Smash Bros doesn’t have a good history with netplay. Nor do fighting games at large.
This has always been a problem, but it’s always been easy enough to avoid. It’s true that poor netplay could be a big part of why fighting games aren’t as big as shooters or MOBAs. But most big fighting games had locals, regionals, and a whole international scene of offline tournaments well before the internet became central to gaming.
Online was bad, but Smash and the FGC had some solace in that online was never going to be the mainstay. Until a global quarantine cancelled any event larger than 11 people. At that point, the Smash community in particular had no choice but to bite the bullet that is one of the worst-designed online systems of any modern esport.
The ride has been about as rough as expected. In the month or so of online play, Smash has already seen controversy over connections, top players competing less, tier lists rearranging, massive swells of player hate, and nearly everyone getting sick and salty over the netplay experience.
Believe it or not, this is far from the worst case scenario. Smash’s netplay may not be great, but it’s keeping the scene alive.
Staying alive in quarantine times
The world of esports is very hype-driven. New titles and entirely new leagues pop up pretty regularly because we haven’t settled what games will be the ones to stick around. Or if games will get the privilege of being long lasting institutions – like they are in sports.
In the hectic world of esports, postponing all competition means lagging behind in an industry where it’s hard to play catch-up. In even more real terms, it means tournament organizers don’t have the same expected income as before. It means that the high, but not top 50, level of competition can’t play locals to make some side cash and, in the process, drive regional scenes forward.
For the broader FGC, the formerly secondary netplay tournaments have to become the primary mode. Like with all esports, this is an imperfect solution that cuts out the fun of crowds and the pressure of the live environment while adding in more lag and technical difficulties. With Ultimate in particular, this isn’t just an imperfect solution. It’s an ugly one.
Ultimate’s internet is so uniquely troubled that the game significantly changes when you play online. Not just the tier list. Not just the timings. Not just standings. Not just on bad connections. The entire game – and meta – shifts enough that in normal times, the netplay tournament is a clear sideshow. Online tournaments don’t contribute to rankings and don’t attract most top players.
Despite these changes, Ultimate online still validates skill. Netplay tournaments still have consistent results and the best players offline still have good showings online. The game changes drastically – enough to almost become a separate entity – but not enough to become an uncompetitive entity.
That’s where things get weird.
Jumping into a pool of jello
“It’s like jumping into a pool of water, except you don’t know if it’s a pool of water or a pool of jello.”
Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby tells me this after I ask him what playing online feels like compared to playing online. Dabuz is a top 10 player in Ultimate and one of the best players to ever pick up a post-Melee Smash title. I reached out to him for an interview because I knew that at one point, he was a wifi warrior himself.
In an interview for Team Liquid, he told me about how he beat one of his Olimar idols on Brawl netplay, and how much that meant to him at the time. “Nowadays, I know it’s wifi, ‘who gives a shit?’ but for my 14 year old self, beating someone who I was looking up to and studying… That was like the best experience with Olimar.”
Dabuz has a long experience with Smash online and offline, so I didn’t feel his analogy was biased or salt-laden.
“Every match you have is gonna have a different amount of input delay, so you kind of have to adjust on the fly,” Dabuz said, highlighting what’s called delay-based netcode. It’s the often criticized standard for fighting games made in Japan.
In short, fighting games are used to reading both characters’ inputs with one machine, then queuing the inputs up exactly as they’re read. Online, there are two machines controlling two characters, making the process more difficult. To adjust, the game will add a certain amount of delay in the input so the server has time to sync up the two machines.
If the connection is strong and the signal doesn’t have to travel far, then the delay is small. If the delay is small, it feels a lot closer to the real thing – to offline. It would be like going through rain instead of going through a pool. If you’re far away and the connection is bad, then you get a big delay and a big pool of jello to wade through.
Delay-based netcode feels awkward for fighting games because every frame matters. The difference between a whiff or hit often is just a few frames in size. So even a small delay of three to five frames can be noticeable.
We notice the delay in fighting games due to the importance of control. Fighting games feel at their best when they offer the player a full and fluid control of their character. Since even the more casual fighting games often require you to link combos in sub-10 frame windows (less than a half a second), more control feels better because it feels easier to be precise and accurate. Rage at the highest and lowest level often comes from feeling a lack of control too. “I swear I clicked X but my character did Y instead.”
