A takedown of some of the more shocking changes to Evo 2019’s lineup

A few are crazier than Melee being jettisoned

I’ve been following Evo for a while now and have personally reviewed nearly every game announced for the main stage this year: 2019 is a huge shift for myriad reasons.

It’s not just the fact that Melee is missing: there’s a lot to unpack here. Shall we?

Samurai Shodown is back, baby.

I know a lot of people were expecting “no Melee” to top the list but really, SNK’s comeback kid tale after faltering for years is worth looking at.

SNK had nearly no presence in the early days of EVO (even if the Capcom-helmed and fantastic Capcom vs. SNK 2 had a good run) with King of Fighters XIII making an appearance in 2012-2014 and King of Fighters XIV having a one-off run in 2017. In 2018, SNK had zero representation after XIV was eliminated for only pushing a paltry 32,760 viewers at its best the year before; the lowest viewership of the entire tournament.

It wasn’t always this way for SNK, though. Samurai Shodown was a big deal from the early ’90s when the series debuted all the way through its relevance in crossover fighters like 2001’s Capcom vs. SNK 2: yet, SNK couldn’t keep up the momentum. Things started to die down for Shodown around 2009 and we haven’t heard anything from the series since. Now SNK is throwing a curve ball at us and before Samurai Shodown (2019) was even officially unveiled (all we had was a teaser), bam, it’s on the main stage of EVO 2019.

It might be a temporary victory, but its a win for SNK nonetheless and another chance for relevance amid a typically (now) Arc System Works and (previously) Capcom-heavy history.

There are three Arc reps at Evo 2019, but no Guilty Gear

Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2 is arguably the best fighter out right now.

While Dragon Ball FighterZ is clearly the in-game at the moment, Rev 2 absolutely crushed Cross Tag Battle in 2018’s stream war (Rev 2 on Sunday had 108,916 peak viewers compared to Cross Tag‘s 39,919 on Saturday): yet, Rev 2 is the one sitting Evo out in 2019. Hell, Under Night In-Birth ExeLate[st] (published by Arc System Works) is also in! Someone is looking out for Arc but not for Guilty Gear.

Unless there’s a new entry or iteration on the way this might be the end of Guilty Gear at Evo for some time. Given that it paved the way for FighterZ it’s not a complete loss, but as my current favorite fighter (both to play and watch), it’s a personal one.

Soulcalibur returns for the first time since 2012

The full embrace of Soulcalibur VI has been heartwarming. This is a series that used to mean so much to the fighting game community and it was completely absent for so many years. Now it’s making a triumphant return seven years later and it’s bringing The Witcher‘s Geralt along for the ride. What a Cinderella story.

There isn’t much to say here that hasn’t already been said in various ways at the launch of SCVI. Soulcalibur was one of my first ever professional tourney games back in the day so I’m happy to see it back in the mix.

The eclectic cast should make for some great match-ups (hopefully we get to see Azwel play but Nightmare and Ivy will likely be among the top picks) and with Guilty Gear gone it might be the game I want to watch the most.

No Melee

Depending on who you talk to, Super Smash Bros. Melee not making the main ticket is either a long time coming or [Jack’s] complete surprise. 

Just last year at Evo 2018 it heralded in 195,164 peak viewers, which puts it in a solid third place after FighterZ and Street Fighter V. That’s huge, as Melee beat out Tekken 7 and Cross Tag Battle in 2018: both of which are coming back for Evo 2019. If it weren’t for a massive 40,000 viewer boost solely from famous streamer Ninja peeking into the Street Fighter V finals, it would have nabbed second place. But with Smash Ultimate in the mix, which promises to be the definitive Smash experience, something has to give.

Look, I was wavedashing and reading online tech right after Melee caught on and as a huge Smash 64 proponent (and local tourney winner with Ness), I was into the idea of Smash hitting it big. Melee has done a lot for the fighting game community at large but its omission after all these years of making it in is not a surprise.

It’ll live on, likely forever, through conventions (including one practically dedicated entirely to Melee) and even at Evo: just not on the main stage.

NetherRealm is poised for a comeback after low Injustice 2 viewership

While there must be a token western entry (typically NetherRealm) in the mix, that portion of Evo has been wavering for the past few years and it’s all Superman’s fault.

Last year Injustice 2 had a peak viewership of 20,516 viewers on Twitch. That’s half of the next-lowest game: BlazBlue: Cross Tag BattleMortal Kombat carries more clout and MK11, confirmed for Evo 2019, will likely make a splash. 2016, the last Evo showing for Mortal Kombat in the form of XL, championed 104,568 viewers peak.

NetherRealm is happy to have MK back in the mix as the year before that MKX hit 188,350: just below Melee’s 206,839 and Ultra Street Fighter IV’s 228,776. Everyone loves to watch fatalities after a heated match.

Chris Carter
Reviews Director, Co-EIC - Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff!