Though the 2v2 format is an iconic part of the Super Smash Bros. games, it is generally viewed as an afterthought in competitive settings. Most tournaments in North America hold Doubles brackets as a side event. They are typically played on “Day 0” of a tournament weekend when everyone first arrives. Doubles brackets rarely feature prize pools and act more like a warm-up for players and give viewers extra Smash for their troubles.
The disrespect to Doubles reached a breaking point at Genesis 8, where the Grand Finals set between Chag/Sparg0 and MkLeo/Big Boss became muddled in controversy. After MkLeo and Bigg Boss reset the bracket, the match stream abruptly stopped and never returned. According to those in attendance, the San Jose venue made the teams finish offstream to accommodate a 10:00 PM cutoff time.
Needless to say, this did not sit well with anyone and many expressed scathing disapproval. Chag and Sparg0 ended up winning a supposedly epic final set that hardly anyone got to see. Adding insult to injury, there is no footage of the 2v2 Grand Final reset even though every offstream Singles match at Genesis 8 was recorded to be uploaded as VODs,
Double the fun in Japan
Well-known for having different approaches to the game from the West, the Japanese Smash scene holds Doubles in much higher regard. In fact, they hold entire tournaments solely for 2v2 action. The tournament format allowed teams to focus their practice on team play and building chemistry for the event.
As a result, matches often have the same intensity as a Singles tournament.
Japan’s most recent major Doubles event took place on March 29. Created by EastGeekSmash, the new Ignite series comes from the same organizers behind Kagaribi. The first edition saw more than 160 teams enter and featured many of Japan’s top players.
It was filled with highlight reel plays involving teamwork and featured an unexpected outcome in the Grand Final. Ignite 1 proved to be a huge success and the 2nd event is likely to arrive later this year. Given 2v2’s long tradition is Smash and Japan’s proven model, perhaps it’s finally time for Western Smash scenes to adopt separate events for Doubles too.
Doubles: A whole new Smash meta
With a new set of strategies and matchups, 2v2 also comes with an entirely different meta game. Many characters you’d find prevalent in a Singles bracket are nowhere to be found in Doubles and vice versa.
For instance, Ridley, Donkey Kong, and Ganondorf are some of the most common picks for team battles. Their hard-hitting attacks allow them to capitalize off stray hits and their lack of speed is neutralized with less space on stages. They act as “finishers,” able to take stocks in chaotic scrambles or via setups from their partners.
The sight of Ridley, Incineroar, and Ganon in Top 8 is a refreshing take for viewers. Singles tournaments are littered with Wolf, R.O.B., and the Aegis, so Doubles offers a chance to see uncommon characters at peak performance. It also gives players who main them a realm to shine in.
High-profile Smashers would also pick up new characters to use strictly for Doubles. With over 80 characters in Ultimate, each and every one of them deserve proper screen time.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Doubles require synergy and communication between partners. High-level 2v2 teams display a degree of cooperative skill that makes them stand out from the rest.
For a prime example, look no further than Ignite 1 winners Billy and Luminous. Though far from household names, the two put on a world class display of team play throughout their run. Their trademark move was for Luminous’ Cloud to throw an opponent toward Billy’s Ridley where he’d be ready with a smash attack to take the stock. Billy would even convert some of these lob setups in the middle of fighting the other enemy player.
Billy and Luminous are a perfect example of the untapped potential that lies in high-level Doubles. Every stock they claimed seemed to be in a way that had been never done before. Their level of synergy and awareness for one another was also a sight to behold.
Whenever they reached a 2v1 situation to close out a game, the tournament champions would use stage platforms to volley their foe back and forth with aerials until a final blow could seal the deal.
Top Singles competitors zackray and HIKARU teamed up for Ignite 1 en route to a 2nd place finish. The two are mainstays on Japan’s Power Rankings and showed that they can excel in 2v2 formats just as well. They provide the best example of what it would be like if the best players in the West paired together.
Though they ultimately came up short of winning, zackray and HIKARU’s prowess was oftentimes overwhelming for their opponents. It is enough to make you wonder what other world class duos might be capable of.
In fact, many top players in North America already join forces in Doubles.. MkLeo and Glutonny are a successful Doubles tandem that seem way too dominant on paper. Sparg0 and Chag also have an extensive history playing together. They recently won Doubles at Genesis 8 in the controversial Grand Finals that was kept from viewers.
Both players were elated to win Doubles at a major event even though they’ve already won Singles tournaments. Against popular belief in the West, Chag and Spargo deeply care about Doubles and have their sights set on being the world’s best duo.
So why care about Smash Doubles?
There are plenty of reasons Doubles tournaments are not very popular in the West. For starters, most have no prize money or incentives. This dilutes the competition as players have no real motivation to give 100%. Some events also hold Doubles brackets on Day 1 before Pools, which can cause scheduling nightmares. With more discourse building around the scheduling of Ultimate events, manyTOs are deciding to get rid of Doubles altogether.
But what if the answer is simply to make Doubles matter? If 2v2 tournaments started having increased stakes, notoriety, and prize pools, it would encourage the world’s best to form up and attend. Their decisions would also create intriguing storylines filled with friendships, falling outs, and rivalries. The drama that would go on both in game and within the community would usher in a brand new chapter of Smash lore.
Even if big-name players don’t care for Doubles, organizers should have no problem attracting plenty of others to attend. But do the fans at home want to watch nothing but Doubles for an entire tournament?
The live stream VOD from Ignite 1 would suggest so, having over 360K views on Youtube and counting. Furthermore, Doubles brackets at Western tournaments still attract hundreds of viewers despite not holding any importance. There may be a section of fans begging for even more Doubles action, with an added helping of rewards and consequences. 2v2 could even be added to the Smash World Tour as a separate circuit for both Ultimate and Melee.
The best argument for Doubles is the sheer number of new opportunities it can create for Smashers. Take Billy and Luminous for example. After defeating zackray and HIKARU in the Grand Final, the unlikely underdogs’ dominating performance proves that winning in Doubles takes an entirely different skill set and approach. It is perfectly possible for struggling Singles players to be among the world’s best in team play. Adding significance to Doubles in the West could create opportunities for players to go from virtual unknowns to superstars in the Smash scene.
The idea of Doubles-only tournaments is also an interesting prospect for Esports organizations looking to sign Smashers. Orgs could look to sign multiple players with the intent of pairing them together in 2v2 events. We’ve already seen this done at Western tournaments with Moist Esports frequently pairing up their players for Doubles.
Some top tier brands might even look to expand their rosters and enter Smash for the first time. Player transactions would also create a similar buzz seen in team-based esports like CS: GO and League of Legends. Most importantly, orgs adopting this approach would result in more Smashers getting sponsored and the game gaining exposure to a wider audience.
It would take time before Doubles events become commonplace in the West like they are in Japan. Organizers would have to experiment with large-scale 2v2 exclusive events, which can be costly in a grassroots scene like Smash. However, many in the community are eager for a change of pace from the norm.
With tons of prospective benefits for everyone involved, adding a higher priority and rewards to Doubles competition is a no-brainer.