Ultimate really suffers under the delay based system because of its buffer system. In order to make tight combo windows easier, Ultimate widened the buffer and added a new hold buffer to the mix as well.
The wide buffer, coupled with a number of other design choices, can cause lots of little control issues even when playing offline. Like how easy it is to accidentally buffer a roll, or a spot dodge while fastfalling, or a neutral air when you used the c-stick.
These are all control issues you can overcome through practice and building the right muscle memory. Still, the wonky sense of control is a constant nag. Any serious critique of Ultimate will talk about control issues. At length.
However, the delay on netplay makes the buffer feel worse and lead to more missed inputs, and Dabuz explains why.
“Offline, I’ll do a back air, get low to the ground and say, ‘alright this should hit so I’m gonna buffer the follow-up. Or, ‘this shouldn’t hit so I’m gonna buffer shield and roll away. Online, you have to do those buffers a lot earlier, or not do them [due to delay].”
He continued: “You get in these really awkward spots where you don’t buffer something and you just kinda stand there trying to react to something. Or you do the buffer and oops! I got hit mid-back air and now I air dodged off stage. Or oops! The back air got blocked and I was fairly sure it was going to hit so now I just dashed at my opponent and they just up-smashed me out of shield.”
Delay reaches into the buffer and either causes buffers to not read, or to read long after when you wanted them to do. The buffer itself encourages players to input moves early, which is naturally hazardous in a delay-based system. This is why Online you’ll see SDs, flubs, and missed inputs much more frequently.
Now, imagine that on top of the buffer, you add offline input delay. Ultimate has the highest amount of offline input delay in Smash history. Now add a minimum of 5 frames of online input delay to that. This is why Dabuz says he can notice the difference even on good connections.
“There’s naturally six frames of input delay in Ultimate. Now, Online there’s naturally a minimum of five frames of delay and that is if you are playing next to someone, playing online through ethernet cables, with godlike connection. It’s gonna be about 11 frames total – it’s almost double what you have offline.”
Imagine that the delay is unpredictable as well – it could be a light drizzle of rain, a pool of water, or a pool of jello. It could be all three of these things alternating within the 8 minute time frame. A connection can quickly go from rain to flood to jello on bad netcode and even more so on WiFi.
What’s eating Ultimate Online: WiFi and delay
Wifi runs havok on the delay based system because the delay based system needs to predict the connection to pinpoint the exact amount of frames it needs to delay.
Wireless connections are very unpredictable because it’s easy for the signal to encounter interference and delays in transmission. Delay based systems aren’t good at handling this lack of predictability either. They often switch the amount of frame delay by the time the spike passes. The game runs a huge buffer between your input and your output a good while after the spike passed.
This is why Nintendo specifically recommends playing with an ethernet cord. The irony of ironies is, the Switch doesn’t come with a built-in ethernet cord. It’s the only modern console lacking an ethernet port. Naturally, enough people play on wifi that – worse than ping – you get unpredictability.
That may sound strange, but even with an atrocious online delay of 15 inputs, you can still play consistently if the delay itself is consistent. You can know what combos will hold and drop and, in some cases, how to adjust timings to make inputs come through.
It won’t be pretty but it will be consistent, and consistency is a staple for competition. True combos are true because they’re 100% consistent. It’s somewhere between hard and impossible to build consistent timings if the delay is completely inconsistent.
While a built-in ethernet port would have been nice, Ultimate could have still done a lot more to encourage its user base to switch to ethernet. If Ultimate had a dedicated ranked matchmaking system instead of quickplay, it could have gated this matchmaking mode to ethernet users only. Arenas also could have been given an ethernet-only option, barring any literal wifi warriors from entering.
To top things off, Ultimate also won’t display any indicator of connection either. Yours or theirs. Funnily enough, Melee’s netplay is entirely better than Ultimate’s in this way.
Dolphin – the main Gamecube emulator – runs a peer-to-peer connection where you can connection test and find ping more easily. You can also set your delay based on the connection between players. During Pound Online, you could watch Melee players do this on their streams.
The balance is a risky one. Too much delay makes it harder to react and play fluidly. Too little delay and you risk dying from a lag spike because the game didn’t read or read an input too late – something that derailed Mew2King’s Pichu-only Pound run. But the system is transparent and gives players valuable agency. Ping setting itself almost becomes a point of skill.
