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Rainbow Mika from Street Fighter V
Rainbow Mika from Street Fighter V

How an Online Fighting Game Tournament Can Work

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It looks like the biggest Fighting Game event where players from all over the world gather—Evo 2020—is cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the Evo team left an official message on their Twitter that explains the situation.

“Due to COVID-19. We are sadly cancelling Evo 2020 at Mandalay Bay and are refunding all purchased tickets. But to keep the Evo spirit alive, we’re bringing the event online this summer. More information coming soon! The health and well-being of our community is our highest priority. We hope everyone stays safe during this time.” 

On May 13, the Evo Team officially revealed the lineup for Evo Online and the reveal looks promising for those who want a smoother online experience. 

Types of Netcode

There are two types of netcode that fighting games use for their online network. There is the standard delay-based netcode and rollback netcode. Delay-based netcode requires that both players wait for the input of the other before the game advances as both fighters are using the same game instance. If the connection is poor between both players, the game’s lag will be severe, as the match is waiting for the fighters’ input. 

Rollback netcode works differently, as the fight isn’t happening on the same instance. Both users run the simulation of the game at the same time. Inputs are marked with the time in which they occurred. When the input is received, the simulation will roll back to when that attack occurred. While Rollback isn’t perfect for players with personal internet problems, it runs smoothly when fighting online and it helps with longer combos. 

Ideally for Evo, rollback netcode should be used in most online environments, even an online tournament. 

Evo 2020’s planned lineup would’ve worked if the tournament were a live event. Now that the tournament is going online people realize these games’ online matchmaking systems along with their netcode are not ideal for online.

 Evo 2020’s Planned Games

 Evo planned to have nine games on the main stage for the event. These games included Under Night In-Birth, Supers Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dragonball FighterZ, Tekken 7, Marvel VS. Capcom 2 Champions, Street Fighter V Champion Edition, Soul Calibur VI, Granblue Fantasy Versus, and Samurai Shodown.

 None of these games use rollback and if the Evo online went ahead and used them, there would’ve been some problems. Smash Bros. Ultimate has a lot of lag; Samurai Shodown has been reported to have terrible online lag as well. Granblue Fantasy Versus and DragonBall FighterZ are both terrific games, but both use delay-based netcode and have been reported to have terrible internet lag. One of the highlights is Marvel Vs Capcom 2 being on the main stage as that game isn’t available anywhere since it was removed from all online platforms.

The New Lineup

 With the official reveal of Evo Online, players from all over are rejoicing as online matchmaking with these fighting games are more ideal. Mortal Kombat 11 was not going to be a main tournament at Evo 2020, but they’ve announced that Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath will be part of the tournament, including all of the new characters announced with it such as Fujin, Robocop, and Sheeva. Since Mortal Kombat X, NetherRealm studios has been using rollback for all their games, including Injustice 2.

 Skullgirls, made by Lab Zero, is an indie fighter that has gotten a lot of support since its release in 2012. It’s polished, fun, and uses rollback netcode. Them’s Fightin’ Herds made by Mane6 is the animal fighting game with characters designed by the acclaimed cartoon producer, Lauren Faust. TFH uses the same game engine and GGPO netcode as Skullgirls to ensure the best online fighting experience. 

Finally, Killer Instinct will be part of Evo Online despite its age. The game has gotten a lot of popularity since players have recently been looking for a fighting game with rollback netcode. Now that it’s part of Evo, players will have more of a reason to competitively fight each other as opposed to ranking in the game’s leaderboards.

Since the new set of games for Evo Online use rollback connection, this might be a wake up call for fighting game developers to start using a more reliable netcode.

 Player Problems

 An online tournament can mean many things depending on the player. In a normal official tournament, players come to the designated area and play the game locally, whether on console or PC. It doesn’t matter which console is used for the tournament as gamers can bring their own fighting sticks and at least know how to play with a console’s controller. No matter what game is played as long as there is a local versus option, that means a match can be set up and the tournament is a go.

 If a fighting game used the online feature for the tournament, things could get tricky. Players from all over the world can use an online feature for their games in an official tournament, but that doesn’t mean everyone who wants to participate can join. An ideal scenario for a Mortal Kombat 11 Aftermath online tournament, since PC is not cross-compatible with Xbox One and PS4, is to have all players use the same platform. Unfortunately, that cuts off a chunk of the competitive players that don’t have a certain console or a powerful PC that can handle its graphics.

 Since the managers of Evo have yet to explain what or how the event will work, it’s likely many of the games will be played on PC. This plan is still tricky because that would assume every player who would’ve participated in Evo 2020 live has a computer that runs the games at a perfect frame rate with no stutters. Even if everyone was told to set their graphics in a certain way to minimize lack of frames, there’s no guarantee the connection between a fighter in Japan and a player in the US would be perfect.

Additionally, players will have to use an ethernet connection to have proper matches. Despite these games using a better rollback connection, players are expected to use a reliable internet network to ensure no hiccups in the fights.

 This is the first time the Evo team has had to deal with an entire event cancellation along with making a new online function to make some money back for the refunds. In the wake of a worldwide online tournament being held there are sure to be some problems the team will have to clarify once players are able to sign up.

For more information on Evo and other fighting game news check out here.

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