The organizers of Genesis 7 and EVO Japan 2020 couldn’t have predicted the kind of storylines they were shutting down when they scheduled their tournaments on the same weekend.
In the Smash world, the US and Japan are the most natural kind of rivals. Nintendo sells like hotcakes in both regions and both regions do much better at competitive console games than PC games. They’ve been the two best regions at some point in the life cycle of pretty much every Smash game.
And there’s always been talk about who’s better. To settle that talk, there has been crew battles, overseas trips, and a whole lot of rankings. This year, Japan did about as good in the rankings as they had since Brawl and that’s because Japan’s Ultimate players are having a huge renaissance. Zackray went to and won Big House, Kameme beat MKLeo at EVO, and Japan showed up where it counted.
In the rankings, Japan really showed up and got 20 players on the PGRU season 2 rankings. The US was not quiet about this and quickly pointed to an international modifier that increased the ranking value of Japanese tournaments as the reason for the spike in Japanese players. The 50th player, a relatively unknown Yoshi main simply named “RON” ended up a meme that succinctly captured Japan’s over-presence on the PGR.
Most Japanese players couldn’t jump in to defend themselves or the strength of their region – given the language barrier. But talk is cheap anyways. Tournament results are where the value’s at. Unfortunately, bad scheduling means we’re not going to see that value yet.
Smash’s ultimate Japan vs US showdown is not happening – yet
Japan and the US are having two of their biggest tournaments of the year at the same time this weekend – Genesis 7 and EVO Japan 2020. In normal circumstances, it would be pretty unfortunate to see this happen. Every S-Tier in the US gets more exciting when top Japanese players attend. They’re lesser known and often come in with characters NA’s audience sees less often – like Link.
Given the PGRU rankings, the scheduling snafu feels even worse. Not only would it have been great to have Japanese players defend their ranks at Genesis 7, it would have been even better to see if NA players could do well on Japanese soil. Japanese players often do well in the US, but not nearly as many US players go to Japan to compete.
Rough as this snafu is, there will be plenty of opportunities for the battle between regions to happen. Most notably, the Frostbite tournament series regularly courts Japanese players and will happen February 21st. In raw, factual terms the battle isn’t truly shut down, it’s delayed.
However, delays let tensions simmer and let storylines unwind. In a month’s time players across the globe might not have forgotten the rankings but they won’t feel them as sharply. It’s unclear if the Japan and NA rivalry will taper off too.
Regardless of the rivalry, the overscheduled weekend shows a running problem in the Smash community: disorganization. While tournament organizers do communicate and have a shared Facebook group, Smash doesn’t have a league or a circuit or even the infrastructure to communicate internationally at a strong level.
- Yes, more communication is needed 43%, 3 votes3 votes 43%3 votes - 43% of all votes
- No, I don't care if every top player is in one room 29%, 2 votes2 votes 29%2 votes - 29% of all votes
- Meh, chaos is the beauty of Smash 29%, 2 votes2 votes 29%2 votes - 29% of all votes
Genesis 7 and EVO Japan 2020 represent a data point along a much longer line. The line is the more important thing to correct. Increasing communication not only helps avoid obvious scheduling problems but it could be part of what holds Smash back.
Arian “TheCrimsonBlur” Fathieh is a longtime Melee player, organizer, and for a time worked at Twitch. He’s talked at length about the raw strength Smash has in terms of viewership but how the lack of coordination amongst organizers causes helpful new initiatives to fall through.
In a two hour long discussion with Avery “Ginger” Wilson and Daniel “Tafokints” Lee – another organizer and esports veteran – Fathieh and Lee both expressed how many ideas they’ve had to implement mostly alone due to lack of communication, coordination, and good faith cooperation. In fairness to tournament organizers, Fathieh and Tafo called out players, streamers, and creators as well as organizers.
Disorganization clearly runs across the whole community, and considering that Smash is a grassroots esports without any centrally organizing body, it makes sense. However, as Smash moves forward, communication will eventually need to start becoming a priority. The question becomes how to make it a priority and to bring everyone, across the world, to the table.