When Smash for switch was announced, the smash community was set ablaze with hype. Not just at the prospect of a new Smash entry on Nintendos latest flagship console. But also because it gave us all a slight glimmer of hope, that TSM ZeRo might possibly come out of retirement early. This current Smash 4 season has been a lot different without ZeRo at every tournament. However it has also been one of the most interesting seasons to date. There was much speculation about whether or not Smash switch would all but force ZeRo to return to competitive play. however after viewing a video he released last week, that speculation could be all but over.
End of the road?
TSM ZeRo retired on top of the Smash 4 world Twitter
ZeRo recently released a video answering the million dollar question we’ve all been asking. He spoke about how much he was enjoying being able to play games other than Smash. How much he loved streaming and interacting with his fans. Most importantly he spoke on how relieving it was to be away form the many pressures of competitive play. Not just the pressures of competing, but also the pressure of having to be the best year in and year out. Ultimately he concluded that he won’t be returning to competitive play when Smash switch releases. Rather he will focus on becoming a prominent figure in the community, who can help players become better. He wants to be deeply involved in the community for the game and create content for the game, without having to worry about competing or being the best.
One of the biggest points he touched on was how much love he had for Smash. He’ll always be involved in the community, he just doesn’t want to compete anymore. At least not now with how much he’s been enjoying his time away. Being away from the pressures of competing and worrying about being the best. The community has been very supportive of his decisions, but it’s still a bittersweet outcome. It is disappointing to know that ZeRo may never compete at the same level as the smash 4 days but there is a very important message to take from this.
ZeRo’s retirement paved the way for a new Smash 4 champion to be crowned Youtube
TSM ZeRo is the most iconic Smash 4 player, and is certainly a big part of why the game became so successful as an Esport. This competitive season has been much different without him. However it has also been a very interesting season. The fact that we will finally have a new #1 player in the world crowned this season is huge. Players have been rising from the proverbial mid-card to prove their worth and rise higher in the ranking. The Meta has even changed a bit, as no one played Diddy Kong on the same level as him. All of this isn’t to imply that the game is better off without ZeRo. Rather it’s a look into the natural life cycle of a competitive game and even life
ZeRo’s reign as the best Smash 4 player was amazing, but it’s time to move on. He did, and it seems like the community is doing the same. It almost seems like poetic justice that the next iteration of Smash is coming so soon after ZeRo’s retirement. Making the last Smash 4 season before Smash switch belong to another # 1 player in the world. Lastly I think this also provides us all a very valuable lesson.
One can never know exactly what it feels like to be in the shoes of someone who appears to be on top of the world.
Do you think there is any possibility that ZeRo will return to his dominant competitive ways? Let us know in the comments down below
Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios has dominated the Smash 4 competitive scene since the game’s release. Year after year Zero consistently ranked as the number one player in the world. His dominance is unrivaled by any other professional Esports player. So when he announced his retirement from competitive Smash 4 this past January, the community was shocked. Since his retirement Zero has kept a consistent streaming schedule, and even commentated a few tournaments. He’s been enjoying his retirement but he might be coming back earlier than expected. One of the conditions of Zero’s retirement was that he’d return when the next iteration of smash came along. So with Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Switch being announced last week, we could possibly have the king of Smash 4 return early.
A new game
Zero has definitely been enjoying his time away from competitive play, but that all could be coming to an end. The main reason for Zero’s retirement was that he lost the passion to compete. He said a new entry in the franchise or even a port to switch would give him the fire to compete again.
Did constantly falling victim to Bayonetta sway Zero’s decision to retire? Youtube
The recent smash switch announcement definitely got people talking about an early comeback. But the fact that this very well could be smash 5, makes a comeback even more likely. A port, or even a deluxe edition would be easier for Zero to ignore. But a new game with new characters and possibly new mechanics could definitely get Zero to return sooner.
Speaking of a new game, there is a case to be made that Zero would still hold out from returning even after smash switch’s launch. Since we still don’t know what the game is going to be just yet there could be some delay before we make it a tournament regular. A new game will likely mean a new meta which will take time to develop and fully form. Even though Zero said a new game would make him want to compete again, I’m sure he didn’t think it’d be coming this soon.
