Evo 2020 Canceled Due to Coronavirus, Moves Online
Evo 2020 has officially been canceled (finally) after months of demands to do so from the fighting game community in the wake of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Instead, the Evo team has made the call to move the event online, something that’s being treated with some derision from the FGC, as online is not an ideal format even in the best of circumstances for fighting games. Given that Evo is such an international event, it’s quite likely that players from around the globe will not be able to participate in the event, or if they are, the event will be fraught with lag.
How Will Evo Affect Competitive Integrity Online?
All in all, 2020 is going to go down as a gigantic asterisk in the history of esports, but especially the FGC. While a lot of competition has been able to move online, it’s simply not a viable option, and certainly not one that fighting game fans will take seriously, especially in retrospect. Any champion of Evo in 2020 is going to be questioned as to its legitimacy due to the online nature of the event now, and that’s something that while many pros may participate in, they may not take it quite as seriously as they would have otherwise.
The impact on viewership is sure to be felt, and Evo has not yet announced what titles will be taking place online. The event was set to run several high profile events, including the Marvel 2 Tournament of Champions, a 20th anniversary of the game’s competitive history, that would have included all previous Evo champions in the title as well as some wildcards. The qualifying events for that tournament have all been canceled along with EVO 2020 proper, so it’s unclear what the plan is from Joey Cuellar and crew regarding this.
Other concerns for the event include the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate event that was set to take place. While most fighting games are not great online, Smash, in particular, is quite bad, with Nintendo’s services not being remotely ideal for the event. This is in part because it’s difficult to police whether or not someone is using a wired connection for the Switch, as its nature includes it being a handheld console and there’s no way to know if someone is running the system in that way.
This also has massive implications for the gaming industry as a whole, given that Evo has been treated as a mini-E3 for fighting games in the past few years. Several high profile announcements have come out of the tournament, including for DLC for games present, as well as companies showing off upcoming titles. Now, they’ll have to find another avenue, or participate remotely in Evo Online Edition.
Coronavirus Impact on the FGC
The coronavirus has had a massive impact on the fighting game community as a whole, outright canceling most of the Capcom Pro Tour and other circuits. At present, at least the first half of the CPT has been canceled, and it’s looking likely that the entire event will be shuttered for the year. Other tours, like the Tekken World Tour, have followed suit.
This has had a massive impact on tournament organizers, as most are grassroots and cannot afford to take the hit that canceling events have on their bottom line. While some have been lucky enough to have hotels cancel the events, and thus not be forced to pay cancellation fees in the tens of thousands of dollars, some like Alex Jebailey’s CEO Dreamland caused massive setbacks.
Alongside Evo 2020, most live esports events have been canceled or moved in the wake of the coronavirus for the year, or have opted to move online. It has been a massive stress test on the industry as a whole, one that most organizers have been able to live up to and will hopefully come out the other side of relatively unscathed, aside from the obvious loss of jobs that were specific to live events.
Further announcements regarding Evo Online Edition will be made in the coming weeks, according to Mr. Wizard. It’s quite likely that at least some of the events will not be held online around Evo.