When it comes to the most established names in esports tournaments, few have the same kind of legacy as the Evolution Championship Series. Iconic moments in esports and gaming history like ‘Evo Moment 37’—which we’ve written about previously—have occurred at the Evolution Championship Series (hence the moment’s name). Now, 25 years after it first started back in 1996, multinational conglomerate Sony has officially bought the tournament.
According to an article from Engadget.com among numerous other sources, the news of Sony’s acquisition was officially announced this past week, on March 18, with more information forthcoming. Although specific details of the deal haven’t been made public, it’s been reported that Sony “will operate the organization with help from RTS, which is an offshoot of talent management agency Endeavor.” They will also be keeping on Tom and Tony Cannon, co-founders of the Evo Championship series, as advisors. They also released a Twitter Statement that confirmed this years’ series will be happening online in August.
Last year’s series was originally set to occur online due to the global Coronavirus pandemic. It was cancelled after allegations arose surrounding another co-founder of the tournament, Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar. In July of 2020, allegations that Cueller had assaulted a teenager in 2001 led to Cueller being removed from his role with the company. Part of the statement from the Cannons referenced the Cuellar incident directly as “circumstances… involving a former team member who has been completely separated from our company.” They went on to say “We want to reaffirm that harassment or abuse of any kind has no place within Evo or any of our future events, and we’re taking every precaution to make sure members of our community will always be treated with the respect, dignity and decency you deserve.”
As Engadget reports, the series is “one of the oldest and longest-running esports tournaments in the world.” Back when it was first started in 1996, the tournament was called the ‘Battle By the Bay’ and competitors would go up against one another on arcade cabinet versions of Super Street Fighter II Turbo and Street Fighter Alpha 2. Over the years, the tournament has only grown, changing its name to the Evolution Championship Series back in 2001 while incorporating more games and relocating to Las Vegas. 2021’s two-week-long online tournament “will feature Guilty Gear Strive, Mortal Kombat 11: Ultimate, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition and Tekken 7, with entry open to anyone who wants to compete.”
Aside from last year’s cancelled event and the misconduct allegations regarding one of the co-founders, the EVO Championship Series would appear to be setting itself up for future success. Now that Sony and RTS are involved, that success is practically guaranteed.