The Stage of History is back and bigger than ever before. Following the 2019 Soul Calibur VI World Invitational, the 2020 SCVI World Tour kicked off with a bang at EVO Japan, bringing with it some of the game’s best players from across the globe to face off in the Land of the Rising Sun.
It’s a brand-new year, and competitors’ souls still burn. With France’s Jérémy “Skyll” Bernard coming fresh from his win at the 2019 World Invitational, all eyes were trained on Soul Calibur VI’s top-tier talent as the official World Tour finally began. Fans held high hopes for last year’s World Invitational players, with the likes of Japan’s “Yuttoto” and America’s “Bluegod” held as favorites to take the EVO Japan title, among others — but this competition would unveil a storyline that not even Azwel’s machinations could have predicted.
A tale of souls and swords, eternally retold
As the World Tour’s first Edge Master Event, it came as little surprise that top players from around the world traveled to EVO Japan to both test their might and score much-needed points. Offering 300 marks for its first place victor, this tournament was nothing to sneeze at: thus, when reigning EVO champ Yuttoto and runner-up “Shen Chan,” as well as World Tour Invitational winner Skyll made their way into the Top 8 bracket, fans were delighted and excited to see their past rivalries play out from their last meeting.
Although all eyes were trained on these competitors, other names shook up the battle in a huge way, including America’s very own Nathan “Linkorz” Mandell and Korean competitor “Thekura,” who marked a massive regional representation amidst dominating countries like France and Japan.
Taking out the World Invitational champion
However, it was America’s Bluegod who ended up stealing the show, having cracked the Top 8 bracket in Winners’ side throughout the entire tournament. Facing off against the World Invitational champ in Winners’ Semis, EVO Japan kicked off with a massive runback between Skyll and the player he’d defeated just two months prior.
Despite last year’s loss, Bluegod showed that he’d spent ample time in the Grand Labyrinth’s sealed corridor, taking both games over Skyll in what the commentators deemed nothing less than “incredible play,” nearly finishing Skyll’s Mitsurugi with a Ring Out.
“It’s a great feeling,” Bluegod said of their match. “Skyll is an amazing player who has beaten me the past couple of tournaments, so it feels great to win!”
Linkorz and Shen Chan steal the limelight
This win pushed Bluegod to face off with Yuttoto, who’d similarly surfed to the Winners’ Finals after a dominating weekend run. A master of multiple characters, Yuttoto opted for Voldo in his fight with Bluegod — but his contortionism wasn’t enough to stave off SoCal’s Soul Calibur star. Bluegod took both games in quick succession, sending his opponent to Losers’ bracket and securing a spot in the Grand Final.
Bluegod wasn’t the only American dominating the Top 8 bracket, either: Linkorz similarly tore up the competition with his aggressive Geralt, taking out Japan’s Jashin in a convincing 2 – 0 run. He went on to fight against Skyll in the Losers’ Quarter-Final, using Rivia’s White Wolf to seal yet another 2 -0 victory over the former World Invitational champ.
Linorz wasn’t done fighting through the fray, though, and his next opponent was one for the books. Shen Chan surprised the crowd with his skillful use of the dual-stance Tira, an unexpected character in such a massively stacked final bracket. Shen Chan proved his dexterity with the Drossel-wielding assassin, taking the first game from Linkorz in a convincing play; but his American opponent wasn’t down for the count, coming back to take the set 2-1 with a stylish Ring Out.
“My abyss… will take you!”
Linkorz’s efforts placed him in the Losers’ Final, where he was pitted against Yuttoto to determine the remaining spot in Grand Finals. Would it come down to America vs America, or would the former EVO champ regain his chance to retake his title?
Having both lost to Bluegod, each player had their own score to settle with him, and their desperation showed in their final battle. Yuttoto took the first game with a Ring Out, prompting further aggressive play from Linkorz’s Geralt. Taking the next two games with a “home field advantage,” Yuttoto knew he had to switch things up, and opted for a massive character switch with Zasalamel.
This choice ended up turning the tide of battle, with Yuttoto taking the next game to bring their fight to the final game, final round. With a Grand Finals spot on the line, Yuttoto used Zasalamel’s magic to stop the clock and win the match with a clutch time-stop combo, sending Linkorz home in third place.
Bluegod finishes the “Final Act”
Thanks to his multi-character talents, Yuttoto was set for the ultimate runback against Bluegod, having been knocked into Losers’ side by the SoCal local at the beginning of the tournament. Instead of Zasalamel, Yuttoto opted for Raphael, but couldn’t quite handle Bluegod’s overbearing Azwel, losing the first two games in quick succession.
This prompted him to make another hard call at the character select screen. In a cinematic turn of events, Yuttoto chose Azwel, making their potential final battle a mirror match for the ages. However, while Azwel stands as one of Yuttoto’s most-played characters, Bluegod’s Power of Reason was too great: After scoring a Ring Out in the second round, the American pro sealed the deal with a high-damage Soul Charge Critical Edge combo, becoming the first victor of the SCVI World Tour in style.
What’s next for the EVO Japan champ?
Having faced Yuttoto twice in the same bracket, his Japanese opponent used three different fighters in a bid to take the win — but in spite of these changes, Bluegod didn’t see a huge difference in his rival’s playstyle.
“I don’t think his playstyle changed all that much,” he said of their Top 8 matches. “I’ve watched Yuttoto-san play a lot, and he has this very low risk, neutral heavy defensive style. I’ve learned a lot from his play.”
In fact, he considered Yuttoto’s Azwel pick to be a wise choice, considering his experience with the villain.
“If I remember correctly, Yuttoto-san’s second most played character is Azwel, so I think that’s why he chose the mirror,” Bluegod mused. “I think it was a wise choice, because he really trusted himself to change characters many times throughout Top 8. It’s a very surreal feeling [to win], I’m so happy right now!”
Having taken the first Edge Master Event of 2020, Bluegod is is “very excited to compete” in future tournaments, and assures fans that they can expect him to “train hard and try my best in 2020 competing in the Soul Calibur World Tour!”
With EVO Japan in the books, Final Round marks the next Critical Edge Event on the calendar. Throwing down in Atlanta, Georgia, this competition offers 175 points to the first-place competitor. Having already witnessed some of the game’s best talent, fans can expect even more players from the West to make a grand showing as the Stage of History continues its path across the globe.