One theory we can definitely put to rest is that zero is absolutely not returning before this smash 4 season is over. Some have speculated that Zero would make a surprise return midway through the season. Doing so could possibly see himself retain his smash 4 ranking as number 1. Although this theory was pretty far fetched to begin with it’s completely dead now. With smash switch coming this year, there is no reason for Zero to return to smash 4. He got his wish of a new smash game to refuel his passion for competing. And also, if this truly is Smash 5, then Zero has already retired on from smash 4 on top. No player will ever be able to accomplish what zero did in smash 4. This will holdup if smash 5 takes it’s place.
So we will definitely see a new number 1 player in the world this season. If smash 5 (hypothetically) replaces smash 4 competitively then we may have seen the last of Zero in smash 4. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Smash 4 more than any other smash game took the most out of Zero. He has experience playing Melee and brawl but smash 4 is his legacy. The pressure to be the best consistently can really weigh on a person and it certainly did for Zero. Even with smash switch on the way, it’s a bit too early to say he’ll be back competing on launch day.
basking in retirement
Zero has stated countless times that he is loving his retirement and wants to stay retired for a while.
Zero has been streaming much more often and greatly enjoys it Youtube
You can definitely tell if you’ve been in one of his streams. He has a new found enthusiasm for streaming, and you can tell he has a great time playing different types of games. Zero is always interacting with his chat and keeping them involved in the streams. He also loves commentating tournaments, and brings a lot of hype to any set he commentates. His knowledge and love for the game is front and center, and you can tell he loves every second of it.
I bring up all of these factors to emphasize how much Zero is enjoying his retirement. Another big reason for his departure from tournaments was for health reasons. Having to practice day in and day out can really take a toll on someone mentally. The tournament pressure can take the fun away from the game at times. Zero has been a much happier person since his retirement, and he’s usually a pretty happy guy. As much as I and many others want to see Zero return, I would hate for his happiness to suffer for it. So in short, take your time Zero!
When do you think Zero will make his highly anticipated return? Feel free to comment below!
The PGR (Panda Global Ranking) ranks the top 50 Smash 4 Players every season. This season is much different than others, because the greatest player in the world (Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios) retired at the end of last season. With the top spot now up for grabs many (including myself) have speculated who will take the thrown this season. There are a few players that have been favorites to become the new “best player in the world” and rightfully so. But out of all these usual suspects on the PGR I believe NRG Nairo will rank number one this season.
The Fan Favorite
Nairoby “Nairo Quezada is a smash player who needs no introduction. Representing NRG Esports, Nairo is a very flashy player who is always a fan favorite. Don’t let his flashy play style fool you though, he is one of the most deadly players ever to grace the game. Nairo has been very consistent with his PGR rankings; placing 3rd for the past three seasons.
With his trusty Zero Suit Samus, he runs through tournament brackets and rarely places outside of top 8. One of the biggest reasons Nairo remains so consistent is how much he practices. You’ll find him streaming over on twitch almost every day, and his streams always attract a lot of dedicated viewers. He has such great game awareness which can definitely be chocked up to him practicing so much.
No matter the tournament, Nairo will almost always have the crowd on his side. This was seen most during what was maybe the highlight of his career back in 2015. During the MLG World Finals in 2015, Nairo became the first player to ever beat zero to win a tournament. This win ended Zero’s streak of over 50 tournament wins in a row. It was Nairo’s crowning achievement, but I believe that he will soon have a new accolade to add to his resume.
Over the hump
The closest Nairo ever got to being ranked number one on the PGR was when he was ranked number two back in the PGR V1. Since then he has been ranked number three every season, but I think that’s going to change.
With Zero gone things are going to be a lot different, that’s for certain. Many speculate that Leonardo “MK Leo” Perez will be the next number one player, and rightfully so. MK Leo was one of the few players who could at least somewhat consistently beat Zero. Leo has been dominating as of late and definitely could become the next Number 1. But With Nairo already having a set win over MK Leo early in the season, I think he has an edge.
