Organizers for Super Smash Bros. mega-event Genesis 3 announced on Tuesday it had cancelled plans to allow top Smash 4 players to skip the first stage of pool play. It would proceed with similar plans for top Melee players, however. The move followed a wave of backlash from fans on social media.
The 64 participants ranked highest in the 2015 year-end Melee It On Me rankings will be “automatically promoted” directly into the second round of the second stage of pool play. The other 1,700-plus participants will have to play through the first stage of pools. Of these, 256 will qualify for the second stage of pool play, where they’ll be joined by the 64 promoted players.
Similar plans were in place for 32 top players in the Smash 4 bracket before they were ultimately scrapped.
At most fighting game tournaments, all players begin at the same stage and need the same number of wins to win the event. A certain number of players may receive a bye in their first match if the total number of players does not equal a power of two.
The initial plans were first reported by Smash 4 player Chris “Falln” Rugg on Monday evening on the event’s Facebook page. Comments within that thread by tournament organizers David Collins and Sheridan “Dr. Z” Zalewski confirmed the decision. Dr. Z posted a detailed explanation of—and reasonings behind—the event’s plans on Tuesday. Three hours later, organizer Jonathan Silva announced the cancellation of auto-advancements in the Smash 4 bracket.
“This idea, although yielding some benefit, has been rejected by the greater community and therefore warranted an adjustment,” Silva wrote.
Advancing top players into the second round of pools is not an unheard of practice in fighting game tournaments, this format has not been used at any of the largest Smash events, including Evo, Apex, and The Big House. Genesis 3 figures to be the largest Smash-centric event in history with 1,777 players registered for the Melee singles bracket and 1,028 registered for the Smash 4 singles bracket as of Dec. 29. If those numbers hold, both tournaments would be the second-largest in their respective games’ history behind only Evo 2015.
According to Zalewski’s statement, the event introduced the automatic promotion in part because of the demands of the schedule. In addition to the two main singles brackets, the event is scheduled to host doubles tournaments and crew battles for both games, as well as the finals for The Melee Games and what stands to be the largest Super Smash Bros. 64 tournament in history.
Reactions to the plan were overwhelmingly negative across social media , especially in the Smash 4 community. Concern over the selection process for the Smash 4 players was a common theme in many of the critiques. Some even doubted that a satisfactory list of the game’s top 32 players could be made with any sort of consensus, considering that 25 different players have finished eighth or better at at least one of the six best-attended tournaments in 2015.
While some fans praised the organizers for trying something new with their tournament, many fellow tournament organizers derided the plan for being unfair to players who would not be automatically promoted.
Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar, Evo’s lead organizer, was among the harshest of the plan’s critics. He tweeted that players “shouldn’t be allowed to skip any rounds of competition” and that floating players into later rounds “should NEVER happen. No exceptions. EVER EVER EVER.”
Cuellar’s sentiments were echoed by Andre “Bifuteki” Agustin, the new CEO of Apex Series LLC. In a statement given to the Daily Dot, Bifuteki called the plan “a slap to the face of all players.” He went on to say that “players should earn their spot, not just be given a free pass [into later rounds], especially when most of these players have lost in pools at various tournaments.”
Alex Jebailey, lead organizer of Orlando’s CEO tournament, criticized the timing of the announcement. Genesis 3 is scheduled to begin on Jan. 15. The event was announced in August, and registration opened in late September.
For his part, Zalewski agreed with the criticisms of the timing. The organizers “thought it might be wiser to wait until the [WiiU player] list was finalized” before announcing the decision.
“Apparently that was wrong, and I’m willing to take full responsibility for that decision,” Zalewski wrote.