The Evolution Championship Series is known worldwide as the premier fighting game tournament, bringing together the world’s best for one weekend of incredible action. However, for the second year in a row, Evo decided to use its popularity and die-hard community to make a difference outside of the arcade. Through a contest to pick the eighth official game at Evo 2013, more than $225,000 was raised to support breast cancer research.
Joey Cuellar, well known as Mr. Wizard, announced the contest on the WakeupSRK podcast after announcing the first seven games of Evo 2013. The premise was simple, if you want your favorite game in, say it with your wallet.
The games that were given the chance to vie for their chance originated in a previous poll asking fans what games should be featured in the tournament. The list included classics such as Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, Capcom vs. SNK 2 and Super Smash Bros. Melee, as well as newer or even unreleased titles like Injustice: Gods Among Us, Soulcalibur V and Skullgirls.
The early lead came from an interesting source. My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic, an unofficial, unreleased game based off the wildly popular TV show quickly became the favorite within the first donation days. Due to the game’s current unknown status, it was announced that it would be taken out of the running as the eighth official game, but a side tournament will be organized instead.
Skullgirls then started to build up momentum, largely due to the efforts of Mike Z and his Skullgirls staff, who organized donation drive events. With donations coming in large chunks, Skullgirls became the favorite among the newer games on the list.
However, Super Smash Bros. Melee surged in support with the backing of the entire Smash Bros. community. Melee’s last appearance at Evo created some animosity between their players and Evo organizers. Melee is played with particular rules in their self-run tournaments, but Evo insisted on leaving in items, much to the dismay of many Melee players.
With only a couple days left in the contest, it seemed to be a two-horse race between Skullgirls and Melee. However, in one weekend’s time, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo surged in donations, putting it in almost a dead heat with Melee.
Within the final hours of the contest period, the Melee community pulled ahead. They finished with $94,683 donated, with Skullgirls following behind after a similarly strong late surge with a total of $78,760. Mike Z thanked the supporters of the Skullgirls donation drives with a sneak peek at their first DLC character, Squiggly.
This large donation from Evo to support breast cancer research is the second major charitable effort by the tournament’s organizers. Last year, any money that was raised from premium chat access was collected into a scholarship fund, which they gave to students in the fighting game community pursuing a career in game design.
Melee‘s victory solidified its spot alongside Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters XIII, Street Fighter X Tekken and Persona 4 Arena. Evo 2013 is set to be held July 12-14 at the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.