The Evolution fighting game tournament (EVO) has, since 2013, been a staple of Melee’s Summer of Smash, and has broken the attendance record every time it has been held. Taking place during July in Vegas, the tournament series features a changing line-up of around seven to nine fighting games showcasing the myriad options the FGC has. The tournament is widely considered the ultimate achievement and goal of the Smash calendar year.

Here I will look at the three previous EVO tournaments, examine the effect each had on the Smash community, and what we can take away from the last two in terms of historical trends.

EVO 2007

Participants: 270 (Most ever when held, 14th all time)

1st Ken
2nd HugS
3rd Mango
4th PC Chris
5th ChuDat
5th Eddie
7th Chillin
7th DieSuperFly

Storylines going in:

Melee’s history at the EVO fighting tournament stretches back to 2007. After MLG dropped Melee from its pro circuit in late 2006, EVO picked it up for its “EVO World” tournament in August 2007. Going into EVO 2007 — which was the largest pre-Brawl tournament, and was thought to be the largest ever with the advent of the next Smash game — The East Coast elite controlled the Melee scene with Chu Dat, Mew2king, and PC Chris dominating nationals, and often finishing as the top three. With everyone anticipating Brawl’s release, the expectation was that this would be the Melee tournament to end all Melee tournaments, and the East Coast was going to own it.


The West Coast dominated the tournament. Mango and HugS comprised winner’s finals, and Ken, who had lost to Mango in winner’s semis, ran it all the way back and won the tournament. It spelled the end of the East Coast’s ephemeral hegemony in the Melee world. It also acted as a cap to Ken’s already illustrious career, placing him in a pantheon which now consists of two people (Mango being the other) to be both an EVO and MLG champion (Ken having won MLG New York in 2004 and 2005). It also acted as the first great showing by Mango in the national spotlight, as he was completely unknown to some on the East Coast. He beat Mew2king and Ken in winner’s, and finished third. Though the former was dismissed because of this EVO’s strange format (Best of 1 until top 8, best of 3 afterwards), the past 8 years have shown this to be far from a fluke victory for Mango.

EVO also marked the first time that Melee community was put with the rest of the FGC. Although they were often derided initially, by the end of the tournament, they had gained some respect from the FGC for their commitment and ability at the game.

EVO 2013

Participants: 709 (Most ever when held, 4th all time)

1 Mango
2 Wobbles
3 Hungrybox
4 Armada
5 Dr. PeePee
5 Mew2King
7 Ice
7 Shroomed

The Return:

The road to EVO 2013 was an arduous one for Melee. On October 25, 2012, Tom Cannon posted a poll on the EVO facebook page asking what game people wanted to fill the 8th and final spot for the EVO 2013 lineup. Controversy over the outstanding voting numbers the Melee community put up (far exceeding any other game) led EVO to state in January of 2013 that they instead were going to run a contest: which community would donate the most in a charity drive for breast cancer? For the next month, the Melee community sprung in action. The most notable of the innumerable drives run was Melee It On Me’s “Spirit Bomb,” and the Melee community needed everything it could get as another game, Skullgirls, also put in a ferocious effort to raise the winning total. The last day and last hour featured huge jumps in each game’s numbers as they attempted to snipe the lead at the last minute. In the end, however, Melee pulled through with a jaw-dropping $94,557.

Storylines Going In:

During the drive, Armada (Genesis 2, Apex 2012/2013 champion) announced his retirement from the community. This ostensibly left the scene to the four American gods (Mango, PPMD, Mew2king, and Hungrybox). They would square off against each other as a sort of EVO precursor at Zenith 2014. Mew2king beat Mango in winner’s semis while Hungrybox beat PPMD in semis. Hungrybox advanced to grands, and Mango ran it back through losers to take the tournament. This left the result at 1. Mango 2. Hungrybox 3. Mew2king and 4. PPMD.

The plot thickened when, two weeks before EVO, Armada was coaxed into returning to the scene, and it it was unclear who was going to stand up to him. Earlier that year, Mango had been humiliated in a series of friendlies against the retired Armada. The stage was set for an epic Melee showdown.


Wobbles proceeded to stun the Melee scene by defeating Mango in winner’s quarters, Dr. Peepee (PPMD) in winner’s semis, and Hungrybox in winner’s finals to make it into grand finals on the winner’s side. His defeating three gods in a single tournament is unparalleled outside the gods even to this day. However, the champion was not the Ice Climbers main, but a Puff turned Mario turned Falco turned Fox main. Mango won the first EVO in 6 years, and solidified his legacy as one of Melee’s all time greatest players.

