Smash Bros. will forgo Evo Japan prize pool for a custom controller

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be the only featured title at the Evolution Championship Series (Evo) Japan event to not have a prize pool.

Instead, the winner of the Smash Bros. Evo tournament will take home a special Nintendo Switch Pro controller with a golden Smash Bros. logo, according to the event’s website.

Evo Japan is set to take place this weekend (January 24 – 26) and feature Tekken 7, Street Fighter V Arcade Edition, Soul Calibur VI, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle and Samurai Spirits.

Both Tekken and Capcom will have prize pools of around 2 million JPY ($18,154 USD / £13,961 GBP), with the overall tournament winners for each game taking home around half that amount.

The other three titles will have a prize pool of 930,000 JPY ($8,442 USD / £6,492 GBP).

Smash Bros.’ Evo prize pool was significantly less than many other key titles.

Last year Super Smash Bros. Ultimate recorded the highest peak viewership of any title in Evolution Championship Series history at its main event in Las Vegas.

However, Smash Bros. Ultimate’s prize pool was comparatively low compared to some other titles at the event, and Nintendo was criticised for not supporting the tournament with additional prize funds.

Addressing the issue in a new interview with Nikkei (translated by Japanese Nintendo) this month, Nintendo president Furukawa suggested that the lack of monetary prize support wasn’t a weakness in the company’s esports strategy, which he said prioritises inclusiveness.

“Esports is where players compete on stages while revolving around prize money, and spectators enjoy watching that. It launches one of the amazing appeals of video games,” Furukawa said.

“But there is no sense of antagonism. In order to make our company’s games be played by a broad range of people, regardless of experience, gender, or generation, we also want to make our events joinable by a broad range of people.

“Being able to have a different world view from other companies – without a large sum of prize money – is our strength,” Furukawa claimed.

Smash Bros. Ultimate’s Evo 2019 winner Perez reportedly took home $21,180 from a prize pool of $35,300, which was significantly less than the $70,000 Street Fighter V prize pool and the $47,000 Samurai Showdown prize pool at the event.

The Smash Bros. winner at Evo Japan will receive a custom controller.

Each participant’s $10 registration fee was used for the prize pools, while Capcom and SNK made donations to their games ($50k and $30k).

According to esports consultant Rod Breslau, the person who finished eighth in the Smash Bros. Ultimate Evo competition didn’t earn enough to cover the cost of his hotel room at the venue.

Breslau suggested at the time that “Nintendo’s failure to provide prize money and stability for the competitive community is the only thing keeping Smash Ultimate and Melee from being a top tier esport.”