MultiVersus’ First Lan Event Was A Messy But Promising Start
It’s not always productive to harp on comparisons between Super Smash Bros. and MultiVersus, but it’s clear that Player First Games and Warner Bros. want the community to know that, unlike Nintendo, the competitive scene has their full support. The platform fighter, currently in open beta, launched a Twitter account dedicated exclusively to its competitive updates last week, just days before the game’s first official LAN tournament at EVO.
Game director Tony Huynh has also been vocal about his passion for competitive play and his desire to help foster a healthy competitive community. EVO was our first opportunity to see what the MultiVersus scene will look like, and while the execution wasn’t exactly flawless, it’s clear now that MultiVersus intends to be a major player in the competitive fighting community.
The first, and arguably most important aspect of the EVO tournament was that MultiVersus put its money where its mouth is. The payout structure was much flatter than your typical EVO tournament. Out of a $100,000 prize pool, the top 64 players were all paid. Payouts ranged from $1,750 for the team that took 32nd all the way up to $10,000 for the first place team. And while $5,000 each isn’t exactly a massive payout for a first place title at EVO, the structure was clearly designed to encourage a lot of players to sign up. The strategy paid off, because over 200 teams signed up to compete.
The tournament ran for nearly two full days, starting in a quiet corner in the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas and eventually moving to one of the main stages on the second day. Viewership on Twitch peaked at over 60,000 as the finals ran late into Saturday evening while bleary-eyed commentators VikkiKitty, Ajax, Flambo, and Austy did an exceptional job calling the matches. The finals, NAKAT and VoiD’s 6-0 reverse sweep against RoseJ and mirrorman was a storybook finale. The sentiments from the community towards this first tournament are overwhelmingly positive, but Player First Games has some big problems to address before the next big event.
The biggest issue that plagued competitors was accidental pauses. In the heat of the moment while jamming on their controllers, the players kept accidentally pausing the game. The first time this happened during the Top 16, organizers decided that the team that paused would automatically lose the current match. This happened a total of three times on Saturday, and the last time resulted in an instant knockout for the pausing team, despite their opponents begging to just let it ride and finish the match fairly. This was a major source of disappointment for players and spectators, and there needs to be some way to either unbind or disable the pause button in future events.
Throughout the weekend, organizers were not allowing friendlies, so no one could use the open computers to practice or play with friends in between matches. This is a bizarre policy at an event like EVO, where everyone is typically allowed to use the off-stage machines when they’re not being used for the tournament. Seeing dozens of empty PCs where people could be playing the game isn’t the best optics, but it's been speculated that there were some controller compatibility issues that made configuring different devices, like multi-keyboard setups, especially difficult. A player called wrenchd said setting up controls took up to 40 minutes per set, which would explain both why friendlies weren’t allowed, and why the tournament ran so long.
Just talked to a @MVSGaming TO and they said nobody is allowed to play friendlies at all the entire weekend unless you're in bracket 🙁
Pretty disappointed, there are so many open setups and people just wanted to play
Feels like a missed opportunity to active the community here pic.twitter.com/AuXgnvooDI
— Greg Adler (@GregAdler7) August 5, 2022
The scheduled time for the Top 16 was 3pm on Thursday with the finals scheduled to start at 5pm. With so many huge gaps between each set, the finals didn’t end up starting until after 11pm. Hopefully this is another technical limitation that can be streamlined going forward, because the spectator experience was unbearably long. Sets would only last a few minutes but the wait between each one was often twice as long, meaning viewers ended up spending most of the day staring at a “Starting Soon” screen.
These problems can and will be fixed before the next tournament, what really matters is the turnout and the level of enthusiasm around the game, and it certainly seems like things are off to a strong start. Considering how much effort Smash players have put into the competitive community in spite of Nintendo, it’s refreshing and exciting to see genuine support for the competitive scene from the developers. If interest remains high and the studio can keep putting money into tournaments, competitive MultiVersus will have a bright future.
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