Evolution Championship Series, or EVO, has switched their tournament in Las Vegas to an online event due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. This change leaves competitors worried as every fighting game in the event lineup has issues with their online components.
What eventually became the massive fighting tournament we know today as EVO was initially called Battle by the Bay. The competition began in a Californian arcade. Players did not have to worry about anything but the hardware cabinet, which was the property of the arcade. During this time, the internet helped spread the word of the tournament and to discuss strategies. Things have changed now that the internet connects players. Gamers don’t have to leave their home to compete against great opponents. The problem, however, is the instability in online sessions.
Fighting games are notorious for their split-second attacks. Just like a fight in real life, every move has a cause and an effect. With that in mind, players must either dodge, counter, or block at a moment’s notice. When an online server comes into play, so do delays. Each move sends data to an online server, or game console (with peer-to-peer connection), and then spits out that data info back to the user. This data transfer takes time, even if that data moves at the speed of light.
Games like Street Fighter V: Championship Edition have had issues with their in-game coding for interacting with the internet. Aptly named “Netcode” by the gaming community, it consists of all the data the game needs to send back and forth for gameplay. SFV was in such bad shape that a member of Reddit created a PC patch for the game to allow better online play. Redditor, Altimor, created this patch and sent it out to PC users who helped gameplay and stability, but broke cross-play between PlayStation 4 users. Capcom had to do something about this, but when they released their net code patch, it was ill-received by gamers. Some SFV players reported no change, while others claimed that the move wasn’t good enough. On top of the bad taste the update left, it broke Altimor’s patch for PC users.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a popular game, but anyone serious about competition refuses to play online. SSBU is on a peer-to-peer system, which means that the game relies on the connection strength of the people playing a game. Generally, that responsibility is on the user with the most stable connection. Still, it will often change based on internet fluctuations. This uncertainty actively plays against other game rules.
Nintendo placed a penalty for any player quitting a match by temporarily banning them. In many cases, internet stability will cause players to drop out of games and won’t let them play again until a timer runs out. The game becomes unplayable in the literal sense. Nintendo has not given any response to the community asking for connection adjustments.
One of EVO’s tournament games has had a terrible history in online games since, at one point, it didn’t even have online support outside of Japan. Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes launched back in 2000. It began in arcades and later moved to Sega Dreamcast, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox 360, and finally to iOS. EVO uses the US SEGA Dreamcast in competitions. This version of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 does not have online capability.
While EVO has no role to play in the online connection of these games, it seems as though it would be unfair to gamers to compete online. There are too many variables that will plague every game, making the battleground uneven. At this point, you are not judging player skills; you see who has a better internet connection.
EVO claims that adjustments are sure to come to the tournament games and that we should stay tuned to their official twitter for announcements. Now fans are just waiting and hoping that they make the right choices for the fighting game community, and they continue to celebrate the white-knuckle fun of the genre.
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Evo's online change leaves competitors worried as every fighting game in the event lineup has issues with their online component.