Breaking down the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Steve debate on whether he should be banned from tournament play.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is approaching its fifth anniversary. It has become the greatest video game mashup in history. No other game offers the sheer amount of character diversity across the gaming world. To have characters like Sephiroth battle it out against Mega Man, Mario, and Sonic is a selling point in itself. And ever since the Gamecube with Super Smash Bros. Melee, this series has been in the competitive scene. Tournaments hosted from giant venues to small garages have been happening since 2004, with immense amounts of history and players. Although Nintendo has never officially given financial support to these tournaments, they still find a way because of the massive community.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Steve
Minecraft is the best-selling game of all time. To see Steve in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to represent the game is simply incredible. However, with his release as DLC, has come much controversy. He is now seen as the strongest character in the game from a competitive standpoint, and he only looks stronger as time goes on. Mechanics not found in any other character are found in Steve, with some completely breaking the game. Steve can break out of any combo, kill at almost any percent, and has combos that deal ludicrous damage. The worst part is that Masahiro Sakurai, the director and creator of Super Smash Bros., will not be updating the game anymore. This means there is no way to patch or nerf Steve, nor any other character buffs to counter him.
Tournament Bans and Community Rulesets
Ever since Steve’s rise to popularity and strength, competitive players around the world have called for him to be banned. However, this is not the first time a character in Super Smash Bros. has been asked to be banned from tournaments.
Back in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Nintendo Wii, the competitive scene was dominated by Meta Knight. People today still say that Meta Knight in Brawl was the strongest Smash Bros. character ever created. His immense power led to him being banned from many tournaments, as the Brawl competitive scene was not nearly as big as Melee or, nowadays, Ultimate.
Since Nintendo does not sponsor any tournaments, there is no “official” ruleset for any Smash Bros. game. The community makes its own ruleset, with legal stages, stock count, and timer. However, besides Meta Knight, no character has been debated whether they should be banned. Even Bayonetta in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was never banned, even though she easily was the best character in the game. This is most likely attributed to the fact that when Bayonetta reached her peak in popularity, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was already announced. But with Steve now in Ultimate, the banning debate has reignited for the first time since Meta Knight.
The Best Player with the Best Character
The controversy surrounding Steve on whether he should be banned is heavily influenced by Mashita “Acola” Hayato. Not only is Acola currently the best player in the world at the young age of 17, but his rise came almost immediately after Steve’s release. Almost every tournament he entered in his home region of Japan, he won with Steve. His complete domination continued in American and European tournaments, hitting top placements at all of them. Acola’s winnings were heavily attributed to the overwhelming power of Steve, and top players were very talkative about it. Players such as Edgar “Sparg0” Valdez, Rasheen “Dark Wizzy” Rose, and more vocalized their opinions on the character, stating how Acola has “no skill”. Although players have apologized for their comments today, the message still hit home to Acola, who spoke recently about the issue on his stream of the amount of hate he receives.
— FaZe Sparg0 (@Sparg0ssb) October 18, 2023
With the immense amount of hate towards the character due to his play style and strength, many communities around America have chosen to ban the character from tournaments. The most popular online tournament, Coinbox, has banned the character since a certain tech was found. This tech allows Steve to escape and punish any combo he finds himself in, and he is being called more of an exploit than a feature of Steve. More exploits for Steve have been found as time goes on. It is only a matter of time before the character becomes too overwhelming if he isn’t already.
Should Steve be Banned?
Steve is extremely strong, with many characters in the game having almost no counter-play to him. His camping play style to mine for diamonds is not fun to play against on top of that, making it a mental challenge to overcome him. And even if Steve starts to get attacked, he can easily make it out with some exploits unique to him.
Since Nintendo does not offer an official ruleset, the community has to make their own. So to answer the question of whether Steve should be banned: it depends on the community. If there is a large enough crowd vocalizing his ban from a certain tournament or local area, it should be enforced. At the end of the day, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is meant to be fun for everyone. And if a local scene is losing attendees due to Steve, then he should be banned for the good of the community. And bigger tournaments have adopted this mindset. Let’s Make Moves Miami, hosted on the weekend of October 27, decided to ban the character when the tournament was first announced.
More debate has sparked after it was announced that Steve-banned tournaments would still count towards the community ranking of players. Many competitors rely on their ranking to be sponsored by companies. For example, Luminosity Gaming sponsors three of the top 20 players in the world.
This announcement allows players to never have to fight against Steve, depending on which major tournaments they decide to go to, effectively dodging both the character and Acola. This also prevents Acola from playing against certain top players because of the Steve ban. Although he can play another character, his top player ranking came from playing Steve.
Whether you believe Steve should be banned or not does not truly matter. You can vote in your local community or for the major tournaments you enter to ban the character, but that is all that is possible. However, bullying Acola and other Steve players for playing him in a kid’s party game is not the correct way to deal with it. Acola is 17 and does not deserve the hate he receives simply for playing Steve. If the character makes the game unbearable, it is time to drop the controller until your local scene makes a change or you begin to deal with the reality that this character is real.
Counter-play is possible against Steve, as Sparg0 has clearly shown that Acola is not invincible with his winning record against him. Certain exploits that were found on Steve were banned as well, such as the combo-breaking tech that allows him to punish anything. The character is certainly strong, but not unbeatable. On top of that, only Acola represents Steve at the top level, as other Steve players either are not nearly like him or have dropped the character. More discussion and bans would result if his representation was as plentiful as Meta Knight in Brawl. But until then, Steve will be banned only depending on certain communities' decisions, but most likely will never receive a universal ban.