These are the EVO 2021 announcements we're most excited about

Guilty Gear Strive Jack-O
(Image credit: Arc System Works)

Evo 2021 Online has wrapped, leaving the top 8 players ready to face off at the Evo 2021 showcase in Las Vegas later this year. Apart from the high-skill competition, the championship series is also known to trickle out new game updates, of which fans are eager to dive into. 

Below are all the major announcements and why we're excited.

Jack-O Revealed for Guilty Gear Strive

Guilty Gear Strive has taken the fighting community by storm since its release a few months ago. Its easy-to-learn and stellar graphics make it the hot fighting game of the moment. And Arc System Works is hoping a steady stream of new fighters should ensure it remains a dominant force on the scene. That’s where last week’s announcement of Jack-O comes in.

Jack-O marks the second DLC fighter released for Strive, and she’s a doozy. First introduced in Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator, this unique character makes use of adorable but deadly minions to lay the smack down on her opponents.

However, it’s worth noting that her new iteration appears to have made some meaningful changes to her kit. Some of her classic moves, such as the bubble shield, have now been placed directly onto the minions alongside a countdown timer. Additionally, the minions themselves seem to all share the same weapons and movesets now, and they can be individually summoned and commanded, a stark contrast to the more automatic nature of her Revelator minions.

At the moment, both Chipp and Sol Badguy sit atop the Strive meta. Both characters were dominant throughout Evo as well. With the addition of Jack O, it will be interesting to see if fans can dethrone the top characters.

Season Pass 1 owners can download Jack-O on August 27, but everyone else will need to wait until August 30 to get their hands on this minion-wielding badass.

Baiken Announced for Samurai Showdown

SNK’s immensely popular, and punishingly unforgiving, Samurai Showdown has received some guest characters in the past, but none have come close to matching the star power of Guilty Gear’s lovably anti-social Baiken.

This classic character has been a staple of the Guilty Gear franchise since day one where she debuted as a boss character, and her appearance in Samurai Showdown is quite clearly based on her fan-favorite Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 iteration. 

Given that Bauken herself is a samurai, she fits snuggly within the Shodown roster. While her pink hair isn't the most appropriate for a samurai, her colorful bangs should complement Ukyo Tachibana's blue hair. 

While we don’t know the full breadth of her kit, of course, Baiken’s announcement trailer didn’t shy away from showing off some of her most iconic moves, including her claw and cannon attacks and powerful air slash ability. 

Baiken joins Samurai Showdown this Thursday, August 19. 

Oro and Akira Have Joined the Street Fighter 5: Champion Edition Roster

After a lengthy wait for new characters, Capcom dropped two new fighters in yesterday’s big patch. Oro and Akira are available right now via the Season 5 Pass or by purchasing them individually for $6 a pop. Season 5 Premium Pass owners also receive a handful of additional premium costumes for both characters that are not included in the standard version of the pass.

This release marks Oro’s first appearance in over 20 years, last showing up in Street Fighter 3: Third Strike, arguably one of the best, if not the best in the series. Though he’s certainly received some cool new moves, such as an air-launching kick, players will be happy to see that most of his old attacks remain the same as they were all those years ago — even his beloved double jump.

Akira, meanwhile, is a crossover character from one of Capcom’s other fighting series, Rival Schools. Thankfully for fans of that game, the developers have gone to great lengths to ensure Akira feels like a Street Fighter character without sacrificing her unique Rival Schools playstyle. Her timing and patterns remain as close to her original iteration as possible, but there should be plenty of new stuff to learn for new and returning users of this underrated fighter. 

We haven't had a chance to play her in Rival Schools, but are excited to drive deep into her kit. 

Street Fighter V's Sakura Has Received a New Face and Stance 

Screengrab of Street Fighter V's new Sakura character model

(Image credit: Makinofaman29 | YouTube)

No one would debate that Street Fighter 5’s character faces aren’t particularly attractive, but female fighter Sakura is well-known for being one of the more aesthetically challenged of the collection. Most notably, her story costume made her look particularly bug-eyed and uncomfortable, much to the dismay of many fans. 

However, Sakura’s character selection screen appearance has apparently received a silent update alongside the yesterday’s balance patch. The aforementioned story costume now gives her a much more natural appearance. Gone are the giant eyes and awkward smile. Instead, Sakura's face has been replaced with a design that more closely resembles the version of the character players have come to know and love.

Capcom, now do Ken. 

Imad Khan

Imad is currently Senior Google and Internet Culture reporter for CNET, but until recently was News Editor at Tom's Guide. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with the New York Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, Wired and Men's Health Magazine, among others. Outside of work, you can find him sitting blankly in front of a Word document trying desperately to write the first pages of a new book.