A decade old, past its prime, but still one of the most hype games to grace Evo this year.
Evo held its first-ever throwback tournament this year with its inaugural game being Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. UMvC3 was an exciting choice as Evo has a long history with the Marvel vs Capcom games, filled with memorable moments and iconic players.
The hyperactive fighting game hasn’t been on the Evo stage since 2017, yet it easily broke its previous record of entrants when it was announced for the Evo 2023 lineup. It’s clear that UMvC3 is near and dear to many a player’s and fan’s hearts. All we need is a quick look at history to see why UMvC3 will always have a special place in Evo.
A New Age has Arrived
In 2011, Marvel vs Capcom 2 was retired from the Evo main lineup to make way for the newly released Marvel vs Capcom 3. This was an exciting time as it was the start of a new era for the beloved crossover series.
The grand finals reflected this new era when Jay “Viscant” Snyder became the first ever MvC3 Evo champion, taking the title from Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez in a nail-biting grand final reset. MvC2 legend Justin Wong found himself in third place, a step down from his usual dominant performance.
In the nine-year run that MvC2 had in Evo, Justin had won six Evo championships and made it to the grand finals a total of eight times. For UMvC3, Justin has won the championship only once, and that’s the special distinction UMvC3 has over its predecessor. There have been no repeat champions during the course of UMvC3’s run at Evo.
The following year, Ryan “FChamp” Ramirez took the title. The year after that, Job “Flocker” Figueroa took the trophy from Justin. Even Christopher “NYChrisG” Gonzalez, the player with the most top-eight finishes in multiple UMvC3 tournaments, was only able to become an Evo champion in 2016. Familiar faces would appear at Evo Sunday finals but the championship always went to the most dedicated and hungriest player.
Perseverance and fortitude matter a lot in a game as fast-paced as UMvC3. That’s the common thread among the game’s champions. To some, their greatest moments aren’t even the fact they became an Evo champion but because they overcame the odds, whether it’s personal or in-game.
2014 was the year Justin finally became a UMvC3 champion but he nearly lost his winner’s side advantage to FChamp. It was the deciding game and he was down to one character while FChamp still had two. Even worse was that one of the characters Justin was facing was Dark Phoenix, arguably the strongest character in the game.
Whether it was by luck or skill, Justin somehow managed to catch both of FChamp’s characters in a crucial counterattack, netting him the victory. The crowd erupted as Justin popped out of his seat in disbelief, shocked at how he could clutch out the win. After a match like that, his becoming an Evo champion was just the cherry on top.
Nicolas “Kane Blueriver” Gonzalez made Evo history in 2015, becoming the first and only non-American UMvC3 Evo champion. If you were to ask him, however, he would say that his most memorable moment was when he defeated Justin Wong in the top 32 winners in that same tournament. Fighting Justin was a personal struggle for him as he would always lose to Justin in every tournament they entered. Getting over that mountain was a momentous occasion for KBR and in his own words, “if I was able to take him down, of all people, I could absolutely win the whole thing.”
The Legend Keeps Growing
Five years have passed since UMvC3 was on the Evo mainstage but despite all that time, the game has flourished. Even now history is being made as more international competition has made its way to the UMvC3 arena. Japan’s Ryota “RF” Fukumoto made his deepest run in Evo this year while Britain’s Spartan Throne made his Evo debut with a unique team that carried him to a sixth-place finish.
UMvC3 may only be returning to Evo this year but this is proof that the love for the game is still there. Many of Evo’s best moments were born from the hype and chaos of UMvC3 and those moments will stick with people even if the game is no longer in the limelight.
Banner photo by Robert Paul.