EVO Japan 2020, one of Japan's largest e-sports events, was held at Makuhari Messe for three days from January 24 to 27, 2020, the third time it has been held in Japan.
（Photographers from Fangler Games were there all day to cover the event, and are currently working hard to develop and retouch the images.)
We spoke with organizer Takashi Fujisawa about how the event has changed over the years!
Challenges and Innovations for Smooth Operation
When it comes to a convention, I think it is important to make the operation as smooth as possible. What kind of innovations did you make this time?
Compared to the 2nd Fukuoka EVO, the venue this time was larger, but compared to the Las M. Bisons EVO, the space was still small compared to the number of participants, so the key point was how to manage the event to ease the congestion.
In the previous event, for example, when famous players were playing against each other, there were inevitably crowds of spectators around the tables where they were playing, causing congestion.
This time, we surrounded the island where the players were playing with fences and ropes so that no one but the players could enter.
In addition, EVO has multiple titles running at the same time, and in order to ease the crowds, we staggered the progression times for each WAVE and arranged the schedule so that people would be dispersed throughout the entire venue.
Tatsuya: What were some of the difficulties in running the event smoothly?
The fact that the number of participants was unreadable was a major challenge.
The timing of the announcement of the tournament title also differed, and even if we had some idea of the number of participants in advance, we could not predict how many people would actually participate until we opened the lid. If we have a separate qualifying round and only have the main tournament, we can estimate the number of people who will participate and it will be easier to place them.
For this year's Super Smash Bros. SPECIAL (hereafter referred to as "Smash Bros. SP"), we set a cap on the number of participants from the middle of the tournament.
This decision was made in communication with the EVO itself, but was made because we felt that the number of participants would increase beyond our initial expectations, which would affect the operation of the event.
We also had a shortage of volunteers because the first day of the event was a weekday, although there were many things that could be covered by the community members.
Steady Evolution of EVO Japan
Please tell us about any major changes in this year's tournament.
I feel that awareness of e-sports is steadily increasing.
I feel that recognition of e-sports as a competitive sport is steadily increasing, partly because it is possible to win prize money without a professional license (*1).
I also think it is significant that we were able to use Smash Bros. SP in the main tournament this time, which was not the case in the previous tournament.
This is not limited to Smash Bros. SP, but I think it was not easy to obtain permission, especially since many of the characters are copyrighted by other companies.
I believe that the fact that such titles were adopted is also a result of the recognition and importance of this tournament, and e-sports as a whole.
*1) A professional license is a license issued by the Japan e-Sports Union (JeSU). SHODOWN," and "Soul Calibur," which are not authorized by JeSU, will be used in the main tournament.
When you enter the venue, you can see the ingenuity of the event at a glance.
The same is true of the aforementioned enclosure for the players, and I felt that they were definitely making use of the lessons learned from the previous year's event in this year's tournament.
Of course, not everything could be perfect.
This may be due to the fact that the number of participants is hard to predict, but I think this is the same path that has been taken, including the EVO at Las M. Bisons.
Especially since the year before last, I feel that e-sports has been increasing exponentially, and no matter how much we try to utilize the experience and know-how of other tournaments, there will inevitably be a gap between demand (participants and expectations) and supply (management).
I think the evolution of the tournament over time is a kind of fun, and I'm sure I'll be writing a review of this year's tournament next year with the thought, "Wow, how far it's come.
At the SNK booth, visitors were able to try out the NEOGEO Arcade Stick Pro.