The Ultimate Research: A Q&A with Salem

January 29 2019

Ultimate is currently the final frontier of Smash. It’s new. It’s still developing its own unique play style and exploring new techniques. The tier lists change every day. And most of all, “It’s weird.” But in a good way. At least that’s how Salem is describing it.

There is dash dancing, but it’s a little weird. There’s wave dashing, but it’s extremely weird. And the air dodging is - quite frankly - weird.

Ultimate is its own game, a dynamic and refreshing blend of both Melee and Smash 4. But despite its ever-changing, dystopian feel, the first few tournaments it’s had have wiped out the Smash 4 competitive scene completely. It’s set to turn the entire Smash community upside down.

But that’s why Salem likes it.

“This is a game that will bring the entire Smash community together. This will be the biggest Smash game yet. It will be bigger than any game. League of Legends, Overwatch - it will be bigger than all of that,” he exclaimed. “Nintendo just has to put their all into this and do it right.”

The Smash community is important to Salem. It always has been. Without his mentors and friends in the community he would never have even attended his first IRL tournament.

After noticing Salem’s quick climb up the online ladder, Chibo Sempai (?) offered to drive Salem to a tournament three hours away from his home. He ended up coming in fifth, but also came away with a new appreciation for the Smash community. He loved the laid back vibe of the local. He loved the support other Smash 4 players gave him. This was a community and pro scene that Salem had spent a lot of time studying and watching. And now he was a part of it.

“That’s the thing,” Salem says now. “I closely watch the Smash community. And I’ve been watching these people for a long time.”

While his passion for the Smash community has gotten him into quite a few Twitter arguments, it’s that same passion that has kept Salem hopeful that all of the negativity he’s seen within Smash’s pro scene will dissipate as Ultimate continues to intrigue and impress Melee and Smash 4 players alike. He feels that it’s the antidote the Smash scene needs to stop being so toxic towards each other. To stop comparing the players and the games themselves.

“This is the perfect Smash game. They really did it this time,” said an excited Salem. “This is where everyone should be.”

The appropriately titled Smash Conference United in Florida on Jan. 5 further exemplified the community’s slow progression into harmony. The SCU’s Ultimate doubles tourney saw pros from all Smash titles competing together. Melee God Hungrybox even brought his Jiggly to Ultimate, facing off against Salem’s Link. Hbox sported the tag “RESEARCH” in honor of Salem’s epic TwitLong about the community’s constant divide, which ended with him hoping for a more united front now that Ultimate is out.

Salem later took first in Ultimate doubles with Dark Wizzy.

Many people were shocked to see the usual Bayo main playing Link this time around. But Salem said he’s been enjoying Link since the demo at E3, and he “just wanted to have fun.” Link’s changed a lot since Smash 4, complete with a “real grab” and a detonating bomb. He has a good frame rate and many of his moves are extremely strong. He’s exciting.

Salem will then be bringing Lucas to Glitch 6 on Jan. 19. But he hasn’t forgotten about Bayo. In fact, he said he’s still maining her, but he’s holding back to see what the meta becomes.

“With Ultimate, it feels like you can play any character you want,” he noted. “If you put in the time and work, you can play any character. It straight up feels like that. With this Smash game, you feel like you can do anything. The characters all have their strengths. If you really like a character, you can be a top player with that character, win a tournament with that character.”

After Genesis, Salem says he will go back to studying.

But this time, he won’t be studying the Smash community. No, Ultimate should take care of that. This time, he’ll be focused completely on bringing Bayo back, and shaking up Ultimate’s constantly shifting tier list. That’s what he’ll be researching every day.

Writer // Olivia Richman