Soul Calibur 6? Smash Melee? Dead or Alive 6? Which fighting games will make the EVO 2019 lineup and which will fail to make the cut?

We offer our predictions and reasonings

Posted by John 'Velociraptor' Guerrero • February 25, 2019 at 7:40 p.m. PST

Come this Tuesday at 6 p.m. PT, the majority of the fighting game community will be glued to their screens as we watch the much anticipated EVO 2019 lineup reveal.

Our particular gaming genre has seen something of a boom in recent times, and the result is a collection of quality fighting games with plenty of widespread audience appeal.

While it's a nice problem to have, whittling down a lineup of just eight titles (that number is not official, but was the total at EVO 2018) may not prove to be as easy as it used to be in years past.

This leads us to speculate which games will wind up making the cut and which will have to settle for side events, or perhaps forgo an EVO presence altogether. Will there be two Super Smash Bros. games? Does Dead or Alive 6 stand a chance? How many anime titles will there be?

There are a few games that I see as locks that don't need much argument: Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. That already potentially takes up half of the available slots, and there are at least three other titles that I can see easily joining those four.

Let's take a look at these probables and see where things stand as we try to get an idea of what EVO 2019 might look like. First off, however, here's a quick reminder of what last year's EVO entailed:

EVO 2018 Lineup image #1
Click images for larger versions

Super Smash Bros. Melee

It seems we have this type of discussion every single year as Melee stands as an anomaly in fighting game competitive history. Instead of being replaced by its successor, as per the usual, Melee mounted a comeback that has made it immortal until further notice.

People routinely argue that there shouldn't be two Smash games on a restricted lineup, but again and again Melee makes it back. There's good reason for this, as the game continues to bring in great numbers and the overlap between Melee and Smash 4 in terms of players has been surprisingly minimal.

We have no reason to assume that will change now that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has dropped, and so it just makes business sense to include Melee yet again.

If this happens, that would put our total at five of eight (maybe nine?) games.

Dragon Ball FighterZ

The only reason why Dragon Ball FighterZ wasn't among the aforementioned "locks" is the tournament turmoil it saw in the latter half of 2018.

FighterZ was somewhat suddenly cancelled at a few major events, and the culprit behind said cancellations has yet to officially come to the surface. We can also point out here that DBFZ did not make the official EVO Japan lineup this year, and was instead featured as a side tournament.

That said, if any red tape remains at this point, I'd be surprised if EVO tournament organizers aren't able to navigate around it given they still have nearly six months from now before their event. Furthermore it's worth mentioning that Katsuhiro Harada is now the leader and supervisor of the Bandai Namco fighting game eSports strategy team.

As one of the biggest games in the FGC right now, DBFZ is all but a must for the EVO stage. If we didn't see FighterZ at the biggest fighting game event of the year, it would kind of feel like an incomplete entity. Adding DBFZ brings our total to six.

Soul Calibur 6

As a franchise built from plenty of well loved titles, Soul Calibur has an established seat at the fighting game table. Soul Calibur 6 should be an easy lock for the lineup and will most likely be there, but it definitely feels like it's been driving with the emergency brake on since just after launch.

The game avoided the pitfalls of looking subpar during production, but ran into some interesting troubles thereafter. The game's custom creation mode allowed players a ton of freedom to create exactly the kind of characters they wanted to use... unfortunately many of those involved massive penises and game-hindering figures.

This sent general discussions deep into hate territory as the recurring topic of the game's horrid online experience eclipsed the majority of SC6's many positives.

The other big strike against the title is its release window. The game dropped in October of last year, and while that's just fine for holiday purchases, it doesn't work well with the general fighting game competitive season that tends to kick off around March and conclude toward the end of the year generally speaking.

It feels like SC6 did not and still has not really gotten a chance to spread its tournament wings. While it will surely appear at majors moving forward, the fact that it was not able to take advantage of being showcased on a wide scale at large events during its post launch honeymoon phase surely didn't do it any favors.

Hopefully this latest entry into the long standing franchise will make the EVO 2019 schedule and garner the recognition it deserves, but the road has been rockier than many would have hoped thus far. If Soul Calibur makes it, we're at seven games.

Dead or Alive 6

Dead or Alive is a significant fighting game franchise, but doesn't necessarily fit into the world of eSports since it consistently features extremely revealing and sexualized wardrobes.

Why is Mortal Kombat and its excessive gore okay? Because our society is currently more afraid of sex than it is of violence. Is that necessarily good or fair? No, but it's the way things are and helps us predict EVO lineups.

Especially with the recent "core values" incident at EVO Japan, I have a terribly hard time seeing DOA6 make it this year.

Three dimensional fighters are already (potentially) aptly represented in Tekken 7 and Soul Calibur 6, and so DOA just seems to have too many strikes against it in this particular avenue.

Guilty Gear or BlazBlue?

It seems the eight spot comes down to one of these two anime fighters. We've seen both Guilty Gear and BlazBlue represented at both EVO 2017 and 2018, but there just might not be room this time around.

Dragon Ball FighterZ does sort of represent the anime genre, but really falls more into the role of a Versus game, especially in the absence of a Marvel vs. Capcom title.

If they're trying too keep the fighting game sub-genres well-represented, EVO organizers will surely want to make certain to include at least one of these two.

This feels like something of a toss up but my guess is that BlazBlue, which has seen major updates more recently than its fellow Arc System Works title, will be the winner here.

If my speculations are accurate, EVO 2019 will include: SF5, T7, Melee, Ultimate, MK11, DBFZ, SC6 and BB. This would leave out fighters like SNK Heroines, King of Fighters, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Fighting EX Layer, Injustice 2, and, well, everything else.

Do you agree with this list? Let us know what you think and hope we'll see come Tuesday in the comments below.

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