Super Smash Bros. won’t be featured at Evo 2022, the biggest fighting game event of the year. The Sony-owned esports organization announced the loss of the platform fighter in a statement on Twitter today, and appeared to blame the decision on Nintendo, which has historically tried to tightly control how its games are featured out in the wild.
After revealing that the full lineup of games to be played at Evo 2022 would be announced in a livestream on March 8 on Twitch, the organization preempted questions about Smash Bros. by saying up front that it wouldn’t be included. “We want to let you know in advance that Super Smash Bros. will not be making a return appearance,” Evo’s organizers wrote. Since 2007, we’ve seen historic Super Smash Bros. moments created at Evo’s events. We are saddened that Nintendo has chosen not to continue that legacy with us this year.”
Evo was online only last year due to the pandemic, and cancelled in 2020 over sexual misconduct allegations against the tournament’s then-CEO. Prior to that, Smash Bros. Ultimate was featured at the 2019 event. Smash Bros. Melee, and later Smash Bros. Wii U, both became major parts of the tournament series each year, leading to some competitive matches and moments that are now considered major moments in the history of esports alongside the storied legacies of fighting game series like Street Fighter and Tekken.
Nintendo hasn’t always played nice with Evo, however. The Mario-maker infamously tried to shutdown the Melee tournament at Evo 2013, and was adamant about not letting the tournament livestream any Smash Bros. matches. Following a massive backlash by fans and players, however, the company eventually relented.
In March 2021, Sony announced it was buying Evo. And last November, Nintendo announced it would partner with Panda Global to host its own Smash Bros. competitive circuit, though the company still hasn’t revealed details of when that series will begin. It’s unclear if those competing developments are at play in this decision.
“Nintendo has enjoyed engaging with fans at past Evo tournaments and wish the show organizers the best with their new venture,” a spokesperson for Nintendo said at the time. “We will continue to assess Evo, and other opportunities, as we plan for future online and offline Super Smash Bros. tournament activity.”
Nintendo, Sony, and Evo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Evo 2022 would have been the first time Super Smash Bros. Ultimate could have been featured at the event with all of its downloadable characters available. Three years after release, Nintendo revealed last October that Kingdom Hearts Sora would be the game’s 86th and final fighter. Melee pro and former Evo winner, Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, suggested players host their own tournament in Las Vegas on August 5, the same weekend as Evo 2022.