Mounting pressure on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's online experience

May 20 2020 4 min read

Mounting pressure on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's online experience ⚡⚡⚡ Esports news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!

Even before the coronavirus COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, events were already being canceled because of it. Governments and health experts around the world advised against large gatherings, so as the situation worsened, it was clear the FGC would need an alternative to live events. 

The obvious choice was a shift to online play, but as much as we all know it exists, many haven't considered it the best test of competitive prowess. Thanks to all sorts of issues like ping, latency, and random disconnects, most of the FGC couldn't see the value in holding online tournaments, especially after the Evolution Championship Series (EVO) canceled its 2020 edition and opted for an online event instead. 

With a main stage lineup of eight titles that each had their own big and loyal communities, the FGC should have been ecstatic, but instead EVO Online received ridicule. That's because these eight games aren't known to have ideal online experiences, so it was laughable that players would now be at the mercy of internet connections. Yet, since the full lineup hadn't been announced, the FGC tried and failed to patiently wait for more news regarding the event. 

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On May 14, the full EVO Online game lineup was released and although the main stage titles would indeed be a part of it, they wouldn't feature open brackets, which meant the organizers could limit participation to players within close proximity to one another to improve online play. But one of these titles was glaringly missing, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

At first, it was hard to swallow for many. How could Smash Ultimate be missing from the lineup? However, that was mostly the fans speaking. On the other side of the fence, many pro players sighed a breath of relief that the game wouldn't be part of EVO Online, due to its bad netcode. 

To further add insult to injury, less popular games like Skullgirls 2nd EncoreKiller Instinct, and Them’s Fightin’ Herds would all have open tournaments during the event, essentially stealing the limelight. It's no secret that Smash Ultimate offers a poor online experience, but seeing it missing from the EVO lineup while other staples like Street Fighter V and Tekken 7 remained felt hard to take. At first anyway. Then fans remembered that #FixUltimateOnline was trending on Twitter for a reason. 

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The Quarantine Series is a Super Smash Bros. tournament series that was created during these hard times to keep the Smash competitive scene alive. However, some controversies arose regarding the online experience, which led to decisions that had a significant effect on the outcome events. 

The Quarantine Series: Pound Online, was a Smash Ultimate and Smash Melee event that took place online in late April. Brian "Cosmos" Kalu won first place in the Smash Ultimate tournament, but while playing in the top 32, he came very to getting eliminated. Facing Grayson "Grayson" Ramos, Cosmos seemed to be losing, but because their games were experiencing lag, Grayson was eventually disqualified, which gave Cosmos a free pass. 

During The Quarantine Series Major #1 saw the Dominican Republic pro player Sonix win using his main, Sonic the Hedgehog. His win was considered unfair by some, because in a world of online play, Sonic has a distinct advantage in the game, especially in laggy situations. Sonix's win led to a change in the official rules which saw the tournament series region locked to just the US, Canada, and Mexico. 

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Never have Smash Ultimate fans lamented about the state of the game's online as much as they've done since the pandemic began and that's because, unlike before, it's become the only safe way to play with our friends and compete in tournaments. The game's absence from the EVO lineup just sort of ripped off the bandaid, even though the FGC now agrees that it's probably for the best. 

Nintendo has been heavily criticized for its lack of support of the Super Smash Bros. competitive scene for years now, leading back to prior games. Even now the developer has been mute regarding the state of online play in its extremely successful game. So the question on everyone's lips now is whether the game being dropped from the world's biggest fighting game tournament can push Nintendo to fix Smash Ultimate's bad netcode. It probably won't be an easy task, afterall, Capcom have spent the past few months improving Street Fighter V: Champion Edition's netcode, but in that time they've made a lot of progress. 

Nintendo has always prided itself on doing things differently, so one thing is true. If Smash Ultimate's absence from EVO Online doesn't make them flinch, then there's very little that will make Nintendo fix the game's online experience. 

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