After almost 19 years after its release, Super Smash Bros. Melee’s long lifespan was threatened like never before. Without support from Nintendo and unable to hold any tournaments for the GameCube game due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it looked dire for the passionate community. Then, there was a major breakthrough. Super Smash Bros. Melee can now be played online.
Project Slippi is a small team of passionate people, supported by an open-source community, developed a Netplay system that allows anyone with the right equipment and their software to play a GameCube game online against other competitors. This opens up a realm of new possibilities. But will it be good enough to support an esport in which every frame matters?
Melee has achieved what Ultimate could not
To achieve competitive integrity in any esport, it is essential to reduce outside factors to truly measure the players’ skill. Any kind of lag, especially in a fighting game, can change a match completely. Nintendo still struggles with this in Smash Ultimate. The competitive community has been complaining about certain characters dominating the meta due to the limitations of online play. Meanwhile, Project Slippi is one step ahead. They have a technology called Rollback.
With Rollback, the game can fix its own past frame by frame. If an input arrives a few frames later than it was actually sent, the Rollback technology goes back in time. Then, the game continues as normal. These changes happen so fast that they are rarely noticeable.
This allows any game, supported by good hardware and decent internet, to be played almost as if it was played in person. The Melee community did not take long to utilize the gift they received.
Super Smash Bros. Champions League
Over the last weeks, the organizers of the annual Beyond the Summit tournament have hosted the “Slippi Champions League”. Divided into two divisions, some of Melee´s top players were finally able to compete again. The winners of division two had a chance to rise into division one in a relegation match against the losers of division one. On the other side of the bracket, the winners of division one compete for a small amount of prize money.
Since the small tournament has no Loser’s Bracket, one match will result in elimination. Nonetheless, the Slippi Champions League proved that the best players are able to showcase their skills online as well. In the first week, Joseph “Mango” Marquez, one of Melee´s still active legends, was able to beat Zain “Zain” Naghmi in an intense three-one set. However, in the following two weeks, Mango missed the Grand Final. Without having to compete against one of his strongest rivals, Zain, who rose in Melee’s ranking only within the last four years, was easily able to win Week 2 and 3.
The Summit Returns
This weekend, Slippi Champions League will enter week four. On top of the price money, the players are also competing for something more. Beyond the Summit announced that they will host the tournament online this year. The players who are able to remain in the top 16 spots qualify for Smash Summit 10 and their position in the league will determine their seed in the tournament.
The tournament will take place November 19 until November 22 with a prize pool of over 10,000 dollars. This will be the first official Melee Major in the pandemic. Super Smash Bros. Melee has once again found a way to survive – even in the darkest of times.
Featured image provided courtesy of MSPowerUser Gaming
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