If you have had any interaction within the esports community, you have likely heard of EVO. This competition is famous within the fighting game culture and is by far the biggest competition in that part of the industry. It brings in tens of thousands of viewers, partially because of its place in the culture and partially because of its lack of focus on a single game. The popularity of the event has drawn enough attention that Sony has purchased the company. There are, of course, a number of important questions about this acquisition.
Will the founders stay involved?
Sony, as part of its announcement, assured the very active community that Tom and Tony Cannon will "remain closely involved in an advisory role to ensure EVO continues to service the fighting game community and support its vibrant growth."
This is an important part of the ownership transition, as the founders of these types of events help maintain the event's culture. By ensuring that the founders stick around, they can help sculpt the culture of the event as Sony focuses on expanding the "global reach, scale and fan engagement."
Joey Cuellar, another co-founder of the organization, will not be involved. Last year, he was accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Shortly after, he confirmed the allegations on Twitter, but has since deleted the tweet (it is available archived). After this, he was immediately removed from the team and Sony will not be asking for his input in the future.
Will game choices be restricted to Sony?
EVO Online 2021 lists its games as Guilty Gear Strive, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, Street Fighter V: Champion Edition, and Tekken 7. You might notice that no Super Smash Bros. game is on the list, but this is not some nefarious Sony-led conspiracy. Melee was dropped from the competition in 2019, and there are significant lag concerns over Nintendo Switch Online and, therefore, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Sony has committed to maintaining the integrity of the event and keeping it an open and brand agnostic competition. That means that, following the return to in-person events in 2022, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will return to the competition's lineup.
For those who are interested, EVO Online 2021 will take place August 6-8, and 13-15.