For someone whose knowledge of video games starts and ends with a Fortnite Let’s Play recommended on their YouTube feed or a casual game of FIFA at a house party, fighting games can seem as something frustrating. The combos are hard, it has some weird maths attached to it (stuff like “frame-data” sound more like an insult than an entertaining game component) and the fact of watching two people throwing weapons, spells or punches gets repetitive. This may be why Super Smash Bros Melee was taken down from the main stage of EVO 2019, the biggest fighting games tournament in the world.
This fighting games evergreen, released back in 2001 for GameCube, has been played at EVO’s main stage from 2013 to 2018. It is the only game played right next to the new titles of the same developer - last year, for example, with Super Smash Bros for Wii-U. A week ago, EVO released the lineup: from expected classics, (StreetFighter V: Arcade Edition, Tekken 7, Soulcalibur 6) games with high reviews and huge fanbases, (DragonBall FighterZ and Mortal Kombat 11) there were titles not yet released or seen at EVO as a side-tournament (BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Samurai Shodown and Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]). These are the games that took the spot from Melee. The prize pools are quite high, a winner of any game can bring home not only prestige but also thousands of dollars: that could be the reasoning behind the change.
The questions are understandable: Melee players have enjoyed the beauty of Turing kitchens, and suddenly they have to move to Keynes flats. The game itself was successful in gaining viewers and fans, but there was a need to open the main stage for new titles and audiences. Competitive Melee has a couple of issues: the constant rotation of four to eight pro players, the graphics and the age - EVO needs to compete with flashy titles like League of Legends or Fortnite, Melee just does not have the power to attract new viewers and competitors as their scene is large but rather stagnant.
This event will be held from the 2nd to the 4th of August in Las Vegas. There will still be a chance to see Super Smash Bros: Melee played there, however only as a side tournament. Accompanying retro games like old StreetFighter titles or Marvel vs Capcom 3, it is without a doubt that Nintendo’s game will find its audience and show some amazing highlights no matter the stage.