The greatest event in esports is taking place this weekend (in fact it's already started), and there is a chance you’ve not even heard about it. At this event, the absolute elite of one of the fastest, most technical and at the same time creative games ever to be played competitively will fight tooth and nail for one of the biggest prizes in their calendar. Dreams will come true, hearts will be broken, and for some reason hours of Mafia will be played by drunken Smashers.
We are of course talking about Smash Summit, the Super Smash Bros Melee event, which is a brilliant addition to the year, and great lesson in the relativity of esports. While other Summits, such as the CSGO and Dota versions, have failed to attract the best of the best for a variety of reasons, mainly related to prize money, the Smash version is a magnet for the world’s best players, and has a prize pool to rival any in that scene.
That makes it the ‘best’ event in Smash already, but it is the gap between Summit and the next best thing that justifies calling it the relative peak of esports. Compared to Evo, there are no open brackets, BO3 matches that matter or concessions made to commercial partners and the fact the players are all on site, all the time, also means they are constantly practising, and therefore staying warm to perform at peak level anytime.
Foundations of the scene
To get a better understanding of what this event means to the people who play Melee for a living, we spoke to the UK’s best Smash player, Aaron ‘Professor Pro’ Thomas, about what Summit means to not just him, but the community at large. “One of Summit's greatest strengths is that it highlights one of the foundations of the competitive Smash scene, that has been pretty much lost in every single Smash event these days, which is basically just a bunch of people in a house having fun and playing Smash - how it originated. But this time around with insane production and even higher level gameplay…”.
It’s pretty much the Smash event that every great smasher would like to compete at
That combination of authenticity and quality is what many fans wish more esports events would aim for, rather than aping large sporting moments or choosing to hire ‘entertainment’ that seems somewhat out of place. For Summit, it means an event that fans and players alike have fallen in love with, and anticipate with baited breath for months in advance. As Prof puts it, “It’s pretty much the Smash event that every great smasher would like to compete at.”
There are improvements that could be made, such as the voting process to decide the final few entrants which has led to some very undignified moments down the years, and even a few dangerous ones. Likewise, the prize pool is still partly funded by donations from the community, who are also encouraged to get their wallets out if they want certain stretch goals met.
On the flip side, players will work so hard to get into the Summit, if they don’t automatically qualify, because of what it represents, especially for an upcomer. The chance to spend a week or so playing against the world’s very best in every scenario imaginable can be golden for a developing future god, as the game is still be played offline and it is super rare to find this much talent in one place.
And that really sums up why Smash Summit is the best event in esports, relatively speaking. Sure, TI has more money, and CSGO gets a million views, but they have grown to a point where it’s almost not ‘esports’ anymore, where Summit has maintained the magic. So tune in this weekend if you get time, and get ready to fall in love with a whole new game if this is your first time watching Melee.
Image credit: BTS