Throughout May we wrote about 'The Gauntlet', a team-based Super Smash Bros. for Wii U competitive format that utilises the game's 8-player Smash option, allowing two teams of four to duke it out. With matches split into quarters and with opportunities for substitutions and tactical stage selections, it's an approach that puts teamwork and strategy at the top of the agenda.
You can find links to our features on this at the end of this article, but with two weeks having passed since S.O.S Gamers - a charity that works with young people in New York and surrounding areas - showcased the format at an event in New York, we caught up with the organisation's COO Antoine "Wes" Lewis-Hall to get some context on how it had been received by the competing teams, and within the broader Smash Bros. community.
First of all, can you reflect on the live event and how that went down? Were you happy with how it progressed, the performances of the teams and so on?
The live event was a success! The teams showed up as planned, players enjoyed themselves, casters did an amazing job of translating to the viewers what was going on in the matches, viewers also gave a lot of positive feedback on the stream. So I must say myself and the rest of S.O.S Gamers are pleased with how the event turned out and how it progressed throughout the day.
How was the vibe in the venue? Did you get a sense that the teams were enjoying the format?
The vibe of the venue was a competitive but friendly environment. Teams enjoyed the format, it was something I think they felt deep down inside they always wanted to take part in but were never given the opportunity to do so until now.
We could regularly see teams huddling up and clearly talking tactics. Do you think tactics from teams improved as the contest wore on, or will it take some time for players to adapt to the format?
With this format it forces teams to work together or they will lose. This definitely happened to all of the teams. Let's take Deadly Alliance as an example, in the beginning they weren't communicating as much which resulted in them being sent to the loser's bracket early. This was a wake up call for them and every match in the loser's bracket they made it their business to communicate with each other. Behaving more like a team and creating strategies that resulted in their gauntlet victory, coming all the way from loser's bracket. I think overall teams will pick up on the importance of communicating, creating strategies and executing them as a team, if not they will suffer the same fate as Deadly Alliance did when they lost early.
How was the reaction from viewers watching the event live? What sort of feedback were you getting?
The viewers were very excited to watch the live event. We got a lot of feedback. Most people stated "If this becomes a thing I will form a team to compete in these events!"
With some time having passed since the event, are there any planned adjustments to the format based on feedback?
We are making some adjustments to the rules based on some of the feedback but we will keep most of the format the same. The final rules will be announced in the weeks to come before we begin the season.
Has there been a positive reaction from the wider Smash Bros. community to the event?
They want to see this grow and more teams get in on the action. They feel this will help grow the community and showcases team building at its finest within the scene.
How are plans progressing for your Cyber League in the Tri-state area?
Things with our Cyber league in the Tri-state area are going very well. The community center that we are at wants to help in any way to help expand our program and give us more days to conduct the league within their center. We are also gaining more kids to join in. We will soon be updating our supporters on our progress.
Are you confident that the format will win over a wider audience this year? For example, are there plans for it to be showcased in any majors this summer?
I don't think we should look at it from the point of view of trying to win over the audience. That would suggest that we're trying to replace that standard format that the community has created. We're simply adding another format to help expand the scene competitively and we're confident that it will bring more people into the Smash Community but for a different reason.
After the success of the Gauntlet, our Charity Ambassador Triforce has been reaching out to people on behalf of SOS Gamers to expand our branded event to majors and expos. We're in talks with Eric Smalls of BIG E Gaming in regards to having us feature our event at Summer Jam X. This will help bring more awareness of our endeavor. It's only a matter of time before this grows into something big.
What are your long term goals for The Gauntlet?
The long term goal of the Gauntlet is to build the brand close to or on the same level as League of Legends circuits. We feel we can get it to that level as long as we stay consistent, continue to acquire the right partnerships and keep receiving the support from key people that made our first event a reality.
We'd like to thank Antoine "Wes" Lewis-Hall for his time.