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[Formal Debate - Active] Keep/Remove Counter-Only Stages

Cactuar

El Fuego
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Formal Debate: Keep/Remove Counter-Only Stages

Supervising Staffs:
Cactuar

Team Keep:
ArcNatural
Darkness of Heart
Strong Bad
Sveet

Team Remove:
Ankoku
Divinokage
Little England
Skler


Topic:

The use or removal of counter-only stages, with regards to first round being determined through stage striking and the potential impact on future stage lists should all stages become legal for the first round of a set.


Format:

Opening
Round 1
Round 2
Round 3
Concluding Statements

The teams will take turns responding to points made and in making points of their own. In addition to the standard format for the content, please include a bulleted "tl:dr" list of responses and points to your post, preferably in the same order as they are presented in the text.

Team Keep will begin the debate by describing their side of the topic, as well as explaining their initial points on why counterpicks should be kept.

Team Remove will first respond to the points made, then present their initial points on why counterpicks should be removed.



The teams will be given three rounds to craft their arguments. If necessary, additional rounds may be requested.
 

DoH

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Currently there is a move towards a more conservative ruleset in Super Smash Bros. Melee. To those who represent this faction, elements that they perceive to be random or unknown skew gameplay in such a way that is undesirable and thus deserve to be banned. Only stages that are “fair” enough to be classified as a starter stage should be kept in play, with some stages like Stadium being on that threshold.

However, we respectfully disagree. We believe counterpicks offer an added level of strategy, depth, and fun to our beloved game, for several reasons.
In order to ban a stage, one must set clear criteria as to what constitutes the crossing the threshold of brokenness that is applied evenly across the board. Here is what we present;

a. Bans should be applied when one single strategy or character dominates the game: example would be running away on Hyrule, or Fox on Termina.
b. Glitches or obstacles that impede gameplay: falling through Brinstar Depths, for example.
c. Decreasing randomness that highly impacts the game: example being the tools on Flat Zone.

Some randomness is acceptable; we don’t ban DreamLand because Whispy blows, or ban Peach or Game & Watch because of their respective attacks. KishPrime calls this the “Turnip Threshold” and it is a great standard for determining what extent of randomness competitive players will allow.

The stages that are currently classified as “counterpicks” such as Brinstar and Rainbow Cruise (as well as some of those that are widely classified as banned) do not meet any of these criteria. The reasons for their being banned are largely born out of animus, fear, and a lack of familiarity with these stages; if people played on them half as much as they do on Stadium, which is technically a counterpick, they’d be more inclined to understand the tricks and patterns of these stages. With this framework, there is no logical reason to ban these stages, people just didn’t like them or the Falcon players complained that their character didn’t benefit from counterpicks, so no one should. However, just because they shouldn’t be banned does not mean they should be the all-important first match of a set, because they do skew matchups slightly more than we desire.
Additionally, counterpicks serve as a buffer between what constitutes a banned stage and a starter stage. It encourages players to think outside of the 5 or so starter stages, promoting creativity and growth. Some counterpicks are rather simple, yes, but sometimes you have the instances like MLG Anaheim, where Ken counterpicked PC to Mute City; ingenuity and creativity should be rewarded. One of the reasons we have stuck with Melee is the depth and options it offers; banning stages you don’t like is just further stripping the carcass from what we were given without a warrant. Having counterpicks also offers and additional level of strategy in regards to the stage ban; where to use it, what style does my opponent benefit from, etc.

Finally, removing the concept of counterpicks – and therefore striking from all legal stages – would be a waste of time in our opinion. Stage striking already benefits those characters who work well on a variety of stages. Adding more stages into the starter mix basically ensures that those characters never have to play on the current starters that they are weak on, as generally both players will strike the “counterpick” stages in their strikings. This not only adds more time to tournaments, but would not result in a significant change in the stages being played first round. Lastly, in removing the distinguishment between counterpick and starter, you are forced to then have an odd number of legal stages for stage striking to be fair. This seems counterintuitive to the goal of achieving the absolute best ruleset possible. The best ruleset could have 6, 8, or 10 stages legal. Limiting the possibility of the number of legal stages to an odd number just to remove counterpicks is arbitrary at best. Status quo is not broken, there’s no need to fix it; the current system offers a variety of stages that allow for a relatively neutral battleground for deciding match one, with plenty of options to compensate for playstyle and player preferences.

TL;DR
a. Counterpicks offer a unique opportunity for player inventiveness while not harming the skill-based tests that tournaments offer
b. Removing the concept of counterpicks is pointless when considering the tendency of players as well as forcing an arbitrary stage number
c. Status quo is good, no reason to change
 

Skler

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Counterpicks have been a part of competitive Super Smash Brothers Melee for a very long time. The idea of a player getting to pick a stage from an expanded list if they lose a game is unique to smash brothers, but we must ask why do we have this system? Melee's counterpick system should not exist, and is simply a relic that has stuck around for years.

