How To Run Amiibo Tournaments For Youtubers

by Doc – Owner, Founder, For the Love of God Take the Time To Learn About Amiibo Before Shitting On It

It’s been almost a year since Choctopus’ Raid Boss Open happened. If you’re familiar with Smashtubers, you’ll probably remember that name – that’s the amiibo tournament that was an absolute cluster of problems. I won’t recap all of it, but basically the competitive amiibo scene volunteered to help out, Choctopus refused to ban Incineroar who is literally more broken than Brawl Meta Knight, and when his fans complained by the hundreds, the competitive scene (and to a less explicit extent, myself) became Choctopus’ scapegoat despite the free labor.

RBO was completely dropped by Choctopus, and he never made a follow-up video on his channel. Frankly, I don’t blame him, but let’s try to avoid something like that happening again.

How to Run Amiibo Tournaments

Amiibo tournaments are run almost identically to regular online tournaments, with a few extra rules. You’ll still have all the same operations as a typical online tournament – check-in through smash.gg or your preferred bracket, internet connection tests (although speeds are less relevant in amiibo fights because amiibo aren’t affected as much), and the like. If you know how to run a normal online tournament, you’re already pretty close to running an amiibo tournament. The only difference is that you’ve got amiibo fighting instead of people, and that has a few complications.

There’s a few snags that you ought to be aware of when running amiibo tournaments.

Preventing Cheating

Most cheating revolves around spirits. You should give this guide a read to make sure you understand how they work.

  1. Amiibo don’t show their spirit loadouts in arenas, only their spirit typing (so an amiibo could have 5,000 Attack when the competitor has claimed it only has 3,000).
  2. The game now checks for illegal amiibo stats online, so the old “32k” amiibo with 32,000 Attack and Defense are no longer functional. If I recall, the game just crashes out. However, it’s not for certain that this applies to every possible combination of spirits and stats, so you’ll still need to keep an eye out for cheaters.
  3. While some spirits can be visually spotted in gameplay through the cloud effects on the amiibo, not all spirits can be visually seen. Thus, people who are experienced with spirited amiibo ought to take a look at footage of the amiibo in action to determine if any spirits are being used based on the effects of the amiibo – for example, if the amiibo completely ignores weak hits without even flinching, it likely has Super Armor.

The opportunity for cheating is much higher in amiibo tournaments, but the payoff of cheating is a lot lower. Thanks to the anti-cheat check in #2, the only way someone can cheat to win is by submitting an amiibo with a spirit loadout that isn’t allowed by the ruleset, or by finding a loophole in the anti-cheat.

The best way to verify that an amiibo is legit is to require that the competitors send screenshots of their amiibo’s loadout screen and to have them available for public display, usually in a Discord server. Like this:

If you’re looking at this, you’ll notice something. No stat in amiibo can be higher than 5,000, but this is one is edited so that the stats are higher.

While the amiibo trainer could change their amiibo between the time they take the screenshot of the amiibo loadout screen and the actual tournament, it does provide some level of security for anti-cheat measures. You’ll know immediately if they’re cheating because the spirit type is different – in the above picture, this Donkey Kong has a gray Neutral type. If someone were to try to change the amiibo’s stats with the in-game methods, it may change to one of the other three types and that icon would change as well.

Make sure that the opponents are saving replays of every match, and that they can find these images easily to check their opponents. Cheating is rare in amiibo tournaments, but it has happened before, and the opportunity for name recognition with a “famous person” drives people crazy.

General facts to be aware of:

  • Amiibo cannot have more than 5,000 stats between both Attack and Defense, and only 4,200 stats if all three spirit effect slots are used. Most people will use all three slots.
  • Super Armor/Slow Super Armor ignores knockback below a certain amount, but Armor Knight doesn’t. So if an amiibo takes a hit and doesn’t flinch, they may have Super Armor effects.
  • Using amiibo of characters that haven’t released yet can get you banned from NSO, and it can get everyone else in the arena banned as well.
  • Amiibo typically don’t have one-hit kills on every hit. If you see an amiibo consistently doing 50%+ on most of its hits, it’s likely that it’s cheating. It could be a 5,000 Attack, Armor Knight Trade-off Ability amiibo or something like that, but most people invest some points into Defense, so that’s not likely.
  • There is a nonzero chance that Nintendo’s connections can fail and the amiibo will instead scan as a level 0 Mario amiibo. Just restart the arena and try again – nobody’s cheating.
  • If the arena keeps crashing, and somebody is trying a Mii Fighter amiibo of some kind, ban that person. It’s likely that they’ve used a very secret technique to turn their amiibo into an invalid amiibo that crashes the game. This isn’t well-known, but there are ways to make invalid amiibo without being a modder.
When I was a ten year old, I got very upset at the “you’re too slow!” taunt.

Speed Tests

Amiibo are not affected by internet speed nearly as much as human opponents. People respond in real-time, but amiibo respond on a frame-by-frame basis, so while it’s ideal to have less than 16 ping, you’re not going to be totally ruining the tournament with a more normal wireless connection of, say, 200. That’ll only put them off by 15 frames, which isn’t great but is a lot easier to play with for an amiibo than a human.

Howeva, lag spikes are a major concern for amiibo. If frequent lag spikes are occurring from one end, that person ought to be DQ’ed.

Spirit Rulesets

There’s two types of amiibo tournaments – Vanilla, which is where no amiibo has spirits or stats, and Spirited, which is where they do have spirits or stats. Casual players typically refer to Spirited as “Raid Boss“, but technically speaking it’s only a Raid Boss amiibo if it’s fighting a human opponent.

