The official lineup for Evo Online has been revealed, and Super Smash Bros. is conspicuously missing from the lineup. A staple of the Evolution Championship Series since 2007, the game will miss its first official Evo tournament - due to the poor online performance of the title.
Evo staff first announced Evo Online on May 14; a move deemed necessary due to the impact of COVID-19 on physical tournaments and events around the world. The original lineup initially included Smash, but due to the limitations of of the Nintendo Switch and game’s delay based netcode, it was dropped (or replaced as you may see it) in favor of other games which sport robust rollback netcode which make playing across long distances with minimal input lag a reality.
Super Smash Bros. Dropped From Evo Online Lineup in Favor of Newcomers
In the absence of Smash, Evo Online will feature four open online tournaments for the following titles:
1. Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath
2. Killer Instinct
3. Them's Fightin' Herds
4. Skullgirls: 2nd Encore
The inclusion of one title in particular, Them’s Fightin’ Herds raised collective eyebrows as the title (which shares rollback based netcode alongside the other three titles) was initially based on Hasbro’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Due to licensing issues - or lack thereof - the developers, Mane6 were issued a cease and desist order back in Feb. 2013, only a few weeks before the original game was set to launch.
In an act of good faith after seeing the finished product from the developers, the creator of My Little Pony, Lauren Faust offered her services to help the development team repurpose their in-game models and assets, assisting with the development of the then retitled game: Them’s Fightin’ Herds.
What comes next for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is yet to be seen, and while neither Nintendo or Evo staff have commented on the omission of the game, it is safe to assume the game’s lacking netcode is to blame for its absence in the lineup.
A known issue in the fighting game community, delay based netcode has been leaned on heavily by Japanese developers; more due to the fact that Japan is a small country with robust internet capable of delivering quality online experiences with delay based netcode rather than the lack of willingness to change. As western developers deliver more titles with rollback netcode, and with gamers stuck at home with no outlet to play games with delay based netcode in offline events, many players have begun gravitating towards games with rollback.
With a dedicated fanbase, the future of the title is not in question, but 2020 may go down as one of the worst years in memorable history for the state of Smash. Evo Online will take place over five weekends this summer beginning July 4, 2020.