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The spotlight shines on the players in the penultimate moment, akin to the myth of Atlas. Devan Dubnyk Wild Jersey Authentic . Their knees are buckling under the weight of the world.The more memorable memories are visions of trophies hoisted high. But then there are the smaller, more unobtrusive moments: when realization dawns, when certain victory slips away. Most dwell on the culmination, as if the pinnacle of the experience is all that matters. People forget that the path to that point is usually more compelling.Its all part of a progression; its part of the journey. People in various roles in the fighting game community can speak to their own struggles to make it to the top of the mountain. In fact, the Evolution Championship Series (Evo) had its own issues as its grown over the years. Its the biggest annual event for the fighting game community, but even with those laurels, Joey Mr. Wizard Cuellar, one of the founding members of Evo, would state that complacency is not an option.This will be a monumental year for Evo, he said. Were trying a lot of new things and seeing record attendance. The feeling is kind of a throwback to the early years, where we were still trying to figure out the core formula. This year is a big challenge for us, and were doing our best to deliver on expectations. Weve always believed that if you held an excellent event, people would come, so when you listen to the players and fans, you will have a respected event. All were really trying to do is shine a light on the passion that these players have for the fighting genre. The growth is obviously very welcome and encouraging, but our focus is to stay true to the community.While many think of Mr. Wizard solely as an organizer, hes walked in the same shoes as the 14,500 players that will arrive at Las Vegas the weekend of July 15-17 for Evo.I started playing games in 1995 when Tekken 2, Killer Instinct and Super Street Fighter II were out, Mr. Wizard recalled. I used to play at Camelot Golfland, which was so close to my house that I would walk there and spend most of my free time there. I just started to play a lot of games outside of my wheelhouse because of thirst for competition. From there, I heard about another arcade that had way more competition, so I started going to Southern Hills Golfland. The competition there was out of this world, and I started going [there] on a daily basis. Since I was there so much, I started organizing tournaments on a local level, and then it got bigger when we did tournaments during E3, and then the rest is history.The Evo series is associated with the glitz of Las Vegas. Its predecessor, however, was much less glamorous. Very few of the current entrants have heard of Battle By The Bay and even fewer were there in 1996. I think there were 128 people in a crowded arcade, competitor and legendary fighting game events organizer Alex Valle recalled. Only two games were there, too. Super Turbo and Alpha 2.Tom and Tony Cannon organized that event (sometimes called B3), and it was groundbreaking for its time. Newsgroups were the best form of communication long before social media was even a concept, and this technology was used to gather fighting game players to Sunnyvale Golfland. The grand finals set in Alpha 2 saw John Choi fall short to Valle, a match still remembered to this day.Battle By The Bays next iteration B4 would happen in 2000, and B5 the following year. In 2002 there was a rebranding: the creation of Evolution.Evo 2002 was at the UCLA ballroom, said Justin JWong Wong, a well-known fighting game player. A year prior, he had been 15 when he traveled to B5 and took home the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 trophy. I entered Capcom vs SNK 2 and Marvel vs Capcom 2 [at Evo 2002]. I planned to defend my title in Marvel 2 and hope to make a splash in CVS2. [It] was still a crazy experience for me. I ended getting ninth in CVS2 and winning Marvel 2 again.I didnt think much of it, to be honest, because I was 16 years old, JWong continued. I just wanted to play and play. The prizes were very small, and it was just myself breaking even because there were no such thing as sponsors back in the day for the fighting game community. I really was happy that I was able to keep winning against different opponents over and over again.The scene has grown radically, and the 15-year-old B5 champion has grown up with this scene. Now, JWong?is the face of the American fighting game community.Like JWongs career, Evo has had a multitude of changes during the years. In 2004, as consoles became the weapon of choice for many of the attendees, arcade cabinets were removed as the standard. The arcades were dying, and we had to educate people on why console was the future, Mr. Wizard continued. The move to Las Vegas in 2005 was another big step. It transformed the character of the event to a vacation and celebration, not just a tournament.Recordings of match footage allowed people near and far to witness the fighting game communitys top talent, first through VHS tapes and then DVDs. Evo footage would even inspire some future champions.Evo is the tournament that got me interested in traveling and competing, Carl Perfect Legend White recalled. In late 2004, I came across an IGN article that highlighted every Top 8 from Evo 2003 and 2004. At the time, the games were Tekken Tag, Tekken 4, Third Strike, CvS2, MVC2, Virtua Fighter 4, Super Turbo and Guilty Gear. What really tipped me off to getting the fire to play was how cool the Evolution DVD trailers were. I wanted to make sure by at least the next year of playing I was able to get highlighted in a DVD. I ended up getting highlighted in the DVD