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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

What is the NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020, and what's it mean for future Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I'm literally the leading expert on Nintendo-sponsored Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments, so here's what I know.

If you've turned on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lately and gone online, or maybe you're looking at the right Nintendo social media account, you see there's a new tournament mode called the NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020. If you try to interact with it, it'll ask you to read a lengthy rules/terms and conditions document, and then you can join it.

What is the Nintendo VS Challenge Cup September 2020 tournament? How can you do well in it? What happened to Nintendo's prior Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournaments in partnership with Battlefy? And are there alternative tournaments if you wish for something with prizes but not ran by Nintendo? This article will answer all of those questions... and more.

What is the NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020?

The official description is as follows:
Get ready to test your Super Smash Bros. Ultimate skills in the NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 tournament! Whether you’ve mastered the perfect shield or just prefer to stick to specials and smash attacks, hop online during the tournament and jump into the action. The top 20 players will receive My Nintendo Gold Points to redeem on Nintendo eShop.

NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 logo Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I'm not really feeling the official logo.

In normal language, that means Nintendo Switch Online members in Canada, the United States, and Mexico may participate in an IN-GAME tournament on September 26, 2020 from 6 PM to 9 PM Eastern, through an online mode. The top 20 players will get My Nintendo Gold Points, which is equivalent to $100 for first place, $50 for places two through ten, and $25 for places eleven through twenty. The scoring system is “based on the Tourney Score accumulated during the Tournament Period”, although there is no documentation on what Tourney Score is or how it's accumulated. There are also no details on how matchmaking is done. Is it a bracket? A ladder? Are you matched with higher-skilled people as you keep winning, and how's that work? But we do know it's a 1v1 format, with 4 stocks, a 7-minute time limit, Final Smash Metre is On, as are Stage Hazards.

Items are set to Medium, and there is a long list of stages you may randomly be escorted to:

NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 items Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I think the items that they are and are not allowing are... interesting. And perhaps incoherent.
(Swap out the Super Star and Warp Star.)

NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 stages Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Finally, FOUNTAIN OF DREAMS is acknowledged in a Nintendo tournament! Legalise it!
Not pictured: Mementos, Spiral Mountain, King of Fighters Stadium, Garreg Mach Monastery, and Spring Stadium all may also be chosen.

Tips for Winning the NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020

There are a lot of bad items, and very, VERY bad stages that you will have to deal with in the tournament. Success means you will have to learn to deal with those, and degenerate strategies of other people trying to deal with them.

For example, someone may try to camp at the edges of Wii Fit Studio, a stage with walk-offs. They want to bait you to approach them, so they can spot-dodge whatever you do, grab you, and back-throw you for an instant stock down. You don't want to take this bait. Items will spawn throughout the stage, and since you'll be in the centre of it, you'll have control over them and can pelt and harass your opponent with items. In addition, just from doing nothing, your (and your opponent's) Final Smash Metre will slowly charge up.

You'll want to be familiar with the particulars of each item and each stage, such as playing King of the Hill with the top right area of Magicant so you can get the Flying Man to work on your behalf, or recognising that the bananas from the tropical trees on Tortimer Island will heal you for picking them up, and then leave a Banana Peel item in your hands that you can throw. Don't Bowser Bomb into water on stages like Great Bay, because you'll fall right through and lose a stock. You'll want to recognise that throwing items will put your opponent in freeze frames wherein you can follow up with another attack... and then you can catch the item again. That means you can perform some amazing item-involved combos. Oh, you'll definitely want to know how to time item catches well. By the way, you can and should attack your opponent if they're caught in your Smart Bomb. You're immune to the explosion.

I just want to say, a lot of stages that are banned by the competitive community are also ones that no casual player will ever want to play on because being on the receiving end of a degenerate strategy on a bad stage isn't fun for anyone. Awful stages like Super Happy Tree (with the clouds on the sides that some characters can't recover from or reach) and Fourside are available in this tournament, but stages like Final Destination and Smashville are not. Perhaps your character choice should be influenced by what kind of bad stage you could get (that's a way of saying don't pick Little Mac, even if he benefits from effectively getting projectiles with items on). It's unknown if you'll know what stage you'll be going to before picking your character. That's how the process works when playing on the normal Smash mode, but I doubt that's what'll happen for this tournament.

