He may be Hero in name, but he’s certainly a villain in some parts of the world.
Hero’s character design has sparked controversy ever since he was released on July 30th,
2019. The RNG involved with the character is off the charts: critical hits can lead to very early KOs, the spell selection on his down-B move supplies a random list of spells each time, and his Hocus Pocus move is the peak of unpredictable, in that it can generate effects that replicate many of the items in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
But up until now, a lot of that talk has been all bark with no bite. South Australia has finally stepped up to the plate and banned Hero from being used in their competitive tournaments, effective August 14th.
The full Twitlonger statement read as followed:
As of August 14th Hero is banned at competitive events run by SASC.
After deliberation and plenty of discussion we have concluded that Hero’s design as a character is fundamentally dependant on randomness to the point that it is not reasonable in a competitive environment.
RNG permeates every element of Hero’s design, from spell selection to random critical hits and hocus pocus effects. While randomness has to varying degrees always been present in competitive games and other Smash games, Hero is so dependent on randomness that it cannot be ‘played around’ or accounted for in competitive play. The argument is similar to the reason why items are banned in competitive play.
Additionally, even other random effects in the game, such as G&W’s Hammer or Peach’s turnips, still require the player to connect with the move. Although it is not a central issue, many of Hero’s random tools, such as magic burst edgeguards, unblockable kamikazees or psych up critical shield breaks are frequently unavoidable and decide whole stocks. Random kill power and mobility buffs as well as free Zoom recoveries have no counterplay and can significantly effect the outcome of a match.
We want to emphasise that this ban is not because hero is too strong, but because he is anti-competitive. We believe that tournaments are meant to provide an opportunity for players to demonstrate their skill and that, as a general rule, the player who plays more skilfully should emerge victorious. Hero’s design has a very strong potential to de-emphasise player skill which isn’t fair for those who work hard to improve their abilities for competition.
Their reasoning addresses Hero’s heavy reliance on RNG-based factors, and how it contrasts versus characters who only have a slight amount of RNG such as Mr. Game & Watch 9-hammer move, Peach’s turnips, and Luigi’s Green missile.
Interestingly, the official post emphasizes that this ban is not because Hero is overpowered, as there is little to no data or tournament results to show this. Rather, the heavy amounts of RNG go against the spirit of what competitive play ought to be: little to no random interference, where two players can go at it and the likelihood of the superior player coming out on top is higher. Essentially, Hero’s design distorts the meta into a series of dice rolls rather than an emphasis on skill.
The decision has been met with sharp criticisms, with many claiming that the decision is far too immediate, as Hero hasn’t even been out for a month, and has few tournament results. There’s no way to accurately measure if the character’s RNG-heavy style will have a demonstrable impact on the overall state of competitive play, and we should not be so brash as to ban him before he’s been given his due.
Some have stated that the reason given, while not one that they agree with, is a more respectable one that could be argued for. Historically, characters have only been banned in fighting game communities if they have been overpowered to the point that the meta stagnates with their presence (Akuma in Street Fighter II, Meta Knight in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, etc.) There is often heated debates on what exactly constitutes “broken,” which is why the subject is so touchy.
While the consensus seems to be that South Australia should hold off and give Hero more time to settle into the game, ultimately, the rules will follow whatever the greater will of the scene is.