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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate In-Game "Tourney Score" is a Bad System

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - It's Global Smash Power, but temporary, not global, and somehow even less transparent.

Last week, Nintendo of America had its first official in-game online tournament with real prizes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020. (This is in contrast with the official out-of-game online tournaments with real prizes that, per the article linked in the previous sentence, I firmly believe will co-exist with these in-game tournaments.)

Now that we've gone through one of them, there are a lot more questions that we can finally answer and address that were mysteries in the first one. Chief among those are Tourney Score, since there was no explanation or documentation pre-start on what that was or how you got it.

NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 final Tourney Score
My final Tourney Score was 23,652.
That was not enough to get a prize. (See results here.)
I would've been in the Top 100 if I didn't play/lose my last match against Krüger, who ended at 74th.
(I was at 24,481 before losing my last match.)

Tourney Score is basically Global Smash Power (GSP), which you may remember is the ranking used in the Quickplay online matchmaking mode, and is the basis for entering Elite Smash (which is a banlist for those who have too high of a GSP). Winning increases your Global Smash Power (and for this tournament, Tourney Score), and losing decreases it.

All players began the tournament with 15,000 Tourney Score, meaning there was no seeding or anything. You would just play matches and get it up or down, though you were asked between every match if you would like to change characters. While Global Smash Power is tied to a specific character, Tourney Score is the same across all of your character options. This also means that while Global Smash Power means “if your GSP is 8,000,000, that means you are better than 7,999,999 people,” Tourney Score is just an arbitrary number that doesn't mean anything. This means you don't know how well you're doing compared to everyone else, only after fighting opponents and seeing their Tourney Score. For example, I knew I had no chance of achieving top 20 after being beaten by top professional player Dabuz and seeing his Tourney Score at the time (and he was streaming this on Twitch):

NotDabuz Dabuz NintendoVS Challenge Cup Koopa#5969 Rosalina
Despite his tag being NotDabuz, he was most certainly Dabuz. His stream proved it.
I tried going to his stream chat after losing and saying I was the Ludwig player, and everyone ignored me.
Dabuz ultimately finished in 23rd place.

I just want to note that Dabuz had no idea while he was playing if his Tourney Score was great enough or not (and it turns out it was not). Unlike tournaments with a bracket or with a ladder where the top scorers are always presented somewhere (like the past year's worth of online competitive tournaments Nintendo has been doing with Battlefy), you get no feedback on your relative or absolute performance with Tourney Score, which makes it worse than just grinding Quickplay for three hours under rules you would complain about if you ever got them in Quickplay. (At least you'll get notified if you ever hit the Elite Smash threshold.)

I was correct in my assertion from last week that competitive players, despite the casual ruleset, are the winners of the prize money. The 1st place finisher, LingLing, is well-known in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online play community. I'm sure that, as a Princess Peach player, he's very familiar (via turnips) with item combo. Many of the other winners are very familiar names that have regularly done well in the Nintendo-Battlefy competitive tournaments.

NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 Final Destination Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Speaking of rules, even though Final Destination was banned in the ruleset, I still got it once...

Nintendo won't know that this ruleset was pretty bad unless you go and give them that kind of feedback. At times, it was sort of fun, because there is a novelty and even depth to high-level item play (though the stages sucked—one time I got Pilotwings, and me and the opponent just crawled on the lower wings for a while because whomever approaches from the top wing to the lower one is in a disadvantageous position) that isn't seen normally, like hitstun-based throw combos.

However, there is also immense degeneracy in the number of people who simply picked Zelda as their character and abused the Final Smash Metre with her overpowered Triforce of Wisdom Final Smash that makes it almost impossible to have a non-close game against her. (Remember, your Final Smash Metre charges faster the more damage you take, so falling behind actually will make it charge faster.) Nayru's Love is also a reflecting move, which shuts down a lot of item-based play.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Bridge of Eldin Giga Bowser Punch John Numbers Palutena
I also was matched up against John Numbers! AND WON.
While being neutral-aired repeatedly as Bowser by Palutena on Bridge of Eldin is no fun at all,
this is an amazing screenshot of Giga Bowser smashing the Bridge. (And Palutena's last stock.)

Whom was the target audience of this tournament, and did they enjoy getting wrecked by potentially high-level competitors who have far more experience with item play than they do, while suffering merciless barrages of unbalanced stages and Final Smashes, all while competing for a murky, unexplainable score system?

Ludwig didn't get Fountain of Dreams a single time throughout the tournament. The two known names that Ludwig faced are so well-known, they're among the few Super Smash Bros. players with Wikipedia pages, too. (Dabuz, John Numbers.) Ludwig also faced off and lost against the 12th-place finisher, LeahGotti. Don't try to search that name on a search engine. Programming note: Wait for Friday's KoopaTV article for KoopaTV's thoughts on the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC character announcement that's supposed to occur on Thursday.

You may remember John Numbers from him winning the 2015 Nintendo World Championships.
John Numbers also came in second place in the 2017 Nintendo World Championships.

Here are KoopaTV's thoughts on the next DLC character in early October 2020.
What's all of this muttering about Battlefy? Well, you can find out in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate North American Online Open October 2020!
The NintendoVS Challenge Cup December 2020 will also use Tourney Score.
The NintendoVS US Challenge Cup Fall 2021 uses Tourney Score, too. It will not have improved.


  1. zelda is really cute :D go final smash WOOO

    1. I'm being trashed by the 19th place Zelda on Twitter, Aaron. :(

  2. "Wait for Friday's KoopaTV article for KoopaTV's thoughts on the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC character announcement that's supposed to occur on Thursday."



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