Salt and Pepper, Banjo and Kazooie, Spiced Rum and Coke; sometimes, life presents these combinations and they just work. It’s hard to explain why such things can weave in tandem – on their own, they could do the job, but together, they almost take each other to another level.
I was recently re-watching one of the Winner’s Semi-Finals sets of the Smash Ultimate doubles event at Bailrigg; Moke and StrangerSA teamed up once more to fight against the double Palutena team of scr7 and Zone. The former ended up taking the set 2-1 and made a run to Grand Finals, only to be 6-0’d by the latter to finish in 2nd place. Watching the way both of these teams worked together was astounding; the combo game, recovery management, ledge play – all of the doubles fundamentals you would require to place as highly as both of the aforementioned tandems.
I then compare that to my doubles experience at Bailrigg 8. I teamed with my good friend MiniMo and we ended up winning a stunning 0 sets, losing to two very competent teams in Ander & disgusting shutdown and demon_B & Tigerton. Now look, I will never claim to be an amazing doubles player, but I feel like I can hold my own in that type of format. However, I can safely say I can’t recall a more frustrating experience of competitive Smash Bros. No disrespect to MiniMo, as I think we both did our best, but I really did not enjoy myself in doubles. Actually, complete disrespect to MiniMo; I definitely carried our team to… 0 set wins. Never mind, I’m happy redacting the previous statement and keeping it as a team effort.
I found myself questioning why that was the case – I thoroughly enjoyed doubles in Smash 4, but I have not been able to really invest myself into Ultimate doubles whatsoever. For all intents and purposes, the fundamentals should transition from one game to another, as the dynamics of doubles largely stays the same regardless of the engine. Of course, factors such as matchups, stages and general mechanics will change, but that shouldn’t affect the general enjoyability of the whole format, right?
I’ve decided to tackle this article from three perspectives; the players who enter doubles, the viewers who watch doubles, and finally, the tournament organisers who run doubles. Let’s discuss the players first. I would be remiss in ignoring the main reason for writing this article; the player base that I’ve interacted with at tournaments has a very negative perception of the doubles format in this game. You know me, no neggy vibes will always be the mantra, but the biggest source of confusion for me is when I ask why they dislike doubles – to which the reply most often is “I don’t really know, it just feels off”.
I decided to run a Twitter poll asking a very simple question: Do you enjoy playing doubles in Smash Ultimate? The results were interestingly against the general consensus I was met with at tournaments, wtih x% of people saying they enjoyed playing doubles, and the remaining y% of people saying they don’t enjoy playing in the format. An interesting reply to the Twitter poll was posted by Simperheve (@simperheve), who stated the below:
Of course, teaming with Wilksy15 in itself is a blessing; big plays don’t just make themselves. However, the concept of static partnership is definitely something that should be considered in the enjoyment of the game. Some people would most likely enjoy teaming with the same person consistently and comparing results as they went to more tournaments together. Conversely, the fun of doubles could be teaming with different people constantly to see how you fair with different playstyles in such a fast-paced format. Food for thought, if nothing else.
Let’s consider the viewers of doubles next. We’ll be focusing on 2 tournaments – Genesis 6 and GOML 2019. Genesis 6 ran Q1 of 2019, meaning legacy viewership will be generally much higher than GOML 2019, which ran Q2 2019. The following has been gathered from YouTube, and shows the top 3 viewed sets for both singles and doubles. Starting with Genesis 6:
Amassing a staggering 1.5 million views+ between the top 3 sets, Genesis 6 is one of the most viewed Smash Ultimate tournaments to date. TSM’s Godslayer Leffen has his set in the gold medal position, collecting nearly 750,000 views on his Winner’s Top 64 set with Echo Fox’s MKLeo. MKLeo makes another appearance in his tournament winning set with CLG.VoiD in Grand Finals, with the final set being between VoiD and Panda Global’s Esam. Let’s compare this with the doubles sets that happened at the same event.
A sad viewing when comparatively assessed with its singles counterpart. MKLeo and Esam both make return appearances in Loser’s Quarters and Winner’s Finals respectively, but with a collaborative effort of less than 25,000 views between all 3 sets, it’s safe to say doubles was not the viewer’s biggest interest.
Let’s move onto GOML 2019. All of the below sets were uploaded in May 2019, meaning that their tenure on YouTube is much shorter than that of Genesis 6, which can explain the disparity between the amount of views. Starting with singles:
The Panda’s take most of the acclaim in these sets, with Esam and Marss both featuring in 2 out of the 3 sets. The Grand Final set between Tweek and Marss takes 1st place with over 150,000 views, with 2nd and 3rd place hitting sub-100k views, with MKLeo and Esam’s set being closest to hitting the 6-figure echelon. Let’s move onto the doubles event at GOML 2019.
The biggest surprise here is the highest ranking doubles set, with Nairo and Cosmos’ Grand Finals set with MKLeo and Serge hitting a strong 47,000 views – the closest any doubles set is to garnering the amount of views of any of the top 3 singles sets. MKLeo and Serge are also featured in the 2nd and 3rd most viewed doubles sets at GOML 2019; their Loser’s Finals set against Esam and MVD getting approximately 6.3k views, and their Loser’s Quarters set with Marss and Tweek gaining just over 4k views.
Evidently, doubles does not accumulate the amount of views singles does in Smash Ultimate. This isn’t a brand new revelation; this is the case with both Melee and Smash 4, but the disparity of views between the formats is the most surprising. Genesis 6 and GOML 2019 are 2 of the biggest tournaments Smash Ultimate has ran, so the stark lack of viewership on their doubles sets on a general level is quite surprising.