Not long ago we ran an extensive feature about The Gauntlet, a team-based format that could potentially become a notable part of the Super Smash Bros. competitive scene. That's the aspiration, in any case, being led by S.O.S. Gamers - a charitable organisation in New York - and Empire Arcadia's Isaiah "TriForce" Johnson. With experienced Smash Bros. competitors on board, and a dual goal to promote teamwork between young gamers and adding a fresh dynamic to competitive Smash Bros., it aims to make its mark in 2016.
The Gauntlet, as a quick catch-up, is 4 v 4 Smash Bros. that utilises the 8-Player Smash format in the Wii U entry of the series. Two teams battle it out to accumulate the best kills to deaths ratio, with the goal being that a combination of skill, teamwork and strategy will ensure the best group prevails. With so many of the biggest eSports being driven by team-based gameplay, there's certainly reasonable scope to explore whether that same dynamic can become a big part of the Smash Bros. scene.
You can read all about it in our feature linked at the top, but we now have more details on the Invitational event that'll showcase the format in New York, with a live stream and full commentary on Twitch for others to watch - it's happening on 27th May from 6pm to 11pm local time, which is a start at 3pm Pacific / 11pm UK / midnight CET elsewhere. We also have breakdown of the key rules that S.O.S. Gamers will be using in its Gauntlet 'Cyber League' in the Tri-State area, with the broader aim of bringing the format to other territories.
The Gauntlet's Rules and Stage List
Below is a summary from the rules document that S.O.S. Gamers has shared with us. What we have is a four quarter setup with opportunities for timeouts and substitutions, which certainly blends real world sport approaches with The Gauntlet's objectives.
- Each round is set to 5 minutes
- 4 players versus 4 players (2 teams)
- Each scheduled game will consist of 4 quarters of 5 minutes
- At the end of all 4 quarters the team with the most points wins
- The end of quarter 2 is "Half Time"; players will then take a 5/10 minute break to discuss strategies
- In the event of sudden death in any quarter the quarter's points will be recorded and carried over to the next quarter (s).
- This occurs if after all 4 quarters are finished and each team has the same amount of points
- Overtime will be a 2 minute quarter, the team that gets the most points after overtime wins
- Overtime will keep happening until the team with the most points is decided
- All overtime games are played on Final Destination and players have to stay with their characters
- Player's statistics will be recorded in league books to keep track of player progress and determine a season "MVP"
- 2 referees will be present to accommodate each team
- Each team must have at least 4 players present
- If less than 4 players from a roster is present the team is forced to forfeit their game or have a computer player take the place of the absent teammate
Before the 1st Round:
- Each team must tell referees which characters they will choose and they must stay with those characters.
- Each quarter teams are able to switch characters by blind picking
- The team who gets the 1st stage selection will be determined by a coin flip. Winner of coin flip can choose either they can pick stage or let their opponent pick the stage
- The team that picks the stage in the 1st quarter will also be able to pick stage for the 3rd quarter
- The team that doesn't get to pick 1st or 3rd quarter get to pick stage or character 2nd and 4th quarter
- These can only take place between quarters
- Teams have 20 seconds to make the player substitution
During Stage Pick in Each Quarter:
- Each team is granted a stage of their choice during their quarter
- Teams have 30 seconds to pick the stage they want
- Teams are given (2) 2min timeouts in total, 1 each half of the game
- Timeouts can only be used in between quarters
Overall, the rules lay the groundwork for matches that, allowing for brief gaps and downtime, come in at under 30 minutes. Breaking up into four quarters certainly allows for a narrative in the context, with teams that are behind having opportunities to make a comeback. Throw in substitutions, timeouts and stage swaps for every quarter, and in the right circumstances there could be a lot of interesting strategies at play. It's worth noting that the rounds will be four minutes in the streamed Invitational, in order to fit the matches in.
Another key area that can prompt hot debate is stage eligibility - for the S.O.S. Gamers league and the Invitational the stage list is as follows.
