The Evolution Championship Series (EVO for short) is the premier fighting game tournament; every summer, thousands of players from around the world come to Las Vegas to compete for the title as the best of their respective fighting game. To win an EVO title is to cement yourself as a legend in the fighting game community.
While EVO has made some…interesting decisions on their hosted events in the past, from an items-on Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament to making the main event of EVO 2012 a 2v2 Street Fighter X Tekken event, nothing will trump the time that EVO hosted a Mario Kart DS tournament in 2006, the first time a non-fighting game was included in the official EVO roster.
Mario Kart DS At EVO 2006?
How did Mario Kart DS end up as an EVO event, you ask? Well according to EventHubs, EVO had Toyota as a sponsor that year, and they requested that a racing game be featured at the tournament, specifically requesting Mario Kart DS. Not wanting to lose a big sponsor, EVO complied, and history was made.
How Was It Run?
Mario Kart DS had an interesting ruleset; it had Time Trial qualifiers to see who would make it to the top spots, and then those qualifiers would participate in a series of 4-person races on four random tracks (from a list of 16 pre-selected tracks.) No tracks would be repeated within a series of races, and the top two players after four races would advance.
This would whittle down the competitors until there were four players left to compete for the championship, with the winner of this last series of races being declared the EVO champion.
What Tracks Were Available?
The following tracks were part of the EVO 2006 competition. Four tracks would be pulled from a hat to decide where competitors would race per round:
- Delfino Square (Flower Cup)
- Waluigi Pinball (Flower Cup)
- Shroom Ridge (Flower Cup)
- DK Pass (Star Cup)
- Tick-Tock Clock (Star Cup)
- Mario Circuit (Star Cup)
- Airship Fortress (Star Cup)
- Wario Stadium (Special Cup)
- Peach Gardens (Special Cup)
- Bowser Castle (Special Cup)
- Rainbow Road (Special Cup)
- Frappe Snowland (Banana Cup)
- Bowser Castle 2 (Banana Cup)
- Choco Mountain (Leaf Cup)
- Banshee Boardwalk (Lightning Cup)
- Yoshi Circuit (Lightning Cup)
Footage of Mario Kart DS At EVO
As Mario Kart DS is played on a handheld, it didn’t have the luxury of being recorded with a capture card, and had to settle for some very shaky camera recordings. However, there is almost 40 minutes of footage of the Mario DS finals at EVO 2006, which you are more than welcome to consume if you are as curious as we were:
The winner of Mario Kart DS at EVO was Cameron “CAM” Tangen, who won the tournament in convincing fashion, and went home with $5,000 (fun fact: James Chen, legendary fighting game commentator, finished 7th in this event.)
As this was the early days of EVO, the event was still in its early stages (2006 was the first year Capcom threw their support behind the tournament) so this event has faded from memory as EVO has grown into the massive brand it is today. But Mario Kart DS was indeed the first non-fighting game to be officially featured at EVO, carving out its own little niche at the largest fighting game tournament in history.