Despite a long history spanning back to 1996, the Evolution Championship Series has never held an event outside the United States. That's all going to change come January 2018, as the organisation plans to host the inaugural Evo Japan in Tokyo, with a few notable changes that set it apart from the main tournament series.
The biggest difference is that Evo Japan will be completely free to enter. Evo co-founder and lead organiser Joey "Mr Wizard" Cuellar confirmed that to us today, after word broke last night courtesy of event chairman Kaneko "Hameko" Noriyuki on Daigo Umehara's latest BeasTV broadcast. Furthermore, fans can spectate for free during the first two days, though they will have to purchase tickets for finals day when the event changes venues from Sunshine City in Ikebukuro to Akiba Square in Akihabara.
In comparison, Evo 2017 charged a base $US55-$US75 ($69-$94) for competitor passes, depending on when players registered, plus $US10 ($12) for every game they wanted to enter. Spectators travelling to Las Vegas had to shell out some cash as well.
While surprising, the entry fee decision was made in order to avoid contending with Japan's restrictive competitive gaming regulations. Cuellar told us that "Japanese law only allows us to pay out 20 times the entry fee, so in order for us to pay out the amount that we want, we have to make the tournament free entry".
Players at Evo Japan will compete in Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, King of Fighters 14, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and ARMS. With the exception of both Nintendo titles, each of the games are set to feature separate ¥1 million ($11,273) prize pools. We've followed up with Cuellar about why the Nintendo games won't pay out prizes.
Additional prizes have yet to be announced; precedent indicates they will likely come from outside entities to sidestep the aforementioned restrictions present in Japanese law.
Evo Japan is scheduled for 26-28 January 2018.