trailer for my game and literally every piece of Dead Or Alive 4 footage was me fighting someone.Perfect Legend got that shot in 2006, winning Dead or Alive 4, the first of his three championships. His 2006 victory catalyzed his career, but it was also an opportunity for Evo to try something else out. While the tournament had solely run traditional fighters up to that point, it decided to step outside the box and give Mario Kart DS a try. While that didnt pan out, it opened up the opportunity for a game that wasnt as traditional as the other fighters gracing the stage: Super Smash Bros. Melee.Getting third at Evo 2007 [in Melee] was pretty cool because I was only, like, 15, Joseph Mang0 Marquez recounted. I remember, even then it was nuts because of the stage and everything else that goes with Evo.2009 may have been the most pivotal year. The release of Street Fighter IV created a renaissance in the fighting game genre, and staples of the modern scene began to appear, such as match footage being easily accessible online. Being able to showcase the competitors live created growth that wasnt seen previously when matches were shown on DVDs.We did a really bootleg stream in 2005, where we pointed the camera at the stage and broadcasted, Mr. Wizard?noted. But in 2009, we went full out and had broadcasters, and the whole shebang.Things have changed a bit since then. This time, there will be cameras pointed at the stage for both Twitch and ESPN2. Two games were on the roster at B3 while nine are at Evo this year. Some, like Valle are in awe, seeing the scene go from filling up an arcade to filling up the theater at the Mandalay Bay Resort. More than 100 Battle By The Bays would fit into Evo 2016. The enormity is unmatched.While there are a myriad of events that have these various scenes under one roof, such as Community Effort Orlando, NorCal Regionals, Combo Breaker, Final Round, and East Coast Throwdown, there are also many events that only cater to one scene or game. Circuits, leagues, tours and cups exist for Tekken, Pokken, Street Fighter, Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat. CEOtaku has reached out to the various titles underneath the anime banner while the Smash scene holds events like Genesis in high regard. So what is the role of Evo?Evo is a global celebration of the whole fighting genre, Mr. Wizard revealed. We see ourselves as a great complement to the circuits, which focus on one game. Competitors from 85 different countries come out to compete at Evo. When you have an event that caters to almost all sections of the fighting game community, its special.As more of these events become specialized, many players grow concerned that they are being left behind. The quantity of players has certainly increased; talent is everywhere, but opportunity isnt. Players looking to improve and test themselves regularly would love that chance to see the world, to be on the hunt for glory, for points, or simply just the chance to see how far theyve come. With the increased number of elite invitationals and cups, Evo is the largest event of its kind that represents an era that many wistfully mourn: an era of brick and mortar, the flashing lights of various fighters under the same roof, when open competition was the driving force, and the concern wasnt about how much you take home, but how many challengers you take out.There are always going to be players out there who dont have a lot of money to travel as often as other players, so keeping an open tournament is really important to us, Mr. Wizard stated. If everyone just did invitationals, we would never get to see the awesome talent the world has to offer. This philosophy is based on the arcade era, where anyone can put a quarter up and take a shot at the current best player in the arcade.Thats why an Evo championship is the biggest prize in fighting games: its about surviving the onslaught of players. Its about traveling from wherever you call home and being able to take that trophy. Its about bragging rights; its about being the last one standing. Its about doing it in front of your peers, acknowledged by people of all backgrounds and experiences, of all ages, with players who have been competing longer than other players have been alive. Its about doing it in front of people from all over the world who are linked by a single thread: the love of fighting games.The format is pretty exciting to have once a year. It reminds me of the NFL playoffs, Mang0 noted. Whoever shows up on that given day makes it super hype. It gets the most viewers. It used to be [one] sold out ballroom, then two. Now, the new Sunday venue this year -- [theres] nothing like it.Winning Evo is like winning the accumulation of every tournament in the world, Valle added. By quarterfinals, you are playing a world-class player all the way through Grand Finals.Winning Evo is the best thing for anybody that is involved in the [fighting game community], JWong continued. Its different because everyone from all over the world comes to this tourney to prove their worth. Thats what really stands out. You can say youre the best on your block, your group of friends, your region, your state, but the world? Thats what I am talking about.