It’s also a part of why the Melee results at Pound Online look a great deal more normal than the Ultimate ones. It is bizarre to see Zain 3-0ing Hungrybox and Axe not making top 32, but the top 16 mostly resembles an offline tournament. The gameplay seems more natural too, even when it’s on a bad connection. In the clip below, Jason “Plup” McGrath brought out his Marth specifically to deal with high ping Ice Climbers and the gameplay looks just slightly choppy.
What’s eating Ultimate Online: Bad netcode
The wifi, the dely, and the buffer would be bad but easy enough to overcome if Ultimate’s netcode was top of the line.
“For most like, good games [of Ultimate] online you’re probably looking at, at least, 10 frames extra input delay,” Dabuz tells me. In all fairness, he notes that this is intuition not science – it’s not proven. This isn’t consensus amongst the professionals either.
However, it’s pretty close to the consensus. The above tweet from Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad received heavy disagreement that you can find in the replies. Nor was Mr. R calling the netcode good. He was just disagreeing with the idea that it’s so bad as to be useless.
Ultimate’s netcode is bad and for the most part the argument is about how bad it is and what makes it bad. After covering delay-based netcode, it’s vital to know that Ultimate had another, much better option that Nintendo actively chose not to pursue: Rollback netcode.
Rollback netcode sets a consistent, small delay for both players. Then, if it loses an input or has to wait for an input to come from one player, it predicts that their input. If they held block, it predicts they’ll keep holding block.
If it gets its prediction wrong, then it rewinds and corrects the game state by putting the input in where it was supposed to go. The system often rewinds within a few frames, meaning it can change the action during the startup of the animation without anyone noticing. In this system, even if the connection fluctuates – and connections always fluctuate – the input delay remains consistent.
Rollback can create weird visual issues with bad connections or poorly implemented netcode because it has to cut more animation frames. It’s also an obviously more complex and labor intensive system to implement. However, in return you get netplay that plays matches offline much more consistently and gives high ping matches a much better feel. For the best explanation of rollback netcode, I strongly recommend watching the video above.
This technology has been around for over a decade. Games with rollback netcode have gotten praise for their netplay for years. There is almost no chance that none of Ultimate’s developers knew about rollback netcode. They likely chose to cut costs by ditching it.
A lack of rollback is just one issue. Nintendo also lacks dedicated servers. It’s one of the few big companies still being stingy on this front.
Dedicated servers are a bit tricky for fighting games because they add a layer of connection, which can add delay. However, fighting games like Brawlhalla run pretty well with dedicated servers. Since they’re dedicated, they can improve connections and importantly, help keep connections stable.
Dedicated servers also add a sense of fairness. In these weird, netplay-centric times, Dabuz finds solace playing League of Legends due to their dedicated servers.
“You can also control how good your connection is since it’s their servers and it’s your ping to their servers. Someone with a bad connection doesn’t ruin your experience. And it’s great! It’s actually a great feeling to know that I’m not being limited by other people – in that regard. Now, I am limited by the fact there are four people on my team that are potential feeders, but that’s so different because even offline it would be the same exact thing.”
There’s something profoundly unfair about going on quickplay and matching with someone with a slideshow connection. It gets even more unfair when players directly abuse the peer to peer experience and lag switch – doing something to hinder their connection to throw their opponent off. Dedicated servers are one way to eliminate this issue, which, even in competitive is a big one.
Recently, top players Maister and Goblin got in a spat over connection during a tournament match. Goblin argued that Maister’s connection was the issue and Maister argued against. Dedicated servers at least help remove this question, if not increase connection quality.
Even without rollback, even without dedicated servers, it still feels like Nintendo could have done better on the netcode itself. The matchmaking is poor and often mismatches by GSP, geography, or both. The lag spikes, which delay should help reduce, are all too frequent.
Time to put big stakes on a bad system
For most of us, Ultimate’s atrocious netplay isn’t a primary concern. If it annoys or discourages us, we put it down and play something else. For a professional player, it’s not that simple. There’s a lot of money and clout on the table, but a lot of frustration too.
“These [online] events are really helpful for the scene,” Dabuz acknowledges, “and in fact they’re really helpful for the individual players who’re streaming the events. It’s this weird thing where everyone’s participating in these online events because we recognize, hey it’s good for our branding.”
