The State of Smash 4 - March 2016 Edition

March 2016 has passed, and so another month has happened in the world of Smash 4. A patch took everyone by surprise, balancing out the cast and drastically changing up two of the biggest characters in the meta. Along with that, however, came many events and community developments. As per usual with the series, the State of Smash 4 takes an in-depth, comprehensive look into Smash 4's competitive metagame over the past month. With that out of the way, it's time to get started with March 2016.

Patch 1.1.5
Just when many people thought 1.1.4 could be the final patch, 1.1.5 showed up out of nowhere. Dataminers and testers scrambled to find the changes as fast as they could, and there were quite a few interesting surprises in store. Here's a few of the many changes 1.1.5 brought:
  • A handful of nerfs to some of Sheik's tools (such as Dthrow and Fthrow's knockback growth and launch angle), removing many of her confirmed options and drastically reducing her KO options.
  • A variety of changes to Zero Suit Samus, receiving both nerfs to many of her kill setups but buffs to other moves.
  • A minimal but major change to Meta Knight's Uair, reducing the effectiveness of his ladder combo.
  • A handful of changes to Mewtwo, including a massive mobility buff to his ground speed.
  • A plethora of buffs to Samus across the entire board, including tons of damage buffs and new hitboxes to Fair and Dash Attack.
  • A handful of buffs to Greninja, increasing his survival ability and reducing landing lag on a few moves.
  • Nerfs to a few of Cloud's tools, such as Uair's damage, Aerial Finishing Touch's knockback growth, and more.
  • Various slight damage tweaks to some of Corrin's tools, and a slight nerf to Counter Surge.
  • Various nerfs to Bayonetta, including Witch Time's effectiveness, Heel Slide's duration, and more.
  • A variety of buffs to Charizard, including landing lag reduction on all of his aerials.
  • A multitude of buffs to Zelda, making many of her tools do much more damage.
The full list of changes can be found here, and the official discussion thread can be found here.

Character Developments

This month brought up some similar, but different results when compared to February. Bayonetta was again a potent threat in many tournaments. However, she was overtaken by a predominant presence of Sheik, Diddy Kong and Zero Suit Samus. Sheik was the main victor in many of this month's major events (Glitch, OUTFOXX'D), with Nairo leading the charge for Zero Suit (Shots Fired II, 2GGT: FOW Saga) and taking multiple large events. Diddy Kongs were in more force, taking high spots at major events (JJRockets and Zinoto at OUTFOXX'D, MVD at Shots Fired 2) or even winning (Phogos at MARS 2016). Overall, Sheik was the main winner of this month, despite the large tweaks she received in the new patch.

Major Tournaments


The weekend of March 5th brought forth Shots Fired 2, a multi-Smash game tournament with Smash 4 as the main event. MVG's event would see some scrutiny before it even began; issues at the first Shots Fired and MVG Sandstorm caused understandable concern from many areas of the community. In the end, however, the tournament ran fairly well on the Smash 4 side. What made this tournament interesting was the amount of talent that was coming in for this event: Nairo, 9B, Ranai, Tweek, Mew2King, Dabuz, Anti, and many more all were in attendance. ZeRo, who was originally planning on attending Shots Fired 2, had to cancel due to medical concerns. Even without him in attendance (and what has become an interesting period for Smash 4 as a whole, with its #1 currently on a break from tournaments at this time), the competition was still high in volume, even with only 162 playersin attendance for Smash 4 Singles.

As this event was before the new patch, results were a bit more indicative of 1.1.4's meta. Nairo and Mr. R took 1st and 2nd respectively, with Top 8 having 5 characters (1 ZSS, 1 Bayonetta with another in 9th, 2 Clouds, 1 Mario, and 3 Sheiks). Ranai, who was considered by many to be one of the favorites to win this event, went out at 9th, being defeated by Tweek's Cloud in Winners, and 9B's Bayonetta in Losers. The other major story from this event came from Tweek, who recently had fully dropped Bowser Jr; he went to take 3rd at this event, beating many top level players with solo Cloud.


