A legend retires: Reflecting on ZeRo’s impact on Smash

On January 12, Panda Global released the fourth version of their Panda Global Rankings (PGR) that ranks each professional player of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The first three versions of the list featured Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios as the highest ranked player for Smash 4. To little surprise, Barrios ended up claiming the top spot on PGRv4. However, on the same day of the rankings being released, Barrios announced via Twitter that he would no longer be competing in tournaments for Smash 4.

Barrios’ Twitter post included many different reasons as to why he wants to put an end to his Smash 4 career. Among them was that he simply lost his passion for Smash 4, in regards to competing in high-stakes events. Barrios claimed that he is likely going to compete again once a new Smash game arises. Until that happens though, Smash 4’s top player is currently retired.

As such, I feel that now is the optimal time to reflect on how Barrios impacted the Smash community, particularly in the era of Smash 4. Barrios impacted the Smash Bros. community in ways that many people may not initially realize. He impacted the game and community on both a macro and micro level. He impacted the community of top-level players just as much as he impacted the little guys that can only afford to attend local tournaments. How did he do this, exactly? Let’s talk about it.

ZeRo’s Legendary Win Streak and Tournament Performance

While I understand how cliche it is to mention the incredibly long win streak that Barrios had throughout the first year of Smash 4’s life, it can’t be overstated how influential this made Barrios as a figure within the entire competitive Smash Bros. community. Barrios attained a streak of winning over 40 consecutive tournaments throughout the first year of Smash 4’s existence. The streak itself didn’t end until the MLG World Finals in October of 2015, over a year after Smash 4’s release on 3DS and just under a year after the Wii U version’s release.

During this time period, Barrios admittedly became an easy player to root against. It’s only natural for many people to want the world’s greatest player to be dethroned at some point. While this inevitably happened with Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada’s win over Barrios at the event, this ending of Barrios’ win streak didn’t slow him down. Barrios continued placing very high in most tournaments in 2016 and 2017. Many viewers of Smash 4, myself included, found utter joy in every instance of seeing Barrios’ stellar performances at tournaments. Barrios went from an easy player to root against to someone that viewers could always look forward to seeing perform. The best part was that Barrios rarely disappointed viewers, in that regard.


Perhaps one of the most iconic victories for Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios was from EVO 2015 when he won against Mr. R in Grand Finals. Image: YouTube

In the entirety of Smash 4’s life to date, Barrios has remained loyal at playing Diddy Kong, despite all of Smash 4’s patches that reduced the character’s knockback and damage output of certain moves. The same can’t be said for Sheik, a character that Barrios used often in tournaments for a time, but dropped following nerfs given to the character in later updates to Smash 4. As time progressed, Barrios began occasionally playing as Lucina in tournaments in 2017.

No matter which character he used, Barrios always showcased extreme knowledge of Smash 4’s mechanics, and the specific mechanics of each character that he used. This always made Barrios’ performances at tournaments a pure spectacle to behold. Another contributor of this was Barrios’ ability to make incredible “reads” – predicting what moves players would make in the moment, adjusting his play style accordingly.

Lastly, another component of Barrios’ incredible tournament performance was merely the camaraderie and chemistry that he had with other players. Barrios remained a fun player to watch because it was always clear to see that he enjoyed playing against other top-level players, which brought about a positive atmosphere to watching events with him. Notable accomplishments for Barrios throughout Smash 4’s life include placing first at EVO 2015, Super Smash Con 2015, GENESIS 3, Big House 6 and placing second at EVO 2017 and the 2017 2GG Championship.

Zero’s Youtube Channel garnering a community

Over the course of Smash 4’s life, many competitive players began producing content on YouTube, such as giving extended thoughts on characters, making tier lists and talking about their experiences at high-level tournaments. This includes Barrios, who began posting content on Smash 4 as soon as the game released in Japan in September of 2014. Barrios went on in 2015 to make various types of content on his YouTube channel.

Throughout 2015 and 2016, Barrios made many videos, including character analyses, tier lists, self-imposed challenge videos, discussions and more. In 2017, there was a noticeable decrease in the amount of videos made by Barrios, as he shifted more of his attention to tournaments and streaming on Twitch. In a way, Barrios’ steady decrease of involvement within the Smash 4 community throughout 2017 foreshadowed his eventual tournament retirement in 2018. Despite this, Barrios’ YouTube channel currently sits at over 200,000 subscribers.


Barrios’ YouTube channel discussed various topics that were effective in getting the Smash 4 community to keep talking about the game. Image: YouTube

So why mention this? What does Barrios having a YouTube channel have to do with him being an important figure in the life of competitive Smash 4? Simply put, Barrios’ videos got people talking. I have fond memories of going to local tournaments in 2016 and talking to other players about videos that Barrios posted on his YouTube channel. Barrios never strayed from voicing his opinions that may not have been popular.

His videos resonated with many Smash players of different skill levels in a way that no other Smash 4 content creator could match. There was something magical about seeing so much content about a game that was put together by the best player of said game. While other top-level Smash 4 players create content, such as Eric “ESAM” Lew for example, Barrios’ content seemed to be talked about a lot more among many different players, particularly those that attend smaller, local tournaments. Barrios used his YouTube channel as a way to get the Smash 4 community talking about certain subjects that they may not have talked about otherwise. I am certainly grateful that Barrios did just that in 2015 and 2016 specifically, since they were the most crucial years for the competitive game’s development and growth.

