Sony Interactive Entertainment and new esports organisation RTS have entered into a joint partnership to acquire the Evolution Championship Series, the annual esports fighting game event most commonly known as ‘Evo’.
It’s an interesting move by Sony, but one that makes sense for their platform. PlayStation has often been at the forefront of fighting games, most notably having Street Fighter V as a console exclusive through the PlayStation 4 generation, and has often been the main platform used for games at Evo. At the same time, they’ve sought to expand the reach of competitive games with Tournaments built into the PlayStation 4 system software, and regularly hosting events in popular multiplayer games, such as FIFA, NBA 2K and Mortal Kombat.
Still, this gives them a deeper presence in the fighting scene than ever before, and will likely see PlayStation 5 become the de facto platform (where possible) for competition. That’s one way of securing mindshare amongst gamers.
Evo was first held in 1996 as B3: Battle by the Bay, growing into a staple of the gaming calendar. It took on the Evolution Championship moniker in 2002 and has continued to grow and… evolve in the time since then. The biggest change came last year as Evo 2020 was completely cancelled. The show was already having to adapt to online play during the pandemic, but the cancellation actually came after allegations made against one of its co-founders, then CEO Joey Cuellar, for sexual assault.
Cuellar was quickly ousted from the company, and going forward, its other co-founders Tom and Tony Cannon will also step back from directly organising the event, but will remain in an advisory role.
For 2021, Evo will be an online-only event. Evo Online will be taking place this summer, between 6th-8th and 13th-15th August. Entry will be free with the featured games including Tekken 7, Street Fighter V: Championship Edition, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate and Guilty Gear Strive.