Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players discuss if Steve should be banned after a fresh face dominates recent tournament

Written by. Nick Mosier based on the original Japanese article (original article’s publication date: 2022-06-21 13:12 JST)

There’s been a recent dispute among the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate community about whether Steve should be banned from tournaments. The discussion started because of the results of a recent Smash Ultimate invitational called The Gimvitational. After the event, players both for and against banning Minecraft’s Steve from tournament play let their feelings be known on social media.

The Gimvitational is an invite-only tournament that was held in the United States between June 16 – 19 (EDT). Top players like Light, Sparg0, Riddles, and Tweek were there along with the three Japanese players Ashimo, Gackt, and acola who use Ryu, Ness, and Steve respectively.

Among the crowd of top contenders, acola came away the winner. After acola’s victory, some players began calling for Steve to be banned from tournaments using the hashtag #BanSteve, which sparked a wider discussion around what should be done about the character.

Steve shined too bright

As far as we can tell, the instigator of the discussion was Smash Ultimate player Karthik “Lavish” Ganapathy who also participates in tournaments and events. Lavish says that banning characters, Steve in this case, is reasonable as it’s something that’s done in other fighting games. More voices calling for Steve then began to be amplified and the #BanSteve hashtag was born.

Light and Cosmos, two players who participated in the tournament and are influential in the community, also jumped onboard the hashtag spreading it even further. Others then began criticizing those who were pushing to ban Steve causing an intense debate to break out.

What exactly caused this uproar around Steve? It’s likely due to acola coming in as a dark horse and dominating The Gimvitational. This was actually acola’s first event outside of Japan. Plus, Steve has a low usage rate among top players worldwide (though yonni also used the character at the event). With that in mind, seeing acola break through the preliminaries and continue to beat top players like Riddles and Light until winning the whole thing caused quite a commotion.

Steve is an odd character

acola’s playstyle also left a strong impression on the competition. From the start, Steve has always been a tricky character. Steve players need to constantly gather and use resources in matches, and he has tool-based attacks that have different properties depending on what they’re made of. Combine that with moves like the dynamite and the minecart and you have an unusual character even among the roster of unusual characters.

acola put Steve’s moveset to excellent use. Using blocks to prevent recovery and to make space for mining, using the minecart for decisive combos, dropping anvils, and generally adapting the right moves to the right situations. By being difficult to read, maintaining good spacing, and getting into powerful combos, acola took a tricky fighter that players need to be especially prepared for and left a strong impression on the competitive scene.

acola is just 16 years old, and despite demonstrating their skills in online events, wasn’t widely known due to not appearing in offline events. However, as of this year acola has been participating in offline tournaments and getting their name out there by winning major events held in Japan. It’s likely because of these wins that acola received an invitation to The Gimvitational to begin with. And by winning it, acola made their exciting arrival on the world stage while making Steve the hot topic among Smash Ultimate players.

On the other hand, it’s not very clear just how serious some players are about wanting to see Steve banned. When a character wins a major Smash Ultimate event, it’s often considered “broken” until a different character is used to win the next one and the discussion around the previous character is forgotten. Calls to ban or nerf characters that win events isn’t something unique to Smash Bros., though, as the same phenomenon can be seen across many competitive games.

It also may simply be that some people are having a hard time accepting acola’s victory. When a player people have never heard of comes out of nowhere with a strange playstyle and wins, it’s possible people will conclude it’s the character and not the player, even if partly in jest. Furthermore, after tweeting the #BanSteve hashtag, Light and Cosmos followed their tweets with, “Me in my hotel room eating some dominos. ‘So we do this or nah?’” and “I love acola,” respectively. Despite hinting at wanting Steve banned, a number of players later followed up indicating they weren’t serious.

What comes next?

MkLeo who is currently considered the “king” of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gave their thoughts as well saying that it’s time to learn the matchup. And despite their concerns about the meta, added, “all we can do is adapt.” As of now, even if Steve is overpowered, if the character doesn’t continue to get results in large-scale tournaments going forward, there won’t be much of a basis to ban him.

In a game with as many characters as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the variety we see in tournaments, to ban a character over concerns about future events after the results of just one doesn’t make much sense at the present time. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai previously stated that the development team has disbanded, so it’s hard to think there will be any adjustments coming along either.

With all that said, it’s interesting to see Steve boast such strength at this point in the game’s life. When Steve was first added, players like Shuton pointed out how strong he was and famous players like Tarorin even use the character. But because of his resource management and unique quirks, the number of players that have put Steve to good use is limited.

Now, a year and a half after being added to the game, a young 16-year-old player has taken the character and shined on the world stage. From the shocking victory to the calls for Steve to be banned, the story itself is certainly dramatic.

At any rate, Steve is a difficult character to use and has weaknesses. acola’s ability to compensate for these while effectively using the character is certainly a key factor in their results. The impressive performance showed acola’s strength as a Smash Ultimate player and to say it’s just because of the character would be disrespectful.

The situation does go to show the passion of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate competitive scene, though. Even with no new characters or updates, the community is still fired up about the game. With such heated competition, it will be exciting to see just how far acola is able to push their game.