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Published March 2, 2020

Late Sunday afternoon, the streaming collective VGBootCamp announced a worldwide multi-Smash circuit called the Smash World Tour, which features the biggest prize pot in Smash history: a combined $250,000. For Melee, the Smash World Tour is the scene’s most prominent international circuit since the Road to Apex in late 2014 and early 2015. The rules and other information about the circuit can be found here; most notably, wobbling is banned at a majority of events (save for HFLAN), with all of them also featuring a ledge grab limit of 60.

In tournament news over the weekend, Fiction won the most recent Bridgetown Blitz over FatGoku in Oregon, while aMSa took home the gold from Japan’s latest Battle Gateway over Kobobi. Philadelphia’s Gucci Gang had to end early because of scheduling issues with the venue, leaving Hax, BBB, SluG and Panos to split the remaining prize pot.

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The Smash World Tour

Earlier this year, I wrote about my steadfast belief that what held Melee back from ever having a circuit was a lack of cooperation among TOs, not a direct restriction from Nintendo. I’m happy to see that enough event organizers have chosen to collaborate on something that resembles structure for our community. Moreover, VGBC has been there since Melee players were overwhelmingly expected to transition to Brawl. I don’t question the group’s motives because I still remember watching videos that used to begin with “Video Game Bootcamp, maggot!” It clearly is not trying to hurt the scene.

So now that I have my throat-clearing about intent out of the way, let’s go into what sucks. Although adding structure into the community carries obvious benefits, it also raises questions about authority and legitimacy. The Melee community’s charm and appeal is in its grassroots nature. No one person or entity determines the fate of the scene. The one group, “The Five”, that tried to offer any semblance of authority a few years ago is now a punchline. If there’s a circuit with a quarter of a million dollars put into its prize pot, it’s natural to wonder where the money is coming from and how that impacts power dynamics within the community.

It’s already a red flag that the Smash World Tour openly stated its hope to partner with Nintendo. You could dismiss my concern here as me being an ideologue about keeping corporate influence out of grassroots communities, but more pertinently, the promise of “putting more money into Smash” should always make you skeptical. Anyone who’s been around long enough to remember community figures shilling for incompetent organizations like ESA or supposed angel investors like GameTyrant already know the extent to which community leaders can be so willfully blind when money is flashed in their face. Seriously, does anyone remember watching this?

Although the circuit has already announced several events that are partnering with it, what stands out are the names not currently listed. The circuit’s final day actually clashes with Don’t Park On The Grass, which, at the moment, operates independently of it. What does the lack of Shine, The Big House, Mainstage and Don’t Park On The Grass tell you about this circuit?

What was the value add that came from joining this circuit that these four majors did not buy into? These are the kind of questions that smashers should be asking, but for the few who ask them, keep in mind that someone else has already alluded to the existence of a failed circuit in 2019. If VGBC wasn’t running it, which streaming collective was? Which events were on board with it or not, and why? Isn’t it a prospective attendee’s right to know the answers to these questions and then come to a conclusion of which events they want to support?

Not answering these questions publicly and continuing this type of scene “politics” is wrong. It comes off like a ploy for mid-top competitors and community leaders to validate their years of unrewarded efforts and convince everyone that supporting them is equal to supporting “Smash.” A circuit is better than no circuit, but the reality is that for most people, it’s not going to change anything unless they know what they’re getting from it and who is benefiting from it. Until VGBC proves my skepticism unwarranted, I can’t get fully on board.

Monday Morning Mailbag

We haven’t seen Leffen or Wizzrobe beat Hbox since Smashcon and Smash and Splash respectively. It seems like they are both still considered Hbox slayers, but with the lack of any recent results, it seems like they may have fallen off in the match up. How confident would you be seeing either of them against Hbox now vs someone like Hax$ or Zain with more recent success? – buzzih

Hungrybox is the world’s best player, but the irony about him not playing friendlies against top players is that it might actually hurt him against the ones who have played him in tournament enough times to where matchup knowledge doesn’t hold them back. It might be a Jigglypuff specific thing, but it’s not a coincidence that Leffen, Wizzrobe and Mew2King beat Hungrybox in each of their first attempts when they came back from hiatuses.

The lack of time in between their sets could frankly hurt Hungrybox more than it could hurt Leffen or Wizzrobe. I am extremely confident in Leffen winning their next set (as in, I’d bet money) and am mildly confident that Wizzrobe vs. Hungrybox is a coin-flip.

A special shoutout for proofreading this column goes to Melee Stats Patron, Slothrop! Thank you so much!

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