He adds: “But it’s also very frustrating because there’s no way to take this too seriously in terms of a representation of your skill. I think most people understand that, hey, it’s online so whatever. But it still doesn’t help that like, you lose online you’re losing a few thousand dollars, you’re losing viewership on Twitch, which could be follows, which could be subs, which could be growth. It’s like, you know there’s stakes but – oh, I just got lag spiked and died because of it.”
I recorded the interview with Dabuz on Friday and saw exactly what he meant the next two days. Dabuz went on the best run of any top 10 player at Pound. He got 2nd to Cosmos and in the process, he picked up a huge amount of views and subs.
Dabuz’s non-Smash streams often average around 80 viewers. His Smash streams usually end up between 100 and 250. At one point during the Pound run, he had 8,000 viewers. TL’s star Melee player, Hbox had massive sub trains and surpassed his 6k sub goal for getting 2nd in the Melee bracket.
Any Smash player can choose to take a break from the bad netplay whenever they like, but they do it at a cost. In turn, the lifeblood of the Smash scene – it’s dedicated players – become obligated to a part of the game they don’t like, leading to bitterness, salt, conflict, and general weirdness.
The social dilemmas of netplay
Some of the weirdness comes from adapting to a new system. In the offline system, international competition is vital. In the online system, international competition is tricky.
Recently, EU players have come under fire for entering normally international tournaments like Pound. Greninja main and the rank 2 player in Germany, Tarik took a ton of flack for his Pound run because it was marred with lag and high delay. While Tarik would suffer from the delay too, some felt it unfair to force others to deal with that delay.
The pressure shifted to TOs, the argument being these tournaments should have been region locked from the get-go. Now, large wifi tournaments are shifting to a region-locked model where Europe can’t participate. The downside is that vaunted international competitors can’t play and that Europe struggles even more to get the exposure that would help them build their scene further.
This is another issue with Nintendo’s poor netcode too. Dabuz mentioned that some European connections felt fine to him while other’s didn’t, but it’s just too hard for TOs to sift through and connection test every European player. In the rollback netcode interview with Adam “Keits” Heart above, Keits notes that in a rollback system, ping under 150 is very playable and a lot of Europe is under that 150 mark.
Nintendo’s netcode also raises a lot of doubt on who has a good connection and who doesn’t. Given the trouble with the netcode, it’s often unclear who causes the lag. Maister upgraded his internet in response to criticism about his connection. The other option was to not stream, and like Dabuz, Maister saw that as much more financially dangerous.
ROB main “Grayson” Ramos even got DQd from Pound due to poor connection when he didn’t actually have a poor connection. To make matters worse, he was DQ’d while up 2-0 over Brain “Cosmos” Kalu, who ended up winning the tournament.
Subjecting every player to the whims of Nintendo netcode all at once results in pure confusion in terms of skill testing as well. Spencer “Bestness” Garner openly admits that he wouldn’t have normally beat Dabuz. In the Smash world, “no johns” ad “we take those” exist as a testimony to how a win is always a win. Online, it seems that a win isn’t totally a win, which is bizarre new territory to enter.
Where Bestness is being humble in victory, there’s a fair share of being furious in defeat pretty much across the board. It’s not hard to find clips of players getting absurdly salty and lashing out at online opponents. There’s always this idea that were it offline, it would have played out differently. Worst of all, there’s some merit to that idea. Would MKLeo have really not gotten top 8 at Pound if it were offline?
The whole online era becomes watered down as a result. None of this on the Smash World Tour, none of this is PGR. It’s not clear how much weight any top player upset, any rising star, or any netplay tournament has.
The way netplay changes characters
Part of the trouble comes down to how netplay changes characters.
If you’ve interacted with the Smash Ultimate community for more than a few hours, you’ve probably ran into complaints about WiFi characters. Samus, Sonic, Mii Gunner, Ganondorf, Little Mac, Ness, Cloud – a lot of players believe that all these characters are better and more annoying on WiFi. But it’s far from a settled debate.
As online became more of a focal point, more players started making WiFi tier lists, ranking how every character did on netplay only. Some players totally upturn the offline tier list and put low tiers like Ganon and Little Mac in top tier. And other players make no changes or smaller adjustments to the list.
For the rough, stereotyped picture, the delays and inconsistencies in netplay make it tougher to execute on tight timing windows. Characters heavy on combos, edgeguarding, and reaction-based tech chasing or ledge trapping should fall on the list. The delays also make things easier for characters with good range – both projectiles and disjoints. This explains Samus, Mii Gunner, Ness, and Cloud.
