- Oct 25, 2017
The folks behind the Evolution Championship Series, often regarded as the most important fighting game tournament of the calendar year, revealed the 2019 lineup during a live broadcast last week. Evo 2019 will feature a largely safe collection of returning titles and expected newcomers, but one game, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], was quite a surprise. But saying its first appearance at Evo came out of nowhere would be disingenuous. Under Night In-Birth’s invitation to Evo 2019 is the result of years of dedication from its core playerbase, and a sign the community had proven that they deserved to be part of the influential tournament series.
Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, arguably the greatest fighting game player in the world, took time away from Mortal Kombat to try it out. Unsurprisingly, he did pretty damn well. This reputation helped make Under Night In-Birth the biggest side tournament at Evo 2018 (plentiful space is provided in the venue for community organizers to hold their own competitions) with 210 entrants, but even dedicated fans thought an official spot was still a pipe dream.
Under Night In-Birth’s growing popularity in the fighting game community peaked with November 2018’s Climax of Night, a first-of-its-kind American tournament built around French Bread properties. After playing second (or third, fourth, fifth, etc.) fiddle at many competitions, Under Night In-Birth was finally the main event, and over 140 players—a group that included players from across the United States as well as key visitors from Japan—made the trip to Atlanta, Georgia to compete. Climax of Night’s head organizer, veteran fighting game player Ben “Shinobi!” Robinson, said the event was “long overdue” in a previous interview, and remains proud of the spotlight it placed on Under Night In-Birth outside the realm of Evo’s influence.
Another cool read is The surprising history of the French Bread studio by Thomasorus, detailing the origins of the studio behind Under Night.