- Battlefield (OMEGA ONLY)
- Big Battlefield
- Mushroom Kingdom(OMEGA ONLY)
- Mario Galaxy (OMEGA ONLY)
- Delfino Plaza (OMEGA ONLY)
- Mario Circuit (Brawl) (OMEGA ONLY)
- Luigi's Mansion
- Peach's Castle (64)
- Super Mario Maker OMEGA ONLY
- Jungle Hijinxs (OMEGA ONLY)
- Kongo Jungle 64 (OMEGA ONLY)
- 75m (OMEGA ONLY)
- Bridge of Eldin (OMEGA ONLY)
- Hyrule Castle (64)
- Pirate Ship (OMEGA ONLY)
- Norfair 8
- Yoshi's Island (OMEGA ONLY)
- Halberd 4 (OMEGA ONLY)
- Woolly World (OMEGA ONLY)
- Dream Land (64)
- Orbital Gate Assault
- Lylat Cruise
- Pokémon Stadium 2
- Port Town Aero Dive (OMEGA ONLY)
- Onett (OMEGA ONLY)
- Castle Siege (OMEGA ONLY)
- Flat Zone X (OMEGA ONLY)
- Palutena's Temple (OMEGA ONLY)
- Skyworld (OMEGA ONLY)
- Kalos Pokémon League
- Gamer (OMEGA ONLY)
- Garden of Hope (OMEGA ONLY)
- Town and City
- Wii Fit Studio (OMEGA ONLY)
- Gaur Plain (OMEGA ONLY)
- Duck Hunt
- Wrecking Crew (OMEGA ONLY)
- Pilotwings (OMEGA ONLY)
- Windy Hill Zone
- Wily Castle
- Pac-Land (OMEGA ONLY)
- Suzaku Castle (OMEGA ONLY)
- Umbra Clock Tower
The Gauntlet's Invitational
As mentioned above, this format will be shown off in a New York event, with a stream online organised by Jason "Jaxel" Axelrod - the plan is for the standard presentation levels, with commentary to accompany the action. For Smash Bros. fans in New York it'll be a free event, too. Xeno Zero has been secured as a venue in the city, which seems to be a popular spot for competitive gaming in the area.
Details are below for locals that want to go along, or for those that plan to watch online:
- Date: 27th May
- Time: 6pm local time
- Location: Xeno Zero, 24 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States
- Free admission: It'll be free to get in, but spectators should email [email protected] to be addied to the list.
- Online stream: www.twitch.tv/8wayrun
- S.O.S. Gamers website: www.sosgamers.org
- S.O.S. Gamers on Twitter: @SOSgamersinc
In total four teams comprised of competitive players from the New York scene will be battling it out in the Invitational:
All told it'll be interesting to see how it shapes up. As explored in detail in our original feature, there's an ambition to make a success of this Invitational, before using that momentum not only for the Cyber League in the region - which has the dual goal of being an outlet for youth in the area - but also major eSports events. The plan is to get the format into Majors this year.
We've seen the details of the event that, at the time of writing, is just a week away. We'll wrap up with some thoughts from Charity Ambassador, Isaiah "TriForce" Johnson, and S.O.S. Gamers COO and Organizer Antoine "Wes" Lewis-Hall.
Since its announcement, what kind of reaction has The Gauntlet had from the Smash community?
TriForce: First off, thanks to Nintendo Life we were able to reach a wide audience to take a look at what we have in the works. Your platform reached out directly to Nintendo fans and Smashers around the world which gave us the crucial feedback that we were looking for. To answer your question directly, the feedback was exactly what we thought it would be; positive and open minded. The most common comment we get is, "I don't know why this wasn't done sooner." Which is the same thing I myself said to Wes back at the SOS event earlier this year. We even submitted the article to a couple of our sponsors in Noscope Glasses and Xeno Zero. They actually love the whole concept. Noscope sponsored a pair of their digital eye wear products for each teams that are participating along with the commentators, showing their support. Xeno Zero gave SOS Gamers the use of the venue for free to support the charity. If that's not a good start I don't know what is.
When you really look at it, we really didn't invent anything that Nintendo didn't already have in mind. They put the 8 player mode in the game for a reason. The fact that you can make teams of it, just goes to show that a eSports team structure was in mind. Why hasn't anyone pushed this to the level that SOS Gamers is pushing? That's beyond me. I'm sure there are others who've tried at local events similar to SOS and or with friends offline etc. I personally think that no one was willing to try something new that goes against the established order of singles and doubles. In fact that exact concern was also mentioned in feedback. Some people are skeptical about how the "Gauntlet" will work out. Well, there's only one way to find out.
Can you tell us a little about the four teams and how they came to be involved in this Invitational.
Wes: The way we came about finding teams is we focused on the notable teams in the Tristate area. We wanted to make it convenient for players to attend this event as well. Especially since this is our 1st one.
Looking over the rules there are four quarters of five minutes; do you think the format will be a notable test of stamina and focus, as well as teamwork?