Zero: An Inspiration to local players

Naturally, being the top player of any game is going to put a spotlight on you, and Barrios is no exception. Barrios turned into an example of what Smash players could achieve. His dedication and passion for Smash 4 for the past three years was both astounding and admirable. Whether it was the content about what a lot of people were wondering, or the stellar tournament performances throughout his Smash 4 career, there was a lot for Smash 4 players and viewers to enjoy from Barrios.


Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios will be remembered as one of the most important players in the history of Smash 4. Image: YouTube

As he turns away from playing in tournaments in the year, it’s important for Barrios to know exactly how much he contributed to the community that he was and continues to be an active part of. Speaking on a personal note, Barrios’ tournament performances always inspired me to keep improving, and even encouraged me to begin attending local tournaments in early 2016. Barrios’ stellar play style in tournaments was something that made me, and countless other Smash 4 players, want to improve and get better. Moreover, Barrios’ content made me curious about certain topics, and actually ended up making me want to try improving with certain characters that he talked about in his videos. Barrios impacted so much of my experience with Smash 4 throughout the last three years that I honestly don’t know what my experience with Smash 4 would have been like without him.

As Barrios retires from playing in tournaments in Smash 4, I wish him the very best moving forward. As stated in his Twitter post, Barrios intends on streaming on Twitch more often throughout 2018, in addition to entertaining the idea of commentating for tournaments. Regardless of where he goes, all Smash 4 players and viewers should wish Barrios well as he pursues different endeavors. This isn’t necessarily a goodbye to Barrios. In fact, I plan on watching his streams and hope to see him commentate in the future. However, this is a send-off to one of, if not the most entertaining, likable and important players in Smash 4 history. Gonzalo Barrios, we the Smash 4 community, wish you well and look forward to seeing you compete again, whenever that may be.


What are your thoughts on ZeRo? Has he impacted your experience with Smash 4 at all? As always, join the conversation and let us know!



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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.


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


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.


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!



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The battle of pressure in the 2GG Championship and Smash

As discussed before, the 2GG Championship on December 1 – 3 was an exciting, high-quality tournament. However, this isn’t to say that there weren’t a few bumps on the road throughout the event. One of these bumps was the unfortunate breakdowns of a few players throughout the event. Simply put, pressure got to a few of the entrants at the 2GG Championship.

With future high-stakes Smash tournaments possibly becoming more frequent, it’s important to discuss the prevalence of pressure in competitive Smash. Pressure doesn’t just affect play style. It can make players crack underneath it, and under-perform. Every sport and esport contains players that go through the experience of cracking under pressure. Smash is no different, in that regard. The 2GG Championship serves as a good reminder that Smash players are just as capable of cracking under pressure. Moreover, this tournament serves as a good lesson on how we should improve dealing with tournament pressure. Let’s talk about it.

Pressure at the 2GG Championship


Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey looked defeated in the middle of his set against James “VoiD” Makekau-Tyson. Image: YouTube

One of the Smash community’s largest critiques of the 2GG Championship, in hindsight, was the Round Robin approach to the event. Certain players performed very well in sets, yet didn’t proceed out of pools because of the event’s priority on number of matches won. This caused a few players to calculate their results before their sets had ended. In the mind of the player, why try to win if it’s impossible for them to proceed? In addition, there was so much money and viewership that made the stakes so high that it got into players’ heads.

Two players succumbed to this circumstance, albeit for different reasons. These players became victims of pressure, drastically affecting their performance at the 2GG Championship. Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey is an example of an incredibly talented and admired player that simply gave up sets throughout the tournament. Dempsey beat himself up over losing matches, feeling the high-stakes pressure of the event’s $50,000 prize pool. This made Dempsey play worse and worse, to the point that he intentionally committed self-deaths (SDs) in multiple matches.

Another player that ended up in a similar situation was Griffin “Fatality” Miller. The Captain Falcon found himself in a pool group with the likes of Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland and Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick. Miller found himself losing 3-0 in his set against Holland, and lost his set against Fitzpatrick 3-1. When it came to Miller’s set against Barrios, Miller ended up hopelessly throwing out Falcon Punches, leaving himself wide open to Barrios throughout their entire set. Miller had given up, knowing he was not going to make it past pools.

Pressure and Smash

These instances are understandable. Pressure gets to all of us, and anyone that plays competitive Smash, whether low-stakes or high-stakes, can attest to that to some capacity. Realistically, it’s impossible to completely remove oneself of pressure, especially when playing against such talented players as was the case in the 2GG Championship. However, this doesn’t mean that pressure must equate to “giving up” sets and playing poorly. As a community, we can learn from this.


Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey (Donkey Kong) willingly commits a self-death, giving the set to his competitor. Image: YouTube

I’ve experienced tournament anxiety and pressure in Smash on numerous occasions. In my experience, the best way to cope with pressure in the context of playing a competitive game among so many talented players is to simply play. While this may, understandably, be more difficult for higher-stakes events such as the 2GG Championship, I feel that it is equally, if not more important for high-level players to cope with their tournament pressure effectively.

If the top players can manage the pressure placed against through simply playing their best, and giving as good of a tournament performance as possible despite the odds placed against them, that resolve may bleed through the rest of the community. If viewers see their most admired players be in a position in tournament where they feel pressured, and they deal with it through not letting the pressure get to them, then the viewers watching will feel inspired to do the same.

Part of doing well at tournaments is learning how to deal with the pressure and anxiety of being at a tournament and playing against other skilled players. If we see high-level players do this, regardless of the level of stakes at the tournament, then we, the competitive Smash community, may become more able to effectively cope and deal with tournament pressure.

Your thoughts?