Stages should either be legal or not legal. How can we say a stage is "ok for competitive play, but not for use in the first game of a set?" There is no real criteria for what makes a stage a counterpick or starter, so why do we even draw this line? If all stages are competitively fair then there is no reason for any to be placed into a sort of legal limbo by making them counterpicks.

In addition to a lack of clear criteria for what constitutes a counterpick or starter, there is no clear competitive gain for having counterpick only stages. How does not being able to be on Brinstar the first match make for a better game? If a stage is good for competitive play then it is good for competitive play at any point.

Melee's counterpick system lacks any drawbacks. In other fighting games you are offered the chance to switch characters after losing a game, but you may not switch after winning. This sort of drawback for using the counterpick system (which means you must be competent in multiple characters for all matchups to make use of it) a risk, and while it is seldom used in competitive fighters it is balanced. The Melee counterpick system has no such balance, so picking a pocket stage/character combination is often effective if your opponent is not prepared for such a move. There is no balance for this, as if you win you may switch characters back to whomever you are most comfortable with. Rewarding learning to play a specific character on a specific stage is a strange thing, and is it really something we want to do?


Tl;DR

1. There are no guidelines for what makes a stage a counterpick or a starter, so why do we even bother doing so?

2. The counterpick system is not beneficial to competition, so why use it?

3. The Melee counterpick system is broken and rewards not mastery of the game, but mastery of a specific character on a specific stage. The idea of counterpick only stages exasperates this problem.
 

DoH

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First of all, there's no warrant as to why a stage has to be legal or banned. That is an arbitrary opinion at best. Allowing the concept of counterpick stages creates a brightline between legal starter stages and those stages we deem unfit for competitive play by saying 'these stages don't offer the vacuum-like conditions that we would like out of the all important first match, but they still offer competitive value, do not break the game, and do not justify a ban.' That is rational criteria for the inclusion of a counterpick system. Additionally, there is currently no set criteria as to what constitutes a starter stage and a banned stage. Counterpicks at least offer a buffer in between what we consider fair for game one and those we ban.

Secondly, your arguments are inherently unresponsive to most of our arguments. Under your framework, the optimal ruleset can only include an odd number of stages. What happens when the community decides that they would like to ban Brinstar? If there were no counterpicks and we struck from all available stages, considering the current ruleset's 9 legal stages, you would be forced to ban another stage, like Stadium (LOL) or Cruise, or you would have players strike down to two stages and random between them. Both results are undesirable; we eliminated random stage selection for a reason, and arbitrarily banning a stage to maintain an odd number of stages is bad for creating rulesets.

The current system is not without its flaws, but it does provide some benefits for characters. Take Peach for instance. Most players are going to ban Brinstar against her; for her stage choice, she then has some options that depend on who her opponent is. She can try and outtank them on Dream Land, chain throw/combo them on FD, or trap and punish them on Fountain. If she is playing a campy Fox, she would definitely want to take them to FoD, as they can't really get away from her and there is a high ceiling. Without Brinstar on as a counterpick, they can ban FoD and run away laser or platform camp, meaning she is either forced to take them to FD and try and grab them, or risk getting killed super early on Yoshis since she can't catch up to them on bigger stages. The current system is a check against those characters who dominate on neutrals; your system would only further serve to increase the gap.

You bring up an interesting point about advanced slob picks, but this debate is about whether or not we should allow counterpicks. Perhaps another debate on that topic would be beneficial. However, there's a lack of empirical evidence as to why our current counterpick system is broken; comparisons to other fighters should not be taken so heavily. We are our own community. You say that the counterpick slob system lacks balance, but can you give me game breaking examples at high level play? Many players have a pocket Sheik for low tiers or pocket Peach for Ice Climbers or something to that effect, but rarely are they so shallowly developed that they depend on a single counterpick to work. Armada worked really hard on his Young Link counter, and it is not Dream Land dependent.

So basically you are going to look to our arguments about not arbitrarily banning stages to maintain an odd number of stages, as well as the idea that the "counterpick" stages would in most cases get struck first in such a system as the negative team is proposing, which only serves to lengthen sets and take up more time at tournaments without any change being the result. If they propose to ban the counterpicks and just have starter stages legal, we have presented several argument as to why the counterpick stages are beneficial to competition. The negative doesn't really have an answer to these arguments and doesn't engage us on them either.

TL:DR

1. No reason to change the status quo, there's no evidence that shows the CP system to be game breaking or detrimental to competitive play, just vacuous claims

2. Their system is dependent on having an odd number of stages, which is creates arbitrary bans to preserve an odd number of stages. This is bad for competition and is solved by the CP system

3. Our system rewards those who have the most knowledge of the game, encouraging a variety of stages, characters, and playstyles while keeping as much of the game intact with our competitive goals in mind.
 

Zankoku

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By now it is an odd claim that just because the status quo is satisfactory, it should not be changed. Was not Random for the first stage the status quo for seven years of the game's life? In addition, with the gradual reduction of counter stages over time, with only two counter stages for Genesis 2 and many people advocating the singular counter stage of Pokémon Stadium, claiming that nothing is wrong with the current system is wholly ignoring the slow crawl toward the loss of counter stages to begin with. The counter-picking system itself adds complexity to the game - this should not be implemented unless it actually adds competitive value as well. Keeping the rules as pure and simple as possible to let the actual game shine through should be the end goal.

