Ever since its name change in 2002, the Evolution Championship Series has featured a constantly transforming lineup of official titles. While many have carried over from year to year, the organizers of the largest fighting game tournament in the world have continued to adapt to prevailing trends and keep competition fresh by introducing new titles on a regular basis and replacing veterans should the necessity arise.
That’s why, with Street Fighter V’s spring 2016 release on the horizon, many have been eyeing Street Fighter IV like an out of date smartphone in need of upgrading. There’s no doubt that it had quite the showing at both E3 and San Diego Comic-Con, and fans are chomping at the bit for the ability to get their hands on the upcoming game. And thanks this week’s edition of Capcom Pro Talk (subscription required for archives), we may have had our first hint at what the Evo organizers plan to do with Street Fighter IV next year.
During a discussion with Mike Ross and Zhi Liang Chew, this very predicament was put forth to Evo co-founder Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar. Decisions like this are obviously a ways off, but he had some interesting things to say regarding how he sees registration numbers playing out for the two titles.
“I don’t know if Evo has the capacity to hold a 2200 man tournament and then, on top of that, if Street Fighter V gets, like, 3000 people, I don’t think anyone in their right mind can expect Evo to pull that off. That’s just ridiculous,” Cuellar explained. “We’ll definitely think about it next year, but I think everyone likes to drop the old game and play the new, fresh hotness. I think with Street Fighter V being as good as it is right now, players won’t have a problem switching over.”
While previous Evo installments saw a title like Super Street Fighter II Turbo carry on despite the release of a follow-up, the exceptional growth the fighting game community has witnessed over the past few years brings a few different factors into the equation, namely the tournament’s ability to handle the influx of players the newer game will likely bring in. And let’s not forget that Street Fighter IV, which is coming up on its seventh appearance across numerous updates, ranks among some of the most frequently selected heavy-hitters, including Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Capcom vs. SNK 2, and the aforementioned Super Turbo.
Has Street Fighter IV had a good enough run to let it out to pasture? That’s entirely subjective, of course, but it’s something the majority of Capcom competitors are going to have to come to grips with as we enter what may be their very first transitional period as part of the scene. Let’s hope the changing of the guard is as smooth as possible.