The Super Smash Bros. for Wii U community is divided over Bayonetta.
At Frostbite 2018, a Smash 4 tournament earlier this month in Dearborn, Michigan, Smash 4 fans on Twitter and Twitch lamented over the number of Bayonettas in the Top 4. Three were in contention for first place, and there were a plethora more throughout the tournament. Clips of Bayonettas destroying their opponents with one combo started going viral on the Smash Bros. subreddit. Even the commentators were groaning.
That's when calls to have the character banned from tournament play started to gain traction on Twitter. And shortly after, dialogue started turning into blame, insults and dismissals of skill. Even Nintendo of America chimed in, tweeting out a curiously timed GIF that showcased how to use Bayonetta -- one that received many glares from Smash 4 fans.
- Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) February 12, 2018
"I think it's been simmering among the public since her release," Panda Global's resident tournament organizer, Bassem "Bear" Dahdouh, said. "She's not unbeatable but I've noticed many casual folks who've competed at tournaments lose [to] Bayonetta mains."
As a tournament organizer, Bear isn't willing to ban Bayonetta -- currently the best character in the game -- following a tweetstorm.
But Bear only organizes tournaments; he doesn't host them. People inevitably started tweeting at 2GGaming, an organization that hosts Smash Bros. tournaments in California, asking that Bayonetta be banned from singles play. The 2GGaming Twitter account didn't dismiss the suggestions outright -- and even hinted at it being a possibility.
"If the response is for a Bayonetta-less tournament, then we will host one, yes," James "Jmex" Chacon, co-founder of 2GG, said. "This is, of course, after several rounds of voting and data gathering."
But as a tournament host, there's another thing to consider: profitability. 2GGaming planted its flag early with the Smash 4 community, dedicating production resources and hefty prize pots to attract top players and attention. But as Smash 4 comes up on its fourth year since release, viewership has started to wane.
"I personally do not contribute this to Bayonetta as a whole and do not believe simply banning Bayonetta will create a long-term solution," said Jmex.
This is at odds with hyperbolic comments on Twitter claiming that Bayonetta has killed Smash 4, or that the character has diminished the drama or hype around a game. Bear feels that since the game's launch in 2014, the amount of quality esports content has grown, so naturally people would migrate to watching other things.
As for actual Bayonetta mains, they would like to point to the hard evidence. While Bayonetta has been placing highly at tournaments, that doesn't mean she's walking away with the gold every time. Of 16 A and S-tier level tournaments, Bayonetta has contributed to a total of four wins.
For Team Liquid's Saleem "Salem" Young, Bayonetta should be looked at the same way Fox is in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
"Smash 4 is really just about respecting the options in the game, and in the long run and I believe people have forgotten about that quite a bit considering her gameplay and style was made to be respected," Salem said.
Players must be defensive around Bayonetta because of her power and abilities. But maybe it's because players are forced to respect her talents, more than any other character on the roster, which is causing the divide.
"Characters who are the No. 1 in the game generally do not have to play by the games rules," he added.
Salem also brought up Team SoloMid's Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios, who recently announced his retirement.
"It's ZeRo's fault as well -- not only with him quitting -- he's just been trashing on Bayonetta lately as if the character ruined his life," Salem said. "He has a huge fan base and isn't helping the situation at all."
When ZeRo announced that he was retiring from Smash 4, he left the door open to return and compete in the game's eventual successor. ZeRo is arguably not only the best Smash 4 player ever, but quite possibly the best competitor ever. Between 2014 and 2015 he had a 53-tournament winning streak, something absolutely unheard of.
"I've never been a fan of Bayonetta, absolutely ever," ZeRo said.
He went on to say that he's not a fan of Cloud in doubles either, a sentiment that many people on Twitter agree with as well -- calling for Cloud, or at least dual-Cloud, to be banned from doubles play.
"I'm not exactly saying they should be banned," he said. "I'm just saying it's just not fun to play. It's just not fun to compete in."
For ZeRo, the thing that makes any game interesting is seeing top players use the game's mechanics in interesting ways to outwit their opponents. This is what keeps viewers tuned in.
"Bayonetta however is a character that I personally feel in many levels -- takes away from the game in terms of mechanics. She takes away from what we deem is the game itself," ZeRo said.
Bayonetta does have some tools that makes her an especially difficult character to deal with. She has the ability to freeze an opponent with witch time, land a combo from a low percentage, and push an opponent off to the blast zone.
"Witch time also makes it so that you're afraid of hitting her, even when she's at a disadvantage," ZeRo said. "Doesn't that sound weird? A character in a disadvantaged state will make you afraid of attacking her."
ZeRo is trying to get to the heart of why even commentators groan at a low percentage Bayonetta kill. He feels that Bayonetta doesn't behave like a Smash 4 character. That she has tools outside the rest of the cast that give her an unfair advantage. It can make taking her on frustrating. And ZeRo fears that dismissing these grievances with snarky tweets telling people to "deal with it" is counter-productive.
"I don't think it's the appropriate call to say 'hey, just stop complaining.' [Players] could just leave, and not even complain -- and there's nothing for us to go by why that person left -- they just left, and they're never coming back."