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EVO Japan's entrants are through the roof - Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and KoF shatter their EVO 2017 numbers while SF5 and Tekken 7 are on par with theirs

People don't seem to realize that this event is going to be just as big as any Las Vegas-based EVO tournament

Posted by Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor • January 23, 2018 at 2:58 p.m. PST • Comments: 39

EVO Japan is happening this very week, and it's hard to deny that the buzz has been fairly low compared to what it usually is for the "regular" EVO event.

It's understandable - this is a new endeavor, and even though it carries the EVO name, it hasn't been proven to be a juggernaut event, contrary to the original and its storied history.

But looking at the entrants, the hype should be much higher for this event, because it is in fact on par with EVO for both Street Fighter 5 and Tekken 7, and way higher for several other titles.

Let's have a look at just how big EVO Japan is shaping up to be in its inaugural year.

Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition

EVO Japan entrants: 2247
EVO 2017 entrants: 2622
EVO 2016 entrants: 5102

It's no secret that Street Fighter 5 saw a massive dropoff between 2016 and 2017 as far as EVO went, but rather than see that as a failing of the game, it's rather a testament to just how gigantic the first year was for the game in terms of tournament entrants.

If we're looking at specifically EVO, the 2017 numbers are in fact still higher than any year that hosted Street Fighter 4, and that was far from an unpopular game, setting EVO records practically every year it was played.

With that in mind, looking at the EVO Japan numbers which are roughly 15% lower than the EVO 2017 entrants, they're pretty impressive for a first run.

Street Fighter 5 is one of the more international titles at the event, being popular across the world competitively, so even though a lot of American and European players probably aren't making the trip, there's a ton of local talent that will be present who typically will not go to EVO in Las Vegas, as well.

In short, the numbers are similar, but it's likely that a majority of the players signed up here are entirely different players than the ones who signed up for EVO 2017, which is also impressive in itself.

With these many entrants partaking, it's pretty evident that this is indeed a tournament worthy of the EVO title, even if it has managed to relatively fly under the radar.

Tekken 7

EVO Japan entrants: 1207
EVO 2017 entrants: 1278
EVO 2016 entrants: 550
EVO 2015 entrants: 465

Tekken, much like Street Fighter, is one of those franchises who sees worldwide popularity, and the gap between how big the series is doesn't vary wildly depending on region.

Also much like Street Fighter, it boasts very similar entrant numbers to what the main event had last year, falling just around 70 players short of that total.

Although the number of entrants isn't that different, it's likely the actual entrants will be wildly different from what was seen at EVO 2017, considering the extremely high level of Japanese Tekken, as well as South Korea which is much closer to Japan than it is to the U.S.A., meaning Korean players are more likely to be able to attend this event.

Last year's Mastercup in Japan had over 800 entrants, and if even half of the talent that showed up for that one are coming to EVO Japan, we're in for a massive treat as far as skill level goes.

Also worth noting is that this is the second largest Tekken tournament to ever take place, behind EVO 2017, so if EVO Japan continues to be an annual established event, this number might actually grow even further in the future.

Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2

EVO Japan entrants: 1198
EVO 2017 entrants: 827
EVO 2016 entrants: 909
EVO 2015 entrants: 970

Now, here's the first series which is seeing a massive growth from being based in Japan.

Obviously, Guilty Gear is a gigantic series as far as fighting game enthusiasts go in Japan, and these numbers definitely show it.

While Guilty Gear Xrd has seen great success at EVO in America as well, it's been on a slight but steady decline every year, as you can see in the numbers above, but bring it to Japan and, provably, the people will come.

Most of the absolute top level Guilty Gear players reside in Japan, so any of the arcade monsters who Mikado regulars know that might not have money or time to travel to America will definitely be present for this one, and looking at the numbers, this is almost assuredly the biggest Guilty Gear tournament to ever be hosted.

Not so shabby for a series that's been going strong for 20 years.

Super Smash Bros. 4

EVO Japan entrants: 770
EVO 2017 entrants: 1515
EVO 2016 entrants: 2656
EVO 2015 entrants: 1929

Super Smash Bros. 4's numbers might look a bit wonky at first, not just the EVO Japan numbers being so much lower, but also the up and down history of the game at the traditional EVO event.

Although there's no way for me to definitively state what's gone on with Smash at EVO, I do think it's important to remember that this game is in the unique position of being able to reach EVO heights of entrants outside of EVO.

Super Smash Con 2017 surpassed EVO 2017, in fact, with 1531 participants, so it's not that the game itself is declining, but more likely that its playerbase has an inconsistent relationship with EVO as an event for whatever reason.

