As Nintendo continues to be seen as negligent toward its Super Smash Bros. community, professional players have come together to claim that the company is actively holding Super Smash Bros. back from becoming a viable esport. The claims stoked the fire of the already restless Super Smash Bros. community, prompting “#SaveSmash” and “#FreeMelee” to trend on Twitter.
This past week has been rough for Super Smash Bros. enthusiasts, as it started with one of the franchise’s largest competitive tournaments being canceled. The Big House is an annual Super Smash Bros. tournament that is also the most popular and competitive event each year, but, due to the health risk posed by COVID-19, The Big House made the decision to hold the event online, which would feature two tournaments: one for Super Smash Bros. Melee and one for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, Nintendo issued a cease-and-desist that halted the tournament, on the slippery grounds that would require players to use a third-party mod called Slippi to play Super Smash Bros. Melee online.
This incident caused an uproar in the Super Smash Bros. community which ultimately lead to a list of claims against Nintendo that were posted to Twitter by an anonymous user. In a TwitLonger titled “How Nintendo Has Hurt the Smash Community,” the anonymous source makes various claims about how Nintendo has suppressed Super Smash Bros. from becoming a viable esports title. These claims detail how Nintendo botching or ignoring deals with large organizations. Allegedly, Nintendo has ignored and declined Super Smash Bros. tournament offers that could have proven fruitful. The anonymous insider also outlines the events surrounding a deal made between Nintendo, Twitch, and Redbull. In 2015, the companies entered negotiations to run a circuit of monthly, US-based tournaments. Twitch fronted millions of dollars for the tournament’s budget, while Redbull pulled a lot of weight to launch the circuit. Three years later, Nintendo entered a contractual agreement with Twitch and Redbull (the latter of which was cut from the deal) to run the circuit, before announcing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in 2018 and putting an indefinite pin in the agreed-upon tournament.
On its own, the TwitLonger is not a credible source, but multiple prominent professional players in the Smash community have come forward to corroborate the claims made in the article. TSM Leffen stated that he had been involved in trying to pull for Smash Bros. tournaments behind the scenes. Adam “Armada” Lindgren also claims that Nintendo has been hurting the Smash Bros. community for years. Liquid Dabuz says that these claims reflect rumors from credible sources he’s heard in the past. These are only a few members of the community who have shared similar claims against Nintendo, causing the hashtags “#SaveSmash” and “#FreeMelee” to trend on Twitter overnight.
While seeing so many people rally together to #SaveSmash is neat, Nintendo has plenty of reasoning to continue its opposition towards growing Smash Bros.’ competitive scene. Earlier this year, multiple Super Smash Bros. professional players were met with allegations of sexual assault and pedophilia. These heinous actions led to Nintendo issuing a public apology for the type of actions that Smash Bros.’ competitive scene harbors. It may seem like Nintendo is the bad guy, but why would they continue to support a community that has run rampant with sexual misconduct?
There are bad apples in every bushel, just as every competitive scene has its own demons to battle. Super Smash Bros. isn’t the only gaming community that has had to deal with these issues. Regardless, Smash’s recent negative publicity wouldn’t encourage any large publisher to encourage that community’s growth. It is sad that Nintendo has never given Super Smash Bros. a chance to grow into a successful Esport, and now it quite possibly never will.