As to the argument of "stages that don't offer the vacuum-like conditions that we would like out of the... first match", this is moving dangerously close into the territory of classifying stages as "neutral". Presumably, all stages that are currently legal are sufficiently within the boundaries of "unfair" to be considered acceptable for tournament play. Adding onto that the requirement for stages to be as static as possible is a subjective preference, rather than an objective attempt at preserving both balanced play and the original game.

Finally, the example regarding Peach having two viable options in the current system (Final Destination and Fountain of Dreams) while somehow having Dream Land when allowing all stages is a very peculiar argument. What is it about having Brinstar legal or not on the first round that changes whether a campy Fox can laser camp on Dream Land or not?

There is a somewhat valid argument regarding the stage strike system, in that there may be issues in the case of having an even number of stages. However, the current system has us striking in 1221 order, leaving the final strike to player 1. With an even number (like, 6, for example), having the simple 12121 order still gives player 1 the final strike. Or, using the same initial "1221" order and alternating afterward, like 12212, allows the player going second to have more strikes. Finally, if you want the player with fewer strikes to have the advantage of final strike, giving the first player two strikes would work (11212). In addition, note that prior to widely adopting the stage striking system, we did in fact have six starter stages in the random pool... citing issues with stage number at this point is taking a double-standard-like "you can never go back" stance on the entire thing.

The current counter-only system does not actually reward "knowledge of the game" or encourage "variety" in a very favorable form... Thanks to the counter-pick system, a player who learns Jigglypuff for Brinstar would never have to master the stage because he'd simply select Jigglypuff in the case that he ends up on Brinstar. The same can be said for Fox on Kongo Jungle. Why ban Rainbow Cruise when you can just have a Fox that can only play on Rainbow Cruise? If all stages were legal for the first round of the game when you would actually have to learn all the stages you would want to play on with all the characters that you regularly play. Also, with the fact that there is absolutely no possibility of a counter-only stage seeing play on the first round, this lessens its influence on a set and simply encourages even more play on starters, leading to the oft-cited case of a player winning on a starter, losing on a counter-only stage, and then going right back and winning on another starter. This is not "variety", unless you count a bunch of people picking Brinstar+Jigglypuff or Brinstar-vs-space-animal or Kongo+Fox for the second game of a given set as variety.

In conclusion, claiming starters should be made such because of qualities like "vacuum-like conditions" is already bending the game through restriction of stages, but introducing counter-only stages does not actually create variety as one might think. The "variety" provided by these stages is only seen in the form of extreme character-stage combination counter-picking, rather than promoting players' game knowledge or diversity of playstyles. Issues with stage striking can be solved just as they were when stage striking was first made the norm from random stage selection. There are only weak reasons to maintain a complex and somewhat contradictory system of stage distinctions and removing the category of "counter-only" would actually be more effective in the perceived benefit of encouraging variety and learning the game.

TL;DR

1. The status quo is placed on a set of antiquated beliefs to begin with, and does not properly outweigh the added complexity with the supposed benefits it brings.

2. The issues of stage striking needing an odd number of stages are easily solved, and should not serve as an argument-breaking detriment.

3. The current system does not reward players in the way that is perceived or hoped for, while eliminating the category of "counter-only" will do so in a more significant way.
 

Zankoku

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Do we get to claim victory by default after some time period?
 

Cactuar

El Fuego
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Delete:



The endgoal is having a fully thought out debate on both sides, not necessarily a winner and loser.

But yes, you can claim victory at the end of this week. Part of your responsibilities as the winners will be to PM the opposing team and obnoxiously rub your victory in their faces for being losing losers.
 

Fortress | Sveet

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Delete:


In our debate group I have dissected the last post by the opposing team, but so far we have relied on DoH to do the formal posting and he has been inactive so far as i can tell.
 

ArcNatural

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It's kind of hard to debate a topic that during the initial phases of this debate (ie before it even started) we actually had counterpick stages. The MBR new ruleset has already reduced this to PS.

I suppose the debate is still viable for teams but yeah...
 

Cactuar

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I don't think the debate topic is influenced based on the number of counterpicks available under the new ruleset. The topic afaik is whether there should be a flat stage list that includes all counterpicks and neutrals as "legal stages", vs having a two part standard stage list. I haven't read through the actual debate yet as I wanted to wait until the final round or completion. Would either side like me to interrupt and assess the validity of the topic?

Also, if the issue is just with DoH being inactive, you are more than welcome to post your team's argument. The purpose of the primary poster was just to prevent collisions of submissions. I will have to go through and clean this thread now anyway as the technical difficulties have led to extraneous posts.
 

Strong Badam

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We've all gotten busy in our lives (dem johns) and the debate seemed to be going in circles anyway. If I have time later tonight or Friday, I'll likely write up and post our response unless Sveet or ArcNatural wish to do so.
 

Zankoku

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I think we should find something new to talk about.
 
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