Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Boxart

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT: Can it be an esport?

 

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Character Select Screen

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT boasts a great amount of variety in its cast. As in Super Smash Bros., characters from different games creates a great spectacle for viewers and players alike. Image: Square Enix

New competitive games are always a joy to speculate over. In the past few years, we have seen an influx of new games that try to capitalize on the growing popularity of esports and the culture that surrounds it. This isn’t inherently a bad thing. We’ve seen success stories such as 2016’s Overwatch. On the other hand, however, we’ve seen games fail to find a large audience, making them fail to acquire recognition as an esport (ARMS serves as an example of this, which you can read here).

Enter Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, Square Enix’s foray into the realm of esports. Released back in January of this year, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT serves as a soft reboot of the Dissidia Final Fantasy spin-off series. NT is the first game in the series where Square Enix has clearly been trying to make the game seem appealing to the esports audience. Now that the game has been out for roughly two months, now is a good time to assess the esport capability of the game. Will Dissidia Final Fantasy NT become the next esport success story, or it will it join a growing number of games trying too hard to cash in on the growing esports phenomenon? Let’s talk about it.

The Appeal of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT

For those unfamiliar with the spin-off series, Dissidia is to Final Fantasy as Super Smash Bros. is to Nintendo. The main hook of the Dissidia games is seeing characters from various Final Fantasy titles, and seeing them battle it out with one another. It’s a concept that naturally brings excitement with it. Super Smash Bros., one of the most dedicated esports communities out there, is a franchise that is so recognizable because of its many characters from many different franchises. This use of characters from various different games is something that excites people and attracts them to playing and watching a certain game.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Combat

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT certainly has depth to its combat. Image: YouTube

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The game features either one or two characters from each mainline Final Fantasy title, plus characters from a few spin-off titles. Not only is there a variety in characters from different games, but there’s also a sizable variety in character classes: Vanguard, Assassin, Marksman and Specialist.

Each of these classes bring with them special characteristics and playstyles. Vanguard characters prioritize strength and close-quarters combat. Assassin characters prioritize speed and combos. Marksman characters prioritize long-range combat. And lastly, Specialist characters are unique, wild card-esque characters that can diversify a team’s potential strategy.

In fact, strategy is perhaps NT’s most defining characteristic. The game is built around 3v3 matches, building up damage with Bravery attacks, and then permanently inflicting that damage with HP attacks. Strategy comes into play with not only choosing which character to play as, but also thinking about a team of three’s combination of classes and how they can benefit one another. In addition, players also have to think about which EX Skills to equip going into a match.

There’s certainly depth with NT’s combat. Whether watching or playing, it’s clear to see that there’s a lot of skill and thought that has to go into playing the game well. However, there are some noticeable issues with NT’s gameplay that makes imagining its future as an esport difficult to do.

The vices of Dissidia Final fantasy nt

Square Enix has hosted a number of tournaments to promote the game’s competitive edge. However, this also highlights some of the main difficulties that NT will face when trying to become known as an esport. Firstly, there is a noticeable, nearly MMO-level of visual busyness on screen during any battle. Games such as Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Wii U, and even Overwatch are enjoyable to watch for so many people partly due to the ease of understanding what is going on, even when things get hectic. The same can not be said for NT.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Visual Clutter

There’s arguably too much happening onscreen to understand everything that goes on in a match. The visual clutter may be too overwhelming for most viewers. Image: YouTube

There’ simply a lot to keep track of when both playing and watching NT. One has to pay attention to Bravery damage, how much damage an HP attack will deal, how much an HP attack will heal the user, Summons, EX Skills, in addition to any technical combos. There’s a lot to look at. So much, in fact, that it becomes overwhelming to view. Moreover, there’s so much that one has to pay attention to during a match, that it’s difficult for viewers to gauge high-quality techniques from lower-quality ones.

Let’s say that a viewer can get used to the visual clutter of NT, though, and they can coherently understand everything that’s going on in a match at once – they still have to witness the large amount of cat-and-mouse that’s in NT. In Square Enix-hosted tournaments for NT, there are examples of many players running away from other players for safety. This results in frequent instances where nothing of excitement is going on in a match. The length of these instances is exacerbated when matches are in one of the game’s larger stages. Even NT’s smallest stages are quite sizable, making the frequent defensive play of NT difficult to watch.