As for Japan's numbers being so much lower, that is easily attributed to the fact that Super Smash Bros., while an extremely popular series all across the world, has the majority of its competitive playerbase based in North America.

Top players will obviously be making the trip to try and prove their skills yet again, but for mid-level players or players who don't have sponsors to pay for the trip, it's a much bigger investment which many players seem to not have wanted to make.

Super Smash Bros. 4 has a stellar playerbase in Japan as well, though, so you can expect to see some exciting matches from players you might not be used to seeing, which is exciting as well.

To finish off, let's be frank, here. The fact that a tournament with 770 entrants can be seen as mildly disappointing really tells you something about how huge this franchise is in the competitive scene.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction

EVO Japan entrants: 603
EVO 2017 entrants: 499
EVO 2014 entrants: 511

Much like with Guilty Gear, though at a smaller scale, BlazBlue has also seen significant growth at EVO Japan compared to the Las Vegas-based events.

This is similarily most likely because BlazBlue's main audience is based in Japan, and they've clearly shown that they will be showing up to fight it out.

As with most popular fighting games in Japan, BlazBlue is very much a scene for arcade monsters, and while it's easy to pop out to an arcade in your city and prove your mettle against the best, it's a tall order to fly across the world to compete.

That's what's so glorious about EVO bringing the stage to Japan, because now we'll be able to see all the battle-hardened warriors from the game's native land show their stuff with a big brand name attached to it, and hopefully big rewards available for anyone who manages to perform at the event.

Out of all the games listed here, BlazBlue feels like the game with most potential to end up with an entirely different top 8 than it did at EVO 2017, simply because of the number of skilled players that aren't always able to compete overseas and couldn't make it to Las Vegas last year.

Of course, the players who did end up at the top at last year's EVO are also attending EVO Japan 2017, so I could very well end up having to eat those words in the end.

King of Fighters 14

EVO Japan entrants: 548
EVO 2017 entrants: 375

EVO Japan hosting King of Fighters 14 is definitely a big boon for the series, considering how wildly popular it is in many Asian territories, not least of which is China.

Although South America also holds King of Fighters in very high regard, we've heard in many of our interviews with players from the region how difficult it is economically to be able to travel to North American events.

Based on the entrant numbers we're seeing now, this isn't as big of a problem for Asia, with so many players gathering to prove themselves as the actual King of Fighters at the event.

It's also worth noting that King of Fighters 14 has an arcade version out which has undoubtedly convinced many arcade lovers in Japan to give the title a shot.

One thing's for sure, seeing the game get over 500 entrants at EVO Japan tells a very clear story, namely that anyone who considers this title a "dead game" are definitely not on the money.

With more DLC coming out in the future, and EVO Japan hopefully becoming a mainstay event, perhaps we can see even bigger attendance next year? Here's to hoping.


EVO Japan entrants: 329

This title is a bit more difficult to judge since it has never actually been at EVO before, and while it has the lowest amount of entrants at this event, 329 is hardly anything to scoff at, especially not with the casual approach ARMS seems to have as a game.

It's no secret that the Nintendo Switch is a huge hit worldwide, but particularly in Japan, and based on these entrant numbers, a lot of players picked up ARMS and decided that it's a game they can excel at competitively.

ARMS is a brand new IP and the game has barely been out for 6 months. With very little exposure and competitive history compared to the other titles here, this will truly be the biggest test for the game yet as to whether it's a tournament viable title, and with 329 people deciding to sign up for it, it's looking very bright indeed.

It seems clear that hosting a EVO tournament in Japan and focusing specifically on the games that have big audiences in the region is going to be a smash hit, though we'll have to wait until after the event is over to make any official assessments. But, looking at the entrant numbers alone, this is looking to be a grand slam success on par with EVO itself.

Although fighting game events continuously take place across the world, it's very inspiring to have a tournament with such big stakes, carrying the EVO name, taking place across the world, because it will inevitably lead to players who live closer to this event being able to show up, and hopefully garner enough success to potentially get sponsors themselves, and make fighting games into a living.

The more exposure is brought to different regions, the more competition will heat up, so hopefully EVO Japan ends up bringing the goods in a big way.

This was just a quick rundown of the entrant numbers for each event to showcase just how big of a deal EVO Japan 2018 is going to be, and hopefully jumpstart another annual EVO event for us to enjoy each year.

Stay tuned to EventHubs, because we will be posting a full event preview going into much deeper detail for each game and what you can expect from it at the event later this week.

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