Some of the biggest “Smash Bro.” names were announced to take part in E3’s Invitational Tournament recently. One name that is oddly not included on that list is Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma – often called one of the “Five Gods” of Melee. Why was he not invited? So far, there hasn’t been an official answer from Nintendo and honestly, given their rather “hands off” relationship with anything esports related, I wouldn’t expect any.
The uncertainty has caused waves of fan speculation with the most common theory being that Hungrybox is too unpredictable given how vocal he was on Nintendo’s stance on Smash-related esports.
Last year, after winning a major Smash tournament, Hungrybox called out Nintendo in his victory speech. “”A certain company that acknowledges us, but refuses to push us — I hope you’re listening right now because I want you to hear this,” Hungrybox started. “I want you to hear the amount of people who support this league, the amount of people that want this to be a lifestyle. This is not just a video game. This is a lifestyle! All right?”
When asked to comment on this remark, Nintendo’s COO Reggie Fils-Aimé stated, “Look, we love Hungrybox,” Fils-Aimé said. “We had him in our tournaments. There is a passion in the Smash Bros. community which is fantastic. When he talks about lack of support, I’m not quite sure what he’s alluding to.”
While it’s true that Nintendo has backed previous Smash events, from my perspective, it’s obvious to me what Hungrybox is asking for – a Nintendo run competition/league similar to what Riot has done for League of Legends, Blizzard for Overwatch, or more similarly what Capcom has done for Street Fighter. Either Reggie had no idea what other game developers have been doing to establish a competitive community with their games or he failed to connect the very few dots.
Another example of this “unpredictability” concerns a Smash event at E3 2014. While having the spotlight after narrowly losing in the finals to Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, Hungrybox challenged Reggie to a one on one match. While the match seemed to be all in good fun, after easily defeated Reggie, Hungrybox went on to say “Reggie, for being the president of Nintendo, you suck at Smash Bros.” Though obviously said in good fun, maybe it’s above the level of acceptable language for the ultra “kid-friendly” appearance Nintendo tries to market itself as having.
Personally, I think the move seems a bit exaggerated, but at the same time, I can see why Nintendo might not want to invite the guy from a PR perspective.