A Future Up in the Air

Can Dissidia Final Fantasy NT be an esport? It certainly can, but it’s an uphill battle for the crossover fighter. So many fighting games that are esports are relatively easy to follow, and have matches that are quick and exciting to watch. NT takes a different approach to its style of combat, strategy, and pacing. The visually busy NT may be overwhelming for many viewers, but that doesn’t necessarily make the game not viable to become an esport.

Team Ninja, the developers of NT, patched a much-needed Spectator Mode into the game in February, making viewing matches a lot more enjoyable and smooth than they were pre-patch. In addition, NT is to receive additional characters via DLC, with the first of these characters being Vayne from Final Fantasy XII. It’s certainly possible that Team Ninja could continue to support the game’s competitive viability by patching in new content and features that may make the game more appealing to the hardcore esports fan-base. However, as is, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, due to its busy interface, and ability to overwhelm viewers, has to fight hard if it wants to become known as an esport. The question of if it will or not, however, that remains to be seen.

What do you think? Do you feel that Dissidia Final Fantasy NT can become an esport, or is this effort from Square Enix not enough? As always, join the conversation and let us know!

 

Featured image courtesy of Shoryuken.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Derek (@DerekExMachina).

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evo 2018

Does ARMS Have a Future in esports?

Fans of fighting games need no introduction to the importance of the EVO Championship Series. For years, this event has provided countless hours of intense top-level play for various fighting games. While the event often takes place in the U.S., this year saw the emergence of EVO Japan, which took place from January 26 – 28. The event saw tournaments for some of esports’ most popular fighting games – Street Fighter V, Tekken 7, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, to name a few. But among the games played at EVO Japan, there was one that stood out. There was a game that had something to prove. And that game was ARMS.

Last year, this author discussed if ARMS, the unique and inventive fighter from Nintendo, deserved its slot at EVO Japan. With EVO Japan having come and gone, now is as good a time as any to discuss ARMS’ future as an esport. How did EVO Japan affect ARMS’ chances at becoming a widely recognized esport, if at all? Let’s talk about it.

What EVO Japan meant to Arms

Going into the event, it was easy to look at EVO Japan as a “make or break” point for ARMS as an esport. On one hand, the event served as a possibility to show off the game’s competitive community to the world. However, at the same time, if ARMS underperformed in regards to viewer engagement and impact, then ARMS may not get another opportunity to be played on a world stage. With EVO Japan’s ARMS tournament having come and gone, it seems that the latter of these two may have been the fate for ARMS.

ARMS’ Grand Finals were entertaining, but did it do enough to convince people that ARMS can be an esport? Image: YouTube

In terms of numbers, ARMS had over 320 entrants, which was the smallest amount of entrants in any game played at the event. However, this is understandable given that ARMS is a new intellectual property that is mechanically unlike any other fighting game and has a competitive community that isn’t even a year old yet.

Mirroring the game’s player count in the tournament, ARMS didn’t get a significant amount of buzz during the tournament. Moreover, the videos-on-demand for ARMS’ tournament at EVO Japan have received significantly less views than other games featured at EVO Japan.

Despite what the game’s dedicated fans hoped, ARMS failed to make a significant splash among the more recognizable, reputable games at EVO Japan. Another blow to the ARMS’ competitive community was the recent confirmation that the game would not be featured at EVO 2018 later this year. However, ARMS’ poor performance at EVO Japan and the game’s absence at EVO 2018 aren’t enough to effectively kill the game’s future as an esport. Does ARMS have enough in itself to warrant a healthy future in esports?

A Skill Ceiling that may be too low…

One of the most important things about any esport is its watchability and viewership. ARMS’ watchability has been a question for many. As with almost any other fighting game, it’s clear to see that top-level ARMS players have a great level of skill. However, ARMS lacks two things that many fighting games benefit from: immense depth and spectacle.

