An announcement was released via social media by tournament organisers, who explained that the Delta variant was the main reason for the tough decision. In their announcement, they said: "the Evo team will be contacting each player individually to recognize their efforts."
You can read the official statement from the Evo 2021 team below.
Evo is the biggest and most prestigious fighting game event in the world and has not had an offline event since 2019. In fact, there were no Evo events at all in 2020. The last events that were held were a series of online regional tournaments in 2021 across multiple regions, which featured titles such as Street Fighter V, Guilty Gear: Strive, Mortal Kombat 11, and more.
All of the winners, alongside the top-placed competitors, would have been flown out to Las Vegas to compete at the showcase at the UFC Apex Arena, so their efforts could be even more validated by representing their regions against the best in the world.
It is worth mentioning that, while FGC in North America has been wary of coming up with offline events, the Smash community has already held two major open tournaments without a hitch -- Riptide and Glitch 8.5.
Riptide, who held brackets for Ultimate, Melee, and even side-events, at first reported a single case of an attendee being infected with COVID. The Riptide organisers issued a statement indicating that the player was vaccinated.
We have been made aware of at least 1 breakthrough case of COVID-19 at Riptide. The person is vaccinated and from Chicagoland. For legal reasons, we cannot disclose their identity, but we want to heavily encourage all Riptide attendees to be tested for COVID as soon as Wednesday.— Chicagoland Smash Ultimate TOs (@ChicagoSmashTOs) September 14, 2021
The organisers later reported an additional 4 positive COVID cases. In a follow-up tweet, the organisers said that they would be accepting negative COVID tests as proof if players wanted to attend more events within their region, in the future.
We are now accepting negative COVID-19 test submissions. If you're a Chicagoland player that attended Riptide, please complete this form with the appropriate information. At-home COVID-19 tests purchased from a drug store are acceptable.https://t.co/ms9JfVR481 https://t.co/M97Z3uHZ2f— Chicagoland Smash Ultimate TOs (@ChicagoSmashTOs) September 15, 2021
Now, the Evo organisers have their sights set to 2022, when Evo is due for a return to Mandalay Bay in August after three years absent in its original format.
For more on all things fighting games, check out our dedicated section filled with news, tournament results, and more.
Featured image courtesy of Evo.