By Ozzie Mejia
The changes address several issues, including coaching rules, setting checks (an issue brought to light by the controversy that unfolded at Genesis 4), and a new stage list.
The stage list has raised some eyebrows in the Smash 4 community. The starter list of stages will consist of Final Destination, Battlefield, and Smashville. The counter pick stages will be Town & City, Dream Land, and a select list of Omega Stages. That means Lylat Cruise and Duck Hunt, two longtime staples of the competitive game, are now banned from rotation.
Scott “Tantalus” Robertson cited the potential for bugs and obstacles in a Reddit post among the reasons for their removal. Along with the updated stage list, the proposed rules would also amend bans, treating Dream Land/Battlefield and Final Destination/Omega Stages as a single stage.
Smash 4 players have had mixed feelings in regards to the proposed rule changes. Yahoo Esports reached out to some of the game’s top players to gauge their reactions.
Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios
“No ruleset is perfect. It is through trial and error that we perfect one to find what works best. It takes time. Now, based on that, the new changes are aimed towards making the ruleset more simple to outsiders, thus making the competitive format more accessible and easier to understand, which was done by reducing the amount of stages and modifying the wording of the previous ruleset to avoid confusion or exploits.
“Lylat is a stage that simply has far too many glitches that can decide the outcome of a match outside of player control, such as players simply falling through the map to their deaths. While it was a convenient counterpick stage for many characters, it is being removed for its unpredictable glitchy nature. And for Duck Hunt, it is a stage that is used to slow the game down, thanks to its big size and high platforms. It’s a favorite of characters and players who tend to prefer a slower-paced game. However, the nature of the platforms promoted too much defensiveness in the game, and even nullified characters who couldn’t reach the high platforms. These things reflected negatively on our scene to new spectators, while also being a disliked stage to our player base, [which] is what lead to its removal. Overall the changes are aimed towards increasing the pace of competitive matches, thus making it a better experience for viewers and players.
“While I have my personal disagreements with the stage list, I do think this is better for the game and our community and so I’m all for the new changes. I think it’s for the best.”
Jestise “MVD” Negron
“I don’t like the change. I think having such a small amount of stages causes problems.
“Attaching Dream Land and Battlefield to the same bans doesn’t fix the issue I have with the new rules. I agree with Duck Hunt being banned, but without Lylat we don’t have a true counterpick. Seeing as we had Town & City as a starter previously, it’s not like we have a real counterpick anymore. Lylat, I feel, was a necessary evil to balance out stages. Without [Dave’s Stupid Rule] we also will have sets with winners being able to freely go back to the stage they won on, which I feel will make the game and meta stale.”
Griffin “Fatality” Miller
“I find the ruleset deviation to be quite interesting, and it cleans up most of the issues players have had with previous rulesets, myself included.
“My primary concern on the fairness of the list is that combining Battlefield and Dream Land, while removing Lylat, leaves characters who like platforms out to dry. Characters who enjoy flatter stages will never be denied a stage they enjoy, especially since Town & City lacks platforms literally 50 percent of the time. Characters such as Diddy may become even more powerful in the wake of this becoming standard. Smash has also never once had a ruleset where platform-oriented stages were not at the forefront, and so changing that up will likely have profound consequences on, to some extent, changing the nature of Smash. Whether or not that would be a good thing, time can only tell.
“I would personally prefer more platforms, but I also can’t understate enough the value of finally having a universal league build all the rules for once. Smash 4 may finally have a completely universal ruleset, which is exciting! I’m not yet convinced that this stage list in particular will be the best, but it’s too interesting to not at least try.”
Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby
“The stage list is atrocious.”
Wes “6WX” Alexander
“At the moment, I’m still curious to see how things play out, but it does feel like the changes will help and hurt quite a bit of people and characters.
“Fox might be better off now with no Lylat to worry about, Marth might struggle without the Lylat counterpick and having his tri-platform stages always banned. Sonic may never see [Final Destination] again except against characters he doesn’t like playing there (Diddy and maybe Fox). The lack of DSR could make best of 5 sets feel stale or one-sided once someone wins game one.
“However, if these changes accomplish the goal of keeping people interested and growing the community without having really “lame” matches on Duck Hunt, nor another glitchy situation like Mr.R vs. ScAtt [Andrew Huntley] last time on Lylat, then perhaps it may be for the best. I’m looking to try it out at least before making a solid judgement.”