“Pega” was the victor of Grand Finals for ARMS at EVO Japan. Image: YouTube

Let’s take Super Smash Bros. Melee as an example. When you watch top-level play, it looks significantly different from watching beginner-level play. Melee has advanced techniques, wavedashing, and many character-specific toolkits that make each individual player’s playstyle feel different from one another. This has helped keep Melee in the esport spotlight for so long – despite the game being over fifteen years old.

At least as of the time of writing, ARMS lacks this level of depth, which hurts both the number of players and viewers of the game. Watching the ARMS tournament at EVO Japan, one can certainly see that the players in the event were using advanced techniques and movement. However, when watching, one may ask: how much can top-level play develop beyond this tournament? 

It’s unclear if ARMS’ competitive metagame can develop much further than it already has. While ARMS was enjoyable to watch at EVO Japan, the technique displayed in the tournament didn’t seem much greater than technique displayed at the ARMS Invitational at E3 in June of 2017. Part of what makes esports entertaining to watch is seeing the development of top-level play. It’s exciting to see how players for our favorite esports can get better, and push what’s possible in the game.

The Issue of Characters

One final critique is with the game’s characters. Characters are the bread and butter of fighting games – especially for fighting games that are esports. Games like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Tekken 7, and Street Fighter V have a vast variety of characters with different playstyles and toolkits. Tournaments for these games can be exciting to watch just from seeing different characters being represented. Also by seeing the different playstyle and techniques that accompany those different characters. Watching a Smash 4 tournament and suddenly seeing more obscure characters like Wii Fit Trainer, Shulk, or Mr. Game and Watch can suddenly make that tournament more interesting.

EVO

Fighting games live and die by their characters. Do the characters of ARMS feel different enough from each other? Image: Smashboards

ARMS lacks this. Unlike most fighting games, the most significant thing that changes a player’s techniques and playstyle are the “ARMS”, or weapons, that they choose for each round. The character you pick when playing ARMS only affects certain character-specific moves, that can allow them to charge their attacks. Some characters, like Master Mummy, have stronger grabs, but for the most part, characters are defined by unique gimmicks.

These gimmicks include Spring Man’s rage factor when he gets below 25% health, Ribbon Girl’s multiple jumps, Mechanica’s hover, Master Mummy’s regeneration when he blocks, among others. But are these enough to make each character feel significantly different to watch from any other? No, probably not. ARMS’ characters only impact complementary techniques. The main techniques and depth of ARMS’ combat comes from which “ARMS” the player chooses.

Unfortunately, the variety of “ARMS”, while fairly sizable, doesn’t feel vast. Many “ARMS” are the same or recolors that have different elemental properties. There are only a few types of “ARMS”, such as umbrellas, whips, boomerangs, and so on. If there were a greater variety of different types of “ARMS”, then ‘ARMS’ combat could begin to feel more vast and different. As is, though, there are not enough that significantly change up players’ techniques and playstyles, making competitive play not feel as interesting as it could be.

Can ARMS be Saved?

As much as one may critique ARMS as an esport, many people would still love to see ARMS become an esport in some capacity. However, the odds of that happening are certainly not in the game’s favor at this point. With Nintendo recently confirming that there will be no more significant updates, nor anymore DLC characters and stages, the game itself will likely remain as it is now.

One of the most restrictive things from ARMS becoming an esport is actually in consideration of the fact that players are constantly locked on to one another. If players could freely roam around 3D arenas, somewhat like the Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm games, then ARMS could become more interesting.

EVO

ARMS is noticeably absent from EVO 2018’s roster. Image: Shoryuken.

The story of ARMS is an admirable one. It fought hard to become an esport, and it continues to have a vibrant and dedicated community. However, the game simply didn’t have enough in it to grab much attention on the esports stage. Can ARMS be saved and become an esport? It’s unlikely, but ARMS builds a great framework for sequels that could become esports. It has great competitive potential as a franchise, but there needs to be some tweaks to the core design of the game. Getting rid of the constant lock-on, and having characters feel significantly different from each other is already enough to make a sequel that has more competitive capabilities.

