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EVO 2021 confirmed as an online tournament under new Sony co-ownership

Evo
(Image credit: Evo Instagram)

EVO—or the Evolution Championship Series if you’re feeling fancy—is the highest profile fighting game tournament in the world, and now it’s owned by Sony. More specifically, it has been jointly acquired by Sony and a new consultancy and talent management venture called RTS. Two of EVO’s co-founders, Tom and Tony Cannon, will “remain closely involved in an advisory role,” according to Sony’s announcement.

“This partnership marks a new collaboration, bringing together the resources and expertise that will allow us to elevate the global reach, scale and fan engagement surrounding this iconic gaming tournament,” writes Sony.

Founded in 1996, EVO has traditionally been an open elimination tournament, meaning anyone can turn up and compete in one of a handful of select fighting games. From 2005 onwards it has taken place in Las Vegas, but the COVID-19 pandemic saw EVO 2020 turn to an online-only format, which was subsequently cancelled due to sexual misconduct allegations leveled against EVO CEO Joey Cuellar. Cuellar was dismissed from the board and replaced by Tony Cannon, but the tournament never happened due to game publishers pulling their support.

Tony and Tom Cannon issued their own statement shortly after Sony’s acquisition announcement. “We want to reaffirm that harassment or abuse of any kind has no place within EVO or any of our future events, and we’re taking every precaution to make sure members of our community will always be treated with the respect, dignity and decency you deserve.”

Sony has also confirmed that EVO 2021 will go ahead as an online tournament between August 6-8 and 13-15. This year’s games are Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate and Guilty Gear Strive—which doesn’t release until June 11.

In its announcement Sony also assured that it doesn’t have any immediate plans to shake things up. “Our collective team is laser-focused on one mission: preserving the authenticity of EVO for the fighting game community and finding creative ways, alongside our fans, to grow the tournament and make its events and broadcasts more fun, engaging and accessible than ever. At its core, EVO will remain what it has always been: an open-format competition that gives fighting game fans from different countries a chance to connect, test their skills, and forge new friendships.”

Even if you don't normally follow fighting games, EVO's finales are a guaranteed blast.

Shaun is PC Gamer’s Australian editor and news writer. He mostly plays platformers and RPGs, and keeps a close eye on anything of particular interest to antipodean audiences. He (rather obsessively) tracks the movements of the Doom modding community, too.