The Nature of an Upset: What it Means for Competitive Smash


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.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6eqhPLjDhg

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!
 
Frank "Hangman" DeJohn

Comments

#3
If we never saw another patch, I think we'd see the meta continue in an awesome direction. A game with a gigantic roster like this needs character diversity on the competitive level, and with the advent of this tournament, it looks like that's what we're going to see for years to come.

The word I have to describe how I'm feeling is a word used by all, but most gloriously by M. Bison:

 
#5
10 Diddy Kongs in Top 64 is not what I'd call character variety.
But you know what is interesting? Three Olimars. That's a rare occasion.
I just hope that the whole Cloud controversy could just end. Seriously, I've had enough.
 
#6
10 Diddy Kongs in Top 64 is not what I'd call character variety.
But you know what is interesting? Three Olimars. That's a rare occasion.
I just hope that the whole Cloud controversy could just end. Seriously, I've had enough.
You should see Melee. The character variety is still really good for a competitive game.

Both of these were great to watch, I love it when upsets like this can happen.
ZeRo versus Prince Ramen was so hype. Taking advantage of Rage like Ramen did was so heartbreaking for ZeRo. It seemed like he would out play Ramen for a while and then make one silly mistake. It was wild.

Props to Ramen and Jade for making names for themselves.
 
#8
10 Diddy Kongs in Top 64 is not what I'd call character variety.
But you know what is interesting? Three Olimars. That's a rare occasion.
I just hope that the whole Cloud controversy could just end. Seriously, I've had enough.
Everyone Diddy Kong I've seen is unique in its own regard. Unlike some other top tiers pre and post patch.

On another note many people were shocked at ZeRo getting 9th. But Ally got like 49th dropping a Mario ditto to Zenyou and Nairo got like either 17th or 13th losing to Hyuga who Nairo has beaten the last 2 times. Also Zinoto getting 2nd was super hype. Fantastic tournament
 
#9
It's a huge bummer there weren't more streams. I heard there were a lot more amazing matches that happened off stream.
 
#10
You can certainly make the case that the tier lists as we knew them are less meaningful than previous games in the Smash series. No one character seems to have an overwhelming advantage these days, so long as player skill is roughly equal.
 
#11
Can I just say that this shows the diversity of the tier list? I mean, hello? Was there even a Shiek main who got out of loser's brackets? Was anybody else hype af that Zinoto got 2nd? That Nairo, Ally, Nakat, AND Zer0 got taken out before Top 8? These guys are the ones usually getting top 8 in the first place and they didn't even make it there. The only "god" of sm4sh that made it to Top 8 was Dabuz, and he got taken out by Abadango. You can bet money and an eyeball that EVO will be the defining point in the metagame for sm4sh.
 
#12
Congratulations. But can Prince Ramen and Jade consistently perform as well as they did?
 
#13
And yet too many people still play Sheik and Diddy Kong.
Oh right, that's because Zero plays as them.

*Sighs*

I don't want this game to be like competitive Melee. All people playing 5 or 6 characters is boring to watch. I like seeing Smash to have characters from highly different universe you'd never expect to cross over and Duke it out. But when I see the same matchups over and over it just makes me wanna go do something else.
 
#14
starting to have an air familiar to Street Fighter 4 now where there are undisputed best characters(Evil Ryu) but it's not too uncommon to see top placements of obscure characters.

I like. I like a lot.
 
#15
And yet too many people still play Sheik and Diddy Kong.
Oh right, that's because Zero plays as them.

*Sighs*

I don't want this game to be like competitive Melee. All people playing 5 or 6 characters is boring to watch. I like seeing Smash to have characters from highly different universe you'd never expect to cross over and Duke it out. But when I see the same matchups over and over it just makes me wanna go do something else.
I dare say, as far as fighting games go. This was exceptionally varied. Not as much Diddys or Shieks as before. They are great characters, that's why people use them. Talking about no variation when a PALUTENA beat ZeR0
 
#16
And yet too many people still play Sheik and Diddy Kong.
Oh right, that's because Zero plays as them.

*Sighs*

I don't want this game to be like competitive Melee. All people playing 5 or 6 characters is boring to watch. I like seeing Smash to have characters from highly different universe you'd never expect to cross over and Duke it out. But when I see the same matchups over and over it just makes me wanna go do something else.
Too bad Competitive Melee and high tier Smash 4 is still really entertaining to watch regardless of character matchups :^)
 
#17
Too bad Competitive Melee and high tier Smash 4 is still really entertaining to watch regardless of character matchups :^)

Except it's not. It's just the same combos and wavedashing I've seen a hundred times over. Melee is incredibly boring to watch with its outdated character roster when compared to the brighter and bigger cast of Smash 4.
 
