Smash Bros Wii U: Nintendo's new eSport
The Smash Bros Wii U tournament was a highlight of E3 2014 for competitive gamers
Just as Valve unveiled Dota 2 at the International at Gamescom 2011, Nintendo chose to showcase Super Smash Bros Wii U with an invitational tournament of its own at the Nokia Theatre in LA. Coming hours after the Nintendo Digital Event in which Nintendo bosses Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata had amused us with their pre-recorded fight routine, it was down to the serious business of live competitive gaming.
Given that Nintendo didn’t hold a live conference, this was the fan’s opportunity to show their appreciation for the company and they didn’t hold back, whipping up an atmosphere as good as anything we'll see at football stadiums across Brazil this summer. Producer Masahiro Sakurai seemed genuinely stunned by the cheers that greeted his appearance on stage.
With this kind of backing, the stage is set for this unconventional eSport to thrive, crucially with Nintendo’s backing. After refusing to sanction a Super Smash Bros Melee tournament at EVO 2013, it will appear at EVO 2014 in July, and there is also $15,000 available for the winners of the Melee tournament at MLG Anaheim this month. If there is demand for competitive tournaments featuring Smash Bros Melee – a 12 year old GameCube game - imagine the potential for Smash Bros Wii U.
The format wasn’t exactly traditional, with a character draft taking place pre-tournament to determine who played as who.
Then it was pretty simple. Four players went face to face in each match, with the top two highest scoring players advancing to the next round. The format continued until only two players remained and battled each other in a final. Popular community figures D1, Prog, and Scar described the action for fans.
The stars of the show
Players from Chile, Japan and the US competed, including notable Smash Bros stars, AMsa, Hungrybox, Ken, KoreanDJ, PPMD and Zero.
Many of the players were well known from the international circuit, having won a great number of titles. Most recently, Zero had taken second place at the renowned Apex 2014 tournament before winning the MLG-sponsored Shuffle V title in Columbus, Ohio.
Zero entered the tournament as many fan’s favourite to take home the crown. AMsa, Hungrybox, KoreanDJ, PPMD and Zero selected Olimar, Kirby, Rosalina, Fox, and Zero-Suit Samus respectively as their characters ahead of the tournament.
The brawl begins
There were a number of surprises along the way to the final as some of the biggest stars were eliminated earlier than expected.
A number of rounds were decided by fans voting for their favourites, meaning players who had served up the most entertaining round sometimes advanced in place of their opponents.
The final four were Zero, AMsa, Hungrybox, and Lilo, with the latter playing as Wii Fit Trainer. Like much of the tournament, this match was a nail-bitingly tight affair, with two of the players unable to be separated.
Lilo, with a -2 score, was eliminated while Hungrybox and his Kirby earned a spot in the Grand Final outright, but Zero and AMsa were tied at 0 each. This meant that it was down to the crowd to decide Hungrybox’s opponent for the Grand Final. With even the voting being extremely close, it was decided that Zero had just edged it and earned the remaining place.
With five stock characters each (essentially lives), the two Smash Bros juggernauts went at it on the grand stage. After five minutes, the two players could not be separated and had one stock player left each. As regulation time came to a close, despite Hungrybox carrying a significantly lower health percentage, the rules of the tournament meant that the game went to sudden death.
Both players had the damage percentage of their final character raised to 300% but Zero’s Zero Suit Samas triumphed over Hungrybox’s Kirby. As both players hesitated to attack, Zero landed a kick that sent Kirby soaring out of the map and sent Zero into the record books. The trophy was presented to Zero by the president of Nintendo of America, Reggie Fils-Amie.
The fun didn’t end there, though, with the audience being asked to vote for their favourite player from each match to make an appearance in the Fan-Favourite tournament. The final of the Fan-Favorite tournament was contested between Hugs’ Mega Man and PPMD’s Fox.
The format was slightly different to that of the regular Grand Final, with the two players competing for most kills to win. Again though, the match was extremely tight and with time ticking away, the players were tied for kills. There were 10 seconds remaining when PPMD began to develop a slight lead, landing a number of attacks on his opponent.
Hugs was sent scrambling and attempted stay in the arena as the commentators and fans counted down the final seconds. It was here that PPMD launched the fatal blow, knocking Hugs off the map with the use of Fox’s Landmaster with only seconds on the clock. Fox was crowned the outright winner by the scoreboard, meaning PPMD had won.
With MLG Anaheim just around the corner, Smash Bros has momentum and, if scenes like this are anything to go by, we hope that Smash Bros will have a bright future on the eSports circuit.
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