TriForce: The rules clearly add a new dimension to how Smash will be played. The Gauntlet incorporates a similar structure to Basketball but maintains its individual eSports core. Like traditional team sports all players on the court, field or in our case stage, will be constantly active. Stamina is no longer the issue here. It's all about strategic teamwork on offense and defense. Time is what changes the entire dynamic of the game and how the Gauntlet will be played. We wanted the Gauntlet to be different from singles and doubles but hold some of their traditional components. When you have stock, stamina plays a role on both offense and defense. In the Gauntlet however, stamina can be overpowered by strategy and teamwork. The only way to counter that is with strategy and teamwork from the opposition, just like traditional sports. Which is exactly what Gauntlet was designed for. "Teamwork" for eSports.
There's scope for substitutions and time-outs, do you see these as key rules for the format; how often do you think a team will be able to turn the tide with a sub or timeout?
Wes: Substitutions give teams the ability to throw a wrench in the others team's plans. This sends in a player that not only will force the opposing team to adapt but this person was able to see the match from a spectator's view. This gives them the ability to see things the players in that match wasn't able to.
It also helps the team in "player" match up issues. In basketball, if you have a mismatch, then at the next available substitution you could swap out a player to bring in player that can defend well against the opponent. This supports "teamwork". Timeouts play a part in allowing teams to take a breather to discuss strategies and slowdown and or kill the momentum of the opposing team.
You've issued the full list of supported stages, can you talk us through any key decisions in that area?
Wes: The decisions made for stages are based on what we know to be good for forming different strategies. Some stages are smaller or even bigger than others but each sets a different tone of play for the quarter. We want to test team's abilities to adapt to what's given to them based on what stage they pick. Think of it like football teams have to adapt to different climates all the time. These things do play a factor. We do plan to possibly change up some of the stages we selected for the Invitational, if need be. We are open to suggestions after the event.
With teams confirmed and the rules defined for the Invitational, are you and others in S.O.S. Gamers now starting to feel more excited, or even nervous?
Wes: With all the plans for the event locked in, S.O.S Gamers are more excited than nervous. We are very anxious to see how things pan out for the players and how receptive the overall community are to this style of Smash Bros. The rules that we submitted are for the season but they will be slightly different for the actual Invitational. Things such as times outs will only be 60 seconds long and quarters being 4 mins long due to multiple teams playing that day. This event will create the standard of Gauntlet events and the season. From there we can tweak the rules to improve the overall experience of the Gauntlet in the future.
All told we're intrigued to see how The Gauntlet plays out. There's little doubt that watching skilled players in tight 1 v 1 matches, most commonly in an event like Evo, can be exciting. Yet there's certainly scope for team-based Smash Bros. competition, for variety if nothing else. It's not uncommon for sports (of the 'e' variety or otherwise) to have multiple formats, all in place to spread popularity and engagement further. The Gauntlet could be an outlet for those far more comfortable in a group, as opposed to the intensity of solo play. The nature of the format will also provide a substantially different spectacle from the current conventional Smash Bros. competitive setups.
In any case, we'll be watching the stream on 27th May to see what the format has to offer - we hope you'll join us.
Not sure about completely "revamping". I've spoken with the smash community about this and 1v1 will never be supplanted by anything else (just like pro wrestling?).
But I really like this just like I love doubles and hope more communities can get something like this together
I've already spoken with friends about forming a team in my region and others want to give it a try too.
I really hope this becomes popular, 1v1 Smash 4 has kinda gotten stale for me, partly because of the fact that 2 stock games make them too quick or force people to be extremely campy and because of the lack of stages (seriously there's almost as many stages as there are characters and only 6 or 7 are used). This seems to fix both of those problems.
Meh...I like my games to be chaos and all that...still not gonna bother with competitive Smash.
No ladies in those teams? come on girls!
I personally think this could be interesting, but it will not replace the current competitive rules. 1v1s will always be how most of us Competitive Smashers play, and doubles will be important too. I just don't see rules like this, being extremely chaos-filled, becoming one of the most prominant parts of Competitive Smash. Though it is a pretty cool idea.
Will Team Attack be on or off? It makes a pretty big difference in strategies for this. I'm also not keen on Temple being a legal stage since it inevitably results in camping at the cave of life but we'll see.
Overall I'm interested to watch this.
If they want to play Smash, I say any stage should he playable, as long as maybe it wasn't one that required pure luck. Knowing the stages should be part of the challenge I think.
@Whopper744 I somewhat agree. I believe they should allow Mario Galaxy, Kongo Jungle 64, and Wuhu Island.
@Mega_Yarn_Poochy Wuhu Island isn't compatible with 8-player Smash, unfortunately.
Final Destination isn't compatible with 8PS either while we're at it. Overtime games have to be played elsewhere (an Omega stage would be the ideal replacement).