What happened to the Nintendo-Battlefy Online Open Series?

The last time Nintendo sponsored a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament, it was their Super Smash Bros. Ultimate North American Online Open May 2020 with eSports organisation Battlefy. As the name implies, that was a long, long time ago. That tournament was a mess, since it was held over multiple weeks, and some of it was delayed out of “respect” for protests/riots, so it went into the end of June. And then the competitive scene saw a bunch of very bad press at the beginning of July, and Nintendo has socially distanced away from them for several months now.

Because Nintendo's sponsored tournaments with Battlefy for the past year are designed to be at least somewhat competitive (no items, okay stages, best-of-3 stock matches), that social distancing explains why they've stayed away from doing anything for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate competitive scene. In that time, they've done many competitive tournaments—with prizes—for games like Mario Tennis Aces (two of them—one in July and one in September, and I've written about the July one in great detail), Splatoon 2, and even ARMS. All of these have been in partnership with Battlefy. Clearly, Nintendo hasn't dropped Battlefy as a partner, and they haven't dropped doing—and funding—things for their own competitive scenes, either.

The NintendoVS Challenge Cup September 2020 is clearly NOT a competitive event (so they're still social distancing), though adventurous competitive players willing to deal with casual rulesets are likely to be the ones who will get and receive prize money. Still, that means the NintendoVS Challenge Cups can exist as a series alongside the competitive ones they've done before, and they can all give prizes. They have different audiences.

If and when the controversies surrounding the competitive scene pass over, I can see that happening, just based off everything that's already happening with other games.

What if I want to play a competitive tournament on September 26 2020 instead?

If you're in the United States, Canada, or Mexico, and you have an Ethernet connection from your Nintendo Switch to your router, then you can play in the US Army Ultimate Challenge, sponsored by the United States Army's eSports division. If you get first place, you win thousands of dollars, with a total of $5,000 spread across top 8. That's a much bigger prize than what Nintendo is offering.

Just be careful. They'll probably try to recruit/draft you to join the US Army if you're a high placer. ...I'm not sure what happens if Canadians or Mexicans win it, but I wouldn't try to figure that out, if I were you.

I suggest, even though there is no entry fee, staying far away from anything the United States Army does with eSports. They're predatory in their recruiting. All you'll get out of it is a strong possibility of being sent off to die in some war in a foreign hellhole by the warmongering future Joe Biden administration that has little to do with protecting the United States of America from harm. Come on man, that's just a statement that reflects his record.

Disclaimer: Ludwig is a moderator on Battlefy's Discord server for their Super Smash Bros Ultimate sponsored tournament series. You are free to speculate on what that means for his point of view in this article. Perhaps he's biased. Perhaps he knows secret information. Or perhaps he just wants to appear to be more important than he really is. Regardless, he'll reply to your comments in this article on any topic covered. By the way, KoopaTV is giving away a spot into its Nintendo Switch Online Family Group for a year.

The tournament is over and the results have been released. Click here to see how Ludwig did, and why he thinks the Tourney Score system (now explained!) should immediately be reformed.
Ludwig was right... The Battlefy-collaborated North American Online Opens continue... in October 2020!
There's a new NintendoVS Challenge Cup in December, and it's limited in whom you may choose.
The NintendoVS US Challenge Cup Fall 2021 brings this series back, and it still has items... albeit different ones.


  1. Esports / esports.
    Not eSports

    1. Strongly disagree that "eSports" is invalid.
      "Esports (also known as electronic sports, e-sports, or eSports)"

  2. This is only tangentially related I know, but has the online experience actually improved since that announcement by Sakurai? I've tried asking other places but never gotten a definitive response.

    1. I haven't personally noticed anything in terms of lag or wotever.

      Elite Smash/Quickplay match-making has improved, though.

    2. My concern is less outright lag and more input delay. Are the controls any more responsive than before? Are they as, or nearly as, responsive as they are in offline play?


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