Rising to the top is a goal that sits in the dreams of every competitor, whether it be their local scene or the stages of the biggest tournaments the world over. It’s a goal that many players work towards throughout their entire competitive careers, sometimes dedicated to one game, other times throughout multiple iterations of a series, and even across franchises. And despite the drive to compete and the talent to shine brighter than the competition, not every passionate player is met with victory and fame. Road to Evolution follows the story of Cliff “Cliffdog” Rouzier, a player from New York in his competitive gaming journey through the Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros. series and how his drive to compete and get better grew alongside him despite the difficulties of achieving those dreams.
With parents that neither understand nor appreciate gaming, Cliff's situation isn't all that different from a good many others' in the FGC. Like the majority of fighting game players, Cliff had a dream to make the trek to EVO (the fighting game player's Mecca) for both the experience and to test his skills against the best in the world. Cliff's brother, (who introduced him to fighting games at an early age) tragically passed away, and so this EVO trip would also be dedicated to the memory of his sibling.
The focal point of the documentary, which was a four year passion project directed by our very own senior editor Jon Rouzier @jonrouzier, is the Evolution tournament. It is an international tournament series hosted by Joey “Mr. Wiz” Cuellar that has been home to various iterations of the Super Smash Bros. series, as well as countless other fighting games and Cliff’s rise to competing in Evo 2013. The documentary more closely analyzes the journey to getting to the point where he feels that he's ready to travel and compete in a world-class tournament, even in knowing that it may not go as he originally expects. Road to Evolution helps frame the journey not just of a Street Fighter or Super Smash Bros. player, but of a competitive gamer that feels that having what it takes to compete is proven by the passion to always learn and play. On top of the many different aspects directly related to competing, Road to Evolution takes a look into the factors of Cliffdog’s upbringing and everyday life that formed him in and out of the game such as work, school, and family matters: all factors that undoubtedly impact players of every level and every upbringing, making the story much more relatable for all audiences.