Back in 2019, one of the world’s biggest gamers had the Smash community on tenterhooks when they tweeted they had something in the works. That gamer was Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, not someone usually associated with Smash.
This week, in May of 2022, we finally found out what the cryptic tweet was referring to, and why nothing ever followed it.
According to Ninja — who told the story on a recent gambling stream hosted by Ludwig Ahgren — his intention at the time of the tweet was to "juice the Evo pot by like 500K," essentially just adding half a million dollars to the prize pool for nothing more than hype and a bit of attention.
As it turns out, the reason Ninja was not able to follow through on his promise was due to Nintendo "ghosting him." This decision would cost the Smash scene exposure and the Evo 2019 participants a significant extra payday.
The level of interest in the tweet was instantly huge, with names like Juan "Hungrybox" DeBiedma, Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada, Benjamin "Dr Lupo" Lupo, and even Ludwig himself jumping into the replies. But nothing followed, and we were in the dark until this week.
The revelation is doubly baffling when you consider that in 2019 Smash was a large part of the Evo lineup, ending up as the most viewed part of finals day, and Ninja’s addition would have added a massive amount of interest to the tournament overall, and Smash Bros in particular.
Nintendo vs Smash esports
This would not be the first time Nintendo has made a significant negative contribution to the health of the Smash scene. The company infamously tried to get Melee totally removed from the tournament in 2013 after fans donated to a breast cancer charity to get the game into Evo in the first place. Nintendo only backed down once the story had gone viral, with considerable public outcry.
It didn't stop Nintendo from continuing this pattern of disruption, however.
Earlier this year it was also revealed the firm had withdrawn Smash from Evo altogether, denying fans the most popular game at the fighting game community's most famous tournament. A statement from Evo was released, stating: "Since 2007, we've seen historic Super Smash Bros. moments created at Evo's events. We are saddened that Nintendo has chosen not to continue that legacy with us this year. In the future, we hope to once again celebrate the Super Smash Bros. community alongside them."
For people aware of that PR masterclass, nothing the Japanese company does is a surprise. But casual fans may be shocked to know that Sakurai and co. went out of their way to prevent Ninja from helping Smashers. Other publishers would kill for the free cash and attention that Ninja would have brought to the game, while Nintendo didn’t even find the time to reply to his offer.
The total prize pool for Evo 2019 ended up being around the $36,000 mark, with Leonardo “MKLeo” López Pérez walking away with what was then a record payout of $21, 204. One can only imagine what he might have won with an extreme $500K in the pot, and the effect that could have had not only on Leo, but the entire Smash scene. Sadly, Nintendo decided not to reply to a tweet that could have done so much.