In any case, this should be fun to spectate! Not nearly enough 4v4 action is being casted right now, nevermind by talented players like these.
No thanks. I love the idea of gaming communities gaming for fun (whether competetive or not) but esports are trying way too hard to become bloated and entitled like regular sports, which just ruins the fun for me.
It's unlikely to work but i absolutely cant wait to find out whether it does
In my opinion, the biggest reason this won't succeed is that it is ran by the former head of Empire Arcadia, and EMP left a bad taste in the mouth of the Smash Community. Plenty of players won't bother to give this the time of day because of EMP.
If Super Smash Bros. was meant to be played competitively, then why does the game come packaged with items on by default?
Depending on the stage it wouldn't be too chaotic. Big Battlefield, Pyrosphere, Hyrule Castle, Gaur Plains, and even Hyrule Temple (the cave of life isn't as bad as it looks with 8 players). Smaller stages like PS2, Castle Siege, and Midgar are better suited for 3v3.
@Neon_Blues It is a competitive game. By default. The entire game revolves around winning and losing. You have a guy who wins, and a guy who loses, it's competition. Items are an optional aspect that doesn't really affect the game's competitive status especially considering Rivals of Aether is exactly like Smash and has no items but is considered competitive.
@Mega_Yarn_Poochy Mario Galaxy has these walk offs where you can camp all day to get a grab and back throw the enemy into the blast zone. That's why most of these maps are banned at competitive level.
Nibelsnarf it, I'm hype. I just wanna see chaos.
no swearing please...-Megumi
i've played 4v4 with friendly fire on, dedede is op, jigglypuff was handy if they weren't aware on how ya used em.
I feel 3v3 Team Smash would provide both players and viewers a better board awareness and more enjoyable matches. 4v4 is too much of a scrum.
I'm betting that less than 10 users in this comment section even know anything about competitive smash.
all I know is that in Brawl it's "Go MetaKnight, or go home."
Will be interesting to watch but i dont know if it will be taken seriously, or a long lasting phenomenon. Cheers for trying though
@EngieBengie I find it sad that a serious competitive player would camp in a walk-off zone in the first place.
You'd think most of them would avoid that temptation for the sake of allowing a much wider range of stages to be played upon...
I wonder if these matches will have friendly fire on or off?
Friendly Fire has the potential for letting team-mates save each other, but it could also screw them over if they get a little too happy-go-lucky with crowd-clearing attacks, and would make it harder for them to take advantage of enemies that a team-mate has grabbed onto without hurting their allies in the process.
any event involving triforce is a bad idea
This is an absolutely terrible idea. Has the creator even SEEN an 8-player match? It's hectic, to say the least. On big stages, all you'll see is camping and hiding and on little stages, you can't tell your head from your ass. And the stage choices?! Orbital Gate Assault LEGAL? Norfair LEGAL? Orbital Gate Assault randomly kills people whenever the stage changes unless you're in one of the few safe areas. And Norfair... unavoidable lava flow. Need I say more? This is such an awful, awful idea. I'd honestly be more supportive of playing with items on than with this godawful format, and I HATE items. It doesn't help that Smash is already seen as a party game, yet somehow playing on the most party-like game mode is supposed to change that? People see 1v1 Smash, they associate it with Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Tekken: real fighting games! People see 8 players messing around on Kalos Pokemon League with a bunch of random, unfair hazards popping up, and it looks like a game of Mario Party.
I follow the Smash scene quite closely and I've literally never heard of any of these guys. Oh boy, why am I not surprised.
@smashbrolink The temptation to have a wider range of stages? The temptation of winning and getting money for it far exceeds this temptation lol. More stages isn't really that needed, especially considering Smash 4 has the biggest amount of legal stages in the Smash series.
Another Smash article with the same comments. "I don´t like competetive gaming." "I don´t want people to play this comptetively because it ruins the game for me for some reason". etc...
Can't wait to see this format in action. I hope it becomes a success and we see more of it alongside 1on1 and 2on2 matches.
@EngieBengie By "wider range", I mean stages that do more to test the player's sense for battle than just giving them a few odd platforms and a flat main area.
Temple is a good example; yes, there's no stage hazards, but the many variations in height and shape of the landscape form into areas where more strategies can be brought into play.
It shows more skill on the part of the player to be able to take advantage of those differences in landscape and whether or not they can lure their opponent into a disadvantageous situation because of it.
Most of the "legal stages" aren't honestly that much more exciting than FD.
Having a wider range of stages makes the competitions more entertaining to watch, and by extension makes this particular type of competitive match more likely to see recurrences through larger audience participation.