Griffin “Fatality” Miller (C. Falcon) was another player that dealt with pressure poorly at the 2GG Championship by effectively not trying in his last set. This method of dealing with tournament pressure isn’t effective nor enjoyable to watch. Image: YouTube

Of course, seeing players deal with pressure will never automatically make other people capable of dealing with pressure. However, my point is that if we see other players deal with tournament pressure well, then viewers can feel that dealing with tournament pressure themselves is more possible.

What do you think on this subject? Have you encountered tournament pressure and anxiety? How did you deal with it? As always, join the conversation and let us know!



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2GG Tournament

Discussion and takeaways from the 2GG Championship

This past weekend was an exciting one for every fan of Smash 4. The 2GG Championship Series has been running throughout this entire year, hosting incredible tournaments including the likes of Civil War. 20 of Smash 4’s best players came together this weekend for the grand finale of the championship series. What resulted was the 2GG Championship, quite possibly one of the greatest tournaments in Smash 4 history.

There a lot of reasons to make this claim. Many cite the diverse range of characters that were represented as the reason why the tournament was so interesting. Others claim that the production value of the tournament made it entertaining to watch. Or perhaps it was the high quality of the matches themselves that made the tournament so entertaining for so many viewers. With that said, let’s break down what made the 2GG Championship such a great tournament.

The Stellar Matches of the Event

With every player in the tournament being among the highest rated in the Panda Global Rankings (PGR), the 2GG Championship was set to be an exciting event. And the matches throughout the event certainly did not disappoint. While there were many great performances from many players, a few select ones stuck out to me. One of the most entertaining performances was that of Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick was the winner of the Last Chance Qualifiers, landing the nineteen-year-old player into the pools for the main event. Fitzpatrick went on to perform well enough to get out of pools, placing 5th at the event. What made Fitzpatrick’s performance so exciting to watch was his use of Luigi, a character that we don’t see too often in high-level tournaments.

2GG Tournament

MK Leo, winner of the event, repped a total of four different characters throughout the tournament. Image: YouTube

In fact, there were a wide variety of characters that were used. Of the 20 entrants of the event, there were only a few instances of repeat characters. Saleem “Salem” Young, Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura and Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth all used Bayonetta. Kawamura and Chris “WaDi” Boston both used Mewtwo. Leonardo “MK Leo” Lopez Perez and Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey both used Cloud (though Perez used four different characters throughout the tournament). Lastly, Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby and Noriyoku “Kirihara” Kirihara both used Rosalina.

Outside of these instances, each player in the tournament represented their own character. This led to the tournament being full of multifarious matches that felt unique to one another, in large thanks to a variety of characters giving way to a diverse range of different matchups. This kept the weekend-long tournament engaging for viewers.

With so few repeat characters represented during the tournament, I feel that the 2GG Championship serves as an example of how exciting Smash 4 can be because of the game’s balanced roster. Seeing so many characters represented in a high-level tournament is part of what makes Smash 4 so interesting to watch for many viewers. The 2GG Championship may encourage future attendees of tournaments to play as underrepresented characters in bracket, which will only lead to even more character diversity in tournaments to come.

MK Leo’s win over ZeRo

2GG Championship

MK Leo deals a final Shuttle Loop to ZeRo, ending the 2GG Championship. Image: YouTube

After 20 players stood their ground, only two remained. Echo Fox’s Leonardo “MK Leo” Lopez Perez and Team SoloMid’s Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios faced off against each other in the grand finals of the championship. Perez played against Barrios earlier in the tournament, winning the set 3-0. This raised the stakes for viewers and players alike when the grand finals began. After Barrios won the first set of grand finals 3-2, Perez took grand finals after winning the bracket reset 3-1.

This grand finals was simply an incredible spectacle. Barrios’ Diddy Kong and Perez’s Meta Knight were both sights to behold, with both entrants playing phenomenally well against each other. At just 16 years old, Perez reinforces what helps make Smash 4 tournaments a joy to watch. Perez played as multiple characters throughout the tournament, including Corrin, Marth and Meta Knight, which made watching him feel different each time. Moreover, his aggressive playstyle kept matches quick, even making a few matches end in less than a minute.

The 2GG Championship’s High Production Value

2GG Championship

These frequent step-backs kept the tournament feeling engaging and professional. They were much appreciated. Image: Twitch

Lastly, another component that made the 2GG Championship so entertaining to watch was the unprecedented level of production value. This tournament looked good. Constant discussion on the outcomes of events and analysis on play kept the tournament moving throughout the weekend. Rarely was there an instance where the tournament felt like it was being slowed down by the presentation of the event.

Moreover, I feel that the way in which the 2GG Championship was presented is an important milestone for Smash 4 as an esport. If future events can replicate and even improve upon the level of production value that we saw at the 2GG Championship, we could see more and more people turn their heads towards Smash 4 and Smash Bros. as a whole. Having Smash tournaments with such a high production value makes Smash as a whole feel more palatable to non-fans. This could help expand the audience of competitive Smash, and win over non-fans. The presentation of the event, overall, was certainly a successful step in an ambitious direction.

Moving Forward

Overall, the 2GG Championship had a lot of components to it that made it one of the most entertaining Smash 4 tournaments to date. I look forward to how the results and presentation of this event will effect the many tournaments to come in the next year. We may see more and more tournaments with greater production value. Moreover, we could continue to see more character diversity in high-level tournaments. The future is certainly bright for Smash 4.

And now, we turn it to you. What were your takeaways from the 2GG Championship? What parts of the tournament did you enjoy? As always, join the conversation and let us know!


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gamecube controller

Is the GameCube controller essential for Smash’s future?

