Echo Fox is making a big move into competitive fighting.
Street Fighter V pros Justin Wong, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, Yusuke Momochi, and Yuko “ChocoBlanka” Momochi, Mortal Kombat X players Dominique “SonicFox” McLean and Brad “Scar” Vaughn, Super Smash Bros. Wii U player Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez, and former Evil Geniuses FGC manager Antonio Javier have all signed on to Echo Fox, the organization has revealed exclusively to Yahoo Esports.
“From day one, our goal has always been to build the premier esports organization in the world, setting the new standard for professionalism, team achievement and player development and wellness. Today’s announcement demonstrates our willingness to think big, think global and execute a strategic battle plan,” Echo Fox founder Rick Fox told Yahoo Esports in a statement.
The seven players bring a wealth of experience to Echo Fox, including multiple Evo victories across the Street Fighter, Marvel Versus, and Mortal Kombat series, Capcom Cup and MKX Pro League wins, and titles in a multitude of other championships across a variety of fighting games.
“Everyone is bringing something to the table here in terms of experience, in terms of their insights into strategy for the different games,” Echo Fox CEO Jace Hall told Yahoo Esports. “When you’re surrounded by other champions, it really helps you step your game and feel like you’re part of something bigger and contributing at that level.”
Wong, Momochi, and ChocoBlanka were previously signed to Evil Geniuses. Wong is known as one of the Gods of Marvel, dominating the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2 scene for a lengthy amount of time. He has numerous Evo championships in Marvel 2 and Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. He’s also enjoyed great success in the Street Fighter series over the years, having recently won a record seven events during the 2016 Capcom Pro Tour.
Speaking with Yahoo Esports, Wong cited a desire for change with the move to Echo Fox. He is even considering leaving his full-time job at Nvidia in order to focus on professional gaming full time.
“I’m actually thinking about it. I’m not going to lie. I’ve been really close to making that decision because of how much support I’m getting from Echo Fox and the potential future of fighting games and esports,” Wong said.
Momochi was one of the most dominant players in Ultra Street Fighter IV, winning Capcom Cup 2014 and Evo 2015. His success carried over into Street Fighter V when he qualified for Capcom Cup 2016 by winning CPT Premier Event Stunfest 2016. He was also the runner-up in numerous high-profile tournaments, including the ESL One Brooklyn Beatdown and CPT Premier Event SEAM 2016.
Earlier this year, ChocoBlanka and Momochi started up a training program in Japan called Shinobism, which is dedicated to training new competitive Street Fighter players. The two veterans even brought their Shinobism students to Evo 2016.
Like Wong, ChocoBlanka and Momochi also sought change in their careers and wanted to take on some new challenges.
“Echo Fox not only values our results and achievements, but also our activities such as Shinobism, training a new generation, and hosting events. After considering our future, we decided to move to Echo Fox,” the two told Yahoo Esports in a joint statement.
Tokido has been a free agent for most of 2016 after his long-time team, Mad Catz, got out of FGC esports. He has a storied history of multi-game championships, but is best known for his Akuma play in Street Fighter IV and for being the top Ryu in Street Fighter V.
Tokido faced off against Razer’s Lee “Infiltration” Seon-woo numerous times early in 2016 before finally beating him at CEO 2016 to qualify for his third Capcom Cup. Tokido beat Momochi in Singapore at SEAM 2016 to claim his second Premier Event win of the year.
Formerly of Critical Reaction, SonicFox, might be the most decorated fighting game player in the world outside of the Street Fighter scene. He has three Evo championships to his name (one for Injustice and two for Mortal Kombat X) and won three straight ESL MKX Pro League Finals.
In the North American Mortal Kombat X scene, Scar might be considered the next best player after SonicFox. The two have faced each other multiple times; Scar was runner-up at ESL MKX Pro League Season 2, CEO 2016, and most recently NEC 17. He also secured victories at Texas Showdown 2016, Absolute Battle 7, East Coast Throwdown 2016, and SCR 2016.
Both SonicFox and Scar should make the jump to Injustice 2 once it is released in 2017.
Mexico’s MKLeo is one of Smash 4’s breakout players. He has multiple major tournament victories in his home country as well as a fifth place finish at Get On My Level 2016, third at Rio de Janeiro eGames Showcase 2016, and a win at Canada Cup 2016. He secured his visa to compete in the U.S. late in the year, debuting in third place at KTAR XIX and defeating TSM’s Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios to win 2GGT: ZeRo Saga in December.
Echo Fox has also confirmed it will be bringing back Street Fighter V player Julio Fuentes and Super Smash Bros. Melee player Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman in 2017.
Echo Fox’s FGC division will be managed by former Evil Geniuses FGC manager Antonio Javier, who left EG after five years to take up a position at Twitch in 2016. Javier helped build EG into a fighting game powerhouse by signing Momochi, ChocoBlanka, Eduardo “PR Balrog” Perez (who recently left EG to go independent) and Kenneth “K-Brad” Bradley.
Javier helped guide Evil Geniuses and its players to multiple global championships and he intends to do the same with Echo Fox.
Championships aren’t Echo Fox’s only goal. The team is putting itself in a position to promote the growth of fighting games in esports by laying the foundation for a new standard of operation in FGC esports. Perhaps their approach will inspire other organizations to reevaluate themselves. If nothing else, Echo Fox has painted a target on itself, and we can expect their competition to push even harder to beat the new top team in the scene.
“I want to see the FGC grow to levels yet unseen. I think it is a completely undervalued and underutilized category in video games. It has much deeper roots in esports or competitive gaming than just about every other category,” Hall said.
Despite the pedigree of the players Echo Fox has signed, the org will continue to pursue talent to push fighting games to new heights in esports.
“We think there’s a treasure trove of amazing people in the FGC and that they are underexposed.”
Michael Martin covers all things FGC. Follow him on Twitter @Bizarro_Mike.