Professional Super Smash Bros. is serious business. Top players compete for sizeable prize pots and the competition is fierce. With Pro Gaming hurtling rapidly towards the mainstream, the Super Smash Bros. Brawl competitive scene has grown exponentially - but now it has to contend with serious allegations of match fixing within the highest levels of play.
A recent alert from Major League Gaming, the highest profile pro console league in the US, has revealed that two of the top Super Smash Bros. Brawl players, Mew2King and rising star ADHD, have both been banned for what has been called "intentional forfeiting or conspiring to manipulate Rankings or Brackets".
Among top Smash Bros. Brawl players, matching the correct player is paramount. Someone proficient with certain characters may not be able to compete on an even keel with a top user of another character, mainly because of balancing - so there have been cases where players have been accused of deliberately losing to specific players to give themselves a better chance of progressing through the tournament via different brackets.
Which is all a bit shady of course, but in this case there was reportedly an exchange of money involved, which makes the situation more serious.
Apparently, Mew2King, arguably the best Smash player in the world today, deliberately lost to friend and rival ADHD, and was given $300 by ADHD to do so. After having a supposed off day, he decided he might not have a chance of beating rival player Rich Brown in the final, and saw the $300 offer as the safer bet.
But that's just one side of the story. ADHD, currently seething at being banned from Major League Gaming tournaments for the near future, believes he has done nothing wrong, that his match between Mew2King was legit. Apparently giving Mew2King the $300 was merely a gesture of friendship.
"It was not an intentional forfeit," claimed ADHD, posting in forums early today.
"Jason [Mew2King]informed me that he was not playing well," claims ADHD, "and he did not care about the result of the match. I said: 'alright, fine, let's just play it out.'
"So we did, and afterwards he asked me if I could split with him. I responded by saying 'I'll give you 200-300 dollars, is that alright? I don't want a full split.' Jason nodded and confirmed this was acceptable in agreement."
Apparently the two players, competing in smaller underground tournaments, have a pre-arranged agreement to split prize money, since it's usually inevitable that one or the other will come out on top. Mew2King, being an established player actually lives day-to-day on competitive gaming prize money, while ADHD still lives at home, so both are happy with the arrangement. ADHD maintains that he has broken no rules whatsover.
Professional gaming has had problems with match fixing before, mainly with Starcraft, but we find it almost funny that a game as seemingly frivolous as Super Smash Bros. can become embroiled in similar scandals. And while it may seem strangely hilarious to take a game like Super Smash Bros. so seriously, it's almost testament to the growth of professional gaming that such an incident has occured.
Professional Smash Bros., it seems, is serious business - serious enough for money to exchange hands during matches, serious enough for players to be banned for misconduct, serious enough for it to be a major incident in the Smash Bros. community at large.
UPDATE: Mew2King posted a response to the allegations. It can be read here.