Evolution Championship Series 2016

‘Evo 2016’: Familiar Faces Take Top Prize in ‘Mortal Kombat X’ And ‘Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3’

There came a point where you knew that the Mortal Kombat X Grand Finals at the Evolution Championship Series, or Evo for short, was serious. The returning champion, Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, took off his trademark fuzzy blue hat, the crowd all around gasping in surprise.

He then went on to win Mortal Kombat X at Evo in front of the crowd at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, though it didn’t look as easy as his earlier wins. This marks the third year in a row SonicFox has claimed an Evolution title, winning Injustice in 2014 and Mortal Kombat X last year. The challenge came in the form of Bahrain’s Sayed Hashim “TekkenMaster” Ahmed, who put up a furious fight, resetting the bracket on the Evo champion.

SonicFox cruised through his first few sets, taking out Alexandre “Hayatei” Dubé-Bilodeau by a 3-0 margin, and then defeating TekkenMaster in much the same way. However, the rematch in the Grand Finals proved to be the greatest challenge of SonicFox’s Evolution career, as the bracket was reset, placing all the pressure on the young Evo champion’s shoulders.

Mixing up Cassie Cage, Erron Black, and eventually Alien, SonicFox proved he was the best Mortal Kombat X player at Evo, as well as the top dog to beat in many tournaments to come. TekkenMaster’s valiant effort, mixing up D’Vorah and Kotal Khan to the frustration of SonicFox also proved he belonged in the Top 8.

Later on, familiar faces rose to the challenge as Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 took the stage following Mortal Kombat X. Favorites Justin Wong, Nicholas “Kane BlueRiver” Gonzalez, and Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez rounded out a pretty solid Top 8, though it was apparent right away that NYChrisG was not going to be denied.

Taking on prior Evo Champion Justin Wong in Loser’s Quarterfinals, the two pushed the game to its extent. The fighting was fast, frenetic and intense, and neither wanted to be sent home. However, NYChrisG eked it out over his friend Justin, earning a spot in Loser’s Semifinals.

Meanwhile, Evo 2015 Champion Nicholas “Kane BlueRiver” Gonzalez cruised through his early match-ups, though he eventually ran into a meat grinder going against Chris G.

After taking one game of the Grand Finals, NYChrisG went on to win the next six straight, defeating a visibly shaken KBR on the main stage. At first, it didn’t seem as though Chris really knew what happened, looking stunned after his victory. The roars of the crowd chanting “U.S.A.!” filled the arena, and when it finally sunk in, Chris exploded with emotion, reveling in the tournament win that has eluded him for so long.

The excitement was turned into confusion, however, when an unnamed challenger approached the newly crowned Evo champion on stage as his Marvel vs Capcom colleagues heaped congratulations on him. The young man appeared to possibly challenge Chris G to a match right then and there, though he was swiftly escorted off stage by Mandalay Bay security.

Later tonight, the Main event starts with Street Fighter V taking the prime time slot at 7 p.m. Pacific time, 10 p.m. Eastern. The tournament is available for viewing on both ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app. After a wild morning, and surely a wild afternoon to come, the hype for Street Fighter V at Evo is at an all-time high. Will Joseph “L.I. Joe” Ciaramelli bring the title home to the United States, or will favorite Seonwoo “Infiltration” Lee claim the first title in Street Fighter V? You can check the action tonight on ESPN2, as well as the official Twitch.tv stream.

Who would you like see take home the coveted title of Evolution Champion in Street Fighter V? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via Joseph Bradford]