Welcome back to Rango’s Smash Blog! If this is your first time here, allow me to introduce myself.
I’m a competitive esports player and part-time Smash coach. I’ve been playing Smash since 1999 and playing competitively since Brawl came out on the Wii. My offline tournament journey began in 2014, upon the release of the 3DS and Wii U titles, and I’ve been competing ever since. As a previously sponsored player who traveled to tournaments across the country, I made myself a name as both as a ranked Georgia player and one of the best Ike mains in the world. If you’re interested, you can read a bit more about my tournament history.
2020 and Online Tournaments
Ever since COVID started, I’ve been inactive in the tournament scene. With CEO Dreamland, hosted in March, being the last major offline tournament, many players have resorted to playing in online tournaments. Moreover, even Nintendo has made bare-minimum efforts to improve online. With that being said, however, I’ve had no interest in playing in online tournaments.
I’ve done my fair share of entering a few online tournaments. Waiting around for matches at home isn’t the same as actually being inside a venue while interacting with people. It just feels like sitting in a waiting room, in your house, when you could be doing something more productive. It honestly surprises me how many players participate in online tournaments.
However, I also notice that the online rankings differ vastly from the offline rankings. Perhaps a number of top players have just as little interest in entering online tournaments as I do and prefer to focus on content creation and other endeavors.
Why I don’t enter online tournaments.
With that being said, why not enter? They’re easy to find and, I know if I wanted to, I could enter and do incredibly well. I not only main Ike but use several characters proficiently to cover his bad matchups. The online tournaments I’m aware of don’t even have a buy-in, so it’s basically entering for free and getting paid for placing high.
But truth be told, I’m not interested. While I take my offline tournaments seriously, I’ve always been someone who plays Smash for fun first and foremost. The same guy who enters 1v1 tournaments to win is also the same guy you’ll spot playing 8-player matches with items on. I’ll sooner go to a convention and play fun matches with groups of people than go ham when I’m trying to have a good time. I’ve won my fair share of con tournaments and even won free badges to southeast anime conventions such as Ichibancon and Triad. However, the pacing of a con tournament, coupled with its casual ruleset, no longer interests me.
With that being said, part of me wonders if it would be a good financial endeavor to enter online tournaments. It’s hard to find good training partners in Smash online. I struggle to find matches on Anther’s Ladder and even Discord. In fact, most of what I really do is just end up playing on Elite Smash, the random matchmaking mode. This leads me to play against players with poor habits, use annoying characters, or end up leaving after one match.
Nintendo’s Online and Fighting Games
This is mostly Nintendo’s fault for not only having poor netcode but also for offering poor matchmaking options. Joining an arena is a potluck of players of various skill levels which include those lower than what I seek. Even though a more recent update added Elite Smash to play with higher-level players in Arenas, it’s totally empty. I kid you not that searching for high-level players on arena matchmaking leads to no results. It’s just as empty if you host arenas too.
All-in-all, I want tournaments to come back. I’ve tried filling the void by playing more viable online fighting games, like Tekken 7. But nothing hits quite like Smash. It’s my favorite game by far and the one I still play online in.
Getting Back into the Game
For some reason, though, I just can’t stop playing online. Even if I’m tormenting myself on Quickplay, it feels good to just play my characters, practice, and feel some level of improvement. Sometimes I’ll find a good challenge on Discord and we’ll host arenas to play sets in. While it doesn’t happen often, those are some of the highlights of my day.
More than anything, I feel like I’m just prepping right now for offline tournaments to return. Once COVID goes away, perhaps thanks to the new vaccines, we might be able to venture out and compete once more. I would love to become a sponsored player again and travel the country in search of new challenges. I definitely want to become a better player than I am now and I certainly look forward to what comes once we get back in full gear.
Right now, playing online is just to prepare for offline tournaments. I might consider an online tournament if it conveniences me and falls into my time slot. Whether I do or do not, however, I’ll still be playing Smash online and getting ready for that day when we can compete offline once more.