Super Smash Brothers: Melee pro Adam "Armada" Lindgren has stepped down from his position as a panellist for the game's rules committee to open it up for more female representation. The committee, spearheaded by the community platform Melee It On Me, aims to standardise all Melee tournament guidelines.
On September 6, Melee It On Me announced the 25 panellists chosen to vote on all future amendments to the official ruleset: All men. The five-member committee leadership panel, which selected the 25 panellists? Also all men.
Matthew Zaborowski, who serves as one of the committee's five leaders, tweeted that two women who were "solid picks... were to be included, but we were informed they didn't want to be on the panel". Emily Sun, one of the co-founders of Smash Sisters, identified herself as one of the two women who had declined. In light of the lack of gender diversity on the panel, she tweeted: "if no one else is interested, I'd like to be on the panel."
The day after the panel lineup was announced, Armada responded to the controversy by tweeting, "I would give up my spot if it means a girl gets a chance." Nothing happened. On September 9, Armada reiterated his decision to step down from the panel in a video stream:
When I saw the tweet, and the tweet was like 20 hours old, and no one really had stepped up, I was thinking: What if I just leave my spot and open up the possibility for a girl?... It's good for our community as well, if girls feel more welcome. A lot of them probably have knowledge that some of the competitors or TOs or commentators don't have.
Since Armada is one of the best Melee pros in the world, and often cited as the best player of all time, his departure from the panel has been controversial among Melee fans.
On Sunday, Emily Sun wrote a post elaborating on the benefits to gender diversity on the Melee rules panel, noting that the panellists would vote on amendments about "code of conduct guidelines -- how we operate as a community and our interpersonal relationships have all proven to be super important". She also listed several other women in the Melee scene who could potentially take Armada's spot.
Sun wrote that she had not intended to decline the role as panellist, writing, "I didn't know I was being asked. I had a casual conversation about it where I mentioned I was busy." In an emailed statement to us, Sun elaborated, "I was not formally asked and was unaware there would be no gender diversity if I said no. In that case, I would not have declined." She also added, "I would like to say that the Melee community is generally welcoming to women, especially at in-person tournaments."
Emily Sun told us she has not yet heard a response from the competition committee, except for this tweet from one of the members saying, "We'll be putting out a statement/explanation about it soon." We reached out to Matthew Zaborowski and the rest of the competition committee for further details but did not hear back before press time.