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Monday, August 12, 2019

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Tourney Events Aren't Worth Writing About

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It's much lower effort.

I just wrote about how Splatfests have officially ended in Splatoon 2, and that I'll miss writing Splatfest articles on KoopaTV for a while—or perhaps we'll never see them again if “Splatoon 3”  doesn't go as planned. In that article's italicised footer, I asked if there are any alternatives to Splatfests out there so we can keep writing that style of article.

Cue last weekend. Nintendo invented a special Event tournament for its new (4.0.0) Online Tourney mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What's special about it? It's themed Heroes vs. Villains. Here's the description:
“It's a clash of good against evil! This tourney is on for a limited time and allows only certain fighters.

The further you advance, the better the spirit you'll win!”
Does that mean that Nintendo will be bringing back Splatfest-esque competitions, just in another game? And KoopaTV should write about them? Heroes vs. Villains is literally even a Splatfest theme from Splatoon 2 (made in coordination with the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate)—and of course I chose Villains back then.

The answer to those questions is “no.” Here's why:

No Community Scoring or Consequence

The basis of a Splatfest is that there are two sides to a conflict in the form of a question, and the whole player base chooses between the sides, sticks with that side, and the matches that they play during the Splatfest affect the scoring for the entire ecosystem. Your actions matter and affect everyone else's outcome. There's a sense of community.

In this online tourney event, your performance in the tournament benefited you, in that tournament. If you did well, you got a Spirit. The better your placing, the better the Spirit. ...And that's it. If you joined the tournament again, you didn't get seeded or match-made any differently than if you participated in it for the first time. After the event ended, there was no announcement about whether heroes or villains won more tournaments or had more popularity. There's no overall winner. Just your experience.

Which leads to the next big problem...

There Are No Defined Teams

You could only use certain characters—a total of 28—in the online tourney. For reference, Splatoon 2 never restricted what weapons you could use.

The characters were supposed to represent a hero or a villain, but there was never an in-game definition of who was what. Is Meta Knight a villain? Is Dark Pit? What about Wario?

Either way, there are about a third as many villains as there are heroes. It's clearly not fair.

More importantly, the tourney itself was set up as a free-for-all. This goes to the point in the previous heading, but that means not only was there no community scoring, but there was also no team-based matchmaking (because the game didn't define who was in which team). That means it was not heroes vs. villains. It could have been hero vs. hero vs. hero vs. villain, and only one person advances, so they all fight each other for the sake of themselves. That's clearly not the Splatfest way, and it made the tournament not about the theme or a cause, but about whichever character you main that happened to be allowed.

Heroes vs. Villains Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online tourney event Bowser winner champion bracket August 2019
Bowser won this tournament... and that's it. No continuity afterwards. Just got a Spirit like any other Online Tourney win.
You can see from the bracket there's no coherence to heroes or villains in the seeding. Just two Ganondorfs for all of my matches.

This Event Online Tourney Wasn't Fun

Caveat to the heading here: Nothing guarantees that all future Event Online Tourneys will be in the same four-player free-for-all all-items all-stages hazards on format. Things can change in the future. In fact, nothing guarantees that there will be future Event Online Tourneys, period, which would make this article's precedent-setting nature a presumptuous one-off.

But as it is, RNG determining the outcome isn't fun. Splatfests are fun because they take the normal, standard game mode that's widely played and adds to it. You could say that with-item free-for-alls on stupid stages are widely played... but I'd contest that. And it's certainly inappropriate for a tourney setting.

At the very least, these should be using teams mode if it's truly supposed to be one side versus the other. As it is, however, the game's offline tourney mode doesn't support teams tournaments, so the online version probably does not, either.

Right now, the only difference between the Event Online Tourney and a regular Online Tourney is the unique artwork. That's just not enough to justify writing about these.

You're free to try to disagree with Ludwig, but he thinks he has a very solid case here. Try your best. And if you're really adamant about thinking this kind of content belongs on KoopaTV, you're free to bring it to fruition yourself with a guest post. Or request another staffer take care of it.

When Nintendo gets serious about online tournaments, there can be much better results. See the North American August 2019 Online Open for example!
An online tourney event excludes the Koopalings, and the whole mode glitches Ludwig into Bowser Jr.
Then there's an online tourney event that is supposed to be a tribute to Super Smash Bros. Melee
As of late November 2021, there won't be new event tourneys, so Heroes Vs. Villains has repeated.


  1. Smashers 100% do not give a crap about these events, be they casual or competitive. First off, it was on the same weekend as Smash Con, which is one of the biggest tourneys of the year and greatly overshadowed this event. If even your most hardcore players don't care at all about your event, then it's a total flop. You're right that the lack of real sides and consequences is the biggest problem with these events, with the second being that Smash has long had a divided community that predates the online era, and that makes it harder to have a unified event that appeals to both casual and competitive players. Splatoon and ARMS both have events based around game modes considered to be more "casual"(Turf War and Party Lobby, respectively) but those are still considered acceptable enough for hardcore competitive players to care about and participate in those events. A "For Glory" styled ruleset would probably be the closest Smash could get, or even just 1v1s with Smash Balls on low or something, but this ruleset goes full casual random bullshit as opposed to being a less hardcore but still nonrandom and competitive format like Turf War or a mixture of a variety of game modes like Party Crash. I could probably write a full essay about all the things that went right and wrong with ARMS Party Crashes, as it's something that has more of a mixed record than the hugely successful Splatfest or the abysmally irrelevant Smash events, and there's a number of things that ought to be tweaked assuming they're brought back in a potential ARMS 2.

    1. Thanks for comparing this to the ARMS Party Crash events. This event tournament was basically an even worse version of that. At least ARMS gave you a community winner/loser after the event.
      This Heroes vs. Villains thing just... disappeared.

      It's also very comparable to the always-happening Conquest events on Super Smash Bros. 4, but those also gave winners/losers (and by region!).

  2. Nintendo not only does not understand what people who are attracted to video game tournaments want, to be honest I don't think they care. I strongly suspect that with things like you describe, they just want gamers to play together. The problem is, they don't know how to do THAT either. No one knows, in fact, how to create a gaming community, whether co-op or versus, without trolls and griefers ruining the experience in the former, and over-optimizing, competitive, "git gud" holier-than-thou pricks ruining the latter.

    To be fair, I don't know yet if my own idea for how to do that would work any better than anything that's already been come up with, but I do know that I have devoted a titanic quantity of thought to the subject. I could write a guest article on it. Heck, perhaps I should, even.

    1. Uh... Did you just see "Nintendo" and "tourney" in the article and just went off and wrote stuff? >.>

      I'm going to have an article this week for an actual attempt at a Nintendo-sponsored tournament. This, however, stuck to the Splatfest-esque angle and that Nintendo chose to express their special event through a flawed online mode.

    2. I read a bit more of the article than that, but I admit I'm extremely sensitive about this sort of thing.

    3. I-Ideally you read the whole thing.

      Anyway, this event was definitely not an effort for a competitive experience. I'm not really sure what it was an effort for to be honest.

    4. Well, the OP is my opinion on what it was an effort for--to get gamers, in general, to play together. And it was a poor one.

    5. Alright, well, I'll see what you think in tonight's article.

  3. Hey again.. It's me (SonnyTMG) I changed my username to SonnyYT and banner, I enjoyed the article. Keep up the good work! :)

    1. Welcome back!
      And probably a good idea on your part to rebrand yourself away from that old name with some bad connotations.

      Will do!


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