Nintendo (sort of) supports esports with Smash Ball Team Cup and NA Open


The success of Nintendo’s Smash Bros series is an enduring fact of gaming life and, in recent years, has become a more visible part of the esports landscape, too. For a long time, the company was extremely reluctant to encourage the fanatics that drove the competitive scene, especially from Melee, but it looks as though its 2019 resolution was to change all that. Well, sort of.

Sort of because this is Nintendo and there always has to be a caveat when it directly involves itself. On this occasion, the European part of the plan looks pretty competitive, with the small problem that there is no real 1v1 play and Smash Balls will be part of the games, too. That is somewhat alien to the esports scene, but nothing compared to what Nintendo has planned for North American Smash.

Madness of the North America Open

For the USA and Canada, the games will be played out in time-limit format, rather than as stock battles, with items set to low and Smash Balls enabled, as they will be for Europe. That is set to make for a very different experience to the standard tournament, for any Smash title, and demonstrates the problem that still exists around Nintendo esports - namely Nintendo.

For years, the company has sought to apply its own rules and morals to the competitive scene that grew up without its help and, sometimes, despite its direct opposition. Part of this is due to the complete lack of penalties for not doing so, as Nintendo fans tend to buy everything the company releases, even if that same company has spent years dumping on their favourite titles, as is the case with Melee.

That is not to say the Smash Ball Team Cup and North America Open events will be failures, as the passion of Smash fans is famous, but the reality is that companies such as Valve and even Riot are far more in touch with the esports scene than Nintendo and that is to the benefit of the players. Hopefully, the Japanese giant listens to feedback and changes the format to a more competitive one, as the scene is crying out for real developer support and the game has the potential to be a decent esports title.

Tim MastersTim has worked with Luckbox since 2018, having previously spent time at GosuGamers, EsportsHeaven and other sites. He currently is not at his desk.