The year-end rankings have begun, and everyone’s sweating. Plus: a new Fire Emblem character?

17:00, 17 Jan 2020

Welcome to the fifth edition of GGIntel’s weekly Super Smash Bros. breakdown! Tune in every Friday for a quick-and-dirty recap of all the news worth knowing in the competitive Smash scene.

A new challenger approaches

Nintendo’s highly anticipated Smash Ultimate character reveal went down yesterday, and it’s… another anime swordsman?

That’s right, the latest DLC character to join Smash Ultimate is another Fire Emblem representative: Byleth, the protagonist of last year’s Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Many Smash fans were understandably disappointed about the announcement, with some smashers expecting the new character to be a representative from a third-party title, such as Dante from the Devil May Cry series. But Byleth is actually a pretty unique character. Though he does wield a sword—the Sword of the Creator—he also uses non-sword relics such as Areadbhar (a halberd), Failnaught (a bow), and Freikugel (an ax). Each weapon is tied to a different directional input. With this unique mechanic at his back, Byleth looks like he might be one of the strongest DLC characters yet released for Smash Ultimate—but we won’t be able to see the character’s true impact on the metagame until he’s released on January 28.

Byleth won’t be Ultimate’s final DLC character, by the way. The announcement also teased an upcoming second Fighter Pass, meaning at least six more fighters will eventually make their way into the roster.

Valhalla

Last weekend’s biggest Smash tournament was Valhalla III, the third iteration of the European major. William “Leffen” Hjelte dominated the Melee side of the tournament, losing only a few games on his way to a first-place finish. British No. 1 Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas overcame the rest of the field to place second at the event.

Finnish Jigglypuff main Solobattle also turned heads at Valhalla thanks to upset victories over Roberto “Overtriforce” Iglesias and Alvaro “Trif” Garcia Moral (who mostly used Fox in his loser’s bracket set against Solobattle). Despite his high international rank, Trif has consistently struggled to overcome the unranked Solobattle at European events.

On the Ultimate side, William “Glutonny” Belaid held off Marcel “quiK” Romagnuolo to earn Valhalla’s first prize. Using Samus, quiK managed to reset the bracket against Glutonny in grand finals, but the French Wario main turned up the gas in the second set of grands and wrapped up the tournament with a swift 3–0 victory.

Ranking season has begun

It’s finally time for every professional Smash player’s most anticipated—or dreaded—moment: the reveal of 2019’s year-end rankings. 

The Panda Global Rankings Ultimate kicked off with the reveal on Monday of “Area 51”—a select group of skilled players who barely missed the cut for the top-50 rankings. This reveal immediately stirred up controversy over its inclusion of Leffen, who had impressed viewers over the course of the season with wins over players such as Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Saleem “Salem” Young. Many fans were enraged that Leffen didn’t qualify for the official top 50, but the creators of the PGR insisted that fans trust the process—and that all will be explained once the full ranking is out.

PGRU ranks 50 through 21 have been released this week. You can read an overview of the rankings and see all the players revealed so far here.

The Melee Panda Global Rankings (for which, I should disclose, I am a blurb writer) began with the reveal of ranks 100–91 on Monday. This year, ranks 100–51 feature brief interviews with each player rather than written blurbs describing their performance for the season, a significant change from past Melee rankings. 

So far, ranks 100–51 have been revealed, featuring quite a few new faces—an indication that Melee’s metagame is far from stagnant. You can read an overview of the #MPGR and find links to all ranking pages here.

Roster moves

Not too many roster changes this week. On the Melee side, Joey “Lucky” Aldama parted ways with Dignitas, while Avery “Ginger” Wilson left Thunder Gaming.

DIG on Twitter
DIG on Twitter

On the Ultimate side, Japanese Snake master Kaito “Shogun” Kawasaki parted ways with GameWith.

GameWith esports on Twitter
GameWith esports on Twitter

Clips of the week

To round out this wrap-up, here are a few of the funniest and flashiest clips of the week for both Melee and Ultimate. Enjoy ‘em—and be sure to check in next week for the third edition of GGRecon’s weekly Smash breakdown!

Esports Calendar