As Super Smash Bros. Ultimate enters its second year, we’ve recently closed the chapter on one of its biggest tournaments: Frostbite 2020. Featuring 1,280 entrants, the supermajor (or international) tournament concluded with ranked #1 in the world, MKLeo, taking Maister 6-0 in Grand Finals.
However, aside from the Top 8 superstars who made it into the finals of the event, we’ll take this time to introduce some of the names made through pools. Some of these bracket-busters made huge waves using less familiar characters against some of the best players in the game.
You can view the full bracket here.
#1. Salem vs. Bonren
At the start of the set, Salem used Snake, the character he’s been using for most of his Ultimate career. Pitted against him was Bonren, a Texas Smash player using an infamous WiFi pariah, Zelda. Known for being a lower-tier character and driving people mad online, Bonren set out to prove this character was capable of standing against the best players offline. The result?
Bonren started off this set at a disadvantage until the middle of the first game. Making a comeback, he eventually pressed Salem with a well-timed back aerial, gaining a lead with a KO at only 92%. Bonren would then close out the first game with Din’s Fire on Snake’s lackluster recovery.
Perhaps one of the first matches to feature Zelda after the recent update, Bonren would stay with the Hylian Princess while Salem switched to Hero. However, without the use of Bounce to reflect Zelda’s projectile kit, Bonren would close out against Salem 2-0, once for Snake and once for Hero.
This match showcased that Zelda’s Din’s Fire buff, which received buffs during the last update, really made the difference. Overall, this match showed that, despite her seemingly-unreactable specials damning her as one of the most hated online characters, Zelda was now a threat in offline brackets as well.
#2. Hungrybox vs. RFang
“Upset” and “Hungrybox” don’t go together in the same sentence unless someone beats Hungrybox. Despite being the best player in Melee, however, Hungrybox had a wall to climb against the recent PGR inductee and #1 in South Carolina, RFang. Additionally, he had to fight his adversary using Jigglypuff, often looked down as one of the worst characters in the game.
And yet, in Game 1, RFang held a lead for the first part of the stock. Yet Hungrybox would not relent with his offense. He could not afford to keep Young Link at a distance. Yet Young Link’s small Kokiri Sword was small enough to clank, or even lose, to Jigglypuff’s long limbs. Using this to his advantage, he could not only take the lead, but even successfully edgeguard RFang several times.
Even after an SD at the start of Game 2, RFang managed to bring it back and maintain an even game. However, Hungrybox got exactly what he wanted: RFang on the ledge and vulnerable to edgeguards. Young Link’s Spin Attack recovery proved to be a deficit against Jigglypuff’s strong, wide Nairs. And with every time he was offstage, Hungrybox could garner damage with aerials or take the stock. At the end of the day, Melee’s Champion defeated the Beast of the Southeast, proving that he’s ready for his journey into Ultimate territory against its best players.
#3. ScAtt vs. Paseriman
Ranked 3rd in Georgia and 40th on the PGRU, Mega Man and Snake main, ScAtt, went up against Paseriman, a Fox from Japan. From the beginning of Game 1, Paseriman’s Fox kept the pressure on ScAtt. The latter could barely turn it around on the final stock when he was edgeguarded by Fox’s Nair offstage.
Switching to Snake Game 2, ScAtt could not keep the gap closed as well this time. Paseriman’s pressure and advantage state proved too much for the stealth veteran, leading him to 2-0 victory against Georgia’s Blue Bomber.
#4. Gackt vs. Grayson
Known largely as the best Ness in Japan and arguably the world, Gackt took on Grayson in pools. ROB, a character quickly gaining prominence in tournaments over the course of the last year.
Game 1 ended with Gackt already at a 91% deficit before Grayson would end the match with a USmash combo. Despite Gackt’s strong zoning with PK Thunder near the beginning, Grayson would quickly assert his dominance and own counter-camping through the use of Gyro and Robo-Beams before going in with heavy rushdown.
In Game 2, Gackt maintained a much healthier lead around the 2nd stock mark. Upon the last stock scenario though, Grayson once again asserted dominance at the ledge. Starting with a hefty ledgetrap, Grayson would catch Gackt heading into the other direction and deliver one last grab combo to take the set 2-0.
I’ve always believed Zelda was better than players gave credit for. She was looked at as a mid-tier throughout Ultimate’s current lifespan. However, talented players online have at least showcased an ability not found in tournaments. It took Frostbite and one Zelda main to stand forth against Salem and prove this character was viable. Moreover, the recent buffs would certainly cement that this character could stand a chance against the roster.
Living in Georgia, I’m familiar with ScAtt and RFang. In Georgia, we don’t have any Fox players. Matchup practice against this character is about as dry as the Gobi Desert. ScAtt definitely played well with his Mega Man against Perseriman. Perhaps that might prove the matchup is at least even in that regard.
