When the Evolution Championship Series revealed the game roster for its 2019 tournament last month, one notable game was missing: Super Smash Bros. Melee. After being a mainstay on the tournament card since 2013, the iconic entry in the Super Smash Bros. series was left off the roster, replaced by the newest entry in the franchise, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The move was so major that EVO even released a video thanking the game and its community for being such a large part of the show.
While Ultimate is itself a great game, Melee is widely regarded as the best title in the series, especially when it comes to competitive play, and was a huge draw for the tournament. In 2018, Melee was the third most-watched tournament during the Championships weekend, and in 2016 it was the most-watched game of the show. Needless to say, it’s a huge draw for fans and casual viewers alike, so to see it cut from EVO 2019 was rough. It was perhaps even rougher for the actual professional players who played the game on its biggest stages, many of whom took to social media to voice their ultimate unhappiness with the choice, even if they did understand the reasoning.
Despite being dropped from EVO 2019, Super Smash Bros. Melee still holds a special place in many fans’ hearts, and thus won’t be going anywhere. Although the game has seldom been played by many of the pros since Ultimate’s release (both due to training purposes and simply a matter of viewership), Melee will still receive plenty of love when it comes to future fighting game tournaments. Shows like the upcoming CEO Fighting Game Championships, Super Smash Con, and The Big House tournament will all feature Melee, and likely be well received for doing so.
Outside of the more well-known tournaments, Melee will also continue to shine when it comes to small fighting game tournaments. Events like Shine Con and the Smash’N’Splash convention have existed for a long time now and will likely continue to promote and feature Melee in its tournament cards. Of course, the biggest thing that will impact the future of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s competitive scene is the same thing that’s kept it so relevant throughout the years: its community. The fighting game community is known as one of the most loyal and passionate, for better or worse, and if they want to keep watching Melee tournaments, there will most likely always be a home for them somewhere.
Whether it be in some of the biggest fighting game tournaments in the world or in smaller, more localized venues, Super Smash Bros. Melee will continue to be a sought after game when it comes to tournaments, even if the world’s biggest tournament is ready to move on.