Nintendo added the shovel-wielding knight to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate not as a playable fighter but rather as an Assist Trophy, an item players can find that call upon a Nintendo-owned or third-party character to assist whoever used the item. Yacht Club Games created Shovel Knight and released it back in 2014, and several years later, they found their knight in the new Smash Bros. game.
During a stream where the Yacht Club Games developers played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for several hours, they found Shovel Knight in an Assist Trophy after roughly 24 minutes of gameplay. The chances of finding any specific Assist Trophy character are low considering how many characters there are, but they fortunately found it quickly so that we could see their reaction to finding their crowdfunded character in Nintendo's ultimate fighting game. You can see that reaction in the Twitch clip below:
Yacht Club Games tweeted about the Shovel Knight finding not long after they discovered the character and warned people about the yelling but said they couldn't help themselves.
The developers of Shovel Knight would've known long ago that their character would be in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as an Assist Trophy, but Nintendo made the news known to everyone months ago before the game's release. Around the same time that characters like Simon Belmont from the Castlevania games and King K. Rool from the world of Donkey Kong were added, Nintendo listed off some of the new Assist Trophies that included the fan-favorite knight.
"Some of the new Assist Trophies that are joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate include Zero from the Mega Man X series, Knuckles from Sonic The Hedgehog, Krystal from Star Fox Adventures, Rathalos from the Monster Hunter series, Shovel Knight from, well, Shovel Knight and the evil Moon from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask," Nintendo said about the characters that would be making appearances as Assist Trophies.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has nearly 60 Assist Trophies to use in-game, so players may be able to find Shovel Knight themselves along with other surprising characters if they play through enough matches with the items enabled.