The Evolution Championship Series, or simply EVO, is a fighting game tournament series held annually in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tournament, first held in 1996 as Battle by the Bay, is organized and directed by Tom "inkblot" Cannon, Tony "Ponder" Cannon and Joey "MrWizard" Cuellar, founders of fighting game website Shoryuken.com. EVO is widely recognized as the premier event for fighting games and the largest fighting game tournament in the world. As of EVO 2019, the tournament series holds the record for the largest Smash tournament to date, with 3,522 players entering Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
2007-09: Smash debut and Super Smash Bros Brawl
Although Smash wasn't added to EVO's official game lineup until 2007, interest in adding the game to the roster started in early 2004, when Tom Cannon, one of EVO's founders, started a discussion for the game's inclusion in the Shoryuken.com forums. Three years later, Super Smash Bros. Melee was officially announced as part of the EVO Circuit and EVO World 2007 finals, in Las Vegas, being the largest Smash tournament of 2007, with 270 players. It was also the largest Melee tournament until GENESIS two years later.
With Super Smash Bros. Brawl release date set to March 2008, the EVO staff decided to feature Brawl as an official game instead of Melee, choosing to support the newer game in the series. The tournament ended up gathering 110 players and was widely criticized for its ruleset, having many items turned on, including the Smash Ball. In 2009, Brawl wasn't featured as an official game at EVO 2009, but a notable side tournament was organized, with support from the EVO staff in partnership with All is Brawl team (now Nintendo Dojo), gathering 128 players and using the accepted standard ruleset with items off.
2013-14: Melee return and record numbers
Following EVO 2009, no Smash was featured at EVO again until EVO 2013, when a campaign to choose the 8th game on the official lineup was announced. Through a donation drive for breast cancer research, the game community that donated the most money to the drive would have their game featured as an official game at EVO 2013. With intense support from the Smash community and a coordinated final push from the Melee It On Me crew, Melee eventually won the 8th spot after more than $94,000 were raised.
Just three days before EVO 2013, on July 9th, the organization received notification from Nintendo's legal department informing that EVO would not be allowed to live stream the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, while also trying to shut down the tournament entirely. After a widespread backlash from the community, through social media and official channels, the decision to impede the live stream Melee was retracted, allowing EVO to follow its original schedule for all games. With 709 players, EVO 2013 went on to be the largest Smash tournament of 2013, breaking the record for largest Smash tournament to date while still ranked as one the largest of all time.
The following year, Melee was already been considered in for EVO 2014, but after the official lineup announcement, the staff informed that Melee's status at the tournament was currently uncertain, with an official statement from Nintendo saying "While we are engaged in preliminary discussions with Evo about their upcoming event in July, the potential role of any Nintendo software at this event is undetermined at this time". The game wasn't officially added to the lineup until March, when an agreement was reached with the event staff. Nintendo was then added as one of EVO 2014 sponsors and eventually displayed a video message from Nintendo of America president and CEO, Reggie Fils-Aimé, at the tournament stage right before Top 8, congratulating all competitors and continuous support for the Smash series, while also promoting the upcoming Super Smash Bros. 4. EVO 2014 established a new record for tournament attendance, with 970 players, becoming the largest smash tournament of 2014 and the largest overall at the time, until Apex 2015.
2015-2018: Smash 4 along with Melee
With Super Smash Bros. for Wii U released at the end of 2014, speculation started to arise whether or not EVO would feature both Melee and the new game, or favors the new game in the franchise, as in 2008 with Brawl's release. But on January 20th, 2015, Mr Wizard confirmed that both Melee and the newly released Smash 4 would be featured on the lineup, citing the noted "continued interest in Melee" with Apex 2015 record numbers.
EVO 2015 went on to break another record for the largest Smash tournament, with both Melee and Smash 4 nearing 2,000 entrants. Despite concerns that featuring two Smash games on the lineup would result on a large player overlap, less than 16% of the total numbers of entrants registered for both games. At EVO 2016, both Melee and Smash 4 broke their records for their largest tournaments, each of them breaking 2,000 entrants for the first time, and having over 4,000 unique players across both games. EVO 2016 still holds the record for the largest tournament for both of their games, and the Smash 4 tournament held the record for the largest Smash tournament overall for three years until EVO 2019 beat it. While Melee and Smash 4 at EVO 2017 and 2018 did not have the largest tournament of the year, they are still among the top ten largest tournaments for each game.
2019-present: Ultimate and future
Main article: EVO 2019
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was announced to make its EVO debut in 2019. While confirmed to replace Smash 4 if it released in time in 2018, this was the first EVO post-release. For the first time since EVO 2012, Melee was not revealed to be in the lineup, instead being hosted as a side event, making EVO 2019 the first one since 2014 to feature only one Smash game instead of two. Ultimate at EVO 2019 ended up becoming the largest Smash tournament of all time and the first tournament to achieve over 3,000 entrants. Not only that, it was the most popular game at EVO 2019 and was the first time a Smash game had the most entrants at EVO. It also had the highest peak viewership on Twitch for any game at EVO that year.
Melee Winners 
* Melee was a side event in 2019.
Brawl Winners 
* Brawl was a side event in 2009.
Smash 4 Winners 
Ultimate Winners 
Project M Winners (side event)