Earlier today, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios wowed the gaming world yet again by defeating Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez in grand finals of Nintendo’s E3 Smash Invitational. With this victory, ZeRo has achieved his second consecutive Smash Invitational title, having won the E3 Smash Invitational for Super Smash Bros, for Wii U in 2014.
Though none of the invited players had touched Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before today’s invitational, the game appears to have borrowed heavily from the mechanics of Smash 4, a fact that surely helped Smash 4 professionals ZeRo and MkLeo fight their way to grand finals. The invitational’s highest-placing Melee representative was Justin “Plup” McGrath, who used new character Ridley to great effect while on his way to loser’s finals.
The format of the event differed from the last Smash Invitational. While the 2014 bracket began with four-player free for alls, this year’s invitational started out with teams matches that paired top players—one from each major Smash title—with each other to compete in 2v2s, both with and without items. After this round, the event’s format shifted to free for alls, then into a more traditional 1v1 double elimination bracket.
Thanks to the invitational’s unique format, three players tied for fourth place: Adam “Armada” Lindgren, Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, and Abadango. Tying for seventh were Ramin “Mr. R” and Joey “Lucky” Aldama.
Besides providing viewers with their first look at what Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might look like in the hands of high-level players, Smash Invitational 2018 showed that Nintendo has been paying some attention to the competitive scene. The event featured an obviously high production value, and the introductory video that preceded the bracket referenced many of the scene’s most popular in-jokes, both new and old.
Thanks to the gameplay demonstrated during the invitational, a number of the new Smash title’s qualities became apparent. Notably, it’s clear that Melee-style wavedashing is impossible despite the return of directional air dodging; unfortunately, the landing lag incurred when one air dodges into the ground negates its effectiveness as a movement option.
Furthermore, it’s obvious that despite the unorthodox momentum properties of Smash Ultimate’s knockback, combinations are still possible, at least at low percents. Never fear, combo fiends: Brawl-style hitstun cancelling is seemingly gone for good.
The version of the game that we saw today will not be exactly the same as the version that hits shelves on December 7. Like last time, Nintendo will use the information gleaned from the invitational’s gameplay to tweak the game and remove potential bugs. Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Smash, himself said that he saw a few glitches in action during the invitational, and will be flying home to Japan at midnight to resume work on the game. However, the invitational was a more-than-satisfying look into the competitive Smash title of the future.