The biggest fighting game tournament of the year, the Evolution Championship Series, returned to the Mandalay Bay Arena in Las Vegas July 14-16. For its 15th consecutive year, the event lived up to its longstanding reputation, and Panda Global was honored to once again be a part of the climactic tournament.
Street Fighter V
Panda Global’s Punk raced to Top 8 without a hitch: even besting Tokido for his spot on the Winners side. He continued his impressive 3-0 run until Tokido made his way back through the Losers bracket for a rematch with the Alpha. Punk’s opponent had put in the work, learning his way through our champion’s impeccable skill set and reset the bracket, then taking first place ahead of our hero.
At just 18 years old, this was Punk’s First EVO run. And despite not achieving his personal goal of taking home the trophy, he earned the respect of the entire FGC when he became the first American player to make it to the grand finals in 7 years. Panda Global is extremely proud of Punk’s work and knows that he will come back next year stronger than ever.
Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom
Meanwhile in Marvel, RayRay ran into some trouble in the semi-finals when he found himself booted to the Losers side by Joey D. Then pitted against PC Marvel God a narrow loss left him just short of a Top 8 placing, sending him home with 9th.
Hayatei put his faith in Robin -- widely viewed to be a low-tier character in the newest NRS title. However, his commitment paid off, earning him a spot in the Top 8 on the Winners side. He took down notable names along the way, including Biohazard, Slayer and MenARD.
However, things took a turn in the Finals when Dragon’s Aquaman getting the upper hand in a game 5 set [2-3] -- and the young player went on to win the Evo trophy. Hayatei then went up against Theo on the Losers side and ended his tournament run in 5th place.
Coach Steve: 33rd
Kitana Prime: 97th
MVD yet again proved that he is a legitimate threat within the community -- taking out C9 Ally (#5 on the PGRv3) in his last match of pools. However, already on the Losers side, he found himself up against Abadango in the first round of semi-finals. A close [1-2] loss found our Panda going home in 33rd place. However, with notable wins and respectable losses, MVD gave a stunning performance.
ESAM was single-handedly eliminated from the tournament by UK player IxisNaugus, who first booted him to the Losers side. Then, upon their second encounter, he bested our favorite Pikachu again, taking his spot in the semi-finals and leaving ESAM in 49th place.
Rich Brown had a bumpy road at Evo. Losing to Japan’s infamous Duck Hunt player, Raito, in pools. Followed by a defeat at the hands of VoiD, Rich missed out on his spot in the semi-finals and shared 49th place with his fellow Panda ESAM.
Plup’s first Evo loss stirred up some controversy when he appeared to sacrifice a stock, unintentionally giving Prince Abu the upper hand to take the set [2-1] The Panda put in the work on the Losers side:Taking out Ryan Ford, Swedish Delight and Axe on his way to the Finals.
The Top 8 started off in Plup’s favor as he bested The Moon [2-0]. However, the victory was short lived as he ran straight into EVO’s 2016 champion, Hungrybox, whose jigglypuff clapped back with an [0-2] loss for our Panda, earning him 5th place.
MarlinPie suffered an early loss in pools to Teresa, known as Japan’s strongest Jam players. Entering the semi-finals on the Losers side he went up against another Japanese threat, Fumo, whose Elphelt eliminated our Panda from the tournament in 25th place.
An ongoing issue with controllers disconnecting caused by the set-ups was not addressed until later on the next day, at which point SKD found himself on the Losers side of the bracket having fallen to Solex on one of the problematic set-ups.
Disheartened, the Panda made the best of what had been handed to him, but with his mindset off he fell early on in the semi-finals to Japan’s Suya for 33rd place.