The Smash and fighting game communities have been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the cancellation of almost every major tournament across different scenes and the lack of solid online infrastructure within the most played games has virtually killed any interest in maintaining a semblance of competitiveness at the top level.
Efforts have been made, for example, Street Fighter V is continuing its Capcom Cup qualifiers by splitting them into regional tournaments and Bandai Namco has created the Dragon Ball FighterZ National Championships -- perhaps the scene that could've potentially thrived during the ongoing pandemic was the Smash Melee one, sadly, Nintendo has gotten in the way once again.
With the introduction of Slippi, a third-party tool which essentially rekindled interest in Melee by introducing rollback netcode and integrated matchmaking that makes finding, and more crucially, playing matches online much smoother than before, tournament organisers took the opportunity to start setting up events to close out the year.
(Photo: The Big House)
One of those was The Big House, a benchmark within the Smash community, which announced its 2020 online edition set to happen this upcoming December (4-6), with Melee enthusiasts particularly excited as Slippi was going to be utilised.
Red flags started to pop up when users found out that VODs for Slippi's Champions League tournament was removed from the BTSSmash YouTube channel. Eventually, The Big House announced the cancellation of the event.
November 19, 2020
The reason? Nintendo issued a cease and desist letter preventing the tournament from running as the usage of Slippi and any other third-party tool that tampers with the integrity of the game is forbidden.
Nintendo sponsored events such as Genesis are forced to run vanilla Melee, without tools that help the game feel more responsive like the Universal Controller Fix, so it seemed like a natural, yet frustrating development that they'd step in and prevent the event from going as planned.
Prominent Melee figures like C9's Joseph "Mango" Marquez made their sentiments very clear on Twitter.
Remember this when you buy their shitty Pokémon game for the 100th time https://t.co/jc01PtvCtG— Joseph Marquez (@C9Mang0) November 19, 2020
"Remember this when you buy their sh*tty Pokémon game for the 100th time."
The creator of Slippi himself tweeted out the hashtag #FreeMelee, rallying the community to show their support for the game online.
#FreeMeleepic.twitter.com/n7TdB175B9— Jas | FIZZI#36 (@Fizzi36) November 19, 2020
Oddly enough, Smash Summit 10, which also runs Slippi is going on without a hitch. It'll remain to be seen if they are forced to stop their activities as well.