Smash figurehead Arian “The Crimson Blur” Fathieh recently created a Twitter thread to discuss Melee viewership on Twitch in 2020. Surprisingly, he found that viewership is up despite the lack of in-person tournaments due to the coronavirus. The Crimson Blur attributed this increase to the addition of rollback netcode to Melee through Slippi.
Super Smash Bros. Melee viewership is up 13% compared to last year. This is without any offline tournaments, which previously accounted for about 75% of views according to The Crimson Blur. In addition, viewership has improved by 39% in the last 180 days compared to the previous 180 days. This means Melee streams are attracting more viewers now than just before and during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
With no in-person events to watch, this increased viewership is going toward individual streamers. Matthew “MattDotZeb” Zaborowski shared a chart revealing the number of Melee streamers drastically increased after the newest Slippi build released. In addition, the number of online tournaments has naturally gone up. As a result, Melee fans can watch a first-person perspective of their favorite players as they compete in online tournaments.
Visual representation of COVID and @ProjectSlippi's impact on the Melee community in 2020
— Matt (@DotZeb) November 26, 2020
More about Super Smash Bros. Melee viewership in 2020
The Crimson Blur noted that Melee’s viewership increase is especially impressive considering the decline in views for other fighting games. For example, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate streamers have seen a 55% downturn in viewership. Of course, Ultimate boasted such a large viewer base before that it still has higher numbers than Melee, even with a large percentage deficit.
Smash Ultimate’s decrease in viewership may relate to its poor netcode, which makes online competition less appealing for many. However, it may also have to do with the allegations that arose within the community this summer. Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, two of the game’s top content creators, stopped streaming after they were accused of sexual misconduct. As a result, this likely precipitated a decrease in viewership.
The Crimson Blur predicted that Super Smash Bros. Melee viewership “should see its best years” when offline tournaments return. Since the coronavirus pandemic rages on, we may have to wait awhile to see if his assessment is correct.