Splatoon 2 / Nintendo

Nintendo kills Splatoon esports stream for #FreeMelee support

Nintendo is reducing its coverage of Splatoon esports for some highly questionable reasons.

Administrators announced that Nintendo was canceling the stream for the Splatoon 2 North America Open due to an “unexpected execution challenge” on the event’s Discord channel. Many are calling foul at this, as it follows a number of competitors changing their team names to voice their solidarity with the Super Smash Bros. Melee pro players recently impacted by Nintendo’s legal action against tournament organizers

The tournament will still take place, but people within the competitive Splatoon scene are asking whether Nintendo is effectively sabotaging its own tournament in order to downplay the #FreeMelee and #SaveSmash movements. This led to both Smash Bros. hashtags trending once again on Twitter, alongside the new #FreeSplatoon, and the Discord server being locked down so that nobody can post new messages to it.

A number of squads throughout the event paid homage to the Smash Bros. community. The top four included teams with the name FTWaveDash, Melee Nation, and Slippi. Slippi is a reference to a third-party online matchmaking service for Super Smash Bros. Melee that Nintendo took legal action to prevent being streamed.

What does #FreeMelee mean?

In November, #FreeMelee trended worldwide on Twitter after Nintendo issued a cease and desist to halt a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament set to be hosted by the Big House. The cancellation of the Melee tournament ultimately led to the entire event being shuttered. 

The move from Nintendo stemmed from the Big House’s use of Slippi to allow online matchmaking in Melee, which was released in 2001 and does not have any online support. Slippi works with backup saves of Melee played through emulators, but this theoretically shouldn’t be concerning for Nintendo as Melee is an almost 20-year-old game that Nintendo has not supported since release.

Due to travel and public gathering restrictions, Slippi is currently the only way to safely host a Melee tournament. Slippi’s network system is also regarded by many as superior to that of Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.

The cancellation of The Big House’s Smash event ignited simmering frustration among the pro Smash Bros. community regarding Nintendo’s lack of support for the game. This saw almost every notable western pro player in the series come out to condemn Nintendo's decision.

Now just weeks removed from the initial incident, Nintendo still seems to be defiant regarding the cease and desist leveled against tournament organizers. That means there’s likely no end in sight to this situation, and that’s unfortunate news for Smash Bros. pros and the game's community alike.