Greetings, and welcome to a new monthly series called The State of Smash 4. This will take a look into Smash 4’s competitive metagame, major events and the community’s developments from the past month; each new iteration of this series will be posted early on in the following month. October has been quite the month, with many major events and news coming out at a frequent rate, and the start of a new era in Smash 4. Without further ado, it's time to reflect over what's happened in October!
Right before October, a new patch dropped. This patch brought a lot of changes to custom moves and minimal changes to specific characters; the major changes came to Luigi, who lost a major tool in the way of DThrow KO setups. The full list of changes can be found here.
The patch also brought along a major change in the terms of shields. Many moves changed their properties on shield; characters got safer options, while some suffered as a result, notably heavies. Details can be found in this thread. With it in place, some new characters took center stage. Big winners included Zero Suit Samus and Pikachu, the former becoming what many consider to be the 2nd best character in the game on a definitive level. Many local tournaments and regionals saw a bit of a decrease in certain characters in well in between this time period, as well as an increase in some.
The character of this month, by far, has been Ike. Often being shied away from due to his recovery, this month has seen a huge presence in the one who fights for his friends. MVG’s Ryo has placed quite high at many tournaments, changing opinions about the character. However, he’s not alone; The Big House had 3 players who had a prominent Ike. This character has definitely grown in popularity as of late, with these Smashers taking him to the next level and even showing a few matchups.
Ryu has had a continued strong showing alongside some of the other top characters of this game. More smashers are starting to think that Ryu is in that category as well; with very strong matchups against certain characters and his more difficult matchups being characters that aren’t as present in majors, the character is being played by more and more people, including Trela, 9B, 6WX and False all using Ryu, either as a secondary or as a main.
Many Luigi players dropped the character since his recent changes in the new patch; however, many players are still going strong and sticking with him. Despite the nerf, Luigi remains a powerful and strong character, albeit not in the Top 10 position that he was prior. Players like Boss have continued to stick with the character and have performed on a solid level.
October had two major tournaments for Smash 4, one occurring at the very beginning of the month (The Big House 5, held in Michigan), and one during the latter half of the month (MLG World Finals 2015, held in Louisiana). Both of these tournaments have some rather memorable moments for Smash 4’s history.
The Big House 5, the 5th version of this legendary event held by Juggleguy and the TBH Staff, occurred at the beginning of the month. With over 500 entrants, it became one of the largest tournaments in Smash 4’s history. Via a Donation Drive, titled the “Big House Compendium”, the community helped massively increase the pot size, entrant caps, and brought in notable players, such as Abadango and Vinnie, to play at the event. This also marked the first iteration of The Big House that Smash 4 was present at, as the 3DS version was released the day before The Big House 4 and the Wii U version wasn’t out.
Earlier in September, Juggleguy and the TBH staff announced that any new patch wouldn’t see much use until after The Big House 5, prompting many to ignore the new changes until this event had passed. This led to the new patch being mostly alluded to at the event (such as during Abadango vs ANTi, when the latter pulled out Luigi), and many commentators referencing it's changes. The event turned out to be a massive event with 512 players present for Singles and a majority of the top professionals of Smash 4 in attendance.
After losing to Seagull Joe 0-2 in earlier brackets, TeamSoloMid’s ZeRo ran through with a comeback, taking out a variety of players. He was nearly defeated in an incredibly close set against ANTi, but managed to strive forward and eventually take it back from losers against Nairo. Despite ZeRo's early fall into Loser's, the results were still consistent with seeding, with ZeRo, Nairo and Dabuz taking the top 3 placements in their assigned order. These top players are showing strong consistency, worthy of being a top player. In doubles, Nairo and ZeRo avoided a bracket reset against Abadango and ANTi, winning without losing a set.
The Big House 5 was a major field day for a few characters, especially Ike. While MVG | Ryo had shown the potential of the character, many new Ikes appear in the Top 32, including Ryuga and San. Many people began to doubt the character less around this time. Luigi and Sonic were also in frequent numbers, with 3 Luigis in the Top 25, and 3 Sonics in the same position. Seagull Joe and 6WX both landed out in 9th place. The game had been taken to a state where the variety of was becoming more apparent beyond a perceived overflow of Sheiks.
Two weeks later, another event took place: MLG World Finals 2015. This event was smaller than The Big House, likely due to having a shorter announcement time. In addition, this event featured a specific ruleset that caused both praise and controversy across the entire Smash community; Miis. In specific, Miis were allowed, under the conditions that a player couldn’t switch between Miis or special sets between a set, and they had to be Guest Miis (50/50 sizes). With the short notice and rulesets causing some disagreement between players, the entrant size wasn't as large as TBH5. While players like ZeRo, MVD, Nairo, ESAM, and more were in attendance, some notable players, such as Abadango or ANTi, did not attend. Many were worried that the character, notably Mii Brawler, would dominate the event due to it's Helicopter Kick, among other moves. In addition, more controversy came out after a glitch had been discovered that Diddy could enter a state where he couldn’t be grabbed, followed by a declaration by the staff that if it wasn't patched, Diddy would be banned; however, this was addressed in a patch by Nintendo, alleviating the issue.
