The biggest fighting game event of the year is right around the corner. EVO takes place this weekend (15-17 July 2016) and features some of the biggest fighting-game competitions on the calendar. The Street Fighter 5 comp alone is to feature more than 5,000 entrants, with Super Smash Bros almost hitting that figure with its tournaments for Melee and Smash on Wii U.
Elsewhere, Mortal Kombat X will have more than $57,000 (£42,671, €51,218) on the line thanks to backing from Warner, and newcomer Pokken Tournament will have more than $21,000 up for grabs thanks to The Pokémon Company and Nintendo.
Of course, that only scratches the surface of everything going on at EVO, as Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear Xrd REVELATOR, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Tekken 7 will also be in attendance.
It's no surprise that with so much happening, and only three days to fit it all in, it is impossible to watch everything live at EVO, and even harder to remember all the top players you should be keeping an eye on. With that in mind, here's a quick overview of all the top action and the players to look out for during the biggest weekend of the fighting-game calendar.
The times below are UK times.
Street Fighter 5
- Final Time: 03:00 (BST) Monday 18 July
- Live Stream
Easily the main event of the EVO weekend is the massive Street Fighter 5 event. Not only will this be the largest single location fighting game tournament ever with more than 5,000 people, but it will also feature a whopping $100,000-plus prize pool thanks to its place on the Capcom Pro Tour.
Throughout the weekend the action will be on the dedicated Street Fighter channel Capcom Fighters, with the semi-final action also being broadcast on EVO One and Three from 4am BST Sunday (17 July) morning. The final will be the main event on EVO one in the early hours of Monday (18 July).
The easy favourite is Lee 'Infiltration" Seon-woo, the Korean superstar who has dominated almost everyone in his way. However, with the event being on American soil you can never rule out Justin Wong, who currently leads the Capcom Pro Tour.
Japan's Hajime "Tokido' Taniguchi will also probably hit the top eight given he is ranked as the second-best player in the world right now, and you can never rule out his fellow countryman Daigo 'The Beast' Umehara. Europe's best hope is Frenchman Olivier 'Luffy' Hay, although there is always a chance that UK hopeful Benjamin 'ProblemX' Simon could go far.
Super Smash Bros Melee
- Final Time: 23:00 (BST) Sunday 17 July
- Live Stream
Despite Smash 4 on Wii U having more competitors than its older brother this time out, GameCube game Melee still holds the penultimate spot on the EVO finals day, and promises to once again be one of the most entertaining and accessible events of the weekend. While the likes of Street Fighter and some of the more niche titles can be confusing to newcomers, everyone can appreciate seeing a Princess Peach beat up Jigglypuff.
Annoyingly, the Melee semi-finals are taking place at the same time as the Pokken Tournament and Killer Instinct finals – which are both worth a watch – but the top eight will kick off at 11pm on Sunday night on EVO One.
Juan 'Hungrybox' Debiedma has easily been the best Melee player this year, taking multiple tournaments and finally establishing himself as the best in the world with his Jigglypuff. Elsewhere, Adam 'Armada' Lindgren certainly shouldn't be counted out, despite a less than stellar few months, he did after all take first at The Smash Summit 2, while Joseph 'Mango' Marquez is coming off the back of a win at WTFox 2. Rounding out the top competitors is the most financially successful Melee player ever, Jason 'Mew2King' Zimmerman, who has had a poor year so far, but certainly has the potential to upset the rest of the field.
Super Smash Bros Wii U
- Final Time: 20:00 (BST) Saturday 16 July
- Live Stream
The latest entry into the Smash Bros. franchise has somewhat been stitched up by the EVO organisers as it doesn't feature on championship Sunday at all. However that hasn't stopped more than 2,600 players from signing up for the competition. Fortunately the easily finish means the final has a nice 8pm start on Saturday night, with the semi-finals taking place from 4pm on Evo Two.
While any EVO event is going to be unpredictable many are saying that this should be a two horse race between Gonzalo 'ZeRo' Barrios, the undisputed best Smash 4 player in the world and defending EVO champion, and Nairoby 'Nairo' Quezada, who has been right behind ZeRo every step of the way. For almost all of the first year of Smash 4, ZeRo was undefeated, racking up more than 50 tournament wins, but it was Nairo who managed to knock him off his perch and defeat him for the first time. ZeRo has since taken a brief hiatus and hasn't looked as good during his return, but you can never count him out, while Nairo is still on top form. It's the final everyone wants to see, but at EVO you can never guarantee anything.
Mortal Kombat XL
- Final Time: 16:00 (BST) Sunday 17th July
- Live Stream
Kicking off championship Sunday at 4pm is the final of the Mortal Kombat XL competition, which has received $50,000 of prize money from publisher Warner Bros. With only around 700 entrants, it is one of the smaller events of the weekend, but that doesn't mean it will be a bad tournament by any stretch of the imagination.
The name to look out for is Dominique 'Sonic Fox' McLean, who has dominated almost all of the big MKX competitions since winning at EVO last year. You will most likely recognise him due to the blue fox hat that he wears, and of course his incredible MK play. Elsewhere, UK hopeful 'A F0xy Grampa', who likes to keep his real name unknown, should be in for a top-eight finish and possibly the final, as was the case last year.
EVO is of course much more than than just these four games, with many other, albeit slightly less-popular, titles also being featured. The Killer Instinct finals at 2am on Sunday morning will certainly be worth a watch, and if you can catch some Pokken Tournament action, you won't be disappointed. There is too much going on to cover everything, but the full schedule can be found right here; just bear in mind that the UK is eight hours ahead of all the times listed.
Evo 2016 looks set to be its most incredible year yet. The games on offer are more varied than other years, all the top pro players are in attendance and the new location of the massive Mandalay Bay Events Center for championship Sunday will result in the best EVO atmosphere yet. You would be a fool to miss it.