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The Hero from the Dragon Quest franchise was released only a few days ago, but already the Smash community is in a tizzy over whether this crazy new character should be banned in competitive tournaments or not. We’ll go over the arguments for each side and then I’ll give my opinion.
First, a little background on me - I actually organized a Brawl tournament back in 2010 with Meta-Knight (MK) banned. We did this in order to promote character diversity and it went...okay. We made the decision to ban MK because he was simply too good. The entire Brawl meta-game revolved around him. We didn’t have as big of a turnout as our regular Brawl tournaments, but that could’ve been due to any number of reasons unrelated to the ban. The character choices in early bracket were very diverse, as people were emboldened to pick characters with a poor matchup against MK (literally most of the cast). However, as the bracket thinned out you saw the clear top tiers emerge and diversity took a big hit. Most of the top 16 played either Snake, DeDeDe, or Falco, and grand finals consisted of a King Dedede mirror match. Most of the feedback I got after the event was lukewarm - people thought it was interesting and certainly worth a shot, but that they probably wouldn’t come to another similar event. Mostly they felt bad for the Meta-Knight mains they knew who didn’t come. We didn’t run another similar event while I was in school.
The MK situation in Brawl was different than the Hero debate now, because people aren’t saying he’s too good (no one really knows this yet), they’re saying he’s too random. First of all, he has critical hits which have a chance of giving his attack extra damage and knock back. Second, his down-special brings up a list of four out of a possible 21 spells, which likely means the player won’t select the same spell twice. This could result in a lot of Hero players simply spamming down-special to get a random spell. RNG is seen as the enemy of competitive fighting games because losing to a dice roll feels more like gambling and less like a test of skill. This is why so many people are grabbing their torches and pitchforks and clamoring for a ban. However, there are other characters with levels of RNG, and none of them ever heard even a whisper about a ban - Peach turnips, Luigi misfires, and Game & Watch hammers come to mind. Why is their level of RNG acceptable, but Hero’s is not? Exactly how much randomness is acceptable for the Smash community? This is why the discussion is circling the interwebs, the Hero has, by far, the most RNG of ANY character in Smash history – and it’s not even close. But does that warrant a ban?
Due to the sheer volume of RNG in Hero’s kit, the closest comparison that we really have is playing with items on. The Pro-ban side argues that items are banned because they’re inherently full of RNG, so why should Hero be any different? Randomness is bad, therefore the character with a ridiculous amount of randomness should be banned.
The Anti-ban side argues that it’s still too early to take such a drastic measure; we need time to assess if critical hits and random spells are enough of a factor that it actually detracts from competitive play. Furthermore, they point to RNG that is allowed in competitive like the aforementioned examples of Peach, G&W, and Luigi. Some people on this side of the argument even say that some level of RNG is good for competition; it keeps matches from getting stale and makes spectating more fun.
I agree that Hero should not be banned from competitive play so soon. If someone wants to try to run through the bracket with a character as random as Hero and somehow emerges victoriously they should be celebrated as the master of chaos, not scorned as someone just playing a dice roll character. Not being predictable is a core tenant of high level play, and what better way to ensure you’re unpredictable than by not even knowing what your own character is going to do? Looking at some early footage, I think Hero will be a montage-only character. I think he’ll settle into mid-tier on most lists and won’t be picked up by any top players. However, he’ll be extremely entertaining to watch and will likely create many ridiculous highlights. If this leads to an upset victory in a tournament setting, then bring on the pandemonium!
What do you think? Should Hero be banned in competitive play? Let us know in the comments below.