However, the eventual results showed that this wasn’t exactly the case. Instead, much more interesting results were found. The highest placing of Miis came from Mew2King landing in 17th place, not dominating or being overwhelming. In addition, the Top 8 had one of the most interesting character spreads seen in a while, with Ryo’s Ike and ScaAtt227’s Mega Man cracking Top 8, and TheReflexWonder making it to 5th using Wario. Even more surprising is that what occurred within the Top 3, as this marked the end of ZeRo’s long tournament streak. Liquid Nairo, after being sent to Loser’s by ESAM, dominated Loser's Finals with his Dr. Mario, a surprise that nearly no one had expected.
The tournament marked the large beginning of an era for many; not only was this the first tournament with a game-changing patch that altered the defensive play of this game, but it marked the first major where there were some incredibly interesting character spreads, with having a Top 12 that only repeats two characters. Many hope that tournaments will show off more character variety in the future, and this tournament marks a hopeful beginning of that trend.
With the amount of talent stepping up for Smash 4, this month saw more news and sponsorships as well. Here’s a few of the main highlights:
This month, the Smash 4 Collegiate ran many of it's Regional Events. Midwest (Events2Compete 19, October 24th), Mid-Atlantic (Nebulous Prime Smash 4 Weekly, October 18th), California (Super South Bay Sundays, October 25th), and the Pacific Northwest (GameClucks S4C Event, October 24th) Regionals occurred. Each of the winners of these events will play during November to decide which of team from each of the 4 divisions will move to the Final Four!
On October 13th, VaBengal, MD/VA Power Ranked Zero Suit Samus main, was picked up by Momentum Gaming. This marks the team’s first foray into Smash, and an example of the increased interest in Smash as a whole from eSports teams.
The next day, on October 14, Smash United announced that they would be picking up and sponsoring Trela, considered by many to have one of the best solo Ryus in the game. Trela has been a community favorite for Smash 4, and has used many different characters prior to sticking with Ryu.
On October 19th, the Apex Series was revealed to have been re-branded. The tournament date was not announced. However, the headlines focused on a new team and approach, along with some "new ideas" that the management team was eager to look into.
The new APEX logo, unveiled earlier this month.
After the events of Apex 2015, the ownership and control of the brand was given to Team Bifuteki. Despite some Smashers feeling uncertain about the new event, especially if it falls into the time when Genesis 3 will occur, many are pleased with the changes and are in support of the series moving forward, and Smash 4 will definitely be part of it's future.
On the same day, a commentator and player were both picked up by Haven eSports, being DC and Mister Eric respectively. Mister Eric’s impressive R.O.B. and DC's commentary skills caught the team's attention. Count in the desire from Haven to have Smash representatives, and the pickup was a clear choice for them.
Just a bit after MLG World Finals on October 20th, a special charity event occurred, being Smash The Record 2015. Melee and Smash 4 were present, along with charity drives, speedruns and a tournament. Interestingly enough, after Nairo lost a set to NAKAT in Winner’s Finals, he took it back and won the event 6-0 in Grand Finals. This was also a good showing for Ryu, who has been placing very well thanks to players like Trela (who made it to Loser's Finals).
October 23rd brought the announcement that fan-favorite NAKAT, known for his Fox and Ness, was picked up by Counter Logic Gaming. This marks their second player in Smash, with PewPewU in Melee being picked up earlier this year. The increasing amount of sponsorships for Smash 4 shows that this game is likely to have a very healthy competitive scene.
Lastly, on October 24th, Smashboards announced the formation of a Tournament Organizer Group. This group includes some of the major Smash 4 Tournament Organizers; the formation of this group hopefully will increase the connection and cooperation between Smashers and TOs.
Many developments have occurred in this month. Here’s some of the main highlights:
- Just before this month, a new patch dropped, changing shield mechanics and a few characters; most people didn’t use it until after The Big House 5.
- Ike has had quite the month, with strong showings in majors. Ryu has had some prominence as well, with more players seeming to pick him up.
- Tournament character variety near the top level has been a step-up when it comes to Majors. Characters like Ryu, Mega Man, Wario, Ike, and more have made it into Top 8 placings this month along with the usuals.
- TSM | ZeRo’s long tournament streak was broken at MLG World Finals by Nairo.
- Apex was announced and rebranded, causing speculation and intrigue.
- Many Smash 4 players got sponsored, including Trela, NAKAT, VaBengal, and Mister Eric.
- The Smash 4 Collegiate is well underway: Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, California, and the Pacific Northwest Regionals all ran this month.
- A Smashboards Tournament Organizer Group was announced that includes major Smash TOs, including some Smash 4 ones.
November is looking to be an interesting time. Here’s a few of the potential developments and events that the community will see:
- This month is no slouch on events: Tipped Off 11, KTAR XIV and Kings Of The North 4 are a few of the larger upcoming events to look out for, having large entry numbers and serious competition in attendance.
- Many people are awaiting news on the next DLC character. Some have predicted that it could even be announced this month with a Nintendo Direct, with a new one confirmed for “sometime before the end of the year”. However, with the timeframe that has occurred between patches, there’s the potential chance that new balance changes (and perhaps even characters) could land this month, reshaping the face of the game.
This month has been huge for Smash 4. What was arguably the end of an era with the previous patch occurred at The Big House, and the community has seen new things, including majors with experimental rulesets, new sponsorships and breakthroughs in character usage and development. Here’s to November, which hopefully will show further growth of the Smash 4 community.