According to Dabuz, it’s not quite that simple.
“You can’t tell which character is necessarily better or worse just cause they have things that get buffed and they get nerfed in certain ways.”Dabuz on online tier list
Dabuz talks about how this applies to one of his mains, Olimar, who becomes much less about hard pressure and pushing an oppressive advantage state and more about playing keep away and zoning. The same goes for Young Link. “He’s better playing lame and runaway because it’s online – which is worse [overall], but it’s what you have to do.”
Dabuz is highlighting how players will change their character’s meta based on delay, because delay itself changes how risk-reward calculations work. This really factors into why heavies in particular seem better online.
“What happens when you play online is they can kinda just take guesses. Like when you’re playing a Ganondorf he can just guess with a smash more often and hit you. You have less time to react to him, which is really annoying for moves like that where you can just die. Or like he’s jumping at you just spacing aerials and you can’t quite react […] He gets away with a lot more risky options that can be high reward.”
At high level netplay, we won’t see Ganon smash attacks in neutral. But we will see things like Cloud or Roy spamming back airs. These moves have the same huge reward but less risk. On the other hand, Roy’s complex combinations lose their consistency online. In turn, Roy is both buffed and nerfed. He and Cloud stay near the high end of the tier list at least in terms of results, but his online playstyle won’t be nearly as exciting for a lot of spectators and players.
For a direct example, see this clip of Goblin using Roy’s up special like Lucina’s. It could be that this was a technique Goblin developed recently, but it more seems like a netplay tactic. Roy’s up special is going to be harder to punish on reaction due to the delay online. It’s also going to establish a less committal neutral pattern that’s usually less interesting.
To some extent, the difference netplay makes in raw character strength may be smaller than the stereotype. However, the change to the character’s style is bigger than expected, and unfortunately, it’s often a move towards the safe, spammy, and -in my opinion – less interesting.
The way netplay changes skill
Less interesting or not, netplay isn’t without skill. MKLeo may not be winning netplay tournaments but he’s still getting far along in them. Those who are winning – Bestness, Kola, Goblin, Sparg0 – are all top 50 or fringe top 50 players. You can also see players hit tight timing windows in netplay as well, like in the clip below where Goblin parries into a jab-back air. In the same clip, you can see the tight movement it takes just to spam back airs and keep them properly spaced.
However, netplay has changed the way that skill works and the style the game rewards.
For starters, netplay naturally slants towards the rising stars and upstarts in any esport. This is because it cuts the audience out of the picture. Now, when a new player is about to cap off the upset of their career, they don’t feel the heavy pressure of hundreds of eyes at their back – nor the slight pressures travel and being at a big venue will bring. Top players will feel these pressures too but they’ll be more accustomed to them.
Even more meaningfully, netplay will slant away from players who create heavy punishes through reacting to an opponent’s options. Players like MKLeo, Dabuz, or anyone in the top 10.
“A lot of times when you’re playing the advantage state, and you’re trying to push it as much as you can, you’re playing very reactionary and like catching drifts. […] A lot of good advantage state play is setting up things, limiting options, punishing options they have by reacting to them, or positioning in ways to keep them in a bad spot.”Dabuz again
All that can still be done on netplay but it’s trickier because the ever-shifting delay means your input may not come out quickly enough if you run on reaction. If you predict, then your option will come out in time, but at the cost of leaving you open. MKLeo is a lethal ledgetrapper in no small part because he can condition and limit options using Joker’s threatening back air, then punish the remaining options on reaction. Online, this strategy will not work as consistently. Sometimes it will not work at all.
Lag can hit Melee’s netplay too, it’s just less often and less severe. In the clip below you can see Hungrybox get a rollout instead of a rest.
You could more often see Hungrybox successfully execute a reaction tech chase. The meta shifts in Melee too, but Melee doesn’t have anything comparable to how well Sonic and Cloud have done in netplay.
I asked Dabuz if it was possible to change habits and train for online specifically, and if he had been doing that himself.
His response: “After the last Quarantine Series event, I’ve started to try and build online habits and strategies, which sucks to say, but I expect us to be in this situation until 2021. Even if all this quarantine stuff ends big events won’t have the time to set up and run in 2020.”