So does ARMS have a future as an esport? One would argue that it does through a potential sequel that fixes and improves upon the framework of the 2017 game. As is, ARMS seems like it doesn’t have enough to pull in viewers and become an esport. But the franchise is still young, and becoming an esport is a possibility if future installments take good steps forward.

 

But what do you think? Do you think ARMS can be an esport, or do you feel that a sequel to the game has better chances? As always, join the conversation and let us know!


 

Featured image courtesy of Nintendo Versus via Twitter.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Derek.

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speedrunning

Speedrunning: Can it be considered an esport?

Whether it’s the debut of the Overwatch League, or the upcoming EVO Japan, this month has delivered a great amount of content to any fan of esports and competitive gaming. And yet, for me, the most special event this January is none other than Awesome Games Done Quick 2018.

speedrunning

At AGDQ 2017, audiences gave a standing ovation to the $2.2 million USD donated to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a record high for the organization. Image: Games Done Quick via Twitter

Games Done Quick is an organization that holds two main events each year. Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ) is held in January and Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) is held in July. Both events are entire weeks where speedrunners play through games at exceptional speeds, in addition to speedrunning races and sometimes glitch and/or speedrunning trick showcases. These events also serve as charity events that support the Prevent Cancer Foundation. As of writing, AGDQ 2018 has currently raised over $1.1 million USD.

So why talk about AGDQ of all things when so much is going on in esports? Simply put, speedrunning has been gaining more and more traction over the past couple years, especially thanks to large events such as AGDQ. Speedrunning showcases players’ skill and dedication to their games. Moreover, speedruns see the emergence of a faithful and passionate community that comes together to talk about and play a game that that community loves. Therefore, are speedruns any different from esports? And to add on to that, can speedrunning be considered as an esport in itself? Let’s talk about it.

The Skill of Speedrunning

A large part of why events such as AGDQ are so successful is for the great display of spectacle it provides to audiences. It’s cathartic to see games that are intended to be hours long be beaten in a matter of minutes. There is an ostensible level of skill and dedication required to speed run games effectively.

Like with esports, speedrunning requires the player to attain a great understanding of a game’s mechanics. However, there is a big difference between esport athletes and speedrunners in how they incorporate their knowledge about the game they’re playing. Esport athletes use their knowledge and understanding of a game’s mechanics to outplay other players, whereas speedrunners use their knowledge of a game’s mechanics to strategize what they can and cannot use to their advantage to complete a game as fast as possible.

Speedrunners and esports athletes both pour hours of their lives into learning more about the games that they passionately admire (or sometimes despise). The level of dedication required to perform well in esports and in speedruns is one of the most identifiable characteristics of both. However, there is another aspect that both esports and speedruns have in common.

The speedrunning community and its similarities to esports communities

speedrunning

Games Done Quick events find themselves on the front page of Twitch, and is among the most watched content on the site. Speedruns include donation incentives, raffles and rewards, constantly encouraging donations. Image: YouTube

Perhaps the largest similarity between esports and speedruns is that they both live and die by their communities. Each esport is perhaps entirely defined by the community surrounding the game itself. Super Smash Bros., Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are three significantly different kinds of games and esports, and the communities for each game reflect this. Each of those games’ communities have their distinct qualities, and these qualities determine the general atmosphere of the competitive scene for each game. All esports communities find commonality through bringing people that love a certain game together, in which people can bounce off ideas and share their love for the respective game that they devote large chunks of their life towards.

Speedruns are almost identical to esports, in this regard. Like with esports communities, speedrun communities bring people that have a passion for a certain game together. This shared passion for an individual game gives rise to both camaraderie and competition to be present in any game’s community, just as is the case with esports’ communities. Moreover, esports and speedrunning communities share a consequence of their presence. Both esports and speedruns allow for games to remain in the public eye for longer than they may have otherwise. For instance, Super Metroid, a game with one of the most prevalent speedrunning communities, has become immortalized due to the game being the host of many speedruns in the game’s twenty-four years of existence. Similarly, a game being an esport, such as Super Smash Bros. Melee for instance, helps give that game a longer lifespan than it may have had otherwise.

