Introduction to Character Crisis
I am suffering from a character crisis in Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
Ever since Smash came out I have mainly played only one character. But with how large Smash’s cast is, could I be missing out on someone?
I want to give every character a chance at becoming my main.
This week I’m playing the first character to ever get banned in Super Smash Bros history, Steve from Minecraft.
Preconceptions on Steve
Minecraft needs no introduction. Literally the best-selling game of all time, the arrival of Steve in Smash Bros was big enough that it managed to break Twitter. Steve was unlike anything we had ever seen in a Smash Bros character, requiring the use of different materials and being able to transform the stage itself. Many people were unsure of his competitive viability and with his terrible speed and air physics some even went so far to say that he was a bad character.
The level of creativity that was possible with this character was daunting but the community that rose around Steve was determined to learn everything they could about this character. The meta for Steve advanced extremely quickly and pretty soon after he began to dominate the competitive scene. Many were afraid he would put a stranglehold on the competitive scene in the same way that Bayonetta and Meta Knight did in the last two Smash titles. However, Steve labbers dug too deep and discovered a new technique which lets Steve hitstun cancel through combos that were previously inescapable. This triggered a reaction from the community that caused several regions to even go so far as banning Steve from tournament play.
I added him to the poll knowing this could be my last chance to play as Steve in a tournament. I was nervous to take on such a complicated character this early in my series. Fortunately I was able to talk to Zurg, the best Steve player in the state, and receive advice regarding the character. The most important lesson I learned was to follow the rules of mining as much as possible which meant I needed to craft new tools as soon as possible. Mine then craft. Minecraft. I can remember that.
Training Mode with Steve
With such a complicated character spending time in the lab with Steve felt like playing on Peaceful mode. You can spend hours practicing various combos and setups which makes Steve one of the most interesting characters to practice as. The first thing I committed to understanding was to learn how his resources worked. How fast can each tool mine for and for how long? What is the main mining tool on each stage? How many materials does each move use? If you’ve played Minecraft before it helps a lot in understanding his kit.
After that it was time to become familiar with Steve’s most important move. Block is not limited as a move with only one purpose. It wasn’t designed to be an anti-air, a disjoint, or even attack at all. It simply creates a block directly underneath Steve. This freedom allows him to create walls, combo characters to the top of the screen, build elaborate traps to take the stock all while refreshing your jumps each time you land on it. This is fundamental to his character design because blocks primary purpose is to create space for you to mine.
Walls are the first thing you should learn how to build. There are multiple wall variations many of which have different applications in various matchups. Walls slow down the opponent and force them to play Steve’s game. If they don’t approach you have all the time to mine resources and build better tools. Once they do get past your wall pay attention to how they did it and prepare yourself to punish them if they try that same option again.
I’m not surprised that as somebody who doesn’t play Steve I expected him to win more matchups. Because he is the best character in the game I assumed that he had a nearly untouchable matchup spread. After playing the character I can see where Zurg is coming from. Steve struggles against characters who can either break down his walls quickly or can pressure from afar. I over estimated how much building a wall could stop certain characters such as Young Link. Even if building a wall stops a character there is still an opportunity cost in doing so during which opponents can approach.
Robin is another character I’m surprised to see in losing. I again incorrectly assumed that walls would be the deciding factor in the matchup but I failed to account for how quickly Leven sword can demolish blocks. His long range zoning tools are also annoying if you’re trying to mine without cover. Finally, Falco is not a character I’d expect to see in losing but due to his powerful punish game and pesky laser, I can understand why he’d be here.
There’s a lot to learn with Steve. I feel like I barely scratched the surface of what can be said about him and I even played Steve for two weeks instead of one. (Learn auto-cancel Back-Air it’s broken). Steve can be the most complicated character in the game but the best Steve in the world is often satisfied just landing his bread and butter combos. If you haven’t played Steve much before I would recommend going into training mode with him and just try to have some fun. Eventually, however, you need to apply what you learned in a real match. I hope that my combos are creative enough for you to enjoy.
Steve Tournament Report
I haven’t won a tournament set in over a month. When I was playing Link I let that get to my head and I lost my focus. However, thanks to redemption bracket I was able to win a set against a good player. With my confidence renewed I was ready to simply do my best. Steve was complicated, and I wasn’t going to be hard on myself if I went 0-2 even if I was playing the best character in the game.
R1 Winners Website
Things didn’t start off well as I immediately lost my first round to Website who was playing Cloud one of Steve’s few losing matchups. Cloud’s safe aggression and powerful moves meant that I didn’t reach Diamond once in our set. Website exploited me when I was vulnerable, before I could mine either Gold or Diamond, and created a snowball I couldn’t recover from.
R2 Losers Jota
My next opponent was Jota, a Banjo and Kazooie player who was ranked higher than me but is someone who I’ve beaten before back when I played Daisy. Switching from one top tier to another I was able to use Steve’s unique tools to literally wall Banjo and his projectiles. I won game 1 due to a misfortunate Self-Destruct on his part and even though I was losing in game 2 a shield break gave me the momentum I needed to take the set. I had finally won a set in the main tournament bracket, but the bracket wasn’t over yet.
R3 Losers RunningBuffalo
Soon after I was due for a rematch against RunningBuffalo, the King K. Rool player who knocked my Link out the the tournament last week. I was unsure how my Steve would do against him after he so thoroughly destroyed me the week before, but the matchup felt completely different as Steve. King K. Rool was effortless for me to combo and my blocks completely stopped his projectile setups. Before long I had taken the lead and then the set. Winning the runback felt great, and Steve’s unique playstyle helped me to find weaknesses in his gameplan that I was unable to see as Link.
R4 Losers Melodic
Finally I fought Melodic, a quickly rising star in the Utah Smash scene. Even though I lost I’m happy with how I played. The set was mostly going even until he managed to low profile my grab. I was unable to restore my resources and Melodic kept the pressure on until it was too late for Diamond to matter. That being said, I am more than happy with my results successfully exceeding my expectations of going 0-2.
Steve was a unique challenge to take on. My opinions on him have definitely changed a lot after playing him. Maining Steve taught me that he is often the best character in the game, but he can also become the worst. Starting off with wooden tools, 3 iron, and a couple of blocks, you have as much going for you as your average mid-tier. Steve has some gimmicks and combos that do around 40% as long as you DI (directional influence) correctly. If any of your tools breaks or you run out of blocks, Steve will drop all the way down to F-Tier.
However, win one neutral interaction and it all begins to change. When you upgrade your tools you literally become a better character. Gold changes a pathetic Side-B into a missile and Diamond gives you kill power that puts Arsene to shame. If you can keep Steve in this low tier state it becomes significantly easier to defeat him. If you want to play the matchup correctly think of it like you’re attacking his resource bar instead of him.
Despite all of this, I still think Steve is extremely strong. He has incredible frame data in close quarters and excellent combos with all of his tools. Blocks create completely unique scenarios, changing the way each player approaches the game. I am no expert, but after playing the character I believe that it would be premature for the scene to ban him. Steve has only been in the game for two years and while I can understand the fear of him dominating the game, besides Accola, we just aren’t seeing that yet.
Choose My Next Character!
I really enjoyed playing as Steve. It was difficult but the level of creativity I could have was inspiring. His combo game is really satisfying to learn and it’s fun figuring out all the things you can do with him. Blocks are unlike anything else in Smash which makes scramble situations all the more interesting. A good opponent will make it difficult but when you finally get to Diamond it feels as if they are enchanted. As fun as Steve was I still have 81 characters to go. Here’s the results of the Twitter poll. @TuesdayTastic
See you on Tuesday!