The GameCube controller is a treasure to many competitive Smash players. Whether it’s Melee, PM, Smash 4 or even using a GameCube controller adapter for Smash 64, this is clearly a controller that many players hold dear to their hearts. Nintendo shocked many players when they went out of their way to release a GameCube controller adapter for the Wii U version of Smash 4. Additionally, many people customize and personalize their GameCube controllers thanks to services such as Control in Color.

It was even discovered in October that the Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter is now usable on Nintendo Switch. While this was discovered to be a surprise even to developers, this hasn’t stopped competitive Smash players from being excited for GameCube controller support for the inevitable Smash on Switch.

The GameCube controller is very much intertwined with the history and competitive history of the Smash Bros. series. However, this brings up an interesting discussion point. Is the GameCube controller essential for the future of Smash Bros.? Do future games in the series need compatibility with the controller that players have grown so used to since Melee? Let’s talk about it.

Overwhelming Prevalence of GameCube Controllers in Competitive Smash scene

If you go to a Smash tournament, you’re going to see mostly GameCube controllers being used. It’s just an inevitability. Even for the likes of Project M and Smash 4, where those games offer a variety of controller options, most players still decide to use GameCube controllers. So much so that anyone who doesn’t use GameCube controllers are considered to be outliers. People who use the Wii U Pro Controller or the Nintendo 3DS or the Wiimote/Nunchuk combo as controllers for competitive play are few in number at Smash tournaments.

gamecube controller

The GameCube controller: a sight that dominates high-level play. There are many positives and negatives to this legendary controller. Image: Kotaku

This isn’t inherently a bad thing, though. Many players continue to use the GameCube controller in later Smash games merely because of muscle memory. This makes sense. Instead of high-level players having to readjust to different button locations, grips and so on, they can comfortably rely on the controller they’ve used throughout multiple Smash games. On one hand, the consistency of the GameCube controller throughout most of the Smash games makes it easier to interchange between games. If a Melee player wants to get into Smash 4, they don’t have to overcome the barrier of learning a new controller configuration. This makes getting into different Smash games easier for players who are already familiar with other games in the franchise.

It could even be argued that this consistency makes it easier for new players to be introduced to Smash. If a newcomer to the Smash series learns how to play with the GameCube controller, they can arguably have an easier time with getting into any other Smash game of their choosing. The consistency of GameCube controllers makes competitive play more accessible to newcomers.

Issues and LONG-TERM concerns with gamecube controllers

gamecube controller

Aziz “Hax$” Al-Yami suffered an injury from using the GameCube controller. Is this a reason why the Smash community should become more willing to use different controllers? Image: Twitter

On the other hand, though, high-quality GameCube controllers have become a luxury. With many GameCube controllers having been produced over fifteen years ago, many controllers are beginning to show their age and not work properly. This has gone on to inflate the prices of high-quality GameCube controllers. This was briefly rectified with Nintendo selling GameCube controllers to coincide with the release of the Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter, but now even those are starting to climb in price. This escalation in price can make the player base that uses GameCube controllers become more exclusive over time.

Many people don’t want that to happen. As a result, parts of the Smash community have been considering how to go about this issue. The Smash Box and the lesser-known Smash Stick are examples of the community trying to brainstorm alternatives to the GameCube controller. Both of the mentioned examples replicate more traditional arcade fighting game controllers.


There are issues surrounding the GameCube controller, which is what makes people, myself included, begin to question the GameCube controller’s longevity. Does it really have a place in future Smash games?

The Question of the Gamecube controller in future smash games

gamecube controller

The Smash Stick is one of a few approaches at an alternative for a competitive Smash controller. Image: YouTube

The Wii U’s GameCube controller adapter was announced less than a month before the Wii U version of Smash 4’s release. Before this, many people were anticipating the Wii U Pro Controller to become the competitive player’s controller of choice for the Wii U version of Smash 4.

If the GameCube controller were to not be an option in a Nintendo Switch installment of Smash Bros., would it be difficult for competitive players to adjust to a new controller? If this were to happen, the likely controller of choice would be the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller (which is an excellently crafted controller, by the way). Would this switch (pardon the pun) of competitively used controllers really make a big difference in the Smash community?

The competitive anticipation of the Wii U version of Smash 4, before the GameCube controller adapter was announced, is a possible indicator that the Smash community would be willing to move on from the GameCube controller if it were no longer an option. While many still hoped for the inclusion of the GameCube controller prior to the adapter’s announcement, there were equally many players that were willing to to use the Wii U Pro Controller for the game.

While GameCube controllers can be used on the Nintendo Switch, they weren’t specifically intended to work on the Switch. This means that there’s no inherent guarantee that the Switch’s inevitable installment of Smash Bros. will allow the use of the GameCube controller.

Where do you stand?

gamecube controller

Is the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller capable of becoming a standard for competitive play? Image: IGN

This is a difficult matter to take a definitive stance on. I think people would ultimately be willing to move on from the GameCube controller to something new, if the GameCube controller wasn’t an option in future games. But what do you think? Do you think future Smash games should ax the GameCube controller, or do you think that all future Smash games need to include GameCube controller support? As always, join the conversation, and let us know!


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top tier

Prevalent use of top tier characters in Smash 4: Helping or hurting watchability?

An inevitability of any competitive game is that certain characters will get used more than others. For fighting games, this is true in regards to the top tier characters used in tournaments. It isn’t uncommon to hear something along the lines of, “this character is good if you actually want to win a tournament” at a local or even regional or national tournament. I’ve heard this uttered while attending local Smash tournaments. People also say similar things online, and even top competitive players mirror this sentiment.

