Several Bayonetta players made it into the Super Smash Brothers 4 finals at Evo 2018 this year, although surprisingly, last year’s Evo winner and Bayonetta player Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young wasn’t one of them.
Salem’s upset last year coincided with the longstanding debate over whether Bayonetta’s combo-linking abilities make her an unfair opponent, and after tonight’s results, that debate shows no signs of slowing down.
The crowd soured on Bayonetta early on, when 16-year-old Bayo main Zack “CaptainZack” Lauth battled his way into the Top 8 finals to a chorus of booing from the crowd. After wrapping up his controller, CaptainZack shot a businesslike middle finger to the crowd.
The commentators noted their disapproval of the young player’s behaviour, but came down more strongly against the audience’s booing, which would continue throughout the rest of the Smash 4 finals.
When Diddy Kong player Jestise “MVD” Negron lost his first Losers Quarter-Final match to Bayonetta main Tamim “Mistake” Omary, the crowd booed once again, but MVD turned around and waved his arms at them to quiet them.
They cooled down after that, but then, MVD lost the match-up thanks to a poorly timed banana throw.
Throughout the finals, other Smash pros weighed in on the crowd’s poor reception of Bayonetta players, with one posting that the boos were “a bad look.”
During the Losers Semi-Final, Japanese Diddy Kong and Sheik player Yuta “Nietono” Uejima managed to take down Mistake, but he couldn’t manage to defeat CaptainZack’s Bayonetta, who 3-0’d him and put him in third place overall.
After that, it all came down to the young CaptainZack and the similarly young Tamim “Lima” Omary (age 16 and 17 respectively) in a Bayonetta versus Bayonetta battle for the top honours. Lima had already knocked CaptainZack to the losers bracket in a tight 3-2 match early on in the finals, and when CaptainZack came back to face him, Lima took the first two matches.
Then, CaptainZack turned it into a reverse sweep and won the match-up. During their final match, Lima died by accident, and CaptainZack flung himself off the ledge as well in a show of solidarity.
After CaptainZack won that game and reset the bracket, kicking off yet another Bayo-vs-Bayo best-of-five, the crowd didn’t sound happy, but the two players on stage were laughing together like old friends.
In fact, they didn’t seem to want to fight at all anymore. At the start of the final reset, CaptainZack and Lima faced their Bayonettas towards one another but didn’t attack for several seconds.
The crowd roared in confusion; multiple Evo staffers came on stage to ask the players what was going on, with one eventually ordering the pair to get going and play already. The two complied, resulting in Lima’s eventual win. Lima and CaptainZack hugged, their happiness and pride evident despite the haters all around them.
Neither player was expected to win it all at Evo this year. Lima placed 9th in Evo 2017, and CaptainZack came in at 17th place last year. CaptainZack has told Kotaku in the past that, although he’s gotten death threats for playing as the controversial Bayonetta and also has “struggle[d] with self-confidence issues,” the character inspires him.
“It’s her confidence, her sassiness, it’s what I aspire to be... I want to walk on-stage and I want people to be scared.” Smash 4 fans may hate these two, but based on their joy on stage at the event, they’ve clearly learned how to absorb those boos and become all the more powerful.