Ramin “Mr.R” Delshad
“I am a fan of the new ruleset. I really wasn’t a fan of Dream Land and Duck Hunt and am indifferent about Lylat.
“Very excited to be playing at future tournaments with this ruleset and I think it’s a big step in the right direction.”
Shawn “K9sbruce” Bruce
“I’m very happy with this change. For the scene, I feel like this will force people to be more creative, rather than banking on a certain stage to win. Of course, stages play a role in some players’ play, but when you’re both on a neutral stage, the better plays will win.
“Battlefield/Dream Land both counting as one ban doesn’t sound like a good idea, but we’ll see as people play out the ruleset more. Overall, I’m very happy with this. Let’s see some straightforward games.”
“In all honesty, I was surprised when they made such a sudden drastic change to the ruleset, but I didn’t disagree with it overall. When I heard that they were getting rid of Duck Hunt and Lylat Cruise, I felt pretty relieved, because I had always felt that those stages allowed for so much inconsistency in results, forcing you to play way differently on those stages than you needed to on the other legal stages at the time. In my opinion, I think they made the right choice taking those stages out of the equation.
“As soon as I found out that they made Battlefield and Dream Land essentially the same pick when counter picking, I was confused at first, but realized that it made sense because of how similar the stages are with their platform layout. There are always complaints that there are drastic differences between Battlefield and Dream Land, but I genuinely believe that most of the difference won’t have an effect on many of the interactions in neutral. The only thing that slightly worries me is the idea of having no Stage Clause (DSR) whatsoever. It will take a little bit to get used to, but I feel like it may be needed so that players do not feel restricted in their stages choices whenever they win a game and then lose a game.
“There’s no perfect ruleset that is going to make everyone satisfied and happy. The fact that they decided to take a step forward and test the waters out can be really huge for our scene and community in general. I thank all the tournament organizers and everyone else that was involved in the process.”
Mason “Locus” Charlton
“Initially, when I saw the new stage list, I was pretty disappointed. When I thought of changes to the list, I always hoped that Dream Land would be the first stage to go. I knew this wasn’t likely, but I personally strongly dislike Dream Land. That, along with seeing one of my favourite stages banned, Lylat Cruise, I was mildly disappointed.
“However, once I looked past my own personal bias, I think this is going to be a really good change moving forward. Getting rid of the inconsistencies that Lylat brings through sometimes glitchy interactions and stage tilt is important. Tying Battlefield and Dream Land together for bans, though they are completely different stages, allows the stage list to not heavily favor characters with ladder combos. And the best change of all is that we won’t be seeing any more Duck Hunt in competitive play. This should make the metagame somewhat faster and more exciting.
“Though I was initially disappointed and somewhat scared of the change, I’m also really excited to see where this pushes the competitive metagame. Regardless of what it does, we’re going to have some very interesting tournaments coming up.”
Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth
“I believe this was definitely a step in the right direction. I felt the ruleset for Smash 4 was arguably outdated and there needed to be a change. Not myself specifically, but people were complaining. Something had to be done and I feel correct actions were taken.
“The coaching rule was actually one of my favorite changes. I felt, at certain times, coaching was in a sort of grey area. Some TO’s hated it, others encouraged it, and so forth. Putting one slot of coaching for the entire set is a great idea. Limiting the amount while still giving enough time to sort things out is genius.
“Other than that, I found the list overall to be very minor changes, except for of course the stages. I was quite shocked at the removal of Lylat Cruise and Duck Hunt. I’ve seen these stages used in competitive play quite often and have played on them many times myself, however, I’m very glad they’re gone. I believe Duck Hunt and Lylat Cruise promoted a slightly toxic playstyle and interfered with the game at times.”
The proposed new rules came days after Smash 4 was named as one of Evo 2017’s featured Sunday games. Tantalus and the other tournament organizers that contributed to the ruleset have noted that certain rule elements are still open for change. In the meantime, organizations running other Smash 4 tournaments, like 2GG Gaming and UnrivaledTournaments, have indicated that they will operate future events with these new rules. Mega Smash Mondays from 2GG will be one of the first competitive Smash 4 weekly tournaments to operate under these proposed rules.
Ozzie Mejia is on Twitter at @Ozz_Mejia.