“So what?”

The reason I bring up these commonalities between esports and speedruns is that there are certainly more similarities between the two than most people realize. Both demand for video games to be played in a very specific way, and both entertain audiences far and wide. Additionally, both are growing and becoming more well-known at a similar pace. Knowing this, I pose a question: should we consider speedruns as a particular kind of esport?

speedrunning

Games Done Quick events often feature races, allowing for exciting competitions. One of AGDQ 2018’s events was a four-way race in Yoshi’s Island for the SNES. Image: Twitch

There is certainly a sense of competitiveness in the realm of speedruns. On top of many speedrunners trying to claim the world record of a game for their own, many speedrunners also do races against each other, as has been showcased multiple times in AGDQ’s eight-year history.

Moreover, speedruns provide spectacle to its audience, much like esports provide spectacle to its audience. While I understand that the two are certainly different entities, the amount of similarities between them is staggering. Considering speedrunning as an esport, however, results in stretching the definition of what an esport is. While I don’t feel that speedrunning should necessarily be considered as an esport in itself, the similarities between esports and speedruns should be more well-known to more people. Moreover, the communities of esports and speedruns could possibly intertwine and interact with one another.

I would consider speedruns to be a supplement of esports-like content. Speedruns are similar to esports, but ultimately have their own identity that’s quite separate from esports. Nevertheless, speedruns should be in the minds of any esports fan if they find themselves wanting content that is similar, yet still different from esports. For the sake of comparison, I would consider the relationship between speedruns and esports to be like the relationship between baseball and home run derby’s – they’re two separate entities that provide different experiences to audiences, but are linked by their similar aspects.

What are your thoughts?

Since 2010, Games Done Quick has raised over $12 million across seventeen different marathons. Speedruns certainly aren’t going anywhere. And neither are esports. Both speedruns and esports provide experiences that are exciting and engaging to viewers, and they are both growing quite quickly. Do you feel that these two entities should be talked about together more? Or do you feel that they are too different from each other to be grouped together? As always, join the conversation and let us know what you think!

 


 

Featured image courtesy of Games Done Quick.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Derek.

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future

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.

future

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

future

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.

future

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.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Derek.

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From our Haus to yours.

Is competitive Smash dying?

For myself and many others, this year has provided some great moments for Super Smash Bros.. 2GGC Civil War, EVO 2017, Big House 7 and the year-end 2GG Championship are just a few of the many exciting competitive Smash tournaments that we’ve seen this year. However, with the year coming to a close, now is the best time to reflect on the future of Smash. As we wait for the new year to provide us with more exciting, competitive Smash tournaments, let’s discuss the current state and future of Smash as an esport.

This is the first of two parts of this discussion. For the first half of the discussion, let’s talk about the unfortunate reality of the Smash community’s size and profitability. Many believe that competitive Smash is on borrowed time in regards to being an esport. Moreover, many fear that the series has stagnated in growth, and that both the community and viewership of Smash are beginning to shrink. Are these concerns true and/or warranted? Let’s talk about it.

The slim pickings of Competitive Smash

competitive smash

The 2GG Championship featured a prize pool of $50,000, one of the largest prize pools in Smash history. And yet it pales in comparison to prize pools seen in other esports. Image: Smash.gg

While discussing the financial aspects of esports may be uninteresting to some, it’s ultimately a necessary part of the picture for any esport. Ever since the emergence of its competitive community, Smash has struggled to feature events offering large payouts to its dedicated competitive community. This becomes even clearer when comparing payouts from Smash Bros. events to the payouts of events for games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Street Fighter and many other esports. While it’d be lovely to say that payouts don’t matter that much, the sad truth is that it’s a big factor of a game’s longevity as an esport.

Most Smash events have relatively low prize pools. The recent 2GG Championship was one of the highest prize pools in competitive Smash’s history, yet the event’s prize pool was only a total of $50,000. For comparison, the prize pool for the recent Capcom Cup for Street Fighter V was a total of $380,000.

