Yesterday, the infamous Grinch Leak for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate turned one year old. The leak relied on blurry, faked artwork and got its name from the background appearance of apparently never-before-seen promotional renders from November 2018’s The Grinch. For those who can’t quite remember, a doctored version of the “Everyone is here” banner sent everyone into a frenzy by inserting eight unannounced characters.
With just the right combination of longheld fan requests and off-the-wall newcomers, the Smash community and the internet at large were engulfed in tumultuous debate over the leak’s legitimacy. Those in favor of the Grinch believed in their leak, others liked an alternative theory stating that Ken and Incineroar would join the fray, and others still were just against any belief of leaks in general. If Team Grinch and their near-religious devotion to the promo banner were right, we would be welcoming Isaac, Banjo-Kazooie, Geno, Shadow the Hedgehog, Ken, Chorus Kids, Mach Rider, and KOS-MOS to what was already the greatest fighting roster ever. It sounded too good to be true, and it was.
After nearly three weeks of chaos and clashing within the Smash community, everything came to a head with the Nov. 1, 2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct. The palpably intense atmosphere leading up to the presentation was undeniable. I even ended up skipping class to watch. The Direct, of course, opened up by revealing Ken and answered nothing. A few seconds later, though, Incineroar burst onto the screen. Millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were then silenced. The Direct went on to state that it was too early to see Xenoblade 2 character DLC and confirmed Isaac and Shadow as assist trophies, likely barring them from becoming playable characters at any point in the game’s post-launch support.
I had been very pro-Grinch; I thought the leak itself was believable, and I really wanted Banjo. Watching Piranha Plant dance around the screen when I had been hoping for the Bear and Bird was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Regardless of the leak, Ken and Incineroar were a fairly underwhelming last pair for the roster leading into release. Since then, however, everyone, pro and anti-Grinch alike, has seen the roster trending upwards with several great DLC announcements and the promise of even more beyond the current Fighters Pass. We even have Banjo, the star of the original leak, and hope still exists for more creative fighters like the Chorus Kids, Mach Rider, and Geno.
The Grinch Leak never came to fruition, but Piranha Plant, Joker, and Hero’s absurd move set gave me what I wanted from the original leak: weird, unique, and fun variation in play styles in spades. Terry and beyond are sure to keep that spirit going as well. And, again, we got Banjo. That’s all that matters.