[Jan. 6, 2022 Update] Upon further investigation, it appears that Zain's tweet was posted as a joke following a bet made on stream, and he will not be switching controllers in the immediate future. Nevertheless, the conversation about controller legality and fairness will continue to rage on until the Smash scene can codify a set of rules to level the playing field.
[Okay, carry on] Golden Guardians Smash Bros Melee star "Zain" Naghmi revealed on Twitter this week that he plans to make the switch from using a Gamecube controller, which has long been the de facto choice for Melee pros, to the newer b0xx fightpad.
According to his tweet, he will explain his decision on stream this Thursday, Jan 6, answering any questions from the community on the change.
It should be said at this point that Zain is not immune to a bit of trolling here or there, and could simply be baiting reactions to boost his stream. On the other hand, he has played using a wrist support for a number of months now — in part due to his incredible practice regime and work ethic — so it would make sense for him to make the change if the b0xx is more comfortable and allows for the same performance levels.
The b0xx, originally designed by Smash pro Aziz "Hax$" Al-Yami, is a community-funded project aimed at providing a more ergonomic option for Melee pros that may either be suffering from hand issues — or looking to prevent them. That and other alternative controllers were seen at Smash Summit 12 in greater numbers than ever before, suggesting a potential shifting of the tides in the Melee community.
Will the b0xx replace the GameCube controller in pro Melee?
Zain follows a long line of players who have either already made the move or are considering it. TSM’s Leffen stated he was considering dropping the GameCube controller due to the lack of consistency and the increasing difficulty of getting good controllers, while Summit champion Cody ‘iBDW’ Schwab has praised the b0xx, but at this point doesn’t want to switch controllers and relearn a lot of tech.
Players and faces in the scene have been debating this topic for a while now, with some pointing out that newer controllers need to be balanced as they can give a huge advantage over traditional options. Others have also made the point that controllers are only half the battle when it comes to gaming health, with it also being on players to maintain good posture and habits if they want to preserve their playing ability.
Even a GameCube controller today is a far superior tool to the ones used a few years back thanks to the advances in both hardware and software modification, which now allow for perfect execution of previously inconsistent tech. There is no doubt this debate will continue to rage on through 2022, and the world’s best player switching to a new input device will only accelerate the conversation.