Super Smash Bros. Ultimate not offering prize money at EVO Japan 2020
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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans with plans to attend the upcoming EVO 2020 event have received some disappointing news with the announcement of the tournament’s prize money. Or, more appropriately, the lack of one.
According to the tournament organizers, only the first-place winner will receive a prize, which will be a special Nintendo Switch Pro controller with a golden Smash Bros. logo on it. It's not a long stretch to say that participants aren't happy, considering this means that winners will not receive any funds to cover their travel expenses. It's also sort of ironic that many top tier Smash players prefer to use GameCube controllers to the more modern Switch Pro design.
EVO Japan is the sister event of the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, Evolution Championship Series or EVO for short. Thus, fans from all over the globe travel to compete in some of the best matches of the year. That's why this news is more than a bit disheartening. After all, many players picked EVO Japan 2020 over Genesis 7, another tournament series that will be held simultaneously in the US. It's a big deal because Genesis 7 will feature prize money for its Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament.
Besides Smash Ultimate, EVO Japan will also feature tournaments in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Samurai Shodown, Soul Calibur VI, Street Fighter V Arcade Edition, and Tekken 7. However, these games will still offer prize money to their winners, so the question becomes 'why not Smash?'
For years Nintendo has been criticized for not supporting tournaments in the form of prize money. Last year it was reported by Rod Breslau that the 8th place winner of EVO 2019 didn't even earn enough money to cover his hotel bill. EVO prize pools consist of $10 contributions from participant's registration fees, but game developers like Capcom and SNK have contributed large sums in the past to supplement it.
Last year, Smash Ultimate champion, Leonardo "MKLeo" Lopez Perez earned $21,180 from a prize pool of $35,300. Meanwhile, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition had a prize pool of $70,000 and Samurai Shodown, $47,000. Both reached these amounts even with a smaller number of participants in comparison to Smash Ultimate because Capcom supplemented their game with $50,000 and SNK, $30,000.
This news isn't all too surprising, though, as Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa recently spoke on the company's stance on esports in a recent interview with Nikkei.
“Being able to have a different world view from other companies – without a large sum of prize money – is our strength,” he said.
Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa
Furukawa's statement nicely sums up Nintendo's point of view on the matter. So while Tekken 7 and Street Fighter V: Champion Edition players contend for a ¥2 million ($18,154) prize pool, Smash players won't receive a dime. Participants of the remaining three games will also have a prize pool of ¥930,000 ($8,442).
If this news about Smash Ultimate's prize pool was announced weeks ago, the tournament probably wouldn't have received over 3000 entries by the time registration closed. Considering the event takes place this weekend, plans and preparations to attend are already complete for those traveling to Japan for it. How exactly this news will affect the Smash Ultimate tournament remains to be seen.
EVO Japan 2020 takes place from January 24-26 at the Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall in Tokyo, Japan