After finishing up work in LA, we were driving 280 miles to Vegas.
Unfortunately we weren't able to make Day 1 so were sitting in the car watching the stream on Twitch.
I personally play Soulcalibur VI, so gave out a small cry of joy when Yuttoto claimed victory.
About an hour past midnight, we could spot the illumination of the city in the distance.
Once entering the city, we were amazed at how many people there were walking around at 2am.
I had been watching my Twitter timeline the whole time, and could feed the joy, frustration, and excitement for all that were attending.
Tomorrow was the big day for us.
As we entered the Mandalay Convention Center, we were greeted by the EVO banner.
We were surrounded by people heading towards the venue speaking in their home language.
I felt this when attending EVO Japan, but am always surprised at how international the crowd is, as well as the passion.
After walking through the long corridor (and having to pass by the food court with the long lines...) I was overwhelmed at the welcome board at the reception with illustrations of the winners from last year's EVO as well as the characters they used. Love for the game? I think so.
I had seen various tweets about the crazy long lines on Day 1 with people getting worried about making their pool in time, but Day 2 was no where nearly crowded with only a 1-2 minute wait.
It was gamer's paradise after going through the security gates.
Still got those CRT's up and running！
Passion for Japan's FGC
As I was roaming around the venue, I ran into Kane Blueriver at the Samurai Showdown pool area. Kane had helped on one of our streams to teach our beginner fighting game players using Soulcalibur VI.
Kane expressed strong respect for Japan's FGC culture - especially around the exceptional focus on improving skills of the game, and is looking for opportunities to establish a career in Japan.
"For fighting game players, the physical location of where to train is important." says Kane.
In his hometown in Chile, players are physically far apart so it isn't easy as hopping on the Yamanote-line for 20 minutes to play against a buddy of similar skills like you can do in Japan.
When it comes to fighting games with a large number of characters, you just can't find enough good players for each character to practice against.
For professional or people looking to become professional players, this can be critical.
We chatted about the situation of players around the world, what their needs are, what assistance they are seeking, promised to meet again, and I was off to see the Dragonball FighterZ tournament.
As I drew near the area, you could hear the crowd and feel the heat from the spectators. The finals were just starting and the crowd was growing quickly.
Finally it was Winners Finals
On the stage were GO1 from Japan and SonicFox from the US.
The crowd cheered with every set.
Then there was everyone doing "Genkidama" just like Goku on the screen.
Yes, you can enjoy the event more if you are a serious player and can understand how crazy the moves the players are showing on stage are, and also understand English.
But that isn't all. Even if you don't understand a word of English, or it's the first time you've seen people play the game, you can feel the excitement and the passion of all the people around. And besides, one of the great things about watching a fighting game match, is it's easy to understand who won.
Another thing I felt, was that as an international competition, you feel strong emotions build up watching players winning a title carrying the flag of your home country.
I shouted as GO1 claimed his victory for 2019 Drangonball FighterZ EVO champion. I repeatedly watched the stream of this moment back at the hotel later that night, with SonicFox applauding his contestant who had wanted this title for so long.
EVO2019 Day3 - Main stage
The 3rd and final day was held at Mandalay Bay Event Center which is basically a huge stadium featuring a main stage where finalists for several of the major titles would contend.
Security more strict than the first 2 days, with players turning back after learning they couldn't enter with backpacks.
I was plowing in on a burger and watching BBTAG finals.
Grand finals was very exciting to watch with Kyamei "over-doping" during set intervals and the crowd going wild.
Then, there were finals for Street Fighter V.
...but before that, Mr. Ono rose on stage and read from a scroll about his thoughts of the game, and expressing gratitude for all the players that attended.
The session ended of course with a big Shoryuken from all of those in the audience.
I never dreamed of a day where I would be sitting here in the audience watching something that had become so big, from a game I had played as a child (Street Fighter II).
Watching players putting in all they had practiced for, and the crowd cheering on, we had ended our journey of EVO. (Unfortunately I could not stay around for the rest of the titles but was on Twitch the whole time on the way back to LA)
Finding the love all around
How do you spread the fun of the game to more people? The joy of communicating through a common platform which is the game.
The crowd coming together in unity.
In the 2 days we attended EVO, the common emotion I felt from the players, was the love for the game.
There was a very memorable moment for me.
I was chatting with the gentleman who was at the official merchandise booth, and I was telling him how this was my first (Las Vegas) EVO.
This is my eighth. My daytime job is working at a brewery in Milwaukee.
I love this event, and that is why I keep coming back.
There you have it. This is what supports the community.