Super Smash Bros. is nothing short of a competitive miracle. Series director Masahiro Sakurai geared the game for to be enjoyed by anyone regardless or skill level, and accidentally ended up creating a competitive game with a robust, dedicated community. Due to this and its completely different approach compared to 2D fighting games, Super Smash Bros. is and continues to be a pivotal title in the fighting game community (FGC).
Fans took Melee to its limit in the early 2000s, hosting underground tournaments. Because of those dedicated players, Smash Bros. grew, eventually becoming a key part of the EVO lineup.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, often referred to as Smash 4, released on November 21st, 2014. It’s predecessor, Super Smash Bros. Brawl never really lived up to the hype it built up. However, Smash 4 arrived ready to become a competitive game. This time, it had been built up as an accessible tittle that could still bring beautiful scenes to its community.
Currently, the end of Smash 4’s era is arriving. Four beautiful years of competition carry many warm memories. Change stuck many times, but most players persevered. Now that Smash Bros. Ultimate is almost here, let’s look back at Smash 4’s competitive timeline.
Before Smash 4, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios was a Meta Knight main in Super Smash Bros Brawl. After being invited to the Smash Bros. Invitational at E3 2014, ZeRo proceeded to clutch the victory over Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma, oneof t he “Gods of Melee”.
After this, ZeRo proceeded to go in a 56 tournament win streak, becoming the undisputed best Smash 4 player in 2015.
Diddy Kong was the most dominant character because of its signature “Hoo-Hah” combo that competitively dominated the metagame.
Eventually, he was toned down in a balance patch, but Smash 4 still struggled to develop a healthy metagame. Due to its recent development and frequency of balancing updates, the rulesets varied and the metagame shifted from patch to patch. Seven new DLC characters gradually joined the roster, which also took the metagame off guard, adding to its instability.
ZeRo undisputedly reigned Smash 4, becoming the first player to ever win EVO without losing a single game. This all continued until Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada finally got a victory over ZeRo at the MLG World Finals in 2015.
The Opportunity Era
In 2016, Corrin and Bayonetta came to Smash 4, consequently arriving its unhealthy dose of controversy. Bayonetta’s overly powered state dominated the competitive scene. She was banned in multiple Smash communities around the world, until a balance patch brought her down from the top (though she still continues to be considered the best character in the game by most players despite being nerfed).
This era competitively started with Japanese players joining American tournaments. Genesis 3 notably featured Japanese powerhouse players: Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi, Yuta “Abadango” Kayamura, and Rei “Komorikiri” Furukawa.
In this tournament ZeRo defeated Ranai, who most fans believed to be the best player in Japan. Shortly after this tournament, however, ZeRo went on a brief absence due to medical reasons.
This opened the door to many players that were seeking glory. As such, tournaments swung to different players. Nairo had lost his consistency so players like Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura, and Elliot Bastien “Ally” Carroza-Oyarce were making strides.
When ZeRo came back, his dominance dissipated. Ally defeated him at Smash ‘N’ Splash 2, Get On My Level 2016 and Super Smash Con 2016. Ally along with ANTi paved the way for the Mario metagame, as both of them hustled their way to success.
The overall metagame developed as Takuto “Kameme” Ono came in second in EVO 2016, Abadango used Mewtwo to win Pound 2016 and heavyweights gained popularity.
Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez, a player notably known for defeating top player Ramin “Mr. R” Deshad a year prior, developed the Marth metagame after acquiring a visa in May 2016. He went on to defeat a sizable chunk of the best players North America could offer. Notably, MKLeo took 2GGT: Zero Saga while defeating Ally, ZeRo, James “VoID” Makekau-Tyson, Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland and Jason “ANTi” Bates.
ZeRo was able to pick up steam after some time and he went on to continue winning tournaments again, such as at 2GGT: Abadango Saga, The Big House 6, and UGC Smash Open. All of this earned him the tittle of the best player of 2016.
In early 2017, Smash 4 reached its peak viewership. Frostbite 2017 brought “Tsu”, a Japanese Lucario main, that had never performed at a North American tournament. He unexpectedly made it to the grand finals, beating ZeRo on the winners side of the bracket, and eventually falling to him as ZeRo took two sets to seal the victory. Tsu brought a giant amount of hype and created one of the best grand finals the game has to offer.
The next big tournament of the game was 2GGC: Civil War. This was the father of all tournaments as players from all over the world attended it. Presence from 47 out of the 50 players ranked on PGR v2 made it the hardest tournament ever. Fans said that winning a pool came with the same merit as winning a major.
After many upsets like ZeRo losing to Luthie (a relatively obscure Zero Suit Samus player) and Ally losing to Eric “ESAM” Lew, Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby came out on top of Griffin “Fatality” Miller to take the tournament.
After this amazing tournament, the scene started to decline. Tournaments oversaturated the medium, as it seemed that a major was held every weekend. To add to this, Bayonetta started to pick up some steam again with players like Saleem “Salem” Akiel, Tamim “Mistake” Omary, Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth, and Bharat “Lima” Chintapall began rapidly achieving competitive success with the controversial character.
After CaptainZack and Lima’s performance in EVO 2018’s grand finals, the community weakened. They stalled the match, and took all the seriousness out of the bout. All of this was adding to players being sick of the stale metagame. This unfortunately started a trend of professional players quitting.
In March of 2018, a new Super Smash Bros. game was announced. And on June 12th, 2018, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was officially unveiled to the world.
Players saw a promise that finally would satisfy most of the Smash community. The game had improved on Smash 4, making the game faster, and making a lot of quality of life improvements.
Ultimate is the community’s next big step. Smash 4 is going to disappear as Ultimate rises to the top. However, after these four years of competition, make sure to thank Smash 4 for all that it gave to the community.
Featured image courtesy of Smashboards
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