[Theres] just something about Evo. Regardless of how much money is on the line, I want to win Evo, White explained. Evo is the ultimate test as a competitive fighting game player. Whoever wins Evo is the best. Every event leading up to it is just a part of the tournament season.Shortcuts dont exist. When youre sitting down after the judges call your bracket match, you know the journey that has led to this moment. Every experiment, every success, every failure. Twenty years after B3, Evo has become a behemoth.Only nine participants will own the memory of taking home the top prize. Everyone else will be left wanting more: a better placement, an opportunity to play on the main stage. The love of competition doesnt end when youre eliminated. It doesnt end after the final trophy is handed out. You can tell by the sounds of plinks, dash-dances and pop-offs emanating from random hotel rooms throughout the course of the weekend during off-time. You can tell by people studying matches and already recalling what theyve learned as they say farewell.You can tell by the stories being shared, as complete strangers hop in a taxi and talk about their weekends and the game that brought them to that event. You can see it at the airport, where two fans with nothing in common but a shirt adorned with the same logo talk about their local scene, whether thats in the Pacific Northwest or the Philippines. In the end, not all lasting memories need to come with a trophy attached. Jason Zucker Wild Jersey Authentic . They reached the 100-point plateau for the fourth time in five games, bested the visiting Trail Blazers by 34 in the paint and scored 19 of the final 25 points in regulation. Thomas Vanek Wild Jersey Authentic . Oaklands loss to Seattle clinched the ALs best record for the Red Sox with one day to spare in the regular season. "I think everybody was kind of watching," catcher David Ross said. "Demp (Ryan Dempster) came out before he went to the bullpen and was just yelling that they lost. . Uniteds eighth defeat of a wretched campaign means Liverpool, which currently occupies the fourth and final Champions League place, could go nine points clear of its fierce rival by beating West Bromwich Albion on Sunday. Charlie Adam scored both of Stokes goals at Britannia Stadium either side of Robin van Persies equalizer, with a miserable day for seventh-place United capped by first-half injuries to centre halves Jonny Evans and Phil Jones that forced them off. Call it Upset Awareness Weekend in college football.With only one game matching ranked teams -- No. 25 Baylor is at No. 9 Oklahoma -- the possibility exists for some unlikely results. The only Top-25 team not favored by odds makers against its unranked foe heading into Week 11 is No. 11 West Virginia, a two-point underdog at Texas.Five things to know for a week with potential for surprises -- or a lot of status quo.GAME OF THE WEEKSouthern California at No. 4 WashingtonIf any of the teams in playoff position are going to go down, the Huskies are most likely. If you havent seen USC since its 1/3 start, this team does not look much like that one. The Trojans have won five straight and quarterback Sam Darnold is quickly establishing himself as a star.The Huskies got some bad news this week with the injury to pass rusher Joe Mathis (foot surgery). Still, Washington would appear to have an advantage on the lines of scrimmage, where USC has had to piece it together on both sides because of depth issues and injuries.HEISMAN WATCHDOnta Foreman of Texas has run for 591 yards in his last two games to take over the national rushing lead from San Diego State star Donnel Pumphrey.Those are staggering numbers but they come with one qualifier: Foreman ran for 341 yards last week against Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders defense is so bad that there has to be at least a little bit of a mark down. Still, Foreman has been tremendous and the Heisman hype is rightfully starting to come his way.This week West Virginia and a defense that has been legit good come to Austin. If Foreman can go for big numbers against the Mountaineers, hell validate the hype.NUMBERS TO KNOW82 -- The number of gains of 10 yards or more from scrimmage No. 2 Michigan has allowed this season, second-fewest in the nation. The Wolverines visit Iowa. The Hawkeyes offense has 102 plays of at least 10 yards, tied for 117th in the nation.50 -- Oklahoma Statte has averaged half a hundred during its seven-game winning streak against Texas Tech. Charlie Coyle Wild Jersey. . The Cowboys have scored at least 45 points in each of their last five games against the Red Raiders and gone over 50 four times.39 -- The number of victories Nick Saban has while coaching a team that is ranked No. 1. All those victories have come during his 10-year run with Alabama, and with another one this week against Mississippi State, hell match Woody Hayes and Bobby Bowden for the most wins with a top-ranked team by any coach.UNDER THE RADARRutgers goes to Michigan State in a battle (or something) for last place in the Big Ten East. The Scarlet Knights and Spartans are both 0-7 in the conference and 2-7 overall.Not surprising that Rutgers is in this predicament in a rebuilding season under first-year coach Chris Ash. Michigan States downfall is one of the most startling developments of the season.Under coach Mark Dantonio, the Spartans have won two of the last three Big Ten titles and at least 11 games in five of the last six seasons.COACH IN NEED OF A WINThe season started with speculation about Kevin Sumlins job security at Texas A&M. The Aggies (7-2) jumped out to a 6-0 start and that pretty much went away. Even after a loss to top-ranked Alabama, Texas A&M fans had reason to be feeling good.Now, all of a sudden, Sumlin could use a victory Saturday against Mississippi to keep everyone calm. Hell have to get it with backup quarterback Jake Hubenak filling in for Trevor Knight (shoulder), who is out for the season. Ole Miss has its own problems with star quarterback Chad Kelly (knee) now out for the season.Lose this one and A&M would go into its regular-season finale against LSU on a three-game SEC losing streak.---Follow Ralph D. 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