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Esports Fighting Games

Super Smash Bros. Melee: The EVO Era is Over

Melee Dead Game

Super Smash Bros. Melee has been a staple of the Evolution Championship Series, ever since its return in 2012. This year, Melee’s biggest event won’t take place at the Mandalay Bay event center. With this news, an era of Melee comes to a close.

After a one-year stint at EVO in 2007, Melee reentered the EVO lineup through donation fundraisers -whichever game raised the most money for charity got the final spot. The Melee community alone generated nearly $100,000. In an event bigger than any one person, game, or community, Super Smash Bros. Melee made a splash in the fighting game scene for a cause.

The move to take in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in favor of Melee caught the eyes of the gaming industry as a whole.

Why Now?

Many fans of the storied fighting game are asking themselves, “Why now, of all years, is Melee getting the boot?”.

Smash Bros. EVO Lineup
Courtesy of Smash Wiki

There are a number of reasons and the true answer is likely a combination of them and more. Firstly, Melee has been at EVO for a long time. Since joining the lineups in 2013, it has appeared six consecutive times. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 appeared five times in the same time frame.

Melee may have given way to other games for no other reason than to let another community have the spotlight. Co-founder of EVO, Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar state as much on the lineups reveal show in reference to the final game to be played:

I think it’s time that this community actually gets a chance to shine. They’ve been doing a great job of supporting their game throughout the year.

This is a sentiment that Melee players may have had many years ago.

A decline in entrants may also be responsible for Melee’s absence. The game peaked in 2016 with 2,372 entrants. It still stands as the largest Melee tournament. It was the third most entered game at EVO. By 2018, the number of attendees for Melee had dropped to 1,353. It fell to the fifth most popular game at the world’s most prestigious tournament.

Melee also gets little to no developer support. Nearly twenty years after release, it has not been patched or re-released in any way. Melee has also struggled to secure any sponsorship from Nintendo, the game’s creator. Other game developers are willing to invest heavily in sponsoring events and circuits for their game.

The EVO team has often gotten criticism for allowing two games in the Smash Bros. series to be played at EVO while all other titles only get one. With the incredible popularity of Ultimate combined with Nintendo appearing more receptive to the newer game’s competitive scene, finally narrowing Smash’s breadth to just one title now makes some sense.

What’s Next?

Smashers across the internet – from gods of the game to anonymous Reddit users – mourned the loss of a premier event in the Smash scene. They also responded in unison with a sentiment of resilience: The community loves EVO, but doesn’t need it.

Smash Bros. EVO Lineup
Courtesy of The Big House

Shine is an event that’s making waves in recent years. The Boston tournament started in 2016 and has had over 900 entrants each year. EVO takes place the first week of August and Shine caps the summer off at the end of August. Players can look to travel to the east coast for their summer capstone on Melee.

For the true Super-Major experience, The Big House 9 is the next best option. The Big House is the only tournament to have over 1,000 in four consecutive years outside of EVO itself. With Genesis 6 already in the books, heading to Michigan is EVO, Midwest-style.

Looking Back

EVO has given Melee some of it’s greatest moments. From incredible comebacks to iconic four-stocks, here are just a few incredible scenes from the Mandalay Bay:

  • PIKA PIKA: Jeffery “Axe” Williamson completes a dominant game-three in record timing.
  • A Great Run and a Legendary Runback: Robert “Wobbles” Wright finishes second at the first EVO since 2007. He defeats three gods but falls short in Grand Finals to none other than Joseph “Mango” Marquez.
  • Puff’s First EVO: After a multiple second and third place finishes, Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma takes home gold over Adama “Armada” Lindgren in a grueling ten-game series.
  • “I will win EVO”: William “Leffen” Hjelte called this victory three tournaments prior to winning on Twitter. He defeats a slew of top-level talent which culminates in a victory over his old training partner Armada.

Melee will move forward with new events to create more moments like these. In 2013, EVO gave the Melee community a chance to rally together. In 2019, they’ve done the same.


Featured image courtesy of EVO.

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1 comment

Super Smash Bros. Melee: Is Melee a Dead Game? March 28, 2019 at 11:35 am

[…] most recent “nail in the coffin” was Melee being left out of the EVO 2019 lineup. Melee has been a staple of EVO since 2013. In 2013, EVO hosted a donation drive where the […]


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