Today is a continuation of yesterday's article. Be sure to read that first to catch up on the story.
So, what will become of items in the Brawl era of competition? Well, that question can be answered with an absolutely indisputable... depends. In other words, items did not behave so well when Melee competition was developing. As noted in AlphaZealot's response, the competitive community actually did use items for a long time. However, being unable to disable exploding capsules, boxes, and party balls was items' undoing. With unfair explosions occurring within a fraction of a second, items became intolerable in the competitive environment. There were too many upsets during the final matches of tournaments.
As competitive play has evolved over the years, other more blatant issues began to present themselves regarding items. For instance, even without random explosions, the randomness of items gives one player an advantage that cannot be matched by the opponent. A capsule appearing near one character gives him or her unearned added leverage. Consider Falco knocking Fox off the stage. In the time from when Fox starts his fire fox to when he actually starts moving, Falco can watch a capsule spawn at his feet, pick it up, and KO Fox with no effort since Fox is immobile. (A member of SWF witnessed this very event in competition, so it is not unheard of.) These kinds of events pull emphasis away from character control and place more on luck of the draw. That leads me to my next point.
Many argue that smash is supposed to be a game of chance just like Poker and Blackjack. Despite luck being a common factor in all gambling games, there are professionals out there who win consistently because they know how to best handle the elements of randomness. Why can't the same be applied to smash? Well, technically it can be, but the current competition simply chooses not to. Competitive smashers today view the game more along the lines of a sport. They believe there should be no coin tosses or outside interference. Victory should come as a result of hard work and discipline while playing the game. Losses should be traceable to a single mistake (or series of mistakes). Allowing items is like allowing spectators to throw junk onto the field during a football game.
So, we have two strongly opposing perspectives on the same game. Why have item-free tournaments blossomed while item-filled tournaments become nearly extinct? My theory is that is has to due with the very mentality behind both sides. Competitive smashers take the game very seriously and thus are adamant about making sure competition happens. They tend to look for opportunities to compete, even if it means hosting their own event because winning matters. Items tend to cater more to the casual smashers who do not take the game as seriously and are tolerant of random elements in the game. However, since item supporters are generally more casual, discovering who is best is not of utmost importance to them. Therefore, not many item tournaments take place because just smashing at home with friends is usually sufficient for this type of smasher, even if they do strive to increase their ability and win more.
The future of items seems bleak in Brawl. Many tournament hosts have agreed to at least allow items in tournaments for the first while. Disabling random explosives will be a step in the right direction, if it is even an option. There are still two major barricades to overcome. First, many smashers have become so comfortable with item-free environments that hosts may ban items from the get go just out of habit. This will only hinder adoption of items in competitive play. Second, even without the explosions, players may slowly become frustrated with the unfair advantages that items throw around. While a coin flip's odds remain at a constant "fair" 50/50, there is nothing to stop it from landing on tails eight times in a row.
TO READERS: What is your take on the items situation? Post your response in the comments!