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After over three long years, it's finally over. Blood has been forever spilled, lives forever lost. Society will always remember that fateful day when he came into power, usurping all of the precedents set before him and scorching the earth with a brazen and bold path of metaphorical fire. There has never been anyone like him in the world he resided in. But not he has been exiled. Now it's over.
Metaknight has been officially banned. We are eternally grateful – that is, if you're a competitive Super Smash Bros. Brawl player. Who listens to a particular group of people with no authoritative force. That not many people like. At all.
Today marks the first day in which a single character has ever been officially banned from both 1v1 and 2v2 events in tournament play in the Super Smash Bros community. Veterans of the Smash community know of the power of Pikachu in the original Smash Bros and Fox in Melee, but Metaknight apparently set a whole new standard – he wasn't just good, he was ban-worthy good.
From the official Unity Ruleset Committee's press release posted on Smashboards:
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“Meta Knight will be officially banned on January 9th, 2012. Until that date, Meta Knight will be optionally banned in Unity Ruleset 2.0.
The Unity Ruleset Committee has come to a majority agreement to ban Meta Knight by a vote of 14-0 with 1 abstaining. In order too ease into this decision and respect the largest Smash tournament on the horizon, the ban will be optional until after Apex 2012. Therefore, on January 9th, it will no longer be optional and all Unity Ruleset events will be Meta Knight banned. Until that time, users may use the Unity Ruleset 2.0 in either form: Meta Knight Banned or Meta Knight Allowed.
This was not a decision made lightly. This is a topic that has dominated the community for many years and far to long. The URC has taken into account many things, among them: community polls on Smashboards and AllisBrawl over the last 2 years, discussions with some of the top players and minds in the community, and most of all, user created data/charts that have kept tabs on the prevalence of Meta Knight at the over 500 tournaments held yearly. It is important to note that each member of the URC who voted had their own reasons, so any number of factors may have influenced their decision. We hope this will begin a new era in the Brawl community, and while we are sure this decision will cause controversy and discussion, we also feel it will ultimately be for the best for the community in the coming years.
Please note: This ban effects tournaments in the US and Canada – as that is the scope of the Unity Ruleset Committee. In addition, this ban is for both Singles and Doubles play.”
So now we're in a weird sort of conundrum here – for the first time ever, the metagame is going under an immense change that essentially uproots all of what has been developed in the past three years of competitive Brawl play. Three years. That's it.
And I'm actually pro-ban; I absolutely hate Meta Knight. I hate having to play against him. I hate having to hear his tornado multiple times on every setup at every event I go to. It's nice to see a Diddy vs. Olimar matchup in the Grand Finals than a Meta Knight ditto match in four consecutive rounds.
That's why this thing is so entirely weird, because while I'm pretty excited about the decision, I just still don't know what to think about this. It's not like banning things has ever been a foreign concept to the Smash community – different regions ban and allow stages all the time. But never characters: to erase any percentage of the current metagame just seems so out of place that the entire thing seems surreal.
Meta Knight has been the target of criticism for a while, but not always. In the early days of Brawl, like all fighting games, the competitive scene was so immature that the tier lists back in the first year of the game are a stark contrast to the current tier list in place today. Meta Knight essentially always at the top, either in a tier of his own or in the highest position of the highest tier shared with the likes of Solid Snake, King Dedede (who ultimately fell to lower tiers as the years past) and others. Only Solid Snake had been given a chance to be better than the sword-wielding, bat-winged Meta Knight, but never gained a permanent leg up on the character and eventually fell to third behind Diddy Kong.
Up until his ban, the bat resided in S Tier, all by his lonesome, taking in a majority of the money won in tournaments year-round and taking up more and more spots in the top 8 positions in large tournaments. Every other setup in a venue was a constant reminder of his prevalence – you'd be hard-pressed to find a match, bracket or not, that didn't have a Meta Knight in it.
The problem, at this point, wasn't necessarily that Meta Knight became obviously ban-worthy, but that he became over-centralizing. We're not talking about the Brawl equivalent to SF2 Akuma, though. But being the most offensive character in a fundamentally defensive game, one that has no bad match-ups (the closest being against himself), and has won more tournaments than most characters combined.
With all of that said, why would any of this seem out-of-place? Why not ban a character like this?
Simply put, it comes down to this: timing and community.
Right now, the Smash community is sitting in one of its biggest years of competition – two national tournaments have already taken place, Pound V and Genesis 2. But the biggest development has to be Apex 2012, the third event in the Apex tournament series that's following the huge success of the 2010 Apex event. This January 6th-8th, the event will mark one of the hugest events in Smash history when it visits Rutgers in New Jersey.
As stated in the URC press release, a soft-ban will be implemented regarding Meta Knight until after the event, in which Meta Knight will finally be officially hard-banned for all URC tournaments, that is, any tournament that uses the Unity Ruleset. Thus, all the Meta Knight mains still have the opportunity to use the bat at Apex, but after that, they're out of luck.
Apex 2012 sets a milestone because, as far as we know, it'll be the last Brawl national to allow Meta Knight, but the situation gets even weirder when we delve deeper into this situation: Meta Knight is only banned by the URC's Unity Ruleset. As in, if you don't use the ruleset, Meta Knight is still legal.
The controversy of the Unity Ruleset has been ongoing since its inception earlier this year. The BBR, or Brawl Backroom, the community's “governing” body that releases match-up charts, tierlists, and the like, officially stopped its tradition of supporting a Recommended Ruleset that tournament organizers could use for a guideline or word-by-word to run tournaments. Once the Unity Ruleset came into place, any tournament that did not use the URC ruleset was not supported on Smashboards by way of media or pinning topics on the forums. That didn't stop people from running non-Unity tournaments, but the message had been sent.
This then raises the question: will people follow the URC's ban? Technically, they don't have to – tournaments can still be ran without the ban, but won't be supported by the BBR, URC, or Smashboards as a whole. However, because it seems like a majority of the community doesn't want Meta Knight in competitive play anyway, this doesn't seem like it's that big of a deal, that is, unless the community isn't happy with the outcome.
So now we play the waiting game – will the assertions of the pro-ban faction pay off or was this all just a big mistake? Remember, it's only been three years, it's likely that the metagame hasn't even reached its full potential and it is possible that a Meta Knight-involved future may not have been as bad as it seemed. Or the future of the competitive Brawl scene may have died off completely if we left the bat to continue where he was. We'll probably never know, but what I can say is this: the community has decided what path it wants to take and now it has to stick to it. If it doesn't…well, I just don't want to see it come to that.
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