There are many reasons as to why Smash events don’t receive good payouts, including Nintendo’s resistance to sponsoring large events. Regardless of the reasons behind it, however, are the players. The top players of any Smash game devote just as much time as dedicated players of any other esport, but the money that Smash players receive from tournaments is much smaller. So much so that many competitive Smash players find themselves resorting to making content via YouTube and/or Twitch in order to make more revenue to financially support themselves. In the midst of his win streak where he placed first in every event he attended, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios stated that the money he made from tournaments wasn’t enough to keep him financially comfortable.

While over two years have passed since then, the fact still remains that the highest level Smash players don’t make very much money from tournaments. This issue goes on to affect how much certain players can travel to go to events. The lacking payouts at big Smash tournaments ultimately harms how many competitive players can keep attending tournaments. This has possibly gone on to affect another component of Smash’s uncertain future.

Less player attendance at events and the issue of stagnation

competitive smash

Compared to the likes of Street Fighter V, Smash events have offered less money, and Smash players make far less. Image: Esports Earnings

Perhaps the most obvious cause for concern for Smash’s future lies in the amount of players attending events. While Smash tournaments provided many entertaining and exciting spectacles throughout the year, there was a notable decrease in the attendance at most events. Every game that has a spot at EVO has some of their highest attendance during the event, and yet both Smash 4 and Melee saw a decrease in amount of players in the tournament from last year’s EVO.

Moreover, many of the top-level players for Smash have maintained their rankings and placement throughout the last few years. New players entering the higher echelons of competitive Smash have become very few and far between, especially in Melee’s case. This leads to a dire question: Is competitive Smash dying? Are we to expect a continued decrease in attendance at Smash events?

A large factor to a possible answer for this decrease is that of hardware. Unlike games like League of Legends or Street Fighter that can be played on the widely available platform of PCs, Melee and Smash 4 were released on the GameCube and Wii U, respectively. These consoles also happen to be Nintendo’s two lowest-selling consoles to date (excluding the Nintendo Switch, which is on track to outsell both consoles by this time next year).

competitive smash

2GG Civil War had a large turnout earlier this year, but can we expect future tournaments to be of a similar size? Image: 2GG Gaming

A simple fact of the matter is that Melee and Smash 4, the two Smash games that have the richest competitive communities, are difficult games to pick up now. It’s difficult for younger viewers to get their hands on trying to play these games. For a new player to pick up competitive Melee, they would have to track down a GameCube, a copy of Melee, a GameCube controller, a GameCube memory card and a CRT television, along with hours upon hours of practice to even stand a chance of competing against the select group of top-level Melee players.

This difficult bar of entry makes competitive Smash seem impossible to get into for newcomers. This could potentially be causing the Smash community to stagnate. It’s difficult to accurately judge if the Smash community is growing or shrinking. On one hand, higher prize pools have been more common throughout the last year, making dedicating so much time to the game more viable to dedicated players. But on the other hand, new players have to jump through so many hoops to even get started at practicing competitive play.

Looking to the future

Granted, I don’t mean to be grim about the current state of Smash. But these are just a few legitimate concerns that the Smash community needs to take into consideration. The last year and a half have seen vague rumors of a Smash 4 port coming to Nintendo Switch, or a new iteration of Super Smash Bros. being in the works altogether. With the Switch being so successful so quickly, a new version of Smash could help bring in many new players. But until then, we have to think about what the Smash community can do to prevent itself from stagnating and possibly shrinking.

But what do you think? Do you feel that competitive Smash may be stagnating, or do you think that the future for Smash is as bright as ever? As always, join the conversation and let us know!

 

Stay tuned for the second part of this discussion next Saturday, December 30!


 

Featured image courtesy of Smash.gg

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pressure

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

pressure

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.

pressure

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?

pressure

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!

 


 

Featured image courtesy of YouTube.

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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!


 

Featured image courtesy of YouTube.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Derek.

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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!


 

Featured image courtesy of Mashable.

 

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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!

 

Featured image courtesy of Nintendo via YouTube.

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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

midwest mayhem

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!

 


 

Featured image courtesy of Unrivaled Tournaments via YouTube.

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Derek.

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From our Haus to yours.