How to Host Powersaves for Amiibo Tournaments

by Doc – Owner, Founder, Why Hasn’t Codejunkies Sponsored Me Yet

Please understand: amiibo technology gets better all the time, and editors, submission methods and even methods of hosting could change after this post.

Amiibo tournaments are actually very straightforward to host, once you figure out how the tech works. Since you’ll be hosting Powersaves amiibo tournaments with… well, Powersaves for amiibo, you’ll need to make sure you have that technology up and running using our Powersaves guide, and you’ll also need to be sure you understand how amiibo bin files work. They’re not hard to understand, but if you’re a visual learner like I am, then this Powertag tutorial will help.

Once your Powersaves technology has been figured out and you know how to write amiibo to a Powertag, you can run an amiibo tournament. The gist of it is simple: First, people send you amiibo bin files of their trained amiibo, then you download their bin files and put them into the Powersaves for AMIIBO folder on your C: Drive. Then, scan them into Smash Ultimate with Powersaves/Powertags, have them fight just like it’s your own amiibo fighting, and write down the results. All Powersaves amiibo tournaments operate this same way, but there’s many variations of the same theme.

If you plan to host amiibo tournaments but don’t have a Powersaves for Amiibo, you can buy one at this Amazon listing! That’s Amazon Affiliates, so we get a cut from sales made using the link.

Here’s a broader, step-by-step guide:

1. Post the tournament in a Discord server and receive amiibo bin files from the entrants.
2. Verify that all entrants match with your desired ruleset, either by using a "validator" or by scanning them in individually.
3. Randomly assign amiibo to the bracket system you've chosen (typically a Challonge bracket) and finalize entrants.
4. Put each contender on an amiibo Powertag, and scan it into the battle screen. After all opponents are listed on the battle screen, start the match.
5. After each set, you'll write the next contenders onto a Powertag and scan them in. Keep going until the tournament is done.

Where to Post Amiibo Tournaments

Many tournament hosts have a hard time finding interested amiibo trainers who also have the know-how to enter Powersaves amiibo tournaments. I’ve organized a listing of the recommended Discord servers for hosting amiibo tournaments. Please remember that I can’t guarantee the legitimacy of any amiibo tournaments held outside of these servers: if you want your tournament to stay generally free from cheaters, stay in the servers I’ve linked to. There are many unscrupulous trainers wanting to win tournaments, and they’ll break whatever rules they feel like if it means getting a trophy.

Your typical amiibo tournament post will look something like this, but should probably be more organized and easy to read:

Amiibo Tournament Rules

Most amiibo tournaments follow the same ruleset:

  • Omega and Battlefield stages only
  • Vanilla or Spirited amiibo (Level 50 often required)
  • A+ amiibo or lower are legal (S tier sometimes legal)
  • X amiibo per person (depends on the size of the tournament)
  • 3 Stock
  • Best of 3
  • No items/Final Smashes
  • Big Five banned (Spirits tournaments only)
  • No edited amiibo

You’ll notice that the basic idea is pretty similar to human Smash tournaments: no crazy stages, no Smash attacks, etc. So long as your tournament ruleset is reasonably similar to human rulesets and won’t interfere with the operation of the amiibo AI, it should be fine.

At Amiibo Doctor, we have a slightly different take on stagelists. Stages impact the meta in pretty significant ways, especially where characters like Min Min and Steve are concerned. To keep things fair and preserve competitive integrity, we recommend a much broader stagelist. Trainers who have used this stagelist tend to like it, and it’s the one we use on the Amiibo Doctor Youtube channel.

What is Vanilla/Spirit amiibo?

Vanilla refers to amiibo that have not been given spirits or stats of any kind. These amiibo will always have a 0 Attack, 0 Defense, Neutral-Type loadout with no spirit effects.

Spirit refers to amiibo that have been given spirits, but are still within the boundaries of legal spirit stats and combinations. Amiibo that have a combined total of 5,001 spirit stats or higher are not legal and could only have been created by an amiibo editor, rendering them illegal.

Spirit tournaments often usually ban the “Big Five” list of spirits. While this list can fluctuate depending on the tournament host, the five spirits listed in that link are almost always banned in amiibo tournaments.

Validating Amiibo Bin Files

If you’re really tech-savvy, you can use an amiibo validator program to make sure that all the submitted bin files are legal in one shot. The only one I’m aware of is Fudgepop’s validator, which checks the amiibo to see if they have spirits or have otherwise been edited. It’s old, so its editing checks might not be consistent with modern amiibo editors, but the spirits checker still functions fine.

Just copy and paste the submitted amiibo files to the “validate” folder in the program, and open the application. It’ll check for you after pressing Enter.