March 26th would see Smash 4 return to Indiana in force with OUTFOXX'D. This would be the second month in a row that Indiana would feature a large level event (which is a testament to the scene's growth in the past year). Featuring high level talent such as Mew2King, Ally, Zinoto, and Mr. R, competition was fierce.

Mr. R took this event, followed by Ally and Zinoto (whose Diddy went on a solid run, defeating Tyroy, and double eliminating Mew2King to name a few victories). Outside of Tyroy, Bayo presence in the top 16 was minimal. The other major standout result was H-Man, who took 7th with Samus.


Tournament Spotlight
Alongside the major tournaments covered in-depth for March, there were plenty of other events that are worth watching. Here's a few of them:

Smashboards Rankings

Each month, Smashboards updates its Rankings System. For March, these are the Top 20 Smash 4 players as determined by the Smashboards Rankings System. Here's the March 2016 Rankings:


Green arrows indicate the player has advanced in rankings; red indicates a drop in rankings. Players are listed by their Smashboards account.

You can view the complete list here. The Smashboards Rankings System holds tons of bracket and info for many Smash games, and holds a history of brackets all the way back to 2002. If you want to help out with this major project, check out the application thread, and the Tournament Rankings forum.

Community News
March 2016 had a handful of announcements to cover. Here's a timeline of some stories that happened this month:
  • Trevonte joined True Ambition's Smash 4 roster on March 8th.
  • March 10th saw CLG pick up Keitaro, well known Smash 4 TO, for video production.
  • On March 11th, Haven eSports announced that Hyuga would be joining their roster.
  • Patch 1.1.5 dropped on March 15th.
  • Shine 2016 was announced on March 16th. This 3 day event will include Smash 4 as part of its lineup.
  • On March 17th, Smashboards Rankings got a major update. This update added Sub Leagues, Seeding and more!
  • March 24th saw Avyd announce their major championship circuit, with Smash 4 included. This would encompass a handful of events throughout the year and will conclude in the winter with a championship event.
In Review
March, like February, brought along many new things, including a brand new patch. Here's a summary of some of this month's big events:
  • Patch 1.1.5 brought major changes to Smash 4's meta, tweaking characters such as Zero Suit Samus, Sheik, Mewtwo, and so on.
  • Diddy Kong and Bayonetta were prevalent as this month's big winners, with Sheik still thriving despite her changes.
  • March brought the announcement of some upcoming tournaments, including Shine 2016 and the Avyd Championships.
  • Players and community figures like Keitaro and Hyuga were picked up by various eSports teams.
Looking Forward
While it might not bring a patch, April is looking like another solid month for Smash 4 on the tournament end. Here are a few events to look forward to (with some of these events having already occurred):
  • Pound 6: The return of the Pound series, following after a long, multi-year hiatus. Event Thread
  • Texas Gaming Championships 7: The 7th entry in the TGC series. Event Thread
  • Texas Showdown 2016: The newest entry in the Texas Showdown series, featuring Smash 4 as one of the games. Event Thread
Closing Words
March was definitely an interesting month. With a surprise patch, the meta was almost certainly turned on its head, with top tiers like Sheik and Zero Suit Samus having noticeable tweaks. Bayonetta, Cloud, Rosa, Diddy Kong and many others have shown themselves as some of the top characters in this patch, and April will bring more even more things to come.
 
Gunla

Comments

Awesome article Liberation. It sure was, and so much amazing things have happened. Also, hurray for a Sonic getting higher on the rankings.
 
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I always love reading these articles. It's great to have this summary of all the developments and other notable things that happened within the metagame, and it's a really good way to keep track of the way the game is evolving.
 
I don't know why, but I kind of predicted another patch during March. I felt Sakurai wouldn't leave the game as it was, considering Bayonetta was released in 1.1.4, so there would definitely have to be changes
 
surprised you did not bring up the recent happenings over the fallout over the "Season of the Witch"-namely how it's effected Spain and Russia.
 
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