Most people who follow competitive scenes are aware of the term "upset" and use it frequently when discussing matches or sets. For those who aren’t, an upset is typically defined as one player or team losing to another, deviating from the expected result. An upset can occur for countless reasons, from character match-ups unknown to one of the players, a lack of confidence affecting skill, something unusual occurring in-game, among others. Contrary to the connotations of the word “upset”, it’s not necessarily bad to see these types of results in tournaments, especially at majors. The latest major tournament held in the US, Community Effort Orlando 2016, was home to numerous upsets across various games this year, but for the sake of brevity and relevance, this article will be looking at Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and taking a quick peak at what the various upsets and results of CEO mean for the current Smash 4 metagame.
To Fell a King
TSM’s own King of Smash 4, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, has had a bit of a rough run in 2016, having being defeated by some of Smash 4’s finest players, including Ally, eLevate Larry Lurr, and CEO’s champion Dream Team Anti. While it’s expected for players of their skill level to have eventually toppled their foe after his lengthy undefeated streak had ended, the crowd from Orlando and the world over was shocked to see ZeRo drop into loser’s bracket in pools to Prince Ramen.
Credit to VGBC for streaming and uploading Smash at CEO
To see ZeRo lose is surprising all together because up until this point he had given a fight to the last match and to the last hit; however, Prince Ramen managed to run away with an impressive 2-0 using Palutena, a character often disregarded outside of the Customs meta due to her incredibly frame-tight execution and a limited amount of versatile tools with generally unfavorable frame data. Fighting against the scarfed hero’s signature Diddy Kong should have been a quick 2-0 in ZeRo’s favor, but Prince Ramen was able to keep pressure on throughout the match and took advantage of every opportunity to punish ZeRo’s less optimal approaches, resulting in one of the greatest upsets at a Smash 4 major to date. While ZeRo managed to fight his way out of his pools and make an impressive loser’s run into top 16, he was once again thwarted by Larry Lurr in an incredible 3-0. This not only added on to ZeRo’s streak of not collecting the gold in Smash 4 but has also given him his first tournament finish outside of the top 8 that he has attended.
A World Warrior, A Mecha Master, and a Feral Fighter
Taking the focus off ZeRo, another surprising upset occured during CEO 2016 pools for Smash 4 featuring Panda Global’s newly acquired Trela. A player well known for his impressive control over Ryu and one of the many established players in belief that Ryu is theoretically one of the best characters in the game had fallen into loser’s bracket early on to Jade, a Bowser Jr. main from Florida.
VGBC made it a point to upload the VODs for these historic upsets within minutes of happening. Seriously.
Despite how the match-up was expected to play out, Jade showed mastery over the Clown Car’s movement options and pressure extended by the Koopa Prince’s arsenal of unorthodox projectiles leading to an astounding 2-1. Trela would later falter in loser’s bracket and be eliminated by another Floridian player named Mika, who played Lucario. This is not to say any of these players didn’t play well; a recently sponsored player being toppled in bracket by local players, while representing one of the top characters and losing to a character that is generally accepted to be middle of the road if not lower, is an incredible sign for where the Smash 4 metagame is right now.
A Healthy Check Up
There were other surprising results at CEO 2016, but by taking these two cases we can get a good look at the current position the metagame is sitting at. We have seen an incredible amount of character diversity in just top 8 alone, let alone from top 16, top 64, or the entire tournament. The results of CEO 2016 proved that consistency is even harder to attain in the current meta because of players rising in skill level and keeping the top from just being a select few players with a select pool of characters. When looking for signs of a healthy metagame, it's better to see large character representation represented by an equally large player pool, which showcases the viability of the cast of a game on the merits of the players instead of how heavily one character outweighs another. It opens the door for players to play characters that fit their playstyles and allows them to express their passions to play the game without being destined for mediocrity, leading to niche characters having previously unprecedented representation on stages and screens. It also allows for the metagame to perpetuate a player playing more than one character for the sake of being prepared for a plethora of match-ups instead of betting it all on one horse, so to speak.
Another massive factor worth noting here is that just because certain players have more public visibility, they aren’t ensured to occupy the tops of brackets. Relatively unknown talent can crop up wherever a tournament is hosted, and when that happens, we as a community get to see great players who otherwise wouldn’t be known by the larger majority of viewers. It creates a healthy environment for competition, where players of all skill levels from all locations will continue to learn and grow because no one is ensured their time in the spotlight unless they put the dedication and time into their game of choice.
There's still plenty to watch this summer as we look forward to one of the biggest Smash tournaments of all time at EVO 2016! Think the Smash 4 metagame is going in the right direction, or do you feel we'll see an unexpected turn in the game's lifespan? Sound off in the comments below, and remember to check back at Smashboards for more coverage and discussion of all things Super Smash Brothers as we continue on through one of the most exciting summers of Smash yet!