The Evolution Championship Series (EVO), the world’s premier fighting game esports tournament, has announced the list of games featured in EVO Japan 2019, but with the glaring absence of two of the biggest fighting games right now, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Dragon Ball FighterZ (DBFZ).
The official EVO Twitter account indicated that Tekken 7, Soul Calibur VI, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Street Fighter V Arcade Edition, King of Fighters XIV, and Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2 comprise the list of games in the series’ inaugural event in Japan.
As many were quick to point out the glaring absence of Smash Ultimate and DBFZ, EVO assured that “they will be working with the gaming communities to support the other titles not included.”
According to insider Rod “Slasher” Breslau, Nintendo of Japan and Namco Bandai/Toei, the rights holders for Smash Ultimate and DBFZ respectively, told EVO that their games could not be used in EVO Japan.
The move has left many in the fighting game community dumbfounded as both games have garnered their highest viewership numbers during EVO tournaments.
DBFZ, in particular, shone during the 2018 EVO Main Event in the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Game Awards 2018 Esports Player of the Year Dominique “SonicFox” McLean won the first-ever DBFZ championship, ushering the game’s entry into the forefront of the fighting games esports scene.
Meanwhile, Smash Ultimate has been one of the most anticipated games of 2018 and many were looking forward to the game’s first appearance in a major tournament in its home country. The Smash Bros. series were also represented in EVO 2018, and have long been mainstays of the tournament series, by Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U.
EVO would surely be concerned by the absence of two of the biggest fighting games for EVO Japan. EVO Director of Global Business Development Mark Julio even said on Twitter that “not every title was included in the main event that [they] originally hoped for.”
Still, EVO seems to have remained optimistic that its inaugural event for 2019 will still be successful.
“Personally, I think the community working together to run Smash Ultimate and DBFZ is going to be awesome and I can’t wait to show the publisher/owners the strength of the community,” Julio added.
As of now, it is still unclear whether Smash Ultimate and DBFZ are only to be blocked from EVO Japan and can still appear in the main event in the US or not.