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#19
And yet too many people still play Sheik and Diddy Kong.
Oh right, that's because Zero plays as them.

*Sighs*

I don't want this game to be like competitive Melee. All people playing 5 or 6 characters is boring to watch. I like seeing Smash to have characters from highly different universe you'd never expect to cross over and Duke it out. But when I see the same matchups over and over it just makes me wanna go do something else.
Only a given set amount of people still use Sheik. Sheik is definitely not everywhere and Diddy Kong as no where near the amount of people it had pre patch. And how can you say no variety when all of top 8 was full of variety with only 1 repeat
 
#24
I used to play competitive Melee -__-
What do you mean by the same combos and wave dashing get boring? For one they're basic fundamentals as some of the characters used within that field. So it's kind of to be expected within the meta. Smash 4 is no exception to this either. You see lots of pivots, dash dancing, wave bouncing, etc. So why does Smash 4 get a free pass to this when the same of what you said to Melee can be applied to Smash 4?

Secondly, there is more to Melee than just the same combos and wave dashing. There's still new mechanics introduced within the game that allow for more movement options like velocity canceling. And people have utilized those movement options to the best of their abilities to create mix ups, extend combos, or surprise the opponent with an approach they might not have saw coming. Which again the same can be applied to Smash 4, with people figuring out what new things can be applicable to high level play either through specific characters or movement options any character can execute through times inputs.

Yeah a lot of people in Melee end up using the same characters. There's a lot of Fox, there's a lot of Falco, and Marth, etc. but again it's not so much different from Smash 4 where you still see a lot of Sheik, a lot of Zero Suit, a lot of Mario, etc. Low tiers are more common to show up yes but that doesn't mean top tiers don't show up as frequently. They're top tier because they're shown to consistently perform well within the competitive scene where as lower tier characters either have a few results or none at all (and this is coming from someone who mains Palutena.)

My point is, don't go criticizing Melee for aspects within high level play when the exact same can be applied to Smash 4.
 
#26
Because Melee is outdated and ugly as hell.
few problems with this.

1. It's obviously not out dated if there's still a competitive scene around the game. That's like saying Marvel vs Capcom 2 is outdated even though there's still a competitive scene based around that game.

2. The model quality has nothing to do with how the game's competitive scene should be compared to Smash 4's competitive scene. I mean last I checked no one played Smash 4 over Melee because of the higher definition. Also you're comparing an early Gamecube game to an early Wii U title that's kind of not very fair. That's like saying Metal Gear Solid 1 is overrated because it's graphics fail in comparison to the Phantom Pain.

3. None of this proves why your criticisms towards Melee shouldn't be applied to Smash 4 when I can name instances where your complains are applicable. Mario for instance, even in high level play you still see down throw to up-tilt combos or Mario with pivot up smashes. Why? Because THEY WORK. These are people competing for big money and possibly sponderships so of course they're going to rely on the things that work, just like in Melee.

Your reasons for putting Smash 4 on a higher pedestal than Melee are incredibly petty, and this is coming from someone who generally doesn't CARE much for Melee.
 
#29
Also I play Project M and enjoy it much more than Melee
how can you say that after you said melee is ugly and outdated? if it was outdated the competitive scene would be dead

also how does that make me lose credibility? id say it sums up your behavior here pretty well. Which is saying "melee is outdated but i used to play it herp derp" that makes no sense since competitive melee players really like the game, they have a lot of passion for the game and i havent heard any melee player say that
 
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#30
It saddens me when people say some matchups are boring to watch or that smash as a whole is boring to watch because of its "repetitiveness" or lack of diversity. Smash isnt all about aesthetic value in combos, or how cool a matchup looks, or even what type of character is fighting. Spectating smash is all about observing the match and breaking down what the opponent did and why. Mario doing the ally combo on bowser then utilts to uairs to an up b shouldnt be viewed as "oh that combo again i've seen this 2312.81 times already its boring", but "oh that combo? How did he think of that? What options was he covering? When did he start the combo? What could the opponent have done to avoid it? Was it the most optimal decision?".

Only then can you enjoy smash spectating to the fullest, you learn from other's mistake and understand their good decisions as well, in turn enhancing your play. Its a learning experience as well as a visual one.
 
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#32
ThisIsntNotMetal ThisIsntNotMetal realmwars realmwars Ax^2 Ax^2 aye we good, leave him alone now.

