The split between the slightly different versions of Super Smash Bros. Melee published in Europe (PAL) and North America (NTSC) has long been a source of contention within the competitive Smash scene. For years, European players have had to make slight adjustments in their play in order to compete in larger American tournaments, while top American players have blamed the slightly different mechanics present in PAL Melee for lower placements or suspect losses at European events. But this schism may finally be coming to an end. In January, European tournament organizers will hold the continent’s first NTSC Melee tournament: SectorZ #3.0, a regional-level event to be held in the southern Dutch city of Breda.
The differences between PAL and NTSC Melee are significant, but not great enough to for them to be defined as separate esports. Much like the variant surfaces of tennis, the altered mechanics in PAL Melee force certain characters to alter their strategy or play in a different manner, but do not alter the rules or fundamental mechanics of the game.
PAL Melee, geared towards the Phase Alternating Line color encoding system used in European, Oceanian, and certain African, Asian, and South American nations, is an updated (or arguably patched) version of the American and Japanese standard of NTSC, which is based on the National Television System Committee color encoding system. In PAL Melee, certain top tier characters’ moves are nerfed; for example, Fox’s up smash is noticeably weaker, Falco’s down aerial is only a spike if its sweetspot hits, and Marth’s down aerial is a meteor rather than a spike. Regardless, these three characters still top the PAL tier list.
Though some European community members have suggested a continent-wide switch to NTSC Melee in the past, technical limitations have prevented such ideas from taking root until now.
SectorZ #3.0 will be located in Belcrum House, a Breda venue, on January 27, 2019. With the Universal Controller Fix, cash-entry singles and doubles brackets, and a free amateur bracket, the event has all the trappings of a large Melee tournament—but given its experimental nature, its singles bracket will be capped at 128 entrants. If you’re a European player thinking of giving NTSC a whirl, you can register on the tournament’s smash.gg page. If you can’t make it, be sure to tune that day for what promises to be a very unique European Melee stream!