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The future of competitive Smash: A hopeful outlook

As the year comes to a close, now is as good a time as any to discuss the future of Smash. Last week, we discussed the concerns and troubles that competitive Smash has experienced throughout the past year. This week, however, it’s time to have the second part of that conversation. While there certainly continues to be concerns regarding the financials and growth of Smash as an esport, there’s more positive and hopeful aspects of competitive Smash to talk about.

One of the most powerful things about the competitive Smash community is that, no matter how little money and coverage surrounds Smash Bros. in comparison to other esports, the community remains as loyal and dedicated to the games they love. This past year is proof that the Smash community is as alive as ever. What helps prove this was the abundance of incredible tournaments throughout the year, in addition to the growing diversity of represented players and characters in tournaments. Can we hope that these trends will continue into 2018 and beyond? What should the Smash community strive for as we look to the future of Smash as an esport? Let’s talk about it.

2017 as an example of the future of tournaments

The health of any esports community can be measured by both the quality and quantity of major tournaments. Smash is no different. Thankfully, this year has seen the prevalence of high-quality Smash tournaments throughout the year, and a large contributor was 2GGaming. Throughout the year, 2GGaming provided viewers with more Smash tournaments than they had provided in any year before. Tournaments such as Civil War and the 2GG Championship provided highly competitive, exciting tournaments for viewers.

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Leonardo “MK Leo” Perez won the 2GG Championship, the tournament that capped off the 2017 2GG Tournament Series. Image: Twitter

Additionally, they were organized, structured and presented in an incredibly professional way. This professional presentation goes a long way to allowing Smash to provide positive impressions to non-fans. In the coming year, if more events have the high-quality production values that 2GGaming exemplified this year, then we could see Smash begin to garner many new viewers, and gain more attention as an esport.

The 2GG Championship Series kept major tournaments at a consistent pace throughout the year. This series also allowed viewers to more easily stay up to date with high-level players. Over the past few years, Smash has struggled to have a consistent stream of content for viewers to keep themselves busy with. This year’s 2GG Championship Series serves a good blueprint for what other tournament organizers can accomplish in the years to come. Nevertheless, continuing to organize tournaments consistently and professionally will help Smash grow its viewer audience, something that certainly needs to be done.

The variety of Players and Characters

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Eric “ESAM” Lew’s win against Elliot “Ally” Carroza-Oyarce at 2GG Civil War was considered by many to be one of the highlights of the entire year. Image: YouTube

2017 was the first year in Smash 4’s life to not see the arrival of any downloadable content or patches that affected the balancing of characters. As such, this year saw some stabilization in the competitive Smash community. Now that the dust of new characters and rebalancing of old characters has settled, players have used this year as a chance to finally grow used to how characters perform in tournament, without having to worry about the possibility of patches affecting balance.

This caused some experimentation within the community. This year, we saw many well-known players pick up new characters. A good example of this was when Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios began using Lucina in tournament to accompany his trademark Diddy Kong. In addition, we also saw the continued main and secondary use of characters that aren’t considered top tier, such as with Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick’s Luigi and Eric “ESAM” Lew’s Samus, among many other examples. Tournaments throughout the year brought viewers a more diverse pool of played characters, which kept tournaments exciting and diverse to viewers.

I hope that the variety of characters and playstyles that we saw throughout 2017 continues in future tournaments in 2018 and beyond.

Looking to the future of Smash

Smash has always been at a disadvantage as an esport. Unlike many other esports, Smash doesn’t receive much financial backing at all from its creators. This makes it difficult for competitive Smash players to make a full-time career out of their love for the game. And yet, this year, we saw so much passion and camaraderie among Smash players. This year served as a reminder of how much competitive Smash players love the game that they play.

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Competitive Smash continues to be played at large events such as EVO. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Smash. Image: Twitter

I feel that the future of Smash, though certainly having some legitimate issues and concerns, is a bright one. A large reason for this is the competitive community for the game. The players that we see in major tournaments – their personalities, their playstyles, and their presence – they keep us coming back. While the competitive Smash community itself certainly has flaws just as any community does, it’s clear that all competitive Smash players are determined to keep providing viewers with great sets at great tournaments for years to come.

With the rumors of a Nintendo Switch port of Smash 4 still up in the air, along with so many great major tournaments in recent memory, it’s hard to see competitive Smash going anywhere. This year was a year of growth for competitive Smash. If we continue to see this level of growth, professionalism and diverse playstyles and characters, then we could see Smash become even bigger.

Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time to be part of the competitive Smash community. With that said, what do you think? Do you think this year was a good year for Smash? What do you think the future holds for the competitive community? As always, join the conversation and let us know!

 


 

Featured image courtesy of DBL Tap.

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MK Leo Takes The Rematch Over Mr. R at Smash Factor 5

Smash Factor 5, a tournament Smash 4 fans have been waiting for centered around one rivalry: if Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad could get his revenge on Mexico’s best Smash 4 player, Leonardo “SF HDG| MK Leo” Lopez Perez. After the surprising upset at Smash Factor 4 in 2015 in which Leo took home the title a week after Mr. R finished second at Evo 2015, all eyes are focused in on the rematch between these two.

The event this year provided some bigger names and had more attention going into this year than last year. Samuel “DT Dabuz” Busby made an appearance as the highest ranking player, but not even he could stop the rematch from happening in the Grand Finals. Mr. R was able to conquer his demons and send Dabuz to losers early in top 8, and MK Leo finished the job as he eliminated Dabuz in losers, beating him 3-1.

The Grand Finals were set. The moment Mr. R had waited for, for almost an entire calendar year was here. And similarly to 2015, MK Leo seemed to have every answer for Mr. R’s more methodical, zoning-type play style with Sheik. The 15-year old rising star once again seemed to take his game to another level.

Before the bracket was reset, MK Leo turned to his alternate character Marth, a character that Mr. R beat a couple months ago 3-0 at Get On My Level 2016, but that result didn’t deter MK Leo from making the character switch. He not only won on Battlefield in game one, but won both of Mr. R’s Final Destination counter-picks, despite being down a stock in both games.

MK Leo, who has one of the most efficient combo games in all of Smash 4, showed that even when he’s losing the neutral game he makes up for it by stringing together long combos and getting solid edge guards. Mr. R struggled getting back up from the ledge, and MK Leo made sure to keep him cornered with retreating forward-airs and zoning with dancing blade.

Some may have considered the switch back to Meta Knight after MK Leo reset the bracket, sandbagging (playing down to your opponent), but let’s remember this is still his main character and Mr. R still had a firm grasp on almost all three of those losses. Mr. R just got hit by well-spaced tippers and lost all of the 50-50 situations. Mr. R also took a quick two-stock off MK Leo’s Marth in the first game on the second set, so a character switch was warranted.

MK Leo was once again able to show off his consistent and deadly kill set-ups starting with his up-air chain combo’s into Meta Knight’s powerful up-B. Any time MK Leo landed a dash attack or got below Mr. R, that more often than not ended up in MK Leo taking a stock by going vertical against Mr. R’s Sheik.

The low percent stock kills took their toll and Mr. R starting getting hit by unsafe options.  The mix-ups from MK Leo threw Mr. R off completely. He even got a low percent stock off Meta knight’s tornado by waiting out Sheik’s air dodge. MK Leo seemed to have every answer in this matchup and once again had his grasp on the mental game against Mr. R.

With the home crowd behind him cheering him on, MK Leo was once again able to take out Mr. R (3-0, 3-2) and win another Smash Factor tournament. The win once again opens up the question of whether or not MK Leo should be considered a top 5 player. MK Leo seems pretty sure of himself….

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