I just wonder what is everyone’s opinion of the best and worst years for FGs. My personal opinion is that the worst years are probably tied for 2003 and 2004:
Mvc2 diversity disappeared at this point. With the development of Santhrax and MSP, it made Doom, Blackheart, and Spiral based teams obsolete
Justin Wong continue complete domination of MVC2 leading to the scene becoming stale.
SNK goes out of buiness the previous year and Playmore decides to move away from the MVS hardware. This leads to the first yearly disruption of the KOF series.
SNK release SNK Chaos which is panned by both casual fans and competitive players. It enjoys a very brief competitive life before being deemed as too broken for competitive play.
Alpha 3 last Evo appearance, leading CVS2 to become somewhat of an Alpha replacement
Capcom seems to have abandoned the fighting game market at this point.
Tons of SFIV rumors persist but none come to light
Tekken competitive scene remains relatively stale. Tekken Tag is still holding on for dear life, but doesn’t create new players due to tons of high level matches ending in timeout. Tekken 4 is pretty boring to watch and play, on top of being broken and unbalanced. More than half of top 8 at Evo were Jin player.
SCII sidestep is broken, and matches become really stale at high levels
Capcom Fighting All-Stars is cancelled. Reason is unknown but rumor is that many people who played the original playtest considered it unplayable
Evo abandons arcade format and switch to console.
Justin Wong takes Evo for MVC2 and almost never loses a character doing so. This is his most dominant Evo showing for CVS2
CVS2 starts to show it’s imbalance. Almost an all C or A groove top 8 with many of the same characters. The game devolves into a turtle fest. Buktooth gets 5th places however with an N-Groove team of Iori/Morrigan/Ibuki
Capcom Fighting Jam is announced and early videos and screenshots are aggressively criticized by the fighting game community.
CVS2 EO is released for Gamecube and XBOX, but the port is unfaithful. KOF Neowave is released but is heavily criticized by competitive gamers, and panned by fans.
VF4 Evo makes it’s only Evo appearance, but to little fanfare.
SC2 at Evo fairly unimpressive. The writing is on the wall for this game
Tekken 4 Evo fairly unimpressive, the end is near for this game
Tekken Tag can’t hold on any longer, the end is near
Few if any new games are released at this time
Guity Gear XX finals is basically a Sol Fest due to Dust Loop. Daigo dust loops his way all the way to the Finals and get the championship. Kensou represented some diversity going into top 8 undefeated but doesn't hang on that long.
Diversity in top 8 3s is pretty much done. Not even a Makoto player appeared in top 8
Good: Daigo parry video was released, it was heavily circulated on the internet. This lead to a new generation of players wanting to become competitive. This is probably the beginning of the rebirth.
BlazBlu is announced
SFIV is announced after many many years of rumors
Arcade Infinity and FFA release podcast dedicated to Sol Cal 3s scene. This gave players a perspective of the competitive scene.
KOF2002 UM announced
KOF 98 UM released to many positive reviews
Playable build of SFIV at Evo 2008. This was actually probably one of the worst Evos with low attendence, but it was a huge transitional year.
Tekken 6 competitive community is in full swing at this point.
Arcade Infinity ranbats are started. This became the first outlet for the American tournament scene and for SFIV. It made big names out of Gootecks, Mike Ross, and others
Gootecks starts his own broadcast. Originally it was dedicated to 3s players, but moved over to SFIV. He got high profile guest like Alex Valle and Justin Wong.
SFIV console release. It introduced 10 new characters which weren’t in the arcade version. This started a short debate as if these characters should be banned. However these character were put into competitive play.
Final Round XII becomes the first major and draws 250 players for SFIV. This number was considered huge for the standards at this time.
Local tournaments in SoCal and Norcal draw 100-150 man tournaments.
I Got Next tournament documentary was released giving a perspective of East Coast and West Coast tournament scenes.
Podcast almost triple in numbers.
Live streaming becomes commonplace at major tournaments
Evo brings in an 1,000+ man bracket for SFIV
Gamestop tournament finals has an exhibition. This is the first meeting between Japan and US, and we find that we’re close to equal. Daigo sweeps Justin Wong, but beats Japan champ Iyo.
East Coast Throwdown becomes new East Coast major, and runs it's first tournament during this year.
Overall I think 2003 and 2004 were big low points, with 2008 and 2009 being high points. I think 2008 was the year where the big boom of fighting games was established, although a lot of stuff was in it’s infancy. Still 2008 was probably the least hype Evo, with fewer top players showing up than usual. I think in 2008 the scene was definitely on life support but it seems like SFIV really turned it around.