Nairo also gave Zero a lot of tournament trouble and has taken quite a few sets off of him. Now that we are in a meta where Zero no longer attends tournaments I think Nairo might just get over the 3rd best player hump and ascend to the top spot. This isn’t to say that he couldn’t do it if Zero was still playing; but the fact that Zero isn’t playing gives him a huge boost.
Nairo is one of Smash 4’s most clutch players and it shows every time he plugs his controller in. He plays so many characters at such a high level, that it’s almost impossible to counter-pick him. Nairo delivers impressive results and is rarely seen outside of top 8, sometimes coming from the depths of losers bracket to win a tournament. When you combine all of these factors with the fact that one of his toughest opponents is no longer playing; it’s not hard to picture him being crowned the best player in the world.
One of Nairo’s biggest achievements, defeating Zero in Brawl at Apex 2014. Will he stand tall once again? Twitter
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!
Featured image courtesy of Evil Controllers.
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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!
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.
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
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
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.
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!
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”
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
Two months removed from his last S-tier win, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios was able to reach the top again after a number of near misses, by beating MKLeo at SCR Saga. It was the return of ZeRo’s last stock magic, as he was able to pull himself out of a variety of difficult situations to take his 10th win of 2017.
For reference, it’s been a tough couple of months for the undisputed champ. A near miss at Evo 2017 and Dreamhack while watching Salem parade around his trophy. Second place at both Super Smash Con and Low Tier City. It wasn’t just that he lost, either. It was the way that he lost. Losing in situations he normally came out victorious by not letting the pressure exceed the moment.
However, it showed that it was just a matter of time before he reclaimed the top spot. After a strong performance this weekend, any talk of him not being the best player in 2017 should be off the table.
Photo courtesy YouTube.com/2ggaming
Last stock magic
When Zero is at his best, he takes early percent stocks and is constantly running in-and-out of attack range. At SCR Saga, the audience saw that in droves. In many instances, Zero would bait out a certain recovery option to setup a dair spike at the ledge with Diddy Kong. Larry Lurr and MKLeo unfortunately took the bait and paid the price.
By no means was it a perfect day for ZeRo, but it was characteristically a day in which ZeRo takes the crown. He’s no stranger to coming back from a deficit and in many cases was forced to overcome entire stock leads. This goes back to his ability to set up low percent kills and punish accordingly.
The day Bayonetta took over
No, a Bayonetta main did not win this event. There was none in the top three. But, there were three in top eight. Prejudice aside, Bayonetta mains are starting to make a clear push towards the end of the bracket. SCR Saga is just the first example of all the top Bayonetta’s playing well enough at the same time.
As a matter of fact, the world’s best Bayonetta main in Salem struggled mightily against the new up and comer Bayonetta in Mistake. Mistake forced Salem off of Bayo and onto Greninja. Salem was out placed by the two other Bayonetta mains (Captain Zack and Mistake) and this weekend seems to be a turning point.
Captain Zack after eliminating Nairo. Photo courtesy YouTube.com/2ggaminng
The sudden emergence of Mistake and the elevation of the meta through Salem has given Bayonetta new life. And at SCR Saga, it was a mix of play styles that all proved to be effective. Salem stayed defense heavy, while Mistake played all out aggressive and Captain Zack stayed in the middle of that spectrum. The group of players as a whole are improving.
Larry Lurr and MKLeo are close
It’s only a matter of time for Larry Lurr and MKleo. Both players are seemingly always right there, but have a few player matchups that hold them back. SCR Saga was another example of this.
To enumerate, Larry Lurr has now been in this situation many times in the past few months. His Fox continues to improve and another bracket similar to what he faced at Evo could mean an S-Tier major win. For MKLeo, he’s known as a champion already, but he seems back on track to start winning events again.
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Smash never seems to take a weekend off anymore. Even after the tournament packed July, the month of August started with two smaller major events (or regionals) that divided the time of many top players. It’s the first weekend since Evo that a top tier tournament wasn’t taking place so it’s a good time to take a look at some of the smaller events.
