The Super Smash Bros. Melee community is reeling after organisers for the world’s biggest fighting game tournament, EVO, announced the game would not feature at EVO 2019.
The 18-year-old game has been a mainstay at fighting game tournaments for over a decade, pulling in hundreds of thousands of live viewers in its prime. Bolstered by well-loved competitive personalities like Joseph “Mango” Marquez, Juan “Hungrybox” Diebmada, and William “Leffen” Hjelte, Melee has remained well-watched even through this year, as exemplified by the game’s 125,000-strong viewership earlier this month at Genesis 6—during the Super Bowl.
While Melee competitors can look forward to upcoming tournaments like CEO 2019, the game’s exclusion from the world’s premiere fighting game tournament sends a strong message to Melee lovers worldwide: It’s time for some new blood. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the series’ latest iteration released in December, is already generating an enormously hype and animated esports scene. And the last game announced by EVO organisers tonight was, in fact, Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st], a lesser-known but well-received 2D fighting game.
In its announcement livestream today, EVO organisers played what could be described as a funeral video for Melee’s four-year-old EVO showing. Its conclusion reads, “Thanks Melee for these moments and so many others.”
EVO's thank you video for Super Smash Bros. Melee pic.twitter.com/OG8DzW7R8c
— Wario64 (@Wario64) February 27, 2019
“This is a weird feeling,” said top Melee pro Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma on his Twitch stream tonight after minutes of silence. “I can’t even think of a good tweet.”
The organisers did, however, note that EVO will offer free water.