Smash Ultimate set a new Evo viewership record during its finals broadcast, with totals hitting above 279,000 concurrent viewers for the event. Evo 2019 was one of the biggest weekends in the company's history, whether it was for the emotional moments it created between rivals like GO1 and SonicFox or the controversial decision to tease a Tekken 7 Solid Snake inclusion that ended up being a joke.
For fans of the fighting game genre, the news that Smash Ultimate was a major factor in Evo 2019's success won't come as a surprise. Smash Ultimate was Evo 2019's most popular game during sign-ups, surpassing Tekken 7 and Street Fighter 5. That information was particularly notable because it coincided with Evo's decision to leave Super Smash Bros. Melee off the main stage, something that had raised the ire of a lot of Melee fans who swore that the game's absence would mean reduced viewership and fans turning their back on the weekend event.'
That obviously didn't happen as, according to esports consultant Rod Breslau (aka Slasher) on Twitter, Smash Ultimate set a new record for Evo peak viewership with a total of over 279,000 during the finals. That number was achieved during an extremely competitive tournament that saw Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez, the world's current No. 1 ranked player, fall early in the top 16 and be forced to claw his way back to the Grand Finals through the loser's bracket. There, he would face Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey in a battle between the two top-ranked players in the world, where MkLeo would emerge victorious after forcing a bracket reset and winning the final set.
Slasher also pointed out that the record for highest number of viewers on a single stream, Evo's main channel, is still held by Dragon Ball FighterZ, which hit 258,000 viewers during last year's Evo 2018. Last year, there was no Smash Ultimate to compete with, however, and the game - which still isn't supported by Nintendo competitively - has shown it's a clear contender for most popular in the FGC thanks to its Evo 2019 viewership numbers. MkLeo also used a Smash Ultimate DLC character, Persona 5's Joker, to take down the top prize - something that's worth keeping an eye on, since it became an all-too familiar sight in Smash 4 when Cloud and Bayonetta ran rampant over the competitive scene.
For now, though, Smash Ultimate fans can celebrate their game setting an Evo record while heralding a huge return to form for the franchise in terms of main stage numbers. While the absence of Super Smash Bros. Melee is still an upsetting one - that game is widely considered one of the best fighters of all-time by its fans, and has one of the most dedicated communities in all of gaming - perhaps Smash Ultimate's success will quell the fears of viewers who believed Smash would suffer for Evo's decision. Instead, the game is thriving and the Evo 2019 weekend was one of the most hype-filled of all time - not a bad trade-off for Melee's absence after all.