There is no problem with competitive players using top tier characters at high-level play. There isn’t a problem with anyone using top-tier characters, for that matter. If people feel confident using a character in tournament, then it’s fine for them to want to use that character in competitive play. But more and more I see arguments that people can’t watch tournaments anymore because they have “started to feel the same.” These arguments use the rationale of constantly seeing the same select few characters being used at the top of tournaments. This makes these people less willing to watch events. Is this a fair argument? Let’s discuss it.

“Too much use of Top Tier characters makes sets less interesting to watch”

top tier

Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios has consistently used Diddy Kong throughout his entire Smash 4 career. Does this make him less fun to watch? Image: SSB Wiki

Naturally, seeing a wider variety of characters used in tournament would be more interesting for viewers. But players ultimately decide what characters they find themselves the most comfortable with. Especially when players’ primary or even secondary source of income is from their winnings from tournaments, they’re naturally going to choose characters that they feel can get them meaningful results.

At the same time, this argument is understandable though. Whenever we see a player using a character that isn’t top tier make it to the top of a bracket, it’s only natural to cheer for them. It’s exciting to see more diversity in higher level play. Realistically, we can’t expect top-level players to shy away from using characters that reliably yield positive results in tournaments. Does this hurt watchability for Smash 4 as a whole, though? This is entirely subjective, based on how much you value seeing different characters used in competitive play. Another component is how much you value seeing the same character used in competitive play, but played significantly differently between players. Both of these values come from different types of viewers of Smash 4; to some extent, it’s impossible to completely satisfy both all the time.

We can see a variety of ways to play Cloud, Bayonetta or Rosalina. This could be satisfying to watch for many viewers. But for many other viewers, it’s more satisfying to see characters that aren’t nearly as common in competitive play. Both are valid things to want to see when watching tournaments. Some would argue that there’s only so many different ways that a character such as Bayonetta can actually be played, which makes watching players use her not be very interesting. This is a fair critique that doesn’t necessarily have a simple solution to it, other than suggesting that viewers pay closer to attention to the nuances of each player’s individual playstyle of a certain character.

However, this isn’t to say that players, regardless of skill level, shouldn’t use lower tier characters in tournament. In fact, it’s detrimental to competitive Smash 4 that they do.

The curious case of Civil war

top tier

Griffin “Fatality” Miller impressed with his Captain Falcon, a character often considered to be mid tier or high tier. Certain viewers may find seeing such characters more entertaining. Image: SSB Wiki

I’m convinced that 2GGC Civil War in March of this year was one of, if not the best tournaments in Smash 4 history. It was full of upsets, exciting matches and unexpected character matchups. This tournament saw players that used rather underrepresented characters in competitive play get really far in brackets. Moreover, two of the top three players played as characters that aren’t considered to be top-tier. Griffin “Fatality” Miller’s Captain Falcon helped popularize the character among many players after his performance at the tournament. Isami “T” Ikeda’s Link did the same thing, though to a lesser extent.

Seeing skilled players use underrepresented characters helps encourage players of all skill levels to want to learn underrepresented characters themselves. Watchability of esports, as stated earlier, depends on what the viewer values seeing when they watch a tournament. But most viewers, regardless of what they value seeing in a tournament, all want to see gameplay that is exciting and new. Seeing different playstyles, whether they’re of top tier, well-represented characters or lower tier, underrepresented characters, is what makes watching competitive Smash Bros. fun.

This is what causes people to perhaps not enjoy seeing top tier characters used in competitive play so much. It’s naturally more difficult to see nuances of a player’s individual playstyle when they use a top tier character that viewers see more often than it is to see an entirely different, underrepresented character.

Does OVER-REPRESENTATION of top tier characters hurt watchability?

In my opinion, no. Seeing top tier characters used often in high-level play doesn’t make it less watchable. But the criticisms placed towards the over-reliance of such characters by many viewers are valid, and should be seriously considered by the competitive Smash community.

As usual, we’ll turn the talking point to you. Do you feel that over-representation of top tier characters hurts or helps the watchability of Smash Bros., specifically with Smash 4? Join the conversation and let us know what you think!


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From our Haus to yours.

Takeaways and Discussion on Salem’s win over ZeRo at Midwest Mayhem 10

Midwest Mayhem 10 provided an emotional roller coaster for Smash 4 viewers on Saturday, November 25th. Most Valuable Gaming’s Saleem “Salem” Young went up against Team SoloMid’s Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios in the grand finals of Smash 4 singles. The two players have played against each other numerous times throughout Smash 4’s history. Perhaps their most well-known spar was at EVO 2017, where Salem won against ZeRo using Bayonetta’s infamous Witch Twist, making him the champion of EVO this year.

midwest mayhem

Saleem “Salem” Young won the final match of the set by initiating a Witch Twist combo with only twelve seconds left. Image: YouTube.

Barrios had placed first in the previous two Smash 4 singles at Midwest Mayhem. Barrios attempted to defend his throne and go for a “threepeat” at the event. He certainly put up a fight to accomplish this. Barrios and Young first played in Winners Finals, where Young won 3-1, putting Barrios in Losers Finals. This put Barrios up against Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, where Barrios won 3-2. This reunited Barrios and Young, where they fought in Grand Finals of the event. After a bracket reset and two wins for each player in the second bracket of grand finals, it all came down to the final match.

History ended up repeating itself. Although Barrios attained a comfortable lead throughout most of the match and a timeout would have lead to Barrios winning the event, Young ending up killing Barrios’ Diddy Kong with a Witch Twist, ending the match with only eleven seconds left. You can watch the entire Grand Finals of the event here.

