EVO 2022: Street Fighter V Overview


Whether you’re into fighting games or gaming in general, you’re likely to have heard about the Evolution Championship Series (EVO).  If you’re unfamiliar, EVO is the most popular and longest running fighting game tournament that brings in the most skilled players from around the world to compete for a grand championship. This year’s EVO is special, because it is the first time since the pandemic that it has become in-person, which is major for contenders and fans alike. 

Street Fighter is a series that has tagged along with EVO since its beginnings in 1996. But today, Street Fighter V is the mainline entry for tournaments. This year held over 1300 contenders for this one game alone. Some of the greatest upcoming players and some of the eldest members of the community wound up into the bracket.  Regrettably, this could potentially be the last year Street Fighter V appears as a part of EVO, considering the release of Street Fighter 6 comes next year and may serve as a replacement.

The first match of the top eight matchup was the first winner’s semifinals with Daigo Umehara and Tsunehiro “Gachikun” Kanamori. This match can serve as an excellent introduction of EVO to new viewers and what it has to offer, highlighting the best moments from each player. It’s also a sign for the audience the kind of energy they will experience for the remainder of the event. Umehara has been in the tournament scene for a very long time, and seeing him in this year’s EVO shows his commitment to the fighting game community. Kanamori’s unique style of playing generated plenty of highlights from this match, and advanced him to the winner’s finals. 

This year’s EVO had a fantastic lineup of competitors from around the world, some of whom are upcoming in the competitive scene, and some have been around for a long time. The grand finalists for EVO 2022 were  Derek “iDom” Ruffin from the US, and Masaki Kawano from Japan. Both players are reputable among the FGC, or fighting game community, Ruffin being ranked number one globally. Kawano, on the other hand, is ranked number two globally. With these two matched against each other, it’s a surefire way to make a spectacular match. Throughout, Ruffin took an early offense, winning him the first set. But both players went back and forth, eventually ending up in the final round of the final set. Both players were equally close to winning. During this moment, Ruffin had many supporters behind his back, as this was America’s chance to win a major tournament for the first time since 2010. Both he and Kawano put together one of the most exciting grand finals, bringing in over 250,000 viewers online and in-person at the height of the match. But, after much effort from both sides of the grand finals, it was Kawano who landed the final set victory, earning him the 1st place spot for EVO 2022. Although Kawano got the win in the end, it was amazing to see Ruffin make it as far as he did, going through a loser’s bracket and a winner’s bracket to reach the top two. The same can be said for Kawano, this was his first time winning EVO, which is an incredible feat to have. This win also earned him an early position in next year’s Capcom Cup IX, a feature tournament exclusive for Capcom’s Street Fighter series.

There’s a lot to unpack simply from one of the nine games, but that’s what you can expect from something as massively organized as EVO. 2022 was the year it escaped from virtual sessions, but is most likely the last for Street Fighter V to be present in the major tournament scene, as the release of its successor draws closer in 2023. Stretching from the qualifiers to the grand finals, a lot can be learned from spectating whether you are experienced, or now getting your hands on the fighting game genre. As there is hours of footage to go over, there is something for everyone to uncover.