EVO is no stranger to trying out experimental rulesets with the games they feature at their tournament; in 2008, the Super Smash Bros. Brawl ruleset had items on (which is universally accepted to be a terrible decision for a competitive setting) and in 2012, they made the Street Fighter X Tekken event a 2v2 tournament. This decision has been cited as one of the reasons that the crossover fighting game failed to take off as people had hoped.
This hasn’t stopped them from trying new things, and they did it again at EVO 2015, which featured the newly released Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. The big risk they went with this time was making custom movesets legal; and the results weren’t what you think they’d be.
What Are Custom Movesets In Smash?
Custom movesets, or “customs” for short, are when you can change any character’s special moves from the default ones. Everything Smash character has three special moves; an Up Special, a Down Special, and a Side Special.
In Super Smash Bros for Wii U, each character was given “three” specials for each direction; the default move and two alternatives. When customs are legal in tournament, you are able to swap out any of the default specials for the alternatives, whereas when customs are banned, only default specials can be used.
Ever since they were announced before the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, there was heated debate about whether customs should be tournament legal or not, especially in the first year of the game.
Why Is There A Debate Around Customs In Smash 4?
With over 50 characters at launch, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U had a ton of matchups for players to learn, and the prospect of multiple special moves and the different ways to customize your character meant that there could be hundreds of variations within all these matchups as well. In theory, this isn’t a bad thing, but when EVO 2015 was just over six months away, there was concern about a randomness factor that could be avoided by just sticking to a default moveset.
But that wasn’t the only concern. The issues that came up as a result of custom movesets were enough to cause a significant divide in the community. Concerns included:
- Certain custom moves were undeniably better than others; meaning some characters could effectively shoot up the tier list while others would suffer because of a lack of solid custom variations.
- Certain custom moves were thought to be so powerful that the meta would be over-centralized by these moves. In time, the meta could devolve so that instead of character vs. character, it becomes a few select moves vs. another few select moves.
- Even if you combat overpowered moves with bans, it becomes a problem to 1) decide which moves are banworthy and 2) the customs ruleset becomes increasingly more complicated, whereas a default ruleset wouldn’t have any of these issues.
In the end, EVO decided to try out customs, with the idea that the game was new enough that we should experiment now while there’s plenty of excitement, and that if the customs experiment failed, we could just roll back to defaults and move from there. If customs worked out, we could have a potentially rich and diverse meta, which is always a great longterm benefit for a competitive game.
Customs In Smash 4 At EVO 2015
So, how did it go?
Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much controversy over certain “overpowered” moves at EVO 2015, although there was this set between Larry Lurr vs. Capt Awesum which showcased how overcentralizing Villager’s customs could make a match.
In fact, ZeRo continued his undefeated tournament streak by winning EVO 2015 without dropping a game; and he did this using only the default moveset of his characters, no customs at all.
Shortly after this tournament, interest in customs died off as tournaments took a more uniform, conservative ruleset (2 stocks, default movesets, and a small stage list became the norm.) So while customs at EVO 2015 weren’t as disastrous as other experiments, they also didn’t do anything to make the game more hype, nor make the case that they should become a staple in competitive play.