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EVO Japan 2024 Grabs Attention with Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8

Fighting games embody the spirit of the oldest competitive video games, pitting players’ reaction times and tactics against one another in fierce virtual combat. When it comes to fighting game tournaments, the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) is the key annual event on the calendar.

When EVO Japan began in 2018 it widened the competitive field for fighting game players. With a slightly different array of games being played to suit the Japanese audience, EVO Japan has quickly become an event on par with the original EVO in the U.S.. As the event continues to grow, it’s worth looking at which games are drawing fans to live streaming and how EVO is keeping fighting games relevant in an esports scene dominated by MOBAs and shooters.

EVO Japan 2024 Continues to Grow Year on Year

EVO Japan 2024, running from the 27th to the 29th of April, was the most popular iteration of the event yet. This year, EVO Japan amassed 3.2M hours watched across its three-day span with a peak viewership of 214K. This represents a remarkable growth of 59% over the previous year. Such huge growth in hours watched is even more incredible when considering that the 2024 event had roughly 10 hours less airtime than 2023.

This surge of interest is most likely due to new entries in two of the biggest fighting game franchises: Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8. New games mean new strategies and a fresh proving ground for newcomers to the fighting game esports scene. Fans tuned in not just for the gameplay, however, but for the players themselves: 52.8% of all viewership for EVO Japan 2024 came from co-streaming.

English-speaking Audiences Drive EVO Japan 2024 Viewership

Surprisingly, EVO Japan is not as insular an event as many other Japanese esports tournaments. The bulk of viewership for EVO Japan 2024 came from English-speaking audiences at 56%, with Japanese-speaking audiences accounting for just 32%. The high number of English-speaking fans may be due to EVO’s origins in the U.S., dating right back to 1996 under the title “Battle by the Bay”. Japan also has some of the best fighting game talent in the field, particularly when it comes to Street Fighter 6 and Guilty Gear -Strive-.

Street Fighter 6 is the Reigning Champ of Fighting Games at EVO Japan 2024

Viewership for EVO Japan 2024 varied depending on which games were being played, with viewers being well aware of the event’s schedule ahead of the competition. Street Fighter 6 was the most popular game of the entire event, closing out the three days with a peak viewership of 207K. In total, the game amounted to 1.3M of the event’s total hours watched. Street Fighter 6 has been consistently popular in Japan since its release back in June of 2023, also bringing in the peak viewership for Junichi Kato’s Hyper Game Tournament

Among the other games played, Tekken 8 performed admirably with a peak viewership of 187K. Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising pulled in an impressive 131K hours watched with just one hour of airtime, proving there may be scope for the game to expand its presence in future EVO tournaments.

As Stream Hatchet reported last year, EVO events are fantastic for boosting the popularity of fighting video games. Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 saw an increase in viewership on live streaming platforms of 79% and 56%, respectively, over EVO Japan 2024 weekend when compared to the previous weekend. 

The real winners from EVO Japan, however, are lesser known games. Titles like Guilty Gear -Strive- that typically receive a few thousand views on a regular weekend enjoy huge leaps in popularity. For EVO Japan 2024, Guilty Gear -Strive- jumped 613% in hours watched. Although featuring their game in EVO is out of reach for most developers, targeting these fighting game enthusiasts during the course of the EVO event is a great way to attract interested players to your game.

EVO Japan’s success opens the window for more EVO tournaments around the world, such as a European event. However, this requires more demand for the genre internationally. Stream Hatchet will be tracking future fighting game release performance to see if the field continues to expand.

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