EVO 2024 welcomes top streamers after co-owner Pokimane leads the way

Virginia Glaze

EVO 2024 is welcoming major streamers to the world’s biggest fighting game tournament after Pokimane and Esfand showed up to the event last year.

The Evolution Championship Series is the world’s largest fighting game tournament, sending thousands of fighting game fans flocking to Las Vegas every summer since 1996.

In 2023, the tournament reported a record-breaking number of registered players, racking up over 9,000 competitors in a record-breaking turnout for the already massive event.

That’s not all; last year’s EVO also saw the appearances of a few major streamers, including Esfand and Pokimane, the latter of whom is actually a co-owner of EVO due to her position as CEO at RTS, which purchased EVO in March 2021 and runs the tournament with Sony.

Pokimane and Esfand battled each other in a Project L showcase at EVO 2023.

After her cameo at last year’s event, EVO is hoping more large streamers will attend this year’s tournament as it spreads its wings with a new home at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Streamers welcome at EVO 2024 as fighting game fever takes over

We got the chance to speak with EVO’s General Manager, Rick Thiher, who says having streamers like Esfand and Pokimane put a spotlight on the event offers a “valuable” megaphone to advertise the fighting game community to the world.

“I think EVO over the last couple of years has gotten really focused on, ‘How do we create and renew fighting game fandom? How do we take the community that birthed the event and really appreciate that it’s grown into a literal culture?’ Having someone like Poki or Esfand show up is cool because of the megaphone that they can use to say that these games, these people, this community, this room that I’m in is worth your time, worth your interest,” he told us.

“I think that’s valuable. And because we’ve achieved that without having to build the show around their attendance, they’re coming of their own accord. Esfand was sitting in the arena last year, doing his livestream, just excited about fighting games.”

Evo 2023 at Mandalay Bay on August 5, 2023. (Photo: Robert Paul)

“And when that’s not a paid activation, when you’ve created an experience where that enthusiasm is natural? That’s an incredible thing. To be able to say, we came together not as an achievement, or not as a big plus up, but as a validation that fighting games are worth time. Fighting games are worth passion. Fighting games are of value. So, that’s how I look at that. That’s why I’m really excited they came last year.”

Fighting game viewership has grown massively on live streaming platforms as of late, with Tekken 8’s release seeing a huge boom in audiences for both endemic fighting game creators and mainstream broadcasters alike. For example, Maximilian Dood racked up nearly 450K total viewers on Twitch over the weekend of Tekken 8’s launch, with Aris (Avoiding the Puddle) also garnering 140K viewers.

Not only are fighting games growing in popularity on Twitch, but the people who have built their careers around the FGC are heading right to the top alongside the genre.

For Thiher, big creators attending fighting game tournaments like EVO is another welcome addition to the culture as fighting game fever rises ever higher.

“That’s why I’m really hoping that they’re gonna come again this year,” he said. “We’re gonna see what happens.”

EVO 2024 is set to take place from July 19-21 in the West Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center and will feature a total of eight fighting games.

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About The Author

Virginia is Dexerto's Entertainment Editor and an expert in all things TikTok, YouTube, and influencer-related. Boasting a background in esports, she's been tackling the social media space for over five years. You can reach Virginia at: virginia.glaze@dexerto.com.