[Opinion] The return of unfrozen Pokemon Stadium in competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee is awful and awesome

 

The Smash World Tour is international Smash Bros tournament series featuring the top players from both Super Smash Bros. Melee and Ultimate. The finals are slated for December 17th-19th and, with a total prize pool of $210,000 (split between Melee and Ultimate), it is the biggest competitive Smash event of the year.

It also marks the return of LAN Melee competition. This most notably affects players' nerves and mental poise, but it also makes the Pokemon Stadium stage counter pick a bit more interesting. The introduction of an online Melee via Slippi rollback netcode made competitive Melee possible during the quarantine possible, but it also ensured that the frozen stadium would be played exclusively across major online events.

Frozen vs. unfrozen Pokemon Stadium in Super Smash Bros. Melee

On Melee's Pokemon Stadium, there are five variations of stage transformation: Basic, grass, water, fire, and rock. Melee tournament rules designate the stage as a counter pick and this splash of RNG is a big reason why. 


Shiek avoids pressure due to the windmill but ultimately dies because of it as well. 


Many argued that it serves as a more effective counter-pick when frozen, but it isn't hard to understand why modern gamers might prefer the removal of an otherwise random bit of chaos that interferes with the match.

At times, the transformations can put one player at an obvious disadvantage

But the other side, those in favor of Pokemon Stadium in its chaotic original form, enjoy the hype moments and unique scramble situations it creates. While the most competitive die-hards usually tend to sacrifice entertainment value over a consistent competitive environment, the viewers at home tend to have fewer concerns.


Simply put, stage transformations change the flow of the match and tend to create memorable moments that casters can't help but react to. There isn't anything inherently non-competitive about Pokemon Stadium transformations, but they can feel a bit cheesy at times.




One notable transformation during the Smash World Tour was during the last NA East Loser Finals match between iBDW and Polish. The game is neck and neck and Polish lands a deadly tech chase during the grass transformation. Things are looking good for Peach until sudden disaster...



 

What might have happened if this set was played on Frozen Pokemon Stadium instead? Would Polish have teched so close to the Fox leaving her dead to up smash if it wasn't for this stage transformation? The look of surprise on Polish's face doesn't answer these questions, but it reminds us why we are asking them in the first place.


Yes, competitive Melee enjoys when Pokemon Stadium is Frozen. When a competitive player looks surprised after losing a stock, it usually means something weird happened.

 


But, then again, it's hard not to miss the classic Pokemon Stadium eventually, especially if you have been playing it on LAN for over a decade. 


Regardless of which stage you prefer, a tournament player should be prepared to play on either. Nothing is stopping 20xx Melee players from studying neutral advantage states during stage transformations, but whether or not future tournaments will follow SWT's path and allow unfrozen stadium is uncertain.

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