Let’s examine some realities of the Smash 4 tournament scene

So, I’ve seen some talk today on Twitter from various smashers about a few topics related to our current competitive structure. I wanted to provide a bit of  a framework for that discussion in order to help move things towards a productive conclusion.

First, I want to talk about a couple of common misconceptions that exist in the community, and help remove them from the conversation.

There’s a difference between a premiere event and an S-tier event

There was a quick exchange between Fatality and Cosmos about this issue today. There’s been so many S-tier events this season, almost one every week, that it’s completely diluted the top events and made the season less interesting for viewers. First, let’s look at the actual reality of that notion. The PGR season began on June 24th, 17 weeks ago. In that time there have been 8 S-tier events, one of which was S+ (Evo). While many of them were back-to-back, that’s only one every other week averaged out over the season. Further, we have two more months left in the season, and likely only one more S-tier event. This will make 9 total events over the course of roughly 26 weeks, or about one S-tier every three weeks. In reality there’s basically 1.5 S-tiers each month, which many have said is acceptable. The issue is that, because of how Summer works in the United States, many of our biggest events are concentrated in the first few months of this PGR season. It feels like the number of S-tiers has been insane, but averaged out over the full season, it’s really not special at all.

There’s more to explore here, but in reality, there is not an over-abundance of S-tier events, they are simply clumped in a 3-month window due to the nature of the Smash year. Beyond this is the fact that having the S-tier status is completely independent from a tournament’s value to viewers. No one puts Evo and Fire Emblem Saga on the same level even if they carry the same PGR weight. Civil War was a bigger deal for storylines than Super Smash Con even though both are S-tiers. The majority of spectators likely don’t even look at the TTS, they simply look at who’s attending, what storylines are happening, is there a pot bonus, etc.

2GG isn’t losing tons of money on every event, therefore other TOs just need to figure out how to run their events better

2GG has a partnership with Esports Arena, which effectively eliminates their venue costs for most events. ESA helps them with sponsorships, prize pool, and crucial infrastructure. 2GGs overhead is substantially lower than every other tournament in the world. Any conversation about tournament organizers and their struggles with money simply cannot include 2GG as a useful data point. They are an outlier.

That’s not to say that 2GG is bad, hurting the scene, or having any negative impact whatsoever. 2GG has been phenomenal for the scene. I have a ton of issues with the way they communicate, but the fact remains that they run fantastic events. However, you simply have to set them aside when discussing event pricing, profit and loss, or other infrastructure concerns. Their model is not reproducible unless ESA expands to have venues in every major region.

We need a monthly circuit or a pro tour so that all regions have equal opportunity and a clear storyline for the season.

Yes, this is the ideal scenario. I’ve written about it before. It will never, EVER happen so long as Smash remains independent. Ever community leader has their own agenda (and rightfully should) and has to work overtime just to keep their own events afloat. We do not have the infrastructure, capacity, capital, etc to create a pro tour or organized circuit. This is not a reasonable solution to discuss when evaluating the current tournament scene. The calendar for 2018 is largely in place at this point anyway. If community leaders and pro players want to radically change how competitive smash operates, I’m happy to have that discussion, but understand that it’s literally impossible for something like that to happen before 2020 unless Nintendo got involved (which they won’t).

Smash needs an offseason

Sorry, that’s just not ever going to be a thing. There’s no way to enforce it, and there are too many people and organizations currently interested in running Smash events. It’s the responsibility of players and the PGR to work together and ensure that the season functions in such a way that provides an accurate representation of the status of each event, while not overly punishing players for taking care of their mental and physical well-being.

The idea that literally anyone is making a fair amount of money in this scene.

They are not. Every person should be making more money. GIMR is not making enough money. ZeRo is not making enough money. 2GG is not making enough money. Any person who commits more than 10 hours per week to the Smash community is making less money than you think they are, and likely relying on other sources of income such as other jobs, donations, or horrifying levels of credit card debt in order to keep providing the content you enjoy.


So, with those bits of discussion set to the side, here are some of the useful questions to ask:

  • Does the PGR calendar need to be adjusted to more accurately reflect an even distribution of premier events throughout the season?
  • Is there a problem in the way the TTS evaluates events, or is the issue in the way top players understand it and plan their schedule?
  • What can we do to create more interesting storylines that carry from event to event?
  • How can we introduce more money into the scene as a whole?
  • Are there other revenue streams for tournaments which haven’t been thoroughly explored?
  • Are compendiums being optimized in their current state?
  • Would an increase in venue for A and S-tier events reduce their attendance in a meaningful way?

We should try to answer these questions, or at least follow this line of questioning and allow it to open up potential avenues of discussion, rather than talking in circles about flawed views of reality, misconceptions, or wistfully dreaming about realities that will never come to pass. Smash is where it is today because of raw passion and love from the community. It’s time to channel that passion–to refine it and guide it towards where it can be most useful as we continue to grow.



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