Ultimate at Evo smashes viewership records as MKLeo takes title

Another Evo is in the books, and once again Super Smash Bros has set records for a fighting game event. This was the first year in some time that Melee was not on the official roster, with a rather sad little side-event being won by Hungrybox over his Liquid team-mate Chu Dat, but in the absence of the OG it was the new kid on the block that had to step up, and it’s fair to say Ultimate didn’t disappoint the fans.

As is often the case, Evo was notable for bringing together not just the finest the Americas can offer, but also the great and the good from further afield, with Japan and Europe both sending their best to try for the slightly unimpressive lion’s share of Evo’s prize pool.


So, who won Evo 2019 Smash?

For winning the event from loser’s, in mainly best-of three, the champion and world’s best player Echo Fox Leo ‘MKLeo’ Lopez Fernandez took home $21,000, with just $7,000 for second-place TSM’s Gavin ‘Tweek’ Dempsey, and top eight alone nets you just over $300, nothing like enough to cover travel or accommodation for most players.


On the note of money, as we are talking about that, there is a very interesting sub-plot behind the scenes with MKLeo’s team Echo Fox. Those who follow the wider world of esports will know that org has been in serious trouble of late, being forced to sell their League of Legends spot due to the behaviour of a shareholder, and there is a chance that they will disband, meaning the fighting game division is cast off, and the likes of MKLeo, Sonicfox and M2K have to find new homes, something that probably won’t be too hard for the former pair, being as they are both multiple-time champions.

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Debut at Evo for Ultimate

All that aside, this was the first year Ultimate has appeared on the Evo roster, and it was something of an acid test for a game that has divided the community to some extent. While not as widely derided as Smash 4, the newest title in the series has many vocal critics still, and there were questions as to what kind of a spectacle it could provide, especially when compared to the hyperactive, creative insanity that Melee can provide.

How you feel about the game will depend on how much you enjoy Ultimate, but on the wider scale there is no way Evo can be disappointed with the results they saw from bringing in the latest Smash, and making it the main event. According to some sources, the viewing figures represent an all-time high for Evo, although that should surprise nobody who has followed Smash’s journey in Vegas, and remembers the numbers Melee achieved in the past.

Given that this was something of an experiment for Evo, who only ran best-of-five for top three due to time constraints, it will be interesting to see how they react, with a fair amount of criticism being levelled at them over the standard of presentation, particularly on the Saturday. Fundamentally though, it will come down to how much money they can bring in for each game, meaning that Smash will probably live and die by the support Nintendo offer.

Nintendo finally supports Smash esports

One ray of light for Smash fans would have been the tweet from developer and Smash deity Sakurai, who congratulated Mexico’s finest from the comfort of his own work desk, if you believe his tweet. That will mean a lot to fans, and especially MKLeo, but equally must sit alongside his view on the competitive community if you don’t have your rose, or maybe Peach-tinted glasses on. Either way, from Nintendo’s point of view this is a step forward, and hopefully it continues to help its most dedicated fans when it doesn’t benefit the company as much…

In the final reckoning it must be said that the event was a success, though, and having MKLeo win is the end it deserved. For all the excellent play of Tweek and the Panda people in the top ten, he is obviously the world’s best, as he was in Smash 4, and it’s going to be a long time until anyone can overcome him judging by his run through losers to taking one of the biggest titles in Smash. Viva Evo, bring on 2020.

Picture: Benedicto de Jesus under Creative Commons 2.0