As for Young Link, despite RFang’s loss in pools to Hungrybox, another player would take the mantle and drive the character to Top 8. Ohio’s own Toast, formerly from North Carolina, proved his dominance against a number of top level players to make it this far. Having not only bore witness to Hungrybox’s Jigglypuff on his stream, but also playing the man himself online, I could attest that I was not entirely surprised by his win over RFang.
Also, Grayson lives in Texas, the same state in which one of the best Ness mains in the U.S. lives: Awestin. While it’s only a theory, perhaps the matchup practice proved worthy for the ROB main at Frostbite.
Overall, one thing this tournament proved is that SSBU maintains a number of sleepers, which include players and characters alike. While Frostbite was full of upsets throughout the bracket, you could take a look at 4 of the more prominent pools matches that turned heads this past weekend. Be sure to check out more of the Frostbite VODs on the official VGBootCamp channel!
Did you watch Frostbite? Do you have a favorite player or match? Let us know in the comments below!
2009 began the renaissance of fighting games. With the release of Street Fighter IV, the gaming industry would see a drastic change in the approach to fighting games over the course of the next decade. That generation would see the first balance patches for fighting games, DLC, large numbers of players entering major tournaments, and even developers supporting their respective communities. Netherrealm Studios would sponsor $10,000 pot bonuses for tournaments while major figureheads and developers, like Tekken creator, Katsuhiro Harada, would attend EVO and Final Round.
SNK never had the following of Street Fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom, or Tekken, at least not in a America. Certain regions of Asia and Mexico value the King of Fighters as one of the most prominent fighting games. Meanwhile, many players in the west got their taste of SNK through the heavily successful crossover title, Capcom vs. SNK 2. Featuring Terry Bogard, Rock Howard, Kyo Kusanagi, and many others, CvS2 would introduce these players to SNK franchises for the very first time. Despite this, SNK would still maintain only a niche following in America.
The King of Fighters XIV released in 2016. Despite SNK trying to capitalize on the modern successes of fighting games, The King of Fighters XIV’s momentum never quite picked up in the U.S. Most prominently, the visual models were not considered appealing. From King of Fighters ’94 to King of Fighters XIII, all used animated sprites. XIV was the first to use 3D modeling. Even after SNK released a patch, the game had already made its impression on the players and would fade into obscurity. Also of note, EVO 2017 featured the game, but notably, only one American player made it into the Top 8. Compared to other games, the Top 8 of KOF XIV featured global talent with only one American player.
Most recently, however, SNK released Samurai Shodown for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The first Samurai Shodown title released in many years, it offers a unique gameplay style. Featuring slower combat, with hits that deal massive amounts of damage, it quickly gained a following. As a result, the title was featured as an event at EVO 2019. Despite the game’s poor online netcode driving many players away from online matches, it maintains a following for local tournament scenes. Furthermore, SNK will release the title on Nintendo Switch later this year.
But perhaps the single most prominent element of this topic is the inclusion of Terry Bogard in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Revealed as the 4th DLC character for Nintendo’s popular fighting game franchise, Terry Bogard brought with him not only his fighting style, but Terry’s King of Fighters Stadium stage with his DLC pack, many character models from the KOF series, and music from Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown, Athena, Psycho Soldier, Ikari Warriors, Alpha Mission, and even Metal Slug. Furthermore, Smash creator, Masahiro Sakurai, elaborated heavily on the importance of SNK in fighting games and even how much their games influenced Smash with its mechanics.
Point #1: Make a Visually Appealing Title
Samurai Shodown uses an art style similar to Street Fighter IV and V. They’re going with what has proven to work in the market. Bandai Namco has stuck with beautiful character models for SoulCalibur and Tekken, while Arc Systems Works sticks to its animated sprites featured in Dragon Ball FighterZ and BlazBlue Cross Tag.
Notably, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite received heavy criticism over its character models. Among Dante, Chun-Li, and others, the game’s lack of visual appeal helped keep it away from EVO, among other reasons. Despite Marvel vs. Capcom being a longtime mainstay at the EVO championships, EVO 2018 was perhaps the first time the series missed out. Even though these character models would later be fixed, perhaps this was a case of, “too little, too late.”
SNK would benefit greatly from revamping their direction on visual models and animation. While one can argue “graphics don’t make a game,” these arguments help solidify that games that garner low reception for their visuals will not reap the benefits of its competition.
Point #2: Make the Netcode the Most Efficient Possible
As mentioned earlier, Samurai Shodown features less-than-stellar netcode. It’s bad enough that you’re likely to never find a random match online despite the game being out for only a year. Whatever keeps online fighting games active for years hasn’t worked for SNK thus far. Netcode is important for the online players who want to consider getting into competitive tournaments. Without reliable online play, players will give up on the game. If they have no local, offline scene, they will simply move onto the next game to play.
