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Why Do People Play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Online Despite Its Toxicity?
2020-06-08 03:42:40

Ever since COVID-19 forced the globe into a quarantine, players have not been able to attend offline gaming tournaments. With CEO Dreamland being the last one, hosted back in March, players have been shut into their homes while playing video games online. Among the most popular choices includes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While I covered Smash Wi-Fi tournaments developing in a past article, this was before the aftermath ensued.

As I honestly expected, players quickly grew fed up with playing online. This even caused #FixUltimateOnline to trend on Twitter, with dismayed players sending the trending tweet to Nintendo’s official Twitter accounts. Despite this, Wi-Fi tournaments continue to grow in popularity. As such, players will continue entering them while complaining in the long run. I will break down some of the major problems of Wi-Fi tournaments as well as what draws people to them.

Netcode

For starters, Smash’s netcode remains the paramount problem among Wi-Fi players. The connection causes unnecessary amounts of input delay, particularly in Quickplay. You can never tell who is playing with a LAN Adapter which, at best, only remedies the problem somewhat.

Tournaments, such as Pound Online, Quarantine Series, and The Box continue to run with hundreds of players. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi tournaments come with Wi-Fi problems. The first being that connection issues not only stifle matches, but create enemies among players.

The first example being renowned Roy player from Florida, Goblin, losing to Mexico’s Mr. Game & Watch main, Maister. Following their match, Goblin tweeted out a message regarding his match with Maister. The tweet and replies show that this came due to the match lagging.

Another such example that generated controversy includes Cosmos‘ set with Grayson at Pound Online. Despite being ahead two games, Cosmos requested a lag check. The result Tournament Organizer (TO) Cagt to disqualify Grayson from bracket. The ensuing fallout created controversy across Smash Twitter. However, Smash online is reeling from more than just netcode issues.

Please also note that Nintendo has made no attempt to fix online despite multiple balance patches for the game. In fact, lag was spotted even before the game’s release. The video below showcases an example of Nintendo trying to use “damage control” to minimize the issue that would eventually plague the game.

Wi-Fi Characters

Along with Wi-Fi issues come Wi-Fi characters. Smash Twitter has collectively discussed, in disgust, their least favorite characters to fight online. Among them largely include Zelda and Samus, both of which otherwise aren’t considered top tier characters offline.

However, the online Smash community has been dealing with an even more pressing matter from a single character: Sonic the Hedgehog. Known as a high tier character in Smash 4, Sonic has otherwise maintained steady results in Ultimate offline. During this transition to online play, however, Sonic’s prominence has once again developed him into an infamous character to fight. At the center of the controversy is Dominican Republic’s Sonic main, Sonix.

This largely stems from Pound Online where Goblin and Sonix fought in bracket. Even though Goblin maintained a lead in their last game, Sonix eventually brought the percent back. Rather than, KO him Sonix used the last few seconds to stall for a time-out. This resulted in Goblin’s rant about Sonic with Sonix catching wind of it and sharing it on Twitter.

As such, this created a divide in the community. In a community that frequently targets players based on their mains, this only perpetuated even more in-fighting through social media. One TO even suggested banning Sonic from his next online tournament.

Additionally, fighting game website, EventHubs, reached out to Sonix for an interview. He explained his thoughts on the current competitive scene as well as gripes regarding online play. You can read the full interview here.

Why not enter Wi-Fi tournaments?

As a competitive player myself, I have entered several tournaments, one of which I won. As someone who lives in an area with roughly 20 players who attend weekly tournaments, my training options consists almost exclusively of online practice. However, I’m not so desperate as to play in an online event.

For one, I don’t feel like being confined to waiting for my bracket match to enter. I would rather spend time being more productive. Another part is I don’t want to be part of this rage culture. Smash Wi-Fi historically brings out the worst in its players.

On the outside, people on social media see players as taking online way too seriously. While some players might see these endeavors as “just for fun,” others are playing for thousands of dollars in prizes. As the burdens outweigh the enjoyability, I feel no reason to involve myself.

Also, there is no feeling quite like being at an actual tournament. I entered several tournaments a month, including locally, regionally, and even out-of-state majors, such as Momocon and CEO. Getting to see your friends again and playing offline matches against good competition makes the difference.

The tournament experience, on the opposite hand, largely brings out the best in players. There’s much more sportsmanship and camaraderie at offline tournaments when you’re meeting face-to-face. Plus you’re not hampered by the Wi-Fi connection either.

Alternatives to Smash Wi-Fi.

The reason people continue to play Smash online is because it stimulates the brain. It’s a fast-paced, competitive activity that plays unlike any other. As someone who’s staying at home playing JRPGs, like Persona and Fire Emblem, I too feel the need to test my reflexes and play a game of Smash. Even if it’s just for a few minutes to an hour, on Smash online, nothing feels quite like playing my favorite game.

I could play other fighting games, but I’m also not that good at them. Even then, I would still be running into largely the same netcode problem if I’m playing another fighter. If I need to play Smash seriously, I can always host a Battle Arena. I can enter a Discord with competitive players, seek a match out, and play with them till I’m done. Most of the time, the players I fight will have a LAN Adapter, making the connection a bit more seamless and easier to play.

Meanwhile, some players or even TOs, like Bear, have been spending their time fiending on Mario Kart 8 Online. As the best-selling Nintendo Switch game it still packs plenty of life several years later.

What you want to play for that mental stimulus is largely up to you. There’s tons of competitive online games out there including fighting games, Overwatch, Mario Kart, Splatoon, and more. But if you’re willing to brave the storm and play Smash Bros., the best thing to do is not take it too seriously. Have fun online, find people to play, and host battle arenas if you’re concerned you’ll run into lag. Despite what goes around on social media, it’s still playable. While online is not perfect, not playing Smash is even less enjoyable.

How are you managing through an era without Smash tournaments? Let us know in the comments below!

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