Injustice 2 at Evo: It's SonicFox vs. the field

Jacob Wolf/ESPN.com

Dominique "SonicFox" McLean dances for the crowd after his victory in the debut of Injustice 2 at Combo Breaker 2017.

The return of Injustice to the Evolution Fighting Game Championships (Evo) main stage will be through its sequel, Injustice 2. Much like the game's mix of returning legacy characters and newcomers to the cast, the lineup for Evo is a list of who's who and who's back.

There would be no talk of NetherRealm Studios' games without Echo Fox's Dominique "SonicFox" McLean. The wunderkind -- and best player in any NetherRealm Studios' game -- will be back and ready to take a fourth Evo crown. He is the de-facto tournament favorite and the biggest obstacle for any player vying for a chance at the Injustice 2 title. What makes SonicFox so dominant, and how does he do it every year at Evo? He's fearless. On the big stage, regardless of the day, SonicFox plays his same aggressive and unrelenting style until the opponent can't take any more punishment. In order to beat him and his wide character choices, you must deter and discourage his run-and-gun offense.

The challengers

Whether it's insulting to the players on this list or respectful to SonicFox, the reality is that it's SonicFox and everyone else. But there are threats to take this year's Evo crown: Rogue's Frank "Slayer" Perales, Noble's Ryan "Dragon" Walker, Echo Fox's Jivan "Theo" Karapetian, Nicolas "whiteBoi" Andersen and Sayed "Tekken Master" Hashem.

Each of these players should be considered a favorite to be in the Injustice 2's top 8. Slayer, the emotive and hard-working offensive dynamo, is as consistent as they come. He's also one of the few players to beat SonicFox in a NetherRealm Studios' game and could very well do so again. With similar consistency are Dragon and Theo. Both players employ a unique defensive strategy and character choices to eliminate the competition; those could be their ticket for a deep tournament run. At the end of the list is the current flavor of the Injustice 2 scene, whiteBoi and the ever-consistent Tekken Master.

Tekken Master made his breakout known last year with a second-place finish against Sonic Fox in Mortal Kombat XL at Evo, and he lost no momentum with the new game. He is arguably the best Atrocitus in the community and continues to innovate. As for whiteBoi, he's the Scarecrow in the Injustice 2 world. He's the Community Effort Orlando 2017 (CEO) champion and comes into Evo peaking at just the right time.

The dark horses

First, the return of top contenders Critical Reaction's Tim "HoneyBee" Commandeur and Ryan "WoundCowboy" Gonzalez will shake the tournament's standings. Both were top Mortal Kombat X players and tested Injustice 2 before the game was released. Both players can very well run the gauntlet and make deep runs with little-to-no video of their play.

After them comes Circa eSports' Christian "Forever King" Quiles, Matthew "Biohazard" Commandeur, Noble's Richard "iLuusions" Iuu and Panda Global's Alexandre "Hayatei" Dubé-Bilodeau. All of these listed players flashed signs of tournament-winning ability but could not put it all together.

Can the world's biggest tournament be the necessary motivation to finally unseat SonicFox? We'll find out Saturday in Vegas.

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