Why Beyond The Summit's closing is painful for the Super Smash Bros. community
by Ryan Tarney
This week Beyond The Summit announced it would be closing its doors after the completion of Smash Ultimate Summit 6 this March. There has been much speculation about the factors behind their closing, but a general contraction of the esports industry as well as a decline in their Dota projects are seen as the main factors.
Perhaps the community that will miss Summit the most will be the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Melee scenes. Summit first burst onto the Smash Bros. scene with Smash Summit, a Melee invitational tournament in November 2015.
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The end of Beyond The Summit coincides with a couple of key losses as well in the Super Smash Bros. scene. First, Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez, undeniably the greatest Ultimate player of all time was recently released from T1, an organization he had been with for three years. Another surprise move was TSM releasing Gavin "Tweek" Dempsey. The Ultimate star had been with TSM for four years. This is unlikely due to performance as Tweek is currently ranked the eighth best Ultimate player in the world and third highest in the United States. It’s a troubling sign for the industry to see two top 10 players in the world released by their teams over the course of a week.
Read more: Top 10 best Smash Melee players of 2022
Photo credit: Beyond The Summit
We also are not far removed from the downfall of the Panda Global and Smash World Tour circuits. These circuits were great unifiers for the community that provided a great opportunity for players to earn large prizes which are largely absent from Super Smash Bros. communities. These two circuits ending abruptly late last year along with Summit’s shutdown will leave gaps in the community.
Summit’s invitationals were some of the most legendary events, having 14 iterations for Super Smash Bros. Melee and soon to be six for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. A few of the most storied bracket runs have come at these invitationals. Two of the most notable are Jeffrey "Axe" Williamson’s victory at Smash Summit 8, marking the first time Pikachu won a Supermajor event and Joseph "Mang0" Marquez’s victory at Smash Summit 11, including a reverse 3-0 in the first set of the grand finals when he needed to take two games in a row on Final Destination.
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These invitationals also featured some of the largest prize pools in the history of Melee and Ultimate. Smash Summit events make up eight of the 10 largest prize pools in Melee’s 21-year history, while Smash Ultimate Summit’s make up five of the 10 largest prize pools in that game’s history. Summit popularized the format of invitationals with crowdfunded players. Summit events will be difficult to replace.
Beyond The Summit also moved into hosting traditional open Majors with Mainstage beginning in 2019. Due to the COVID pandemic canceling 2020’s iterations, there were only three events in the Mainstage series, all three being among the most exciting events of the year for both Melee and Ultimate. Although this is a void to be filled, currently there isn’t a shortage of Majors, so this may be the least consequential loss from Summit.
Photo credit: Beyond The Summit
It is also important to note that when all Majors were not being held in person during the pandemic, Summit stepped up with two full seasons of Melee tournaments titled SCL. The first season was held in late 2020 and titled the Slippi Champions League, named after the online client to play Melee. The early 2021 season was renamed to Summit Champions League. Both of these brought top-tier competition to players when it was missed the most.
Summit has been incredibly important to the Melee and Ultimate communities over the past several years and will be very difficult to replace. At times like these, players from both communities need to focus on what they can control and that is attending the Majors that continue to exist and supporting their local communities. Super Smash Bros. won’t ever go away as long as there are still local tournaments being hosted by passionate community members, and now is the best time to remember this.