October 15, 2019

Getting into Esports: Super Smash Brothers

The Super Smash Brothers series is one of Nintendo’s most popular games. Dedicated fans of both Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Super Smash Bros Melee compete in tournaments almost every day. With the December 2018 release of Super Smash Bros Ultimate, more tournaments have popped up. By June of 2019, over 14.7 million copies of Ultimate sold in the world. By now, that figure is closer to 20 million. With the games’ popularity, people might be wondering how to get into esports through Super Smash Bros.

First and foremost, the Smash Bros. series is a fighting game. But not a traditional fighting game. Super Smash Brothers is a platform fighting game. With Nintendo’s most iconic and popular characters from other game companies, the point of Smash is not to deplete your opponent’s health bar. Rather, it is to knock your opponent off the stage. Smash is essentially a game of king of the hill.

Image via Nintendo | Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

As seen, hitting an opponent does not decrease their life bar. It actually increases their percentage. Percentage helps see how far a character will get knocked back. With a high enough percentage, knocking an opponent off the stage becomes much easier. But it’s not enough to just knock them off the stage.

Image via Nintendo | Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

In the picture above, arrows point out of the screen areas. These off-screen areas are known within the Smash community as the blast zone. The ultimate goal for someone playing Super Smash Bros. is to knock their opponent into the blast zone. Once a character hits the blast zone, they lose a life and are reset back to zero percentage.

As seen in this video, the player playing Banjo and Kazooie successfully increased the percentage of the Inkling player by hitting them repeatedly. The percentage increased, making it easier to knock the Inkling opponent into the blast zone. That removed a stock life from the Inkling, taking Inkling from three stocks to two stocks, thus bringing the Banjo player one step closer to winning the game.

When watching a Smash tournament for the first time, look out for how many times a character is knocked off into the blast zone. If a character gets knocked into the blast zone too many times, the other player wins the game. All the fighting in the game comes down to players increasing their opponent’s percentage to knock them into the blast zone.

The stocks on a character are how many lives a character has for the match. If a player successfully removes all their opponent’s stocks, they win the game. But that’s not usually the end. In a tournament setting, players must win a best of three or a best of five match. So losing a single game does not mean they lose completely. Players have the opportunity to learn from the first game and come out victorious in the following games.

Depending on the tournament, winning two or three games total wins a set. Most Smash tournaments are set up in a double-elimination style. Losing one set sends a player to the loser’s bracket. Once a player in the loser’s bracket loses another set, they are out of the tournament. With each set won, the opponents become harder to beat, making for exciting matches to watch. The winner of the tournament is the player who lost one or zero sets in the entire tournament. Some Smash tournaments have over one thousand people competing, so making it takes true skill to get far.

The Smash series is extremely popular thanks to fan-favorite characters from a variety of games all appearing under one title. With characters constantly added to the game, there is always something new to look forward to. This is one of many reasons why Smash Bros. is loved by fans and holds a long-standing esports scene.

Written by Daniel Borjas

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