EVO Online will not feature Smash Ultimate.
On May 1, 2020, EVO organizers announced that EVO 2020 would be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They promised that the event would be formatted for fully-online play in the near future, and as of May 13, that online event has been announced.
EVO Online is slotted to take place over five consecutive weekends from July 4 to August 2, 2020. The preliminary schedule slots games on July 4-5, July 11-12, July 18-19, July 25-26, July 31- August 2. Further details involving exact times and sign up information will be announced sometime in the future, according to the EVO organizers.
The tournament will feature Granblue Fantasy Versus, Street Fighter 5, Samurai Shodown, Tekken 7, Under Night In-Birth, Soulcalibur 6, and Dragon Ball FighterZ. EVO Online will host these tournaments for players to join.
Also being run during EVO Online is the 2ournament of Champions, a special invite-only Marvel vs. Capcom 2 tournament. Further details are to be announced at a later date, however, players can start hyping up for the return of Marvel vs. Capcom at EVO this year.
There will also be open online tournaments of Skull Girls: Second Encore, Killer Instinct, Them's Fightin' Herds, and Mortal Kombat 11 this year. These matches will be hosted by the players, rather than the event coordinators.
One thing that all of these games have in common is good netcode and online capabilities, something which Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate lacked. Since Smash Ultimate relies on peer-to-peer connections in its online gameplay, it only seems logical that the game was removed from the tournament. If players would have to compete in the game with their own personal Wi-Fi connections, rather than the high-speed connection available at the tournament; this could create problems for matches as a whole and give players with better connection an unfair advantage.
Many Smash Ultimate players hope that the EVO organizers' decision to remove Smash from their tournament serves as an open letter to Nintendo to fix the online functionality in the game. The Nintendo Switch's connectivity, in general, can be relatively flawless or extremely delayed, depending on the host player's Wi-Fi connection. This makes for an unfair, mixed bag situation in terms of online tournament play, which is why Smash Ultimate was removed from EVO Online in the first place. Games like Them's Fightin' Herds and Skullgirls: Second Encore were chosen instead, due to their usage of rollback netcode. Rollback netcode predicts player movement based on what buttons they are pressing, which eliminates lag and makes online play seamless and as responsive as offline play.
Skullgirls: Second Encore has been left out of EVO for years, despite its massive following and impressive online play. Many fans are finding it ironic that this year's EVO is cutting out Smash Ultimate and replacing it with Skullgirls. Additionally, Them's Fightin' Herds, one of the games featured in the open online tournament portion of EVO Online, has only just been released, leaving early access on April 30, 2020. Many have questioned why such a new game is being pushed into EVO Online so soon. The answer is simple: excellent online gameplay and connectivity. The game runs fluidly online, which is necessary for this year's online-only tournament. It only seems logical to include games with excellent online connectivity in an event such as this.
Overall, the decision to cut Smash Ultimate from the lineup this year makes sense but is also incredibly saddening, as it is an extremely popular fighting game with a massive player base. However, players are hopeful that the game will return in EVO 2021 with more hype than ever.
Images via EVO Online