Former Smash Bros pro player Zero has announced his intentions to run his own tournament, years after they were banned from the vast majority of tournaments due to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Explained briefly in a four minute video titled “I honestly can’t believe I’m doing this…”, Zero states that he’ll begin hosting his own tournament “based on popular request”. This comes following a joke tweet last year where he mused the idea of running a tournament with other banned players called the Banned Series. While this was in jest, Zero would acknowledge that certain banned players would be allowed to take part based on his own judgement.
However, this event would be far from a free-for-all between the entire cast of banned players. Zero explicitly states that the attendence of certain players would depend largely on whether he believes their bans were justified. He states: “My objective is not to necessarily host a tournament just to invite a bunch of criminals and a bunch of people who are banned, because the reality is that there are people who are banned who did terrible things.”
Zero elaborates: “But there are certain scenarios where there are certain players who should be allowed to play, that don’t make sense that they’re banned. In a case-by-base scenario – not everybody is going to be allowed in my tournaments, but I am going to hand pick very specific individuals who I feel should be allowed to play.”
Zero didn’t mention any specific pros by name in the video, instead encouraging his audience to suggest players they’d like to see appear in this tournament. In comments liked by the content creator, users suggest figures such as self-titled “Smash’s own MLK Jr” Technicals, who himself has been banned from several events and is best known for creating several longform videos critical of the Smash community. There’s also Anti, another former Smash pro who was dropped by esports organisation T1 following sexual assault allegations being levied against him.
In the video, Zero states that they intend to start small with a eight-person invitational format, eventually hoping to livestream the event and potentially opening up crowdfunding. “I think it’ll be really cool for example if at some point I open up crowd funding. Then you guys can donate and up the stakes for the competitors right, because I, I am not a rich individual.”
Zero has remained absent from the Smash community since 2020, when accusations of him sending sexual messages to minors were levied against him. While he initially admitted to doing so, apolagizing for his actions and stating his intent to go to therapy, he would later retract his statement admitting to those alleged actions in a Youtube video, going on to sue his former roommate and source of several 2020 allegations Jisu. This lawsuit would conclude in a settlement last September.
While the community had seemingly come together to remove Zero from the largest tournaments, he has continued to foster a sizeable community on Youtube with roughly 869K subscribers and video viewcounts consistinly hitting over 30k per upload. His Smash Bros content continues to be somewhat popular in spite of the allegations made against him.
Regardless of what the wider community may wish, Zero is of course free to run his own event. The only barrier that could prevent such an event from being streamed is Nintendo itself, a company that has been heavyhanded with shutting down events in the past. It has even tried to shut down Evo in the past, the largest fighting game tournament in the world, due to a desire to protect their IP rights.
So what happens from here? Well, obviously a lot of eyes are going to be on the event. Regardless of how you feel on the individual, bringing those with a murky history back for a livestreamed tournament is nothing if not a spectacle. The real question is whether or not these sort of events can grow in the long term, beyond the initial shock factor of ‘oh my god, player X is back playing Smash’.
Such is life in a grassroots scene! The only real obstacle is Nintendo, and if the giant corporation decides to ignore the work of Zero and other banned players, the ultimate fate of this event will lie in the laps of the players themselves. Those who are in Zero’s corner despite past events, and those who wish to remain distant.