Try to suspend disbelief when reading this, as the entire point of the post is being a thought experiment of a thought experiment. There’s really no way to clearly lineate these metagame concepts, especially when randomness is taken into account.
I’ve discussed the concept of 20XX a little bit before on this blog, but if you aren’t familiar with it, then I recommend checking out this paragraph on the idea, which originated in Melee’s scene. While the possibility of a perfectly technical and deterministic metagame is probably possible in a Smash Bros game, it’s quite a different picture for the amiibo scene.
Simply for convenience’s sake, let’s say that over time the vanilla amiibo metagame has settled, and that Bowser has been determined to be the most optimal pick for all situations. He has no counters, no negative matchups, and training methods have improved to the point where Bowser’s worst matchup is another Bowser. As an amiibo trainer, your best bet is Bowser every single time, right?
Well, once it’s generally agreed upon that Bowser is the best, what happens next? No doubt people are going to enter non-Bowser amiibo into tournaments, as the amiibo community has a weird quirk in that we like to enter subpar amiibo into tournaments. Again, we’ll assume that over time that quirk has dissipated and that people are only making the most optimal choice when sending amiibo, which is to send Bowser. So tournaments are all Bowser. It’s down to the Bowser versus Bowser metagame.
Now that we don’t have to worry about suboptimal choicing, and don’t have to worry about the character variable, what determines the winner of the tournament? Everyone has Bowser, the best choice. There doesn’t seem to be much more that can be accounted for. Except…
These are amiibo we’re talking about, and the Utility formula is still at play here. Randomness and Training are the two variables that can fluctuate, but we can only influence at least one of those variables to any real degree. Training, the θ variable, is the final alterable variable in the amiibo metagame. So, in this theoretical situation where we have enough time and resources to dedicate to this project, how do trainers get the upper hand by making a better Bowser?
That’s the real question. Due to amiibo being somewhat random and somewhat trainable, 20XX isn’t really possible (unless hacking methods improve to the point where one single random seed is chosen and used for all tournaments). However, there’s still some room for metagame development. Trainers can’t accomodate the random variable built in to the part of the game that determines the amiibo’s actions, but they can determine the training variable. This is where our technology can improve.
Trainers could, theoretically, discover what moves are associated with each data value on the amiibo, and edit them. While it would be difficult to discover those variables, once they’re determined exactly how Bowser interprets them and what the algorithm behaves like, it all comes down to which moves should the most optimal Bowsers use. Do they stay on the ground and only use up smash, which removes their ability to flinch momentarily? Do they go for gimps? Given enough time, the metagame would eventually figure out the optimal Bowser even at that granular level, and then we could truly say that we’ve reached the closest to 20XX we could ever get.
(Ignoring ruleset changes, of course…)
Obviously this could never happen, as the metagame is constantly fluctuating and changing, and amiibo AI in Ultimate seems to be balanced enough that tournaments are by no means a deterministic endeavor. While we may eventually overcome the scene’s unspoken “gentleman’s clause” of not entering Bowser very often and embrace the lizard, there will probably never ever be a scene that only consists of one amiibo.