I still had fun because I got to meet a fellow fan of the game and he showed great sportsmanship. Despite what we hear about the fighting game community online, it just goes to show you can meet some great people.

All Hype. No Salt.

Watching the best of the best compete is the main event of EVO. It was awesome to see Kamemushi beat zeRo 3-0 firsthand in Smash Wii U. Surrounded by all the fans, it was exciting to see everyone rooting for their favorite player (most were rooting for Kamemushi). During the Smash Wii U grand finals, all of us were on the edge of our seats (even though I was standing) waiting to see who would take the final stock. It was an extremely close match between Ally and Kamemushi, but once Ally took Kamemushi’s last stock, everyone jumped out of their seats cheering for Ally. Everyone was super excited throughout the entire match and since I wasn’t competing, I had no reason to be mad about how the match turned out. We were all there intently watching the match as fans of the game.

Sure, the commentary on stream is pretty exciting, but it doesn’t beat thousands of people cheering throughout the match.

Source Images[Header Image, Street Fighter V, EVO 2016 merch, Arcade Setup, EVO finals]

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