Current interest forced Mortal Kombat into an early morning Friday start, but with two years of history to build upon, it was the perfect way to set the tone for the 2013 Evo World Championship!

Casual fans joined MK diehards in the tens of thousands to stream the live heats online: A testament to the staying power and excitement of the 2011 Kombat reboot! Evo 2013 finished with a total viewership of 1.7 million viewers on the Twitch service -- a record [via Polygon].

The story of the tournament would inevitably be the return of two-time defending champion: Perfect Legend. Increased activity during the abbreviated 2013 seeding series revealed feet of clay, but as commented in a pre-tournament interview, "EVO PL is a different animal."

This year, the animal was wounded.
Two days ahead of his Championship defense, Carl White was admitted to hospital with headaches, blurred vision & vomiting. An image tweeted from his bed painted a stark contrast to the triumphant young man who 'fought back tears' in 2011, and played with confidence in 2012. On July 10, it seemed as if the Legend would be forced to end with a whimper. Dexterity, determination and game tech would fall by the wayside as White was forced to put his fate in the hands of modern medicine. The Perfect One was exposed as a mere mortal -- but a mortal cleared to travel!

Fifty-three players filled a reduced Mortal Kombat bracket from the 2012 blockbuster. Slightly smaller numbers may have shunted a few top players out of the field, but those that remained would only increase the pressure on the defending Champion! A complimentary draw gave the defending champ a smooth run to the finals, but once there, he would face some of his most threatening contemporaries!

Heats saw GGA Soonk become the #1 seeds first major challenger, having taken out EGP Krayzie in an earlier bout. Perfect Legend showed little signs of illness, striding confidently into the Winners 16 with wins over a rogues gallery of unfortunates: Runwaymafia, Ak Reno Raks, Son ov Timett & GGA Soonk. His next opponent would be a seasoned force in noobe, but with manoeuvres elsewhere in the bracket shaking things up, expectations were rapidly narrowing.

Damn! Alex Perry looks pissed!

Kenshi kingpin Pig of the Hut was a surprise early exit in heats, increasing Osu16bit's stock as a tournament favourite! GGA's King of Kitana already had the luck of the draw on his side, receiving a bye into the winners 8. He wasn't the only one benefitting from improved match-ups. 2012 Runner-Up CD Jr shocked everyone with a lax performance, falling into the Losers Bracket after an upset result from FOREVER KING! The result redirected prospects of a 2012 Finals rematch between Jr and Legend.

Intense competition in the winners bracket would see several names rise as suitors to the crown. MyGod 88 started people talking with his dismissal of Rev0lvr and MIT. Top prospect DetroitBalln fell into the losers when he met DJT 88 -- a Cyrax player with a moderately safe draw. FOREVER KING couldn't stop Perfect Legend's perfect run, but earned his way back into favour with a win over Balln. Wound Cowboy claimed CD Jr relatively early in the Losers Bracket, but would fall to a quietly stalking REO -- another early drop-off, thriving in the second chance circuit!

The stage was set for a thrilling finals series, but the game changed completely when DJT 88 did the unthinkable -- defeating Perfect Legend with a compelling performance as Cyrax! With blood in the water; Perfect Legend's 2011 rival REO was more than happy to finish the job! REO was initially slapped back for his impetuousness, but when the challenger found his in, he took the shaken Champion for a 2-0 elimination victory! With the Champion left for dead, this deadly alliance would be destined to meet in one epic final!

Winners Bracket Semi Final:
MKU MyGod 88 (Sonya) d. GGA Osu16bit (Kitana) 2-1 2-0 1-2 2-0
DJT 88 (Cyrax) d. Perfect Legend (Kung Lao, Kabal) 2-1 2-0 1-2 2-0

Top 8 Losers Bracket Rounds 1-3:
FOREVER KING 88 (Kung Lao) d. C.O.R.N. DetroitBalln (Kabal) 2-1
VxG EMP REO (Kabal) d. WoundCowboy 88 (Shang Tsung) 2-0
VxG EMP REO (Kabal) d. Perfect Legend (Kung Lao) 2-0
FOREVER KING 88 (Kenshi) d. GGA Osu16bit (Kitana) 2-0 2-1 2-0
VxG EMP REO (Kabal) d. FOREVER KING 88 (Kung Lao) 2-0 2-1 2-0

Winners & Losers Bracket Final:
DJT 88 (Cyrax) d. MKU MyGod 88 (Sonya) 2-1

VxG EMP REO (Kabal) d. MKU MyGod 88 (Liu Kang, Sonya) 2-1 2-1 0-2 2-0

2013 Evo Championship Grand Final:
DJT 88 (Cyrax) d. VxG EMP REO (Kabal) 3-2 2-0 1-2 2-1 1-2 2-1

vXg EMP REO rises to battle Crazy DJT 88 in the Evo Championship Grand Final!