The two main events this weekend happened in the south. Low Tier City 5, that took place in Dallas, Texas and Smash Factor 6 that was south of the border in Mexico. In terms of talent, both events had significantly smaller attendance from top players, but it allowed for the regions to display their best.
The top players that did show put on a show for those crowds. Smash 4 was the main story this weekend with many of the top 10 Melee taking a week off before Super Smash Con. Smash 4 still had the likes of Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, MKLeo, Larry Lurr, and the surprise of the weekend In Tweek competing.
The problem was the two smaller events split up the talent, but in turn it gave us a good look at Mexico’s hidden Smash 4 talents. Yes, there’s plenty of good players outside of the Afro mentioned MKLeo in the Mexico scene. It’s not a matter of “if” the Mexico scene, it’s a matter of “when” they can fly these players out to events states side.
Smash Factor 6
In classic Smash Factor form, this tournament wasn’t going to leave us without MKLeo roasting Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad for the third time in a row. Let’s remember, MKLeo defeating a beaten down Mr. R at Smash Factor 4 is where Leo first burst onto the scene. It’s only right for MKLeo to handily and swiftly take down Mr. R at the tournament that helped launch his career.
Mr. R did take a set off Leo at this tournament, 3-1, but that just set up Leo’s incredible 10 game stretch where he only dropped one game. A 3-0 sweep over NAKAT, while going 3-1, 3-0 to finish off Mr. R and win his third straight Smash Factor.
The Melee side also had a similar mix of mostly local players with some top 20’ish players. Unfortunately, the Mexico Melee scene isn’t nearly as fleshed out as Smash 4 so it’s not the same type of talent pool. While there are some talented players, the whole is severely lacking compared to most American Melee scenes.
As for the tournament itself, the games were great and it had excellent storylines all the way up to Zac “SFAT” Cordoni winning the event. After losing 3-0 to TheMoon, SFAT narrowly beat out Johnny “S2J” Kim before getting the back against TheMoon.
In the games SFAT won, it was a steamroll. TheMoon was getting fooled by SFAT’s willingness to DI out at certain moments. He made it extremely difficult for TheMoon to get any of his patented Marth combos going against Fox. Outside of that, SFAT did an excellent job staying out of range and then moving in and getting run-up up-smashes for kills.
Low Tier City 5
It’s disheartening to see a community thrown event go to the wayside because of the influx of new tournaments. The once prominent Project M major In Texas has been relegated to more of a regional.
It’s a nice change of pace when none on the top six show up. It gives viewers a chance to see matchups that don’t ordinarily happen. For example, Wizzrobe vs. Hugs in a winners Finals is something that’s never been seen. It also gives a talented, yet under appreciated region like Texas a chance to show their skill.
While Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett won the event, Bananas, an ice climbers player who took the spot of Wobbles, made some serious noise. Finishing fifth at a major the size of LTC5 is no joke. Names like MT (who beat Wobbles) and UncleMojo (who beat MT) also made another deep run. Both names popped up at LTC4 as well.
In the end, it was Wizzrobe’s tournament to lose and he did not disappoint. Despite a close encounter with Syrox, he made it through top 8 with a 9-3 record and looked dominant while doing so. Wizzrobe continues to improve and refine his craft.
Finally, the most newsworthy moment of the weekend: Tweek over ZeRo. Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey is redefining consistency. He hasn’t placed outside the top 8 once this season and now he has a win over Zero under his belt.
However, ZeRo did fall early in the bracket. A Texas Bayonetta main named Mistake who made it all the way to winners finals. Mistake went on to beat the most feared Bayo in Smash 4, CaptainZack, and finish third. It was a great run for him and the Texas crowd cheering him on.
Regardless, Tweek was the real winner this weekend. Similarly to Wizzrobe, Tweek ended top 8 with a 9-2 record and beat the best player in the world. Three tournaments in a row ZeRo has come up just short. It’s becoming a pattern. Tweek is also slowly moving up result pages so expect another win to come shortly after this one.
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