Keep in mind, however, that SNK has already begun using rollback netcode with thanks to Code Mystics for porting their games to modern systems. For a long story short, it’s better than the standard netcode used in online fighting games. With that being said, Code Mystics began updating their ports of classic SNK games for Steam and PS4. Garou, KOF 97, SamSho V Special, and The Last Blade 2 all feature rollback netcode.
Point #3: Capitalize on a Nintendo Switch Release.
Consider that Samurai Shodown is coming to Nintendo Switch. Now also consider that Terry Bogard is in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For those unaware, Super Smash Bros. serves as a fantastic marketing tool for game franchises. Perhaps the most notable example would be the inclusion of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Despite the Fire Emblem series being exclusive to Japan at the time, fans demanded Fire Emblem come to America out of curiosity for these characters. Two years later, Fire Emblem: Blazing Blade would come to America. This would begin the series’ journey to the west with nearly every installment being released overseas. Moreover, it would continue the tradition of new Fire Emblem lords getting into Smash, most notably with the release of Byleth in Smash from Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Even Sakurai himself admitted that Byleth’s inclusion for Smash was part of marketing on Nintendo’s part to promote the game.
Another example of Smash marketing would be the release of Hero in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Immediately after showcasing the Hero trailer at E3 2019, Nintendo showcased a trailer for his home game, Dragon Quest XI S. This was timed purposely to garner interest among fans to try the next big game on Nintendo’s console. By marketing Hero, they market Dragon Quest.
The best possible thing that SNK can do is to capitalize on Terry’s inclusion in Smash. It goes without saying that this would include a brand new fanbase of Nintendo fans, many who are new to The King of Fighters, to try the latest release in the series. As Joker’s release in Smash even garnered prominent members of the Smash community to stream Persona 5, releasing King of Fighters on Smash’s console would not even necessitate players to get another console just to try the game. Now you have Terry players and curious Smash fans trying The King of Fighters and ensuring the game becomes successful.
I played Capcom vs. SNK 2 back in the day. I was never a competitive fighter, though. I just enjoyed the characters and stories. Eventually I tried The King of Fighters 2002 Unlimited Match on Xbox 360 and really enjoyed it. I loved the music and character animations. But the release of Terry completely caught my attention in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I ended up using this character competitively in brackets and fell in love with his moveset. But I also became enamored by all the music and SNK lore that came with his inclusion. It prompted me to download several King of Fighters titles and even some of the titles included from Code Mystics’ ports on PS4.
I would definitely consider myself a newer KOF fan in that regard. But I would love to watch it succeed. I want SNK to capitalize on the foundation Nintendo has already given them through Smash. And I want the loud criticism from unsatisfied fans to help guide SNK into crafting the best fighting game possible. It’s a beautiful thing to know that they support local tournaments that host their games. But I would love to see their investment capitalize into a fresh start and introduce a new generation of fans to their stylistic character designs, battle mechanics, and fantastic music.
If you would love to see The King of Fighters XV come to Nintendo Switch, let us know in the comments below. What is your favorite SNK game memory?
With the release of Persona 5 Royal only a month away, Atlus West – the publisher of the illustrious Persona series – began a campaign to encourage players to ask for a Switch release. IGN asked Atlus Community Manager, Ari Advincula, about Persona 5 coming to Nintendo Switch. Her response was, “I am a strong believe in ‘never give up on hope’.” Featured on Reddit, the thread received over 16K upvotes.While Persona has maintained being a Playstation-exclusive franchise, Atlus has released spin-offs of the series on Nintendo systems. Among them include Persona Q and Persona Q2 for 3DS and the upcoming Persona 5 Scramble – a Musou title – for Nintendo Switch later this year. More notably, however, the protagonist from Persona 5 made his debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, last year, as a DLC character. Put together, all of these elements have perpetuated hope for the award-winning RPG to come to Nintendo’s console.As of February 16th, #BreakFreePersona was trending on Twitter. The social media movement garnered a huge following with players demanding Atlus release Persona 5 Royal on Nintendo Switch. For Smash Bros. fans who do not own a PS4, it would become a capital investment for Atlus to introduce Joker fans to his home game for the first time. As has been the case for over two decades, Super Smash Bros. serves to market characters and games to players from the games they were originally from. Note that Cloud appeared in Super Smash Bros. before Final Fantasy VII ever came to a Nintendo system. Yet, while even Final Fantasy VII is now available on Nintendo Switch, Atlus currently shows no signs of releasing Persona 5 Royal on the system.
Atlus Titles on Nintendo Switch
In the meantime, Atlus has recently re-released their Wii U title, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore, for Nintendo Switch. Also noteworthy is, despite their strong line of games for the 3DS, Atlus has yet to make an update regarding Shin Megami Tensei V, which was first revealed several years ago. With that said, we’ll keep you updated on the news regarding Persona 5 Royal for Nintendo Switch.Have you played Persona 5 before? Would you like it to come to Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below!