No, not the visitor from another planet.
The first Top 8 of EVO 2017 took place Friday night and showcased The King of Fighters XIV. Seeing as this was the last big event of the day, the crowd starting working their way towards the main stage. Anticipation was definitely growing as we were about to crown the first champion at EVO 2017.
What struck me the most was how international the whole thing was. Of the 8 competitors, there were no less than 6 different countries being represented. While KOF may not be the biggest game in the United States, it certainly has its fandom elsewhere. There was a strong Mexican contingincy for its two representatives. Cheers and flags were seen and heard throughout, tears were even shed as Pako came back from a certain match loss to upset the Japanese M’.
In the grand finals we saw E.T take on Xiaohai. E.T took a 2 games to 0 lead in the best of 5, but Xiaohai did make a comeback and tied the series at 2. Xiaohai was one game away from resetting the bracket…
Ok, for those of you who don’t know what I just said, here goes: Xiaohai had lost earlier in the Top 8 which put him in “Loser’s Bracket” and he fought his way back to Grand Finals. Since he was in Loser’s Bracket, he had to beat E.T in two sets to become champion, so “Reset the bracket” means he won one set and both competitors would be on equal ground.
This did not happen, however as E.T used some unorthodox character selection (see: he chose Clark) and BARELY pulled out the victory. I mean, it was down to the last character for both men. E.T pulled it out in the end and was crowned the fist EVO champion of 2017.
This begs the question on where King of Fighters goes from here, since the following for the game has died down more compared to other games on EVO main stage. I, for one, think this is the last year we will see KOF XIV on the main stage, but at the same time, SNK needs to have a presence onstage. A rep for SNK told me, while I was playing Samurai Shodown V Special, that we should be hearing and seeing more from the Samurai Shodown series. Does this mean a new game is in the works? Will it be ready by next year? Will the fans keep KOF onstage? We will wait and see. Until then, congrats to E.T.