EVO: A Documentary Review

EVO: A Documentary paints a clear picture of what participating in the Evolution Championship Series feels like from the perspective of a professional player.

For some people, the Evolution Championship Series (or EVO for short,) which is an annual fighting game tournament that features some of the best fighting games and professional players from all over the world, came out of nowhere. But to others, this was a tremendous effort that took years to pay off. EVO: A Documentary explains what makes the international tournament so special and shows everything that happens from a completely new perspective and anyone interested in the rise of “e-sports” and the fighting game community should definitely watch it.

The documentary starts with a short tutorial about fighting games and this is a terrific way of introducing players to the community, since these types of games can be quite intimidating for most players. It also focuses on diversity, some of the people who are part of the fighting game community are celebrities, sportsman or woman who actively participating in fighting game tournaments and you don’ see them represented in video games in general, so I think it’s great that they are mentioned in the film.

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Most of the film is narrated and shown from the perspective of professional player Joel “Akka” Ortiz (who also directed EVO: A Documentary), but there are also special appearances of Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong, two of the best and most recognizable fighting game players. And yes, the famous EVO moment #37 that shows Daigo parrying move after move appears here, but no one bothers to explain it in any way, so I can see how people who are trying to get in this community might be confused by videos like this which are extremely convoluted.

The documentary shows Joel playing entire matches as part of the qualification process which is something you can’t always see (that is, unless you go to EVO.) “Akka” is eventually eliminated and he has to watch the rest of the tournament is a regular fan. But as you’ll see, that’s not the worst thing that can happen to you, since the final matches are extremely entertaining to watch.

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Although the film primarily focuses on Street Fighter IV (in this case the Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition version of the game which came out in 2011,) other games make an appearance here and there, such as BlazBlu, Marvel vs Capcom 3 and more. Nevertheless, if you’re going to watch this documentary make sure you like Street Fighter 4 or at least know how the game works on a basic level.

In the end, EVO: A Documentary is a well done documentary that shows one of the biggest video game tournaments from a completely different perspective. And that alone should make you go watch it.