EVO ‘Guilty Gear’ Primer

Doug Trein

The legendary Evolution Championship Series (EVO) kicks off this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada for it’s 14th year! The tournament brings in some of the best talent from around the world. From Street Fighter V to Pokkén Tournament, and a wide variety of games will be represented. The popular 2D hyper-fighter, Guilty Gear, will make an appearance via Guilty Gear Xrd – REVELATOR-. This updated version from 2014’s Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- features a roster of 17 playable characters, from established favorites to new characters.

Guilty Gear’s competitive scene has had a storied history across its lifespan and the game features some incredible playstyles and talent spread across multiple characters. For those looking to familiarize themselves with this title before EVO Guilty Gear competitive play begins, read on and learn some of the fine details. Let’s Rock!

What Is It?
Guilty-Gear-Xrd-Revelator-What-Is-It, EVO Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator- is the latest entry in the storied Guilty Gear franchise, and the second version of the Guilty Gear Xrd series, which debuted in 2013 with Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-. The series is developed by Arc System Works and designed by artist Daisuke Ishiwatri.

The first Guilty Gear game was published in 1998 for the PlayStation. Over the last 15 years, Guilty Gear has evolved across several iterations, adding new characters, gameplay systems, and story elements into the fold. In 2008, the series spawned a spiritual sequel called Blazblue. The series’ primary strengths are the high energy, power metal soundtrack, anime-themed art style, and it’s complex but balanced character roster. Each character has their own unique play-style and archetype and players need to hone their strategy differently for whatever character they might face.

Tournament Rules

Evo 2016 is an open tournament divided into three phases: Qualification Pools, the Semifinal Bracket, and the Tournament Finals. The Qualification Pools consist of eight or more players, depending on the size of the overall tournament. Each pool is a double elimination bracket, and the top two players advance to the Semifinals.

The Semifinal Bracket is again a double elimination bracket where a loss from your qualification pool carries over to the Semifinals. This means that one-half of players in this bracket will start on a “winners” side, and the other half will start on a “losers” side. The top eight players from the Semifinals advance to the Finals, where again losses carry over to form winning and losing sides. The Finals end when one final champion remains.

Guilty Gear Systems

Guilty Gear consists primarily of one-on-one competitive battles. Players are tasked with depleting their opponent’s life gauge by chaining attacks against their opponent. In the case of timed matches, the player with the most remaining life when time runs out is the victor of that round. In EVO, two players duel across three matches, consisting of three rounds. The player who takes two rounds takes the match. The first player to take two matches advances to the next round.

Guilty Gear utilizes a six button layout, five of which are mapped to attacks. From weakest to strongest, they are punch, kick, slash, heavy slash, and dust. The sixth button is utilized for taunting animations that can be used mid-match. Combos are created by stringing together a variety of attack types and joystick directions together, similar to most fighting games.

Guilty Gear features a system known as the Burst Gauge, which is a meter that fills over time or when the player receives damage. Once the gauge is full, the player can perform a move called a Psych Burst to move away from the opponent and escape combos. If a player hits their opponent while they preform a psych burst, another gauge is filled called the Tension Gauge. The tension gauge allows players to perform specific special attacks.

Instant kill techniques can be preformed using a full Tension Gauge. These extremely high-risk, flashy moves can immediately kill an opponent and end the round. However, they can be difficult to connect and if the player misses their shot at one, their Tension Gauge disappears for the rest of the round. As incredible as they are to see performed, competitive players never use these attacks. If you see one during an EVO Guilty Gear match, great ready to scream with excitement.


The strength of the Guilty Gear franchise is the character roster. Alongside their stylish designs, each character features their own unique mechanics that give them special abilities. For example, Zato-1 utilizes a shadow-like creature named Eddie that can detach himself from the host and play independently. Venom can set billiard balls on the screen that can be shot in various directions depending on how the player strikes them. Johnny carries a limited set of coins that can be thrown at the opponent. While the coins hardly deal damage, each successive coin strike strengthens his “Mist Finer” technique.

As it stands currently, the most deadly characters in competitive play are Johnny, Zato-1, MilliaFaust, and Sin. Expect to see all of these characters during the  EVO Guilty Gear tournament. Last year, the finals came down to GuOgawa (Zato-1) vs ODG|Nage (Faust). In a thrilling back and forth match, Ogawa came ahead in the final match to secure the victory. This year, it’s anybody’s match.

Doug Trein
Doug Trein is a staff contributor at Fandom and focuses primarily on video games and animated television shows. His game genre favorites include strategy and turn-based role-playing games, first-person shooters, 2D fighting games, and action/adventure titles.
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