Your last-minute Evo prep guide

Patrick Miller
6 min readJul 22, 2019


[This essay was funded by my generous Patreon supporters. If you liked this and want to see more, please consider joining the crew!]

Entering a game at Evo is the video game equivalent of saying you’re going to run a marathon. It says something good about you, that you would take your free time and spend it on something that requires discipline and practice.

When you tell someone that you’re going to play Under Night In-Birth Exe: Late[st] at Evo, they say “Oh.”

But you know that what they’re really thinking is more like, “You are so dedicated to the pursuit of self-improvement that you even spend your free time doing so in a video game. That’s like, really cool.”

You bought the game! You picked a main — Wagner, because you heard she’s kinda like the Cammy of the game. And you did some of her trials and played online a bit and then Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice came out and you told yourself that it was basically a fighting game and then you wanted to get ready for the next Final Fantasy 14 expansion and yeahhh you didn’t play any more UNIST. You are now in the unenviable position of cramming for Evo like it’s a math midterm.

But now you’re ready! So you open it up to get some training mode in and whoops, your stick isn’t plugged in.

Wait, where is your stick anyway? Is it in the car? Wait, no. Did you leave it at Brian’s? You went to play some UNIST after the Evo announcement and you had to leave kinda early, but the other folks wanted to keep playing and needed to borrow your stick because one of theirs had like, a bad D button and anyway they’ll just bring it to the next local. Which you didn’t go to, because Sekiro. Welp, guess you can’t play today. Text Brian and ask him to bring it to the next local.

Might as well get some research in. You know, back in the day, fighting game players didn’t have easily searchable, streamable video databases with hours and hours of footage of high level players! They had to send Tom and Tony Cannon a check for fifty bucks and a self-addressed stamped envelope and hope that DVD video formats didn’t change by the time the Evo DVDs arrived in the mail. Anyway, let’s start by looking some stuff up in the Discord. Ask your friends to invite you to “the Discord”. Don’t specify which Discord. That way you might end up in one with some Top Players. There we go. Look up some stuff.

“I shall burn your evil thoughts to ashes.” -Wagner

Maybe we should try the #tech channel. Load up on those tech videos. You don’t really get what it’s for, the tweets describing the videos are all in Japanese, and Twitter’s translate function returns…well, it’s actually kind of hard to tell which parts are the translation’s fault and which parts are Under Night’s fault. Try some of it out and maybe you’ll get it. Oops, you don’t have your stick. When is your pool, anyway? Better check your registration.

Pull up your old registration confirmation email. Star it so it’s easier to find when you’re checking in. Open it up to make sure you registered for — Tekken? You registered for Tekken? And Samurai Shodown? Fuck. What time are your pools, anyway? Is UNIST on Friday or Saturday? Wait, did you remember to get Sunday Finals tickets? Last year you didn’t get Finals tickets because you felt sooo smart watching the stream on your phone from your hotel bed while playing casuals, and then you missed out on everyone doing the Cell Yell over two hours of Bardock level 3s and vowed to get the tickets next year.

You did not get the Finals tickets. Whatever. How about the hotel and flight? Brian was going to handle that. You do not know if you can text Brian about that before he replies to your text about the stick. Look up some last minute plane tickets just in case. Yikes. Look up some last minute bus tickets just in case. Leave that tab open. Who’s in your pool, anyway?

Check your pools. Look up literally everyone in the bracket. Start preparing for the matchups. Google their names. Watch some videos. Watch some old videos and estimate how much better they are now. Watch some older videos from different games and size them up based on who they play in the other games. Find the best players in your pool. If their characters are good matchups, file a bracket request to play them first, so you can say you lost to someone who made it out of pools. If their characters are bad matchups, file a bracket request to switch pools because you totally play them at your locals all the time and hope the bracket admin doesn’t check their regions. (I’m really just joking here, please don’t do this, it’s a pain in the ass for the Evo staff.)

Check the bracket again and notice that that half of the players have been switched around, just not the ones you wanted to avoid. Google their names. Watch some videos.

You’re gonna need practice partners. Text everyone you know who has ever played a fighting game and ask them if they want to come practice for Evo. Shit. You texted Brian. He read your texts and hasn’t said anything yet. Post in the Discord for some netplay. Watch some more YouTube videos while waiting for a response. Check back later and realize someone responded five minutes after you asked and you missed it. Well, you still don’t have your stick anyway. Whoops.

But hey, Evo isn’t just a tournament, it’s also a weekend in Vegas! You’ve got a little extra cash, and you want to try your luck at the tables this time. And none of this “put it all on black” bullshit, you’re a Competitive Fighting Game Player, and you’re here to apply your rigorous analytical skills to tip the odds in your favor. Spend an hour watching blackjack tutorials on YouTube, which is about all you need to lose twenty bucks on the first hand and walk away.

You decide to spend the rest of your gambling budget on food. After all, Vegas is a great food city! At least, that’s what you heard from your friends last year. You mostly ate from the Subway next to the venue because you didn’t want to leave the precious air conditioning. You find the Vegas Evo Eats doc in Discord. This time you’re definitely going to hit up Tacos El Gordo with the homies.

That’s what Evo is about — just chilling with friends and playing games. It’s a beautiful thing, being able to walk the floor of the Mandalay Bay and talk with literally anyone, from literally anywhere, whether they’re an 0–2 rando or Lord Daigo Himself, about the thing you have in common:

“You still in it?”


“In winners?”


“Who’d you lose to?”


“Oh. Well, you got this.”

polite grin

You’re all here to hang out and maybe take some bodies with you as a souvenir. A souvenir that’ll fit in your luggage. With your stick. Wait a minute. Is your stick still in your luggage?

Thanks for reading!


-patrick miller

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Patrick Miller

a little bit miyamoto musashi, a little bit yoga with adriene.