With the suspense concluding, we can lay to rest speculation of which Smash game will return to the EVO main stage, with Melee and Smash 4 both being confirmed to be a part of the main lineup. A repeat from EVO 2015 will be Super Smash Bros. Melee returning to the Sunday main stage for finals and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U having their finals on Saturday. With these games locked in place, we can see the spirited enthusiasm felt throughout both the Smash Bros. and fighting game community. With this year’s lineup for the premiere tournament series revealing a return of two Super Smash Bros. games, it can leave some newcomers and veterans alike asking: what does returning to EVO mean for the Smash community?
On January 26, 2016, Joey "Mr. Wizard" Cuellar, co-owner of the Evolution Championship Series, announced the roster of video games to be hosted on the main stage for EVO 2016. We've seen the return of many games and the maiden voyage of some new ones as well.
The union between Super Smash Bros. and the Evolution Championship Series began in 2007, when Super Smash Bros. Melee first joined the list of featured games. EVO 2007 was the largest Melee tournament of the year, hosting a then-impressive 270 entrants. The winner of EVO ’07 was Ken, better known as the King of Smash during his reign of supremacy, with notable players such as HugS, MaNg0, PC Chris, Chudat, Chillindude, and Mew2King placing exceptionally well too.
In the following year, Super Smash Bros. returned to the EVO main stage, but with Super Smash Bros. Brawl replacing Melee. Being one of the first major Brawl tournaments in the game’s lifespan, the Smash community was excited for the results of EVO 2008. Unfortunately, this tournament is remembered notoriously for having items as part of the tournament rule set and Ken taking second place to a relatively unknown player going by the name CPU.
A decision that would tarnish the relationship between EVO and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Image taken from SmashWiki
Quite some time passed before the Super Smash Bros. series would return to the Evolution Championship Series. In 2013, the Evolution Championship Team decided to hold a contest for the eighth game slot in their roster, where fans would donate money to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, representing one of seventeen fan-selected games in the process. In the end, the Super Smash Bros. community secured the eighth game slot by raising $94,683 USD, marking the triumphant return of Super Smash Bros. Melee at EVO. While the community congratulated themselves on accomplishing such a grand feat, a new obstacle suddenly blocked their path to EVO: Nintendo.
Through a cease and desist, Nintendo of America had initially ordered to stop any streaming of Super Smash Bros.-related content. Because of this, Melee almost didn’t make it to the screens of hundreds of thousands of viewers; fortunately, this decision was quickly reversed after an intense amount of backlash from Smash and fighting game fans alike.
When Super Smash Bros. Melee was announced to make a return for EVO 2014, fans feared they would once again have to fend off a cease and desist from Nintendo of America. To the surprise of many, Super Smash Bros. Melee was able to be streamed and, before the Melee Top 8 commenced, a video speech from Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime played, in which he wished the players luck and thanked the community for years of support.
Since then, the presence of Smash at EVO has only been increasing. In 2015, we would once again see the title Super Smash Bros. grace the watchful eyes of members of the Smash and fighting game communities. However, this time, Melee would not be alone. For the first time, Super Smash Bros. was represented by two titles simultaneously on the main stage: Melee and newcomer to the series Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. With Melee having a seasoned yet ever-growing population of dedicated supporters and Smash 4 having a rapidly growing player base, EVO 2015 would see some of the largest entrant participation numbers to date: Melee had 1,869 entrants and Smash 4 had 1,926 entrants. As a result, EVO 2015 would come to be known as the largest tournament ever for both Smash games to date (as of the publication of this article). In addition, for Smash 4 specifically, EVO 2015 featured the use of custom special moves, a major decision that would test their competitive usage and have an enormous impact on the future of the Smash 4 metagame. As for the results of this momentous tournament, amongst all the heated competition, 1st place would go to Alliance: Armada and TSM ZeRo in Melee and Smash 4, respectively. Both players showcased a spectacular display of skill.Even Reggie didn't want to put up with Johns when the time came to settle it in Smash
"Every so often we like to evolve."- Joey Cuellar
We’ve seen this community grow and strengthen over years of ups and downs, with a microcosm of that growth intertwined with the rest of the fighting game community and rooted in the Evolution Championship Series. With 2016 looking to be an incredibly promising year for the Super Smash Bros. community, it seems that EVO 2016 will be another exciting chapter in the history of competitive Smash.
Excited to see the action this year and be a part of Smash history? Leave a comment below and be sure to check back in to Smashboards for upcoming news on Super Smash Bros. at EVO 2016!