PlayStation and esports venture RTS have jointly acquired Evo, or Evolution Championship Series, a fighting game tournament series that has been running for nearly 25 years. As the world’s largest and longest-running fighting game tournament, the acquisition is an enormous move by Sony Interactive Entertainment.
RTS is a fresh esports venture headed up by CEO Stuart Saw. RTS has the backing of a number of investors including global entertainment, sports, and content company Endeavor. RTS represents expertise in esports event management, brand and developer consulting, and gaming talent management, making them the perfect partners in this acquisition.
The Evo co-founders, brothers Tom and Tony Cannon, will remain “closely involved in an advisory role” to ensure that the fighting game tournament continues to support the community and growth potential. With the acquisition, Sony hopes to “elevate the global reach, scale and fan engagement surrounding this iconic gaming tournament.”
Evo will still take place this year, coming back as Evo Online on August 6-8 and 13-15. There is free entry, and players in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America will be able to compete in Tekken 7, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, and Guilty Gear -Strive- in an open format. Qualifiers will be live streamed, with additional details to come later.
In a post about the acquisition, Sony Interactive Entertainment said:
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.
For PlayStation, this is the first of many steps to ” foster the growth of the fighting game community and esports, and support competitive gamers widely on our consoles.” Players logged more than 1.1 billion hours in fighting games on PlayStation in 2020. “We’re committed to breaking down the barriers for gamers to compete at all levels and providing a best-in-class, global platform for them to showcase their skills and passion.”
Sony will also support efforts to make Evo a safe and inclusive environment, calling it the “highest priority” at PlayStation overall. Last year, Evo Online was canceled after co-founder and CEO Joey Cuellar was accused of pedophilia and sexual misconduct. This was following the cancellation of the physical event due to COVID.
Even though Evo is now owned by PlayStation, the tournament will remain open to all games and platforms.
Also very important to note. @EVO is still open to all platforms. The teams at PlayStation and RTS are enabling us to continue working with our community to support fighting games. https://t.co/NKMQUSvkfj
— Mark Julio (マークマン) (@MarkMan23) March 18, 2021
More will be shared about Evo 2021 in “the coming weeks and months.” For now, this is a monumental acquisition by Sony and we’ll be keeping an eye on how this plays out.