Former pro Smash Bros Zero have announced their intentions to hold their own tournament, years after they were banned from the vast majority of tournaments due to sexual harassment allegations.
Briefly explained in a four-minute video titled “I honestly can’t believe I’m doing this…”, Zero says he’ll be starting his own tournament “based on many requests.” This follows a humorous tweet last year where he suggested a tournament with other banned players called the Banned Series. Although it was a joke, Zero admitted that some banned players would be allowed to participate based on his own judgment.
However, this event will not be free for all banned players. Zero explicitly states that the presence of certain players will largely depend on whether or not he believes their bans are justified. He states, “My goal is not necessarily to have a tournament to invite a group of criminals and a group of people who are banned, because the reality is that there are people who are banned and who have done terrible things.”
Zero elaborates: “But there are certain scenarios where there are certain players that should be allowed to play and it doesn’t make sense to ban them. On a case-by-case basis, not everyone will be allowed into my tournaments, but I’m going to handpick very specific people who I think should be allowed to play.”
Zero didn’t mention any specific pros in the video, instead encouraging his audience to suggest players they’d like to see in this tournament. In the comments that the content creator likes, users suggest figures such as the eponymous “Smash’s own MLK Jr” Technicals, who himself has been banned from several events and is best known for creating several long-form videos criticizing the Smash community. There’s also Anti, another ex-Smash pro who was kicked out by esports organization T1 after allegations of sexual abuse.
In the video, Zero says they intend to start small with an invitational format for eight people, eventually hoping to live stream the event and potentially open up crowdfunding. “For example, I think it would be really cool if at some point I started crowdfunding. Then you guys can donate and raise the stakes for the competition, because I, I’m not a rich man.’
Zero has been absent from the Smash community since 2020, when he was accused of sending sexual messages to minors. At first he admitted it, apologizing for his actions and announcing his intention to go to therapy, he later retracted his statement, admitting to these alleged actions in a Youtube video, continuing to sue his former roommate and the source of several allegations in 2020, Jisoo. That lawsuit ended in a settlement last September.
Even though the community seemed to come together to eliminate Zero from the biggest tournaments, he continued to develop a sizable community on Youtube with approximately 869k subscribers and video views consistently exceeding 30k per upload. His Smash Bros content continues to be somewhat popular despite the allegations against him.
Regardless of what the wider community may wish, Zero is of course free to run its own event. The only barrier that can prevent such an event from being broadcast is Nintendo itself, a company that has been tough on closing events in the past. In the past, it even tried to shut down Evo, the world’s largest fighting game tournament, due to its desire to protect its intellectual property rights.
So what’s next? Well, obviously, there will be many eyes on the event. Regardless of how you feel about the individual, bringing someone with a murky history back to a live tournament is nothing short of a spectacle. The real question is whether events like this can grow in the long term, beyond the initial “oh my god player X is playing Smash again” shock factor.
Such is life on the grassroots stage! The only real obstacle is Nintendo, and if the giant corporation chooses to ignore the work of Zero and other banned players, the ultimate fate of this event will be in the hands of the players themselves. Those who are in Zero’s corner, despite past events, and those who want to stay at a distance.