It’s easy to accuse many publications of clickbaiting the names of certain esports or gaming personalities, because they do. For every gutter press publication that used to print barely justified speculation, we now have ten websites that simply surf the hashtags in the hope of picking up a new audience and recently some of them have even publicly talked about how well it works.
This is a factor of the growth of esports, essentially, and the fact that interest in games such as Fortnite has already outstripped the level of attention long-established games are getting. This is due to the fact that it only take a tiny fraction of Ninja’s fanbase to pay attention to something, and you have millions of kids as a captive audience, which already makes it bigger than most, if not all of esports.
That is the main reason why a single tweet from Tyler Blevins, as his mum probably still calls him, caused such consternation and excitement among the Smash community. Alongside the Robin to Ninja’s Batman, Dr Lupo, you can see the likes of Panda Global owner Alan Bunney, Tempo Storm’s Smash God Gonzalo ‘ZeRo’ Barrios and Melee’s world number one Juan ‘HungryBox’ DeBiedma in the replies, among others, all happy to see gaming’s biggest name talk about their favourite franchise.
Of course, with this being the internet, there are also people offering their snarky takes on his recent ‘stream sniping’ incident, which only further underlines the point. Right now, a minor tantrum from Ninja generates more headlines than a major title being won in a game like Super Smash Bros, making it not just vital, but eminently sensible for that community to jump on any chance they get to be associated with him.
While this might seem a touch depressing for some folk, it’s worth remembering that we are only a decade or so beyond the beginning of what people think of as esports today, and the progress to this point has been incredible. Whether phenomenal new names like Ninja survive the end of their particular wave is still not certain, but games like CSGO and Melee have been around more than a decade, and they are built on a strong foundation of committed players and fans.
As for the fans, you’ll apparently have to wait to see what Ninja has planned, but it’s safe to say his stream could bring a level of attention to the new game in the series (Ultimate) that benefits everyone in Smash, and is extremely unlikely to harm the scene at all. There are personalities in the scene who would bring value to a Ninja stream, and he’s never been shy about helping other streamers out where he can.
What’s more is, he will bring new fans to a community that is increasingly made up of fanatical Nintendo supporters, and potentially new players to a competitive scene that has been dominated by the same names for some years now, with a few exceptions. It’s easy to be dismissive about him when he’s being given awards related to esports, but it’s a fact that Ninja is the biggest name in gaming today, and we can’t wait to see what he does for Super Smash Bros Ultimate.