It’s no secret that Smash Ultimate has been a rousing success. Selling 14 million copies and reviving the non-Melee Smash scene should be only the beginning! It’s time for Nintendo to fully embrace a dedicated Smash Pro League [SPL]. A centralized Tournament circuit would...
- Provide a stable career for Tournament Organizers
- Generate more viewers and participants
- Establish a National ranking system
- Drive more sales for Smash, Switch systems, and Smash DLC characters
- Attract more sponsors
- Produce massive hype
As you can see, everyone wins from adopting this competitive structure. But how exactly should this happen? Nintendo needs to bring together all of the pre-existing major tournaments under one umbrella as part of the SPL. There needs to be clear criteria for Tournament Organizers to apply so their tournaments are accepted as part of the SPL. The criteria should include a combination of number of entrants, stream viewers, total prize pool, and consistency in organization. For example, the following tournaments would be a great start to the SPL:
- Smash Conference United
- Get on my Level
- Smash N’ Splash
Nintendo would provide support via advertising, generating sponsors, prize pools, and compensation for Tournament Organizers, Commentators, and other staff. In return, the tournaments would all be streamed through the official Nintendo SPL channel, centralizing viewing to one location, and subsequently boosting views. The revenue from the stream and tournaments would be split between Nintendo and the Tournament Organizers. A competitive ruleset for singles and doubles would need to be agreed on for all of the tournaments to keep it consistent.
Players who place well in each of the SPL tournaments will earn SPL Circuit Points in addition to the prize money. At the end of the year’s circuit, the top players (determined by Circuit Points) will be invited to the Nintendo sponsored “Super Smash Brothers Ultimate National Championship.” - A massive event with a big budget for advertising and production, a huge venue, and of course a substantial prize pool with the winner crowned the Smash Ultimate Champion for that year. Nintendo has dipped their toes in the water with their Regional Open Tournaments but there was a lot of disappointment when they announced that the rules would include items and random stages. The competitive community released a collective sigh and turned their attention back to their own tournaments. The random nature of items like Smash Balls, Pokéballs, and Assist Trophies can cause the better player to lose simply due to luck, which is obviously not what you want in a high level Smash tournament. The telltale moment was when one player picked up an Assist Trophy that spawned Nightmare, blacking out the entire screen…yeah, that was definitely not an ideal experience for viewers or players...
It’s no question that the competitive ruleset and community backed by Nintendo’s money and influence would be a powerful force in the global esports arena, putting Smash front and center as one of the premier esports games. The question remains, however, does Nintendo see the untapped potential here and will they ever play (Smash) ball with the competitive community? In the words of Nairo, “It hasn’t happened yet, but it doesn’t mean it can’t ever happen.”
Do you want to see the SPL? Would Nintendo ever even go along with something like this? Would you structure it any differently? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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