Following Japanese Smash prodigy acola’s win at the GIMVITATIONAL over the weekend, world number one Leonardo “MKLeo” López Pérez took to Twitter to share his thoughts. It’s fair to say T1’s top Smash pro did not hold back, even going as far as suggesting that Steve may be approaching ‘cheating’, among other things.
For those of you who haven’t followed the Japanese online scene intently, acola has been a wifi star for the last two years, and only recently started attending offline events, and has done rather well. In fact, by winning the GIMVITATIONAL last night, he extended his offline run of never having finished outside the top two at an in-person event, which is a frankly incredible record.
However, rather than just congratulate acola on the victory, MKLeo prefaced his praise for the young star by bringing into question the fairness of players that use Steve. While others pointed out that matchup knowledge and other factors must be considered, the world’s top player used the word cheating, and even went as far as to say rather cryptically that ‘anybody that knows how smash works knows these things are not ok’.
The Steve debate
The ‘Steve Issue’ is a topic that some parts of the community have been pushing for a while, with the character being so radically different from anything we’ve seen in a Smash game. The ability to manipulate the playing area and create new hazards on the fly for your opponent to deal with is huge in a game like Ultimate, where movement is key and decisions are taken in a split second.
It should be said at this point that acola actually represents the peak of Steve to this point, with the GIMVITATIONAL being the first Major event in NA to see a Steve come out on top, at least of that level. The likes of Spargo, Tweek, Light, Cosmos, Kola, Riddles and more all turned up, as did NA Steve main yonni, who finished 5th, suggesting that Steve is at least not a totally free win.
However, the fact that acola is the only Steve currently winning big events does not appear to factor into the conversation, with Leo even saying he “doesn’t want to talk about banning…yet”. Players have banded together to ban characters in other Smash games previously, so this idea is nowhere near as far-fetched as it seems, even if players being involved in these decisions is obviously not a good look for the scene.
Steve is no Metaknight
What makes the conversation, and Leo’s part in it more interesting, is that the last player to have a run like acola’s was Leo himself. The Mexican star had a run of some 38 events where he finished in first or second place, and if he had won the GIMVITATIONAL last night nobody would be talking about banning the character he used, because of his undoubted pedigree.
With acola so young, and new to the scene, it is understandable that people might react differently, but it is also ironic that Leo would call the fairness of his single NA Major win into question when he has achieved similar results, and nobody else is doing as well with Steve. If Minecraft’s man were really that overtuned, you would expect to see many people dominate with him, as many did with Metaknight in Brawl, but the results do not back that up at all.
There is also the fact that Japanese players don’t travel much, and when they do they often show a level the Western players are not used to, which may be the crucial factor here. Eventually only time will tell, but if other Steve’s cannot do what acola does then there is no logical way to justify a ban, just as the fact Leo wins events with Byleth doesn’t mean we should ban that character.