EVO 2019 clumsily attempts to say goodbye to Super Smash Bros. Melee

For all the memories and passion video games can bring, there will always be sobering moments that force the community to remember video games exist within an industry that's sole purpose is to generate ever-increasing amounts of revenue.


So, despite the fact that Super Smash Bros. Melee has been at EVO for the past 6 years in a row (7 times in total counting once in 2007) all the while breaking records for EVO Twitch viewership and tournament attendance, today it was revealed that the 18-year-old game will not be returning in 2019.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
, the newest and most competitively embraced Smash Bros. game since Melee, will represent the franchise by its self.

Thanks for the memories

While the news is a blow to the impassioned Melee fanbase and their cast of all-star players, it is understandable considering EVO's business model: some game developers pay to have their title present at the most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world. Nintendo would never pay for Melee's EVO presence, especially when it is better business to have Ultimate placed as the complete Smash Bros. package.

And yet, despite these realities, EVO leadership must have been keenly aware that simply pulling the plug on Melee is a lot easier said than done. The community blowback would be inevitable and, at worse, the tournaments long-standing reputation as the most hardcore fighting game tournament might be called into question.

But business and business and the decision had to be made. In an attempt to soften the blow and likely out of respect for much both EVO and Melee has benefited from each other, the EVO 2019 lineup reveal stream featured a sentimental video saying goodbye to the iconic platform fighting.

▲ At the end of the Melee montage, the video sends a final farewell, closing it's EVO chapter.


Mixed reactions

On the one hand, Melee's exclusion from EVO 2019 is a big piece of news and it would have been just as awkward to ignore the weight of its absence when relatively obscure games like Samurai Shodown and Under Night In-Birth made the cut. 

But, on the other hand,  the farewell video ironically amplifies EVO fans love for the game and reminds the community how integral Melee has been to the hype and authenticity of the event -- all just before taking the proverbial old horse behind the shed, shotgun in hand. As a result, the farewell video underscores how disheartening it feels Melee to be excluded: as if even the leadership at EVO didn't want to say goodbye but they had to.


Melee fans aren't exactly taking the news well:





Taking advantage of the trending #Melee and discussion, other tournaments have been quick to step in and remind the fighting game community that Melee still has a home under the bright lights:



All in all, EVO is a very influential fighting game tournament but not influential enough to sign the death papers of a game like Super Smash Bros. Melee. Jeers of "dead game" are all too common nowadays and games as old as Melee have persevered through more much more trying periods of mainstream obscurity.

And, like many top players have been quick to point out, Melee doesn't actually "need" EVO. In fact, there is a slim timeline that exists in which EVO 2019, now missing the narrative rich Melee, sees a decrease in viewership and authentic buzz surrounding the event.


Regardless of whether you think Melee needs EVO or vice versa, the news of its EVO 2019 departure signals the end of an era. Ultimate is poised to continue the Smash Bros. legacy and, who knows, maybe people will still be busting our their Switch consoles 15 years from now.

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