Program in a Post: Smash Bros. Ultimate Tournament

Signup Sheet

Smash Bros rules

Want to put on a tournament of your own for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch?  Here’s what you’ll need for a basic setup:

  • 1 Nintendo Switch
  • 2-4 additional Pro controllers (The Switch comes with two Joy-Con controllers, so a 1-on-1 tournament is possible with the default setup, but those are not ideal for play, and 4-player matches tend to be more inclusive) Note:  Participants will often bring their own controllers.
  • 1 copy of Smash Bros. Ultimate
  • Signup sheet (Feel free to use attached file for a template)
  • Prizes (Gift cards work well – $50 for 1st place and $25 for 2nd place is good, if you can afford it)
  • Rule sheet for posting – Attached is a ruleset used for Library tournaments – feel free to modify it as desired.

Step 1:  Ensure all characters are unlocked

Smash Bros. has a lot of characters – well over 70 at this point.  Unfortunately, only eight are available at first, requiring tournament organizers to play the game a decent amount to unlock the rest.  This guide can help you expedite the process a bit.

Step 2:  Determine which rules to use

Tournaments tend to use fairly restrictive rules – see for the rules used at the EVO series as a reference.  Libraries, drawing as they do from the general public, will likely opt to do things differently.  The rules attached here include the use of items and stage effects, both of which provide a randomizing influence to help less skilled players compete.  You may also want to poll the group to determine, for example, whether more would prefer to play with “Stock” (a finite number of lives) or “Time” (kills vs. falls in a specified period of time).

Step 3:  Signup

Post the signup sheet and encourage people to sign up for the first 15 minutes of the event, while participants take turns warming up.  This gives people a chance to show up late and still participate.  Once 15 minutes have passed, end the signup period and open “Tourney” mode in the “Smash” menu.  Using the numbers corresponding to each player on the paper signup sheet as a guide, ask players which character they would like to use, with the caveat that they will be stuck with that character for the remainder of the tournament.

Note:  Tourney Mode caps at 32 players.  If more people sign up, run multiple tourneys back to back and have the winners of each face off in a final round.

Step 4:  Play!

Call up players when their turn comes.  Be prepared to disqualify people who do not show up after a reasonable time when their name is called.

It’s a good idea to film at least the final match for posting to social media.

When finished, make sure to celebrate the champion and runner up!


There’s a lot more you can do, of course.  It’s nice, for instance, to have multiple stations where people can play while they wait for their turn.  Food is also a good idea.  You may also want to put out materials on video gaming or other topics that might appeal to the audience.

Happy gaming!


  1. One big help is investing in a USB 3.0 hub for the Switch. This not only allows multiple players to use wired controllers but if you get one with enough ports you can have up to 8 players playing simultaneously. It also makes it easier to connect any controllers that participants might bring to the tournament. If you can find a Gamecube Contoller adapter for the Wii U, this will also allow players to use original and reissued Gamecube controllers with the Switch.

  2. I have found the biggest head ache is managing the bracket, especially if you do double elimination.

    Challonge has been my go to, free program, to use while running tournaments. If you haven’t given it a try I highly recommend it. If possible, project it onto a screen or wall, so players can follow who else is progressing in their bracket.

    With Challonge, you can’t register people in once the tournament has started, so a work around I have used is to have 1-2 registered players that aren’t players (NPC 1, ect.), then if you have a late arrive (which you will), they can play as NPC 1. Just seed them later in the event. Worst case scenario you give a player an early free win against the no show NPC.

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