Immortals have dropped both of their representatives in the Super Smash Bros series, following the news that Dajuan ‘Shroomed’ McDaniel would be leaving the organisation after two years with them. This comes on the back of Jason ‘ANTi’ Bates leaving the organisation at the end of his contract, with neither player having achieved what they aimed to in their time with IMT.
Shroomed has long been considered one of the US’s top players, especially since his move to main Sheik in recent years, but, like La Luna, Axe and other Americans he has struggled to go from ‘gatekeeper’ to ‘god’, while the likes of Panda Global’s Justin ‘Plup’ McGrath and Zain ‘Zain’ Naghmi have both surpassed him. That is before we mention William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte, who won this year’s Evo, having gone from black sheep to world’s best over the course of a few years.
The move is not really a reflection of that lack of success, though, as much as the negligible value of Smash to a brand the size of IMT. ANTi’s dropping made a lot of sense, as he not only spent most of the latter stages of his career on the tier below Gonzalo ‘ZeRo’ Barrios, the accepted GOAT of Smash 4, but also played a game that is shortly to be replaced by Smash Ultimate. However, the removal of Shroomed may only partly be related to his performance as much as it pertains to a drop in Melee’s popularity generally.
At the moment, the highest viewing figures Smash has achieved for a native event come from 2017, with events in 2018 not managing to achieve the same peaks they did in the past. There has also been a few high-profile negative headlines around community members, as well as the retirement of one of the true greats, Adam ‘Armada’ Lindgren, who lost his battle with apathy for a second time in his career.
Whether IMT plan to re-enter the scene later is not known at this point, but the organisation is moving away from the traditional model of having all their players under one brand, instead investing in groups like MIBR and LA Valiant to ensure the widest reach for their marketing. They will most likely keep an eye on the Smash Ultimate scene, but evolution in Melee is unlikely at this point, so unless a much better player becomes available it’s tough to imagine they’ll come back to Melee anytime soon.