After watching the tournament, it occurred to this author that this tournament initiates some talking points that the Smash community can have. With that in mind, let’s discuss some takeaways from the tournament.

Barrios got cheered for at grand finals of Midwest Mayhem

Whether you consider yourself a fan of Barrios or not, no one can deny the legacy he’s left on the Smash 4 community. He is widely considered to be the best Smash 4 player to this day. At the Grand Finals of Midwest Mayhem, Barrios actually was enthusiastically cheered for by the audience attending the event. This is a bigger deal than it may initially seem.

In 2015, Barrios was a player that very few people enjoyed watching in tournament. This was mainly due to Barrios winning nearly every event at the time, with him having a 53 tournament winning streak during the year. He was even recognized by Guinness World Records for having the longest winning streak in all of Super Smash Bros.. This inevitably made Barrios a difficult player to root for at the time. Many viewers rooted for other players to dethrone Barrios, and end his winning streak.

Over two years after Barrios’ stellar winning streak has ended, it is encouraging to see such a large event have a grand finals that involves Barrios that has audience members cheering for both players. This creates a more even-sided competitive environment, where the best player isn’t considered unbeatable.

The Shifting landscape of competitive Smash 4

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Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios (left) and Saleem “Salem” Young (right) shake hands after an intense Grand Finals. Image: YouTube

This leads into how much the competitive landscape of Smash 4 has changed over the past three years. Since the Wii U version of Smash 4 recently turned three years old, Midwest Mayhem does a good job at capturing what the competitive landscape has become over those three years. Midwest Mayhem featured a wide variety of characters used across the over three hundred entrants in the tournament. Additionally, the Grand Finals of this tournament shows exactly how much room for improvement there still is in Smash 4 for even some of the best players in the world.

Throughout their sets, Barrios repeatedly used Diddy’s up-throw into up-air, often waiting for Young to perform an air dodge. Young didn’t adapt to this situation until the final match of Grand Finals, where he finally jumped after Barrios performing an up-throw. Young failing to adapt quickly led to fair amount of his KOs throughout Young and Barrios’ total of fourteen matches played against each other. On the other side of that coin, Barrios often used Diddy’s Monkey Flip as a means of compensating for Diddy’s poor air movement speed. Barrios’ over-reliance on this move eventually cost him the final match of Grand Finals, with Young punishing Barrios’ Monkey Flip with an After Burner Kick into a Witch Twist.

This is important, in that it shows that everyone in the Smash 4 community – even two highly ranked players – still has room to significantly improve their play style. This Grand Finals is a good example of how much Smash 4 can still develop moving forward, which is exciting both as a player and as a viewer.

Moving Forward with Tournaments

Though Midwest Mayhem has come and gone, many more Smash 4 tournaments are on their way over the next few weekends. The 2GG Championship is next weekend from December 1 – 3, with the Smash 4 Boot Camp Invitational being held a week later on December 7 – 10.

What were your reactions and takeaways from Midwest Mayhem this past weekend? And what are you looking forward to seeing from the upcoming majors over the next few weeks? As always, join the conversation and let us know!



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From our Haus to yours.

How Final Smashes could be competitive

Every Smash Bros. game has features that are never seen in competitive play. Among these includes the likes of Final Smashes. What allows a character to perform a Final Smash is a Smash Ball. Since this is an item, however, it is unused in competitive play. But that hasn’t stopped people from discussing the possibility of Final Smashes being in competitive play in future games.

Final Smashes

Image: Liquipedia Smash Wiki

In June of this year, Alex Carducci, known as “RelaxAlax” released a video discussing what the next Smash game could be, which you can watch here. There are many great ideas and points raised in Carducci’s video, but there was one in particular that really resonated with this author.

In the video, Carducci collaborates with other individuals in the competitive Smash scene. One of these collaborators includes D’Ron “D1” Maingrette, who discusses something quite intriguing. Maingrette discusses a situation where competitive matches would be three stocks.

If one player still has all three stocks and the other only has one stock and is at high percent, the disadvantaged player is given a Final Smash to assist them to even the odds a bit. What makes this idea so intriguing? Let’s discuss it.

Final Smashes can provide spectacle

Simply put, having powerful and flashy Final Smashes be present in a select handful of matches would be exciting to watch.

There’s a fair amount of spectacle in Melee and Smash 4 when we see fluid combos, punishes, and spikes. But seeing a super attack be used to help even the odds in a two-stock difference match would be unlike anything else that we see in competitive Smash. Seeing the over-the-top, large-scale Final Smashes would be a treat in competitive play.

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Final Smashes could provide great spectacle to matches that may uninteresting otherwise. Image: Gameranx

That said, Maingrette’s point about Final Smashes only being available in a two-stock difference is a key factor. Spectacular attacks can be great to see, but if they’re in every match, they’ll quickly lose their luster. The component of having a “pity” Final Smash to help the player behind two stocks will make seeing Final Smashes common enough to see in a few matches, but rare enough not to present in most matches.

Moreover, if future Smash games allow stocks to be taken as quickly as is possible in Melee, then Final Smashes bringing down differences of two stocks to only one could make for positively invigorating matches.

Final Smashes could allow for otherwise less exciting matches to become far more entertaining to watch. In the long run, this Final Smash factor could keep viewers invested in matches they may not find themselves as engaged with otherwise.

The Balancing Component

Final Smashes

Could transformation Final Smashes such as Lucario’s remain intact if Final Smashes were part of the meta game? Image: Smashpedia.