Whether or not Dabuz’s prediction is correct, his logic holds just given how big a prize these tournaments have. And his logic paid off very quickly. He got 2nd place at Pound 2020 and in that run, he made notable adjustments. In the clip below he goes for a raw forward smash not unlike what he told me a netplay Ganon might do.
In the back of my mind, I wondered if his opponent would have shielded the hit if it were offline. It’s unclear if he was stuck in endlag, felt he was out of range, or if a wave of delay strangled out his input. It’s a doubt I regularly have when I engage in netplay as a viewer or player. Would that really have hit if it were offline?
The truth is, most of the time the hit still would’ve landed. Or if the delay changes what hits land, you can react to and build a game plan around that. Netplay isn’t totally unfair and uncompetitive and Dabuz tells me outright that it can be a good learning tool, especially at lower levels. It’s how he, and many other players, began their journey.
After making adjustments to their styles, the top players who do enter netplay tournaments are starting to get results. MKLeo, Tweek, and Dabuz all made top 8 of the first Quarantine Series Major. MKLeo worked all the way back up to 2nd. Netplay isn’t all wrong and all worthless.
But netplay isn’t right either. It does change how skill works at the highest level – and probably for the worse. It leads to more random guesses, and smash attack spam. It leads to less prediction, less edgeguarding, and less combos. It massively buffs characters like Sonic and Cloud, who demand you parry or react quickly to their moves.
It makes the game into something different – something a lot of pros just don’t want to play.
What to do with all this
“I think the honest truth of the matter – this actually hurts me to say this, it actually feels physically bad to say this – but I don’t think we would play Smash if we could only play online. I think at some point we would just all stop or play very minimally, play casually.”
This is Dabuz’s response when I ask if he’d keep at competitive Smash if it were only ever online. It was the answer I expected to get, too.
“I think newer players who are just starting to play Smash online as their competitive experience, they don’t feel the same way as I do, I’m sure. But once you see how the game can be, when you get the chance to play it offline, being told, ‘hey you’re only allowed to play online.’ It’s like, no I won’t do this.”
Dabuz’s point is only reasonable and it’s one that will likely resonate with you if you’ve gone to a local or even set up a tournament with a friend. Ultimate’s online is different – and not in a good way. The netplay lags behind that of almost any other comparable triple A game. The structure, the system, the code, all of it is deeply flawed.
The challenge is to figure out what to do with this information. EVO has already gone alone, but what will winning EVO online even mean? Which top players will even show up? What will this whole netplay era even mean? Will we emerge from it and see a bunch of netplay winners take their success to offline tournaments? Will everything reset to what it was before? Will Nintendo actually fix Ultimate online?
The challenge is to figure out what to do with this information. If we’re lucky, we’ll still get tournaments in August, but now even that’s not guaranteed. Will EVO go online too? Is there any other option? What does winning EVO online even mean? What will this whole netplay era even mean? What will we do with it all?
It’s not just a hard question, it’s a frustrating one. It feels as though any complaints fall on deaf ears. Has Nintendo ever fixed a problem like this before? Do they even know how to and are they even willing to learn? How would the Smash community pressure them to change?
Boycotts enter strange territory where they punish other developers and people for the sins of the Smash team. Targeted social media pushes often net nothing and can quickly derail when their anger becomes so toxic that it becomes unjustifiable. In the end, it’s hard to know if anything written here matters. It’s hard to know if #FixUltimateOnline matters.
But good netplay does matter. Games like SkullGirls and Killer Instinct can survive with bare minimum exposure and even outlast disliked metas through their good netplay. Even if Ultimate has succeeded without good netplay, it’s worth considering just how much better it would be doing with good netplay. Pushing fighting games towards that good netplay matters as well. ArcSys put rollback into Guilty Gear, and that was directly due to fan pressure.
There’s a chance nothing changes for Ultimate and that sucks. Still, I find personal solace in two things:
1. Nintendo is getting the flack they deserve. I love Nintendo and have for years, but the decisions they made with netplay were some of the worst ever made in Smash, and they were inexcusable for a company of their size and prestige. It’s nice to see them held accountable not out of spite but in hopes that it leads to change. Even if Ultimate doesn’t change, the stain on their image may well encourage other companies to avoid their mistakes and shows that netplay is important.
And 2. There’s still a lot more Smash to be played. Online for now, offline later. Both can be fun and both’ll do.