Super Smash Bros. games will not be played at the 2022 iteration of the Evolution Championship Series (Evo), one of the largest and oldest fighting game tournaments in the world, according to. The announcement, made by tournament officials on Twitter, came following the news that the previously-independent tournament had been acquired by Sony. Despite that fact, however, tournament officials expressed their regret over the decision, which they said was made entirely by Nintendo independently of their wishes.
Evo, which will take place from August 5-7th in Las Vegas, had previously hosted one of the largest competitive Smash tournaments in the country with a prize pool of more than $100,000. Other games played include Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, Mortal Kombat 11 and Guilty Gear Strive.
Some competitive Smash players voiced their frustration online. HungryBox, one of the top Smash players in the world (and famously outspoken in the community) tweeted: “Anyone tryna get together and host an international Smash major in Vegas on August 5th?”
While the announcement drew the ire of many in the competitive Smash community, Evo were careful to not close the door on all future competition regarding the Nintendo game.
“Since 2007, we’ve seen historic Super Smash Bros. moments created at Evo’s events,” the announcement read. “We are saddened that Nintendo has not chosen to continue that legacy with us this year. In the future, we hope to once again celebrate the Super Smash Bros. community alongside them.”
According to tournament officials, the decision was made entirely by Nintendo. Despite Sony’s acquisition, Evo remains open to games played on non-Playstation consoles. In their announcement of the purchase, Sony emphasized their desire to maintain the core values of Evo that have led to its significant success.
“At its core,” the tech giant stated, “Evo will remain what it has always been: an open-format competition that gives fighting game fans from different countries a chance to connect, test their skills, and forge new friendships.”
Some Smash players speculated that Nintendo’s decision to withhold their game from being played at the tournament could be the result of a new partnership, announced in November, between the Japanese gaming giant and the North American esports organization Panda Global. Their goal, according to announcements made at the time, is the creation of the first-ever licensed competitive Smash circuits in North America. Both Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (the current iteration in the series) and Super Smash Bros. Melee (considered by many to be the most competitively viable game thanks to higher speeds and more precise button inputs) will have official competitive circuits of some sort created.
However, a lack of any concrete information since that announcement has left players frustrated; particularly in the wake of a series of cease-and-desists sent by Nintendo to unofficial tournaments competing on modded online versions of the game. Smash famously only allows for local, offline play - many tournaments had turned to modded, WiFi-enabled versions to allow for competition in COVID.
“Hey @NintendoAmerica we’re still waiting” tweeted one fan in response to the Evo announcement. Indeed, it seems professional Smash players will have to wait a bit longer for officially sanctioned competitive play from Nintendo - but whether or not they will lose access to any more tournaments remains to be seen.