Of course, if Final Smashes were to become a larger competitive gameplay element, then they would clearly brings up the question of balancing. While there are many Final Smashes that can easily take off a stock (Marth, Cloud, Bayonetta, etc.), other characters have less directly effective Final Smashes. Rosalina’s Final Smash is widely considered to be one of, if not the worst Final Smash in the game since it struggles to kill any combatants due to it having limited range and power.

But Rosalina is one of the best characters in Smash 4, which leads into a balancing questions. Should Final Smashes be balanced depending on the strength of the base character? Should weaker, less competitively strong characters (Kirby, Zelda, etc.) be given stronger, more effective Final Smashes to compensate? And should stronger characters (Bayo, Sonic, Mario) be given weaker Final Smashes?

Another question to be consider is in regards to Final Smashes that involve transformation. Sonic, Charizard, and Lucario are three examples of characters that transform into a stronger form of themselves for their Final Smash. These can result in ending one stock and doing damage to the next stock. These types of Final Smashes have a significant advantages over other Final Smashes in the game. Most Final Smashes are single attacks that can end one stock, but doesn’t inflict damage onto the next stock. This would make transformation Final Smashes the most advantageous in the game. So should they remain as they are, or should anything be fair game for Final Smashes?

An interesting future to consider

Is the “pity” Final Smash a likely component of future competitive Smash? Maybe, and maybe not. Regardless, discussing the possibilities of components of the metagames of future Smash games is important. It makes us consider what we like about playing and watching competitive Smash. It also makes us consider how we think competitive Smash could be made more fun to watch for spectators.

Seeing Final Smashes occasionally in competitive play could make for interesting matches. It could lead to an interesting future for Smash – one where a lot of initially uninteresting matches suddenly become exciting thanks to the Final Smash offering a comeback factor.

And now, we bring it back to you. Would you like to see Final Smashes in competitive play? What would you prioritize to make them balanced? As always, join the conversation and let us know!


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paid DLC

Should future Smash games feature free or paid DLC?

DLC, since its inception, has been a controversial aspect of gaming. Smash 4, in the eyes of many, is an example of paid DLC done right. The game featured new characters, new stages and additional Mii fighter outfights for a year after the game’s launch. This made Smash 4’s life better, since every new character coming out kept the Smash community excited and engaged with the game long after the Smash 4’s release. Smash 4 definitely proved that DLC works for the series.

That said, DLC itself has been changing. Many recent games such as Street Fighter V and Overwatch have opted for free DLC releasing throughout the game’s life. While both of these examples incorporate additional purchases such as a season pass and loot boxes, not all games with free DLC eek out more money. Other Nintendo IPs such as Splatoon and ARMS both roll out their content via free DLC released over time. Free DLC seems to be becoming more common, to the point that it could become the standard for competitive games. With that in mind, should future Smash games use this model? Let’s talk about it.

Supporting high quality DLC

Creating additional content for a game post-launch obviously takes up resources. That, in itself, is a common and fair argument for paid DLC. That argument is quite fair given the overall quality of Smash 4’s DLC. Smash 4’s additional stages were well-made, but the real meat of Smash 4’s DLC was the characters. The seven DLC characters clearly had a lot of time and resources put into creating them. They’re just as complex and fully-realized characters as any of the characters available at launch.

paid DLC

Smash 4 released paid DLC, and price to all available DLC added up over time. Should this be seen as a reason to try free DLC instead, or should the pricing just be tweaked? Image: Nintendo

What makes Smash 4’s additional content of such great quality is that there is no obvious divide between DLC and non-DLC characters. The additional content added into the game feels like a natural extension of the core game, which was already brimming with content at launch to begin with. Many would argue that such high quality DLC would only be possible if it is paid. The money garnered from the purchases of the DLC would pay for the added development costs.

If future Smash games are to have similar amounts of content that Smash 4 had at launch, then it is perhaps unrealistic to expect the game to provide additional content for free. The previously mentioned Street Fighter V and Overwatch gain funds for DLC development costs through additional purchasing options. Nintendo is highly unlikely to include microtransactions in a full-price game, especially in the aftermath of the recent Star Wars Battlefront II fiasco. But how would Nintendo go about adding additional content?

paid dlc

Would free DLC be more likely for a new Smash Bros. with a similar amount of content to that of Melee’s? Image: Nintendo.

Argument for Free dlc

If future Smash games feature DLC, this author can imagine two possible approaches to releasing content. One of which features free DLC and the other features paid DLC. Both of these approaches intended to realistic more than hopeful.

Free DLC could be featured on a game that features less overall content than Smash 4 did. Smash 4 included a variety of modes and other content that is supplementary to the main experience of playing Smash. Modes such as Smash Run and Smash Tour are distractions that didn’t retain audiences for too long. Additionally, there are so many single-player and co-op content in Smash 4 – far outweighing the likes seen in Melee. It could be realistically imagined that Nintendo would implement free DLC in a future Smash game if the game featured less modes and overall content than Smash 4 at launch.

Argument for Paid DLC

Perhaps the largest issue with Smash 4’s DLC was its pricing. To buy all of DLC stages and characters, one would have to pay $45.38 USD plus tax. If one were to buy all of the additional Mii fighter costumes, that would bringing the total cost of DLC to $74.63 USD, well over the price of the Wii U game itself. And this is all assuming one only buys content for one version of the game.

Should consumers be expected to pay this much for new stages, characters, and costumes? Some would argue that we should. Left to right: Cost 3DS content, Cost of Wii U Content, Cost of Wii U and 3DS Bundled Content. Image Courtesy of Seteveisak on Reddit.