For the third time Mortal Kombat would be contested at the Evo World Championship level! For the first time, it would be without Perfect Legend! The crowd was clearly behind DJT's campaign to be the long awaited Kabal Killer -- but with CD Jr in his corner, REO would initially look good to come out strong and do what he couldn't in 2011!

With the title on the line, DJT wasted no time in making a statement. The opening round was a mechanical demolition: Cyrax able to press the advantage to prevent any adequate response. Round 2 saw a more timid approach as the pair kept distance. When the dancing ended -- DJT showed courage under fire, keeping REO cornered with a smooth anti-air out of a stunted 10-hit combo!

The psychological edge of REO's need to reset (out of losers) could've toppled any defense, but words for CD jr seemed to have a calming effect. Match 2 looked like an REO special, turning the tables with strong zoning and a decisive corner juggle. DJT's smart and patient style made REO accountable all the way, but Kabal remained nimble and ready with breakers and counters. With a rhythm setting in, both players looked too even to separate!

Maintaining the winners advantage, DJT took a 2-1 lead. Ironically, the tension felt like liberty for REO. With a Losers reset waiting, the pressure was spread, and he played like a man with a second chance. In a reversal of the opening round, REO decimated an unprepared Cyrax. In a shock twist, REO conceded a massive 80% damage, but still finished the round with a full meter for Round 2. It came in handy, but DJT's assault was unrelenting as REO took the back foot. The challenger endured to go 2-2, but the momentum was a pendulum swinging in DJT's favour!

With the world watching and a live crowd right behind him, DJT exploded! REO was completely overwhelmed and man-handled in the opening round of the fifth! Clearly on the ropes, REO scrambled to keep distance. Neck and neck, DJT struggled to break through, finding himself in a narrow loss via combo. The seconds ticked away in the final round as REO once again took a passive zone. Breakers continued to be a staple of the Kabal game, but DJT showed tenacity in his efforts to apply pressure after twenty seconds of range. Aerial kombat went in Cyrax' favour and the Championship was suddenly in DJT's net! You could almost taste the adrenaline as Kabal snapped into a sudden spring of frenetics -- only to be shut down. DJT's Cyrax wins Evo 2013!

2013 Evo Championship Final Top Sixteen:
1. Crazy DJT 88 (Cyrax)
2. VxG EMP REO (Kabal)
3. MKU MyGod88 (Sonya, Liu Kang)
4. FOREVER KING 88 (Kung Lao, Sonya, Kenshi)
5. FNATIC|Perfect Legend (Kung Lao, Kabal)
5. GGA Osu16bit (Kitana)
7. WoundCowboy 88 (Shang Tsung)
7. C.O.R.N DetroitBalln (Kabal)
9. Pig of the Hut (Kenshi)
9. EGP PboardPlayer 88 (Kung Lao, Ermac, Kenshi)
9. CD Jr (Kung Lao)
9. Crazy MIT 88 (Scorpion, Sonya)
13. GGA Soonk (Kabal)
13. GGA Wafflez (Smoke)
13. GGA Dizzy (Johnny Cage)
13. KH_Scar (Skarlet)

Mortal Kombat Online congratulates all the players who competed in this year's Mortal Kombat tournament! We were thrilled by the quality of competition that made this an impressive third outing for the upstart US fighter! We hope players, developers and tournament organizers will continue to recognize MK as one of the most exciting fighters on the tour!

Be sure to relive the 2012 Evo experience in our 2012 Evo Championship Results, the Road to Evo Featurettes, and our interview with 2012 Champion Perfect Legend. We hope you'll join us on the Gameplay & Matchmaking forums and be back here next year for more!