With its original release in 1999, the Super Smash Brothers franchise has been around for nearly two decades, with the next iteration on the horizon. As December 7th quickly approaches and gamers from all different walks of life gear up to play this seemingly timeless classic, others (myself included) are preparing for a dramatic shift in competition and are grinding to achieve the status of a professional gamer.
The Super Smash Brothers franchise has been a part of the esports world for over a decade, spanning across every version of the game. Players from all over the world come together to LANs to compete, show-off combos, and yes, even play for thousands of dollars. This makes Smash Ultimate not just a game, but an entire lifestyle and culture that people spend hours a day training for.
So while Smash Ultimate may just appear to be a new release of an old game and nothing much seems to have changed, competitive players have spent nearly every waking moment since the game’s initial announcement studying anything that they can get their hands on. Despite not even having any copies of the game until recently, players have already gathered frame data, possible tournament legal stages, and have even gotten into some debate as to whether or not the overall rule set of the game should change. So even though most players will only see a new Piranha Plant beating their favorite characters senseless in the game, competitors trying to “make it in the big leagues” will be looking at how characters are no longer viable–or possibly stronger–than they could have ever imagined in previous games. To dedicated players, every bit of information that they are able to get their hands on matters. Even something as minute as the fact that Pikachu’s forward air now appears to have three less frames of landing lag could be the reason that a devoted player wins their next tournament.
Smash Ultimate brings new opportunities to players. With so many new mechanics being added and others taken away, there are multiple possibilities to “shake up” the rankings. Someone who may not have been good enough to compete at Super Smash Brothers for WiiU may now have the opportunity to be the best in the world at Smash Ultimate simply because these small nuances now fit their play-style, unlike in previous titles. A new edition also generally gets more players involved as players are more likely to join a new competitive scene. Not everyone is likely to pick up a game after multiple years of it being released and then suddenly decide that that is the game they want to be the best at. However, someone may decide to get into a new scene because that is the only thing that they have heard from their friends for the past few weeks. This new and very active player base will cause the game to grow, yielding even more opportunities for the players who are just now deciding to settle it in Smash.
Tournaments for Smash Ultimate have already been organized for 2019, prize pools included. There are even opportunities for new players, as arcadians-tournaments built specifically to show off new players’ skills-are already starting, such as Last Stock, a tournament that is offering travel to one of the biggest tournaments happening later this year: Genesis 6.
Teams are also looking for fresh talent everyday and new avenues to explore, including creating new teams for Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. This leads not only for better sponsors and money in the community overall (as more professional level companies in anything often means better tournaments and winnings for players) but also a larger amount of competitors.
To most people this game is just another thing to plug in and play when they have a break, to others, Smash Ultimate provides a chance for a future career.