The excitement will make it more popular, which will make it more likely to become a main-stay in the competitive scene.
ROFL, have you even PLAYED in 8 player Smash mode?
Many of the stages in the game LOSE their stage hazards in 8 player mode.
Heck, ORBITAL GATE ASSAULT isn't even AVAILABLE in 8 player Smash unless you use Omega mode, which completely cuts out all of the changing mechanics and provides a flatter, more traditional stage.
Similarly, the Kalos Pokemon League stage only offers Omega form in 8 player Smash, which, again, means no stage hazards.
And stages like Norfair, which normally have a hazard, don't use their hazard in 8 player mode, to preserve frame rates.
The only stages that don't entirely cut out any form of hazards, are The Great Cave Offensive, DK 75M, and Palutena's Temple.
And Castle Siege is the only non-Omega stage available where transitions can happen like they do in Orbital, and the transitions are way less traumatic and spaced out than they are in Orbital.
So in all honesty, no; it's not a terrible idea.
There are too few stages in 8 player mode with hazards that are unpredictable to be worried about them in 8 player Smash, and in fact most of them can be used to a strategic team's advantage.
The one reason you had that I can somewhat agree with, is the one about it being hectic, but that's where having a solid team with solid team-work comes into play.
Football has teams twice this size and is twice as hectic, but there's unity in their chaos because they work well together.
That's what the players of this mode of Smash are trying to accomplish by going pro, and it has a good chance of making it happen.
@Geno-Breaker I'm betting even fewer of them know anything about how 8 player Smash works on stages with hazards, let alone how to coordinate well with a team of more than two.
@smashbrolink Ok, I didn't know about the lack of hazards. But the other complaints are valid. If you've ever seen 8-player smash, it's nearly impossible to follow, especially if 2 or more people use the same character. And football is different for a fee reasons. For one, you've got 22 people on the field that is 100 yards long, and almost 50 yards wide. Smash takes place on a TV screen, usually no larger than a 40 inch at locals. And another thing is the problem with certain characters. Sheik, ZSS, and Ryu are all very combo-heavy on individual characters, but you can't complete a combo because you will either be hit out of it, or your opponent will be. Concentration is nearly impossible.
A party is a group of several people. Smash is viewed as a party game: that is, a game to be played with a party of people in a casual setting. Party games are not treated with the same respect as competitive eSports titles. So if Smash is viewed by eSport organizers and the public as a disorganized party game, somehow the best way to make them respect Smash as a fighting game is to include it in their lineup and play it like a disorganized party game? Makes a TON of sense. The best game mode for competitive Smash in my opinion is crew battles. You've got a team of people, which eSports likes, plus organized 1v1 competition. It promotes team-based gameplay as well as single player gameplay, and strong strategizing among players on a team to counter the opponent's character picks. Crew battles are also really fun to watch.
That's where the larger stages come into play; it allows the teams to spread out and make things less confusing.
I play 8 player Smash quite often and rarely have any issues keeping track of myself, even in battles where there's others playing the same character as me; I'm sure it's similar for others. You've just got to have good concentration and awareness.
Sure there's differences between the size and scope of a football team compared to this, but the fundamentals are the same; the teams are big and the plays look complicated, but when the teams are good at what they do and everyone knows their role, there's a definite method to the madness and you get to see a lot of amazing plays come out.
It can be the same for Smash; it's not guaranteed to just be deemed a casual party game from this.
If anything, the Smash community is already considered one that's on the same level as other competitive fighting games, and this will just allow that scene to spread out further into something more ambitious.
I'm not saying it's guaranteed to succeed or anything, but we really shouldn't assume that 8 player smash will look "too casual to be competitive" before we've even seen how it holds up.
Especially considering how well structured the rules are thus far.
@smashbrolink What strategy and skill is there to Temple that isn't present on Battlefield or Smashville? Temple works for 4 players + not in serious 1v1. It's too big and what you call luring the enemy in disadvantageous places is a lighter way of saying that stalling a match would be common. Especially considering most matches in Temple eventually go to the lower part when you can Tech every Smash-attack thrown at you meaning it is not uncommon that people live to 200%+. It won't be as exciting as you think it is.
I beg to differ, considering I've seen plenty of exciting matches on that stage between teams of two.
Having two teams of four will only make it even more fun to watch for me.
Stalling will just get them boo'd off the stage, anyways; I'm sure they aren't going to resort to that.
Thought you were talking about 1v1 for Temple. 4v4 could work. Even then, the point of Smash as competitive game is to see skill in players and the most skilled of them win. Chaos has never really been exciting to watch outside you playing it yourself.
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