Before you write out the ruleset, consider the type of tournament you want to provide. If you’re a Youtuber, I’m assuming you don’t plan to appeal to the competitive amiibo audience – thus, you’ll probably want a spirited tournament. The opportunities for cheating are larger in spirits (you can tell when someone’s cheating in vanilla because one amiibo will hit for 50% and the other will hit for 3%), but it’s also better for the audience, and it’ll get you more attention. It’s the content meta, if you will.

By the way, you should require that all amiibo are level 50.

There are five spirit effects you must always ban no matter what. There is also (at least) one amiibo you must always ban no matter what. This is because amiibo is super broken and not designed to be competitive, so you’ve got to be ready to handle complaints about “Why is XYZ banned when it’s my favorite spirit?”

The “Big Five” spirits are distastefully broken, and there’s really no beating them without cheating. Reference the list of banned spirits to see what the “Big Five” are. And take note: if even one of these spirits is legal, it becomes the best spirit in the game, automatically. It’s a pretty rigid hierarchy.

In addition to banning the Big Five, you should also consider banning the Instadrop and Critical Healing & Metal spirit effects. Instadrop is considered the 6th best spirit in the game, and does create a lot of hype for the viewers, but when two Instadrop amiibo go against each other, it becomes a very slow tit-for-tat match instead of something actually interesting. However, it’s not competitively banworthy – just annoying.

Critical Healing & Metal, or CHM, is also similarly weird. CHM recovers 30% damage when the user is above 80% in Stock format, and turns the user metal for 13 seconds. This is a pretty great spirit because, unlike other transformation spirits like Giant, it lasts a while and activates every stock – other spirits like Giant only function for 8 seconds, and only on the first stock. So while it’ll also be pretty hype for the viewers to see the comeback on-stream, putting two of these against each other is just a longer, drawn-out battle that isn’t as interesting to watch.

Take a break here and stretch, because there’s just a bit more information left but this piece is dragging on.

Banned Characters

Incineroar is banned.

“Gee Amiibo Doctor, I have XYZ reason for not wanting to ban Incineroar, should I not ban him?”

No, Incineroar should always be banned. Incineroar is literally Brawl Meta Knight but more broken. See, Alolan Whip is currently almost completely unavoidable by amiibo opponents, and it only needs to connect three times to land a KO most of the time. So in fifteen seconds, the opponent loses a stock. There is no beating Incineroar. And if you put two of them against each other in-bracket, they end up just clanking Alolan Whips against each other for minutes at a time. It’s horrible content. Don’t ignore this warning – if you allow Incineroar, everyone’s going to use him and it’ll end up totally crap. That’s why he’s currently in U tier on the amiibo tier list.

Aside from banning Incineroar, there’s nothing that’s too broken to always ban, although most tournaments also ban Bowser. As a Youtuber, your job is to create entertaining content, so really we shouldn’t worry so much about balance and instead create a meta that’ll be fun to watch. This means we’ll probably have to ban Ness. Ness’ optimal strategy is to simply spam PK Fire, and to juggle with PK Thunder. Sounds kinda like For Glory Ness, doesn’t it? This is a pretty good strategy for winning tournaments, and isn’t crazy broken like Incineroar, but not so much for producing an exciting Grand Finals clip. So you ought to consider banning Ness.

For competitive reasons, many tournaments ban Bowser and King K. Rool and Terry. This makes sense to a degree – they’re pretty good, and Bowser is probably the best legal amiibo in the game (depending on how Terry shapes up). So if you’re wanting a Grand Finals that isn’t just dominated by one character, you should either ban all three or legalize all three. Only having two means that Terry will win, because Terry counters Bowser and King K. Rool. So… pick your poison. Do you want all three legal, or none of them?

Legal Stages

Because of the way arenas work, each trainer can bring one stage to the mix. The game will choose between one trainer or the other, and that’ll be the stage they use (unless the arena rule is set to Battlefield, Omega or a non-Choice ruleset).

Don’t just use Battlefield and Omega stage rulesets – don’t get me wrong, it’s easier and cleaner to run, and more competitive tournaments often use this ruleset. However, it’s less exciting. Need I remind you that excitement is what keeps people watching.

So let’s not use the simple ruleset. Technically, you can use any stage in the game without a problem, but contenders often feel cheated if a stage gimmick destroys their amiibo’s chances. We try to avoid that, so we stick to more typical stages that are on this list.

Do note that some stages that are often legal in human tournaments, like Town and City, aren’t legal in amiibo. This is because amiibo have pretty flawed AI when it comes to stage elements, and undeserved SDs are possible on stages where you wouldn’t normally consider them common. Dream Land is a good example of this – amiibo will often just get under the stage and try to recover only to hit their heads on the bottom of the stage. This doesn’t happen on hardly any other stage.

The Right Attitude

This is the most important part of anything on this list, by the way. Your viewers need to know that amiibo is about having fun, not about winning. Amiibo operate using RNG – even if you’re the better trainer, you still may not win. Making sure your fans have a proper understanding of how wacky amiibo tournaments are before the tournament starts is vital to making it a good experience.

I know it’s been the Youtube meta for a while, but positing the tournament as a “strongest amiibo” something or other is very bad framing – great SEO and CTR, but bad framing. Most of your competitors will probably be literal children, so they’re going to get upset when they lose – and telling them their opponent’s amiibo is stronger is only going to make them feel worse. I don’t believe in intentionally angering a crowd, but you do occasionally have to remind people that it’s only a game, and their salt/rage/anger is immature and unjustified.

Instead, you ought to position it more like a game of Mario Party – it’s for fun, it’s really more about luck, and let’s see how it all shakes out.

Good luck, Youtuber.

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