To expect someone to spend this much money on DLC is quite ridiculous. It’s clearly overpriced, especially in regard to the Mii fighter costumes. However, the overall amount of content and the rate at which it came out were quite good. If future Smash entries use paid DLC, they should offer a slightly lower amount of content in exchange for lowering the price of the content. If Nintendo needs to price the DLC to fund the additional development costs, then this seems like the most optimal negotiation. In addition, future Smash games could have similar or even greater levels of content than Smash 4 provided.

More OPtions and possiblities

These are the two most likely scenarios from the perspective of this author. This isn’t to say that there are other methods in regards to how DLC can be handled in future Smash games. This is where we’ll turn it to you. Do you think future Smash games should feature free or paid DLC? Should they have DLC to begin with? As always, join the conversation and let us know!



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custom stages

Rethinking custom stages for future Smash games

An unfortunate aspect of Smash 4, for competitive players at least, is the game’s stage selection. While both Melee and Brawl featured many competitively viable stages, the Wii U version of Smash 4 is lacking. In fact, many stages that were once tournament legal are now banned as is the case with stages like Duck Hunt. It’s not as meager as Smash 64’s competitive stage selection, but it’s certainly underwhelming from a game that features over 50 stages.

Whether the next Smash game is a port of Smash 4 or a new game altogether, it’s only natural for most competitive players to want a better selection of competitively viable stages to choose from. While it would be easy to talk about competitively viable stages from previous games that should come back, it would be a bit more interesting to discuss something not talked about as much: custom stages.

Custom stages made their debut in Brawl, and returned in the Wii U version of Smash 4. However, most people found both games’ implementation of a custom stage builder limiting and/or underwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be this way moving forward. What could a completely revamped stage editor accomplish in a future Smash game? Could it help create competitively viable stages that could complement existing official competitively viable stages? Could it even replace the need for Nintendo to make stages like Battlefield or Smashville? Let’s talk about it.

What should a new stage editor look like?

Brawl and Smash 4 both had very different kinds of stage editors. Brawl went for a grid-based interface, while Smash 4 allowed players to draw the stage itself on the Wii U GamePad. However, both games would only allow you to put a certain amount of content in a stage. And even then, the options provided were quite limited and didn’t leave room for too much creativity.

custom stages

Brawl’s grid-based approach to its stage editor could make competitive stages, but lacked variety in choices and options. Image: IGN

In theory, Smash 4’s stage editor seems nifty, but it wasn’t conducive to making high-quality stages. One needed quite a steady hand to draw stages that had completely flat platforms. Brawl’s grid-based stage editor was a bit of double-edged sword. On one hand, it could make more practical stages, but there were far too few types of blocks, platforms and so on to choose from.

Seeing a stage editor that combines Brawl’s grid-based design with Smash 4’s customization of platforms could be optimal for creating custom stages. If the next Smash game could feature a stage editor akin to 2015’s Super Mario Maker in terms of the amount of options available, then we could have custom stages be a larger part of the Smash community. If one could take a basic block or platform in a stage editor, place it on a grid layout, and then fully customize its size and shape, we could see custom stages that feel organic in addition to being able to host competitive matches.

Custom Stages could help compliment existing stages

custom stages

Smash 4’s stage editor was a step forward and a step back. Should Smash 4 and Brawl’s stage editors be fused together, or should something entirely new replace it? Image: My Nintendo News

Custom stages can help make countless amounts of competitively viable stages. That said, an in-depth stage editor shouldn’t be used as an excuse for Nintendo to not make some smaller and less complex stages. While having competitively viable custom stages that are accepted by the community would be awesome, it would be significantly less awesome if they monopolized competitive play. Ideally, I’d like to see a balance of official stages and custom stages be played in competitive play.

Custom stages could complement official stages by “filling gaps” in stage selection. For example, Smash 4’s competitive stages are mostly horizontal stages. Custom stages could “fill a gap” in the stage roster by introducing competitive stages that are more vertical. This could add more diversity into the stages that we see in competitive play.

At the same time, custom stages used on such a large scale would also encourage more community discussion and engagement. Deciding custom stages that can be used in competitive play could enrich the Smash community in a way that hasn’t really been achieved before.

Sharing, Sharing, Sharing

Of course, that can’t happen if stages can’t be easily accessible on a grand scale. Both Brawl and Smash 4 allowed custom stages to be played online with friends. They could also be shared, but through the clunky means of SD cards and Miiverse. This effectively killed competitively viable custom stages from being created in these two games.

custom stages

The Nintendo Switch has a share button, why not use it to easily share custom stages? Image: Polygon

Using competitive custom stages was a logistical impossibility in Smash 4 since users would have to download the stage from Miiverse. If custom stages are to have any kind of future, especially in competitive play, they need to be both easily accessible and easily shareable.

With the Switch’s ability to post on Facebook and Twitter through its share feature, this could be seamless. If stage editors allowed users to share their stages through a code (again, akin to something like Super Mario Maker’s level codes) and post it on Facebook and Twitter, then custom stages may very well have a future in being used on a grand scale. Getting a particular custom stage could be as easy as looking up a stage code, or scanning a QR code posted on Facebook or Twitter.

If this were to happen, then the competitive Smash community could easily share and decide on custom stages that could be used in competitive play.

Of course, this is just one perspective of what custom stages could bring in future Smash games. What is your take on custom stages being used in competitive play in future Smash games? Do you think competitive players should only play on officially created stages, or do you think the Smash community should create, share and feature custom stages in tournament? As always, join the conversation, and let us know!




Featured Image courtesy of Good Guy Giygas via Smashboards.

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