Amiibo-Centric or Trainer-Centric?

Historically, most amiibo tournaments have been amiibo-centric. The brackets have all functioned on a per-amiibo basis, where one amiibo fights another amiibo until it is either eliminated or wins the tournament. Basically, if you submitted a Mario, that Mario would fight other individual amiibo.

Some amiibo tournaments have started focusing on the trainer submitting the amiibo. While there’s many variations of trainer-centric amiibo tournaments, the most common variation is the “Baton Pass” variation, where a second amiibo will take over when the first one loses a match. This allows trainers to strategize which amiibo they want to submit, and can be a better demonstration of the skill of the trainer.

While both tournaments are quite easy to host once they’re understood, most amiibo trainers are unfamiliar with trainer-centric tournaments. A proper explanation of trainer-centric formats might be necessary when posting your amiibo tournament. It may be necessary to show others this video:

Tier Caps

All amiibo tournaments put a “tier cap” at some level. Tier caps are a form of character ban where the tournament host will not accept an amiibo character who is listed above (or in rare cases, below) a certain placement on the current amiibo tier list. The most common tier caps are A and B+ tier caps, where amiibo above A or B+ are not permitted, but tournament hosts desiring to shake things up can go as low as D+.

Tier caps are intended to keep tournaments from being stale. If tournaments had no tier caps, then Incineroar would be allowed in every tournament, and Incineroar would win every tournament without fail. Many inexperienced amiibo Youtubers make this mistake, and it ruins their content. By limiting the tier placements of submissions, different amiibo can perform in the tournament, and amiibo trainers can see how their low tier experiments are performing.

Bracket Systems

The vast majority of amiibo tournaments use a simple Challonge bracket to keep track of the submitted amiibo. Challonge brackets can come in a few forms, but most tournaments run with either single elimination or double elimination.

A single elimination bracket. Also the very first amiibo tournament I ever hosted.

Single elimination tournaments are very simple: Once the amiibo loses a set, it is eliminated from the tournament. The amiibo that doesn’t lose a set wins the tournament.

Double elimination tournaments are a bit more complex: Once an amiibo loses a set, it isn’t eliminated. It instead goes to a “loser’s bracket”. If the amiibo loses in loser’s bracket, it is eliminated. If it accumulates wins in loser’s bracket, it will eventually fight the amiibo that hasn’t lost a set, the “winner’s bracket” amiibo. If the loser’s bracket amiibo loses again, it is eliminated and the other amiibo wins the tournament. If the loser’s bracket amiibo beats the “winner’s bracket” amiibo, the bracket “resets” and the final set determines the victor of the tournament.

Personally, I always host single elimination tournaments. A 16-amiibo single elimination tournament typically takes 1 hour to set up, 2 hours to run, and then 3 hours to edit the footage together and export the video. An 8-amiibo double elimination tournament takes the same amount of time because it’s the same amount of sets to run.

I recommend hosting a small, single elimination tournament for your first few tournaments until you get the hang of it. 16-amiibo single eliminations are small enough that it won’t take you a very long time, and you’ll still be hosting a tournament large enough to attract trainers.

File Names

This may just be my pet peeve, but most people who submit to amiibo tournaments don’t have functional filenames. The Powersaves program gets finicky with things like underscores and hyphens, and doesn’t directly recognize amiibo that released after Smash 4, so if the file name isn’t written properly it simply won’t display in the program. It’ll show up as a blank name, which is arguably more infuriating than not showing up at all.

Be sure to require, as I did in the above screenshot, that the filenames be some form of TrainerName.CharacterName. You can add other extensions to the file name, like requiring spirit loadout information, but be sure you at least have that format at the base.

The Pros/Cons of Powersaves and Arena Tournaments

Arena Advantages

  • Free and built-in to Smash Ultimate
  • Very easy to set up
  • No financial startup cost

Arena Disadvantages

  • All players must be coordinated to conduct the tournament in time
  • All players must be online at the same time for the duration of their entire run in the tournament
  • Because the tournament happens in real-time significantly more time investment is required across all parties
  • TOs have no way to check the legality of an amiibo before the tournament begins
  • Arenas are capped at 8-amiibo tournaments

Powersaves Advantages

  • Requires only the TO to be running the tournament, and can happen at any time
  • Can host infinite amount of amiibo, with multiple entrants per trainer
  • TOs can check legality of amiibo before the tournament
  • No coordination necessary between trainers: one trainer leaving doesn’t disrupt the entire tournaments

Powersaves Disadvantages

  • $25 price tag to host a tournament, entrants must have their own method to enter a tournament
  • Powertags can fail, causing tournaments to take longer
  • Not built-in to Smash Ultimate

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