EVO 2013 established Melee as a major force in the FGC, as it was quite popular both on stream (130K concurrent viewers, a temporary record not only for Smash but for the FGC too, until it was broken by Marvel later at the same event), and on site attendance. This growing esteem, which began with EVO 2007, manifested further when Melee was picked up by CEO, a tournament series in Florida reminiscent of EVO’s format of having many FGC games under one roof. Even more incredibly, MLG picked up Melee again for their 2014 professional circuit.

EVO 2013 also greatly boosted the publicity of the game. Attendance rates exploded, and in just two years EVO’s attendance has jumped 250%. It is after EVO 2013 that the six largest tournaments ever (including itself) all came. EVO 2013 was the beginning of the platinum age of Melee.


A few Great Sets to Watch:

EVO 2014

Participants: 970 (Most ever when held, 3rd all time)

1st Mango
2nd Hungrybox
3rd Armada
4th PPMD
5th Mew2King
5th Axe
7th Fly Amanita
7th Silent Wolf


Storylines Going In:

After the massive attendance and huge viewer ratings in 2013, Melee was unsurprisingly announced for EVO 2014. The main storyline going in was the expectation that an apocalyptic showdown between Armada and Mango was going to take place. They had faced off in the grand finals of the past three majors, alternating victories (Mango won MLG and Kings of Cali 4, Armada won CEO).


The Mango-Armada showdown never occurred, with Hungrybox double eliminating Armada in winner’s semis and loser’s finals. This was the last time Armada would use Young Link to counterpick Hungrybox. Mango double eliminated Hungrybox in Winner’s finals and grandfinals and became the only two time champion of EVO in Melee. Other take-aways from the tournament included the solidification of Pikachu as a viable character, with Axe earning another 5th at EVO in addition to his 5th MLG placing.

A few Great Sets to Watch:


Historical Trends and Analysis: This is focusing on the last two EVOs, 2013 and 2014.

Based on the last two EVOs the most successful attendees have been:

  1. Mango (1st/1st)
  2. Hungrybox (3rd/2nd)
  3. Armada (4th/3rd)
  4. PPMD (5th/4th)
  5. Mew2king (5th/5th)
  6. Silent Wolf (9th/7th)
  7. Axe (13th/5th)
  8. Leffen (9th/9th)

The two surprising placings are Silent Wolf and Hungrybox, both of whom have played superbly at EVO. In 2014, Silent Wolf upset Leffen to get into top 8 (, and had a strong 9th place the year prior, beating Ice who eventually made it into top 8. Hungrybox is the only person to make it to winner’s finals at both EVOs. In 2014 he beat both PPMD and double eliminated Armada, and lost two 5-game sets against Mango. The year prior, he annihilated Mew2king in semifinals and barely lost to Wobbles in winner’s finals. Mango, of course, is the ultimate achiever as the two time champion. Axe is another interesting player to watch. He lost to Mango and Shroomed (who made it to top 8) in 2013; in 2014 he played absurdly well (losing only to Mango and Armada, both in a final game 3), and famously 4 stocking Silent Wolf in 56 seconds in losers top 8.

An interesting fact is that the Gods have consistently kept their thrones on Olympus. Outside of Wobbles, there have been no upsets of a god at EVO. I expect that will change at this EVO. For comparison: Apex 2015 featured two: Mew2king losing to Shroomed and Hungrybox losing to PewPewU. MLG just the month before EVO 2014 featured numerous: Westballz beat Mango, Axe beat Mew2king and Hungrybox, and Hax beat Leffen. What’s even more impressive about the MLG sets is that it is considered more difficult to upset in a 3/5, which MLG featured, than in a 2/3 (the EVO standard).


The power of Ice Climbers:

Nintendude (17th at 2014)

Chudat (17th at 2014)

and of course… Wobbles (2nd at 2013)

These impressive attendings show the power of the ice climbers in a 2 out of 3 set. While Nintendude, Chu, and Wobbles are indubitably all fantastic players, the fact that wobbling immediately takes away one of the 8 stocks necessary to win a set does give them a boost in the tournament. Even the rarely-wobbling Fly (17th and 7th) has done quite well for himself at EVO. This is an indication that it’s punish game that matters most in a 2/3 format, and characters that have strong punish games tend to do better than average compared to other tournaments. This could partially explain Hungrybox’s superb showings.

I would like to thank HugS for allowing me to interview him so he could provide his insights into EVO 2007 and what it meant for Melee.

Best of luck to all of the competitors at EVO 2015.