On topic, upsets are at a high now because of the amount of MUs to consider. Let people's fundamentals get solid and let MUs get developed and we'll see wayyy less of this.
I figure I'd at least mention this is a forum generally for the discussion of the meta game of Smash whether it be Melee, Project M, 4 or whatever has a competitive field set around it, and if someone does say something that either peaks the interest of another, find disagreement with, or sometimes both, a discussion generally comes to happen. It's important to be wary of that if you decide to review, criticize, or even praise the meta game of any Smash game on here because it can easily spark a discussion which I thought about jumping in on just to get my two sense out there.

Rest assure it was not done out of hostility (and anyone else whose intentions were that way I give no condolences but also hold no responsibility for their actions.)
 
#34
few problems with this.

1. It's obviously not out dated if there's still a competitive scene around the game. That's like saying Marvel vs Capcom 2 is outdated even though there's still a competitive scene based around that game.

2. The model quality has nothing to do with how the game's competitive scene should be compared to Smash 4's competitive scene. I mean last I checked no one played Smash 4 over Melee because of the higher definition. Also you're comparing an early Gamecube game to an early Wii U title that's kind of not very fair. That's like saying Metal Gear Solid 1 is overrated because it's graphics fail in comparison to the Phantom Pain.

3. None of this proves why your criticisms towards Melee shouldn't be applied to Smash 4 when I can name instances where your complains are applicable. Mario for instance, even in high level play you still see down throw to up-tilt combos or Mario with pivot up smashes. Why? Because THEY WORK. These are people competing for big money and possibly sponderships so of course they're going to rely on the things that work, just like in Melee.

Your reasons for putting Smash 4 on a higher pedestal than Melee are incredibly petty, and this is coming from someone who generally doesn't CARE much for Melee.

Perhaps id just rather see people take risks than just do "what works". Sometimes taking those risks cam help lead to new strategies.
 
#35
Perhaps id just rather see people take risks than just do "what works". Sometimes taking those risks cam help lead to new strategies.
I'm sorry but that's never going to happen in the middle of the tourney scene. At home practice maybe but during the competition? Hell n, and you know reason why? You'd never get the chnce in high level play. Considering there are pople there competing for prizes and possibly sponsrships the aren't going to risk all that just for the sake of experimentation. They're gong to use what they DO know works so they can climb the ranks. That's why people practice new things at home rather than on the scene itself.

I was almost a victim of trying that one time but a friend of mine told me "If you can't do this certain tatic don't try it in the tournent, it'll mess u your gameplay." I took the advice and I still ended up placing rather well with Ness, because I used what I knew worked against my opponents.

Plus it's as Ax^2 Ax^2 said earlier. It's not just about the combos themselves, it's how they're started and the optimal approaches you can make with them. Sometimes the same combo can be started from different ways positions, so the idea is to actually oberve the opponent in HOW they make it work and if the opponent can think of a way out of it or not. It becomes a test of wit from both players.

Hell I'm pretty sure Prince Ramen had practiced quite a bit using Palutena before taking her onto the field. Because if your goal is to advance in a tournament, experentation is the LAST thing you want on your mind. Tell me, what sounds better to you? Randomly doing moves and praying to god the work or your opponent is off their game? Or going with what you know?
 
#37
I really enjoy the fact that many other players across the globe have the talent to compete with the best, dont get me wrong I support Trela and ZeRo as much as I can but when Ramen and Jade randomly appeared man, I have been waiting for a drastic upset llke this to happen, keeps the metagame fresh and everchanging.
 
#39
Congratulations. But can Prince Ramen and Jade consistently perform as well as they did?
We'll have to see. It's very uncommon to find lower tiers at big tournaments like CEO. But then again, Axe came into EVO last year with a mid-tier character and kicked S tier's *** in under a minute with it. And even so, if the low-tier mains get a win or two it won't matter. Somebody better with better tech skill will be waiting for them later on in winner's or loser's bracket. If a low-tier takes a game or two then the crowd instantaneously become's that person's posse anyways. Like I stated in an earlier comment, because of the upsets, people should go into EVO expecting nothing less than the hype at CEO times ten.
 
#40
LOL. XD

I really enjoy the fact that many other players across the globe have the talent to compete with the best, dont get me wrong I support Trela and ZeRo as much as I can but when Ramen and Jade randomly appeared man, I have been waiting for a drastic upset llke this to happen, keeps the metagame fresh and everchanging.
Damn I wish someone would come out like that with Pichu in Melee... XD (not joking BTW, that would be awesome to see!)
 
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