With 1.4 million subscribers, Jacob “Alpharad” Rabon IV is one of, if not the, most popular Super Smash Bros. content creators on Youtube.
Like with most content creators, Rabon has gone through several phases of content creation and has created a number of different series. His most popular series in the past have mostly all been Super Smash Bros. related, starting with How to Play 101, A Story for Glory, The “Not” Series, and WHO IS THE BEST?. Recently, however, Rabon has started a series that is quickly becoming some of his most popular work to date.
The CPU Championship Series pits computer players set at their highest difficulties against one another in a single-elimination tournament format where Rabon and friends commentate over the matches, essentially simulating what watching actual Smash Bros. tournaments is like if all the players were actually just computers.
The first iteration of this series came out in September of 2017 in a few videos where Rabon simply had a few CPUs fight each other in Super Smash Bros. 4, basically just to see what would happen.
Since the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the series has become a mainstay on the Alpharad YouTube channel. The series comes out in weekly video installments with each “season” containing five videos. Each video details a full tournament and every fifth video is the major tournament for that season, where the winners in the previous four videos face off. At the time of writing, the series has just entered its third season and is soaring in popularity. Each video thus far has easily cleared 500,000 views with several amassing over 1 million and a few over 2 million.
The series’s popularity has started to take on a life of its own outside of the Alpharad channel. The fanbase has started a subreddit with more than 16,000 members where fans talk about the most current videos, discuss the computer fighters, and, as expected, make memes. An actual tournament league page has been made for the series, along with rankings of each of the computer competitors, as well as a wiki and series description. Several Twitter accounts for the various fighters has popped up and, most surprisingly, some of the computer fighters have been sponsored by various real-life companies. Sponsored fighters include Skillshare Kirby, Audible Link, and PG Incineroar.
The question remains, how has a series with minimum human involvement in which all of the characters are just the game fighting itself become so popular? Even Rabon himself has admitted that the idea seemed “lame” to him at first.
The answer is, in part, because of the time and effort Rabon has put into each of the videos. In an era of YouTube obsessed with pleasing the algorithm and trying to get videos seen by as many people as possible in the smallest amount of time, there is something to be said for a YouTube series that is just fun to watch. And that’s what the CPUCS is, at the end of the day it is just very entertaining. From the editing of the videos, to the commentary by Rabon and his friends, to the actual good play of the computers, to all the backstory Rabon and the community has created, the CPUCS is as engaging and entertaining a YouTube series as there has been in recent memory.
The most recent video, the first tournament of season three, introduced a new antagonist, Dark Vincent.
Simply put, any series where computers play each other in a fighting game that can create lore with a timeline this confusing is probably pretty engaging and interesting.
Super Smash Bros. is one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate one of the most popular fighting games being played right now. Much of this popularity comes from the fact that Smash Bros. pulls together all of Nintendo’s most popular characters into one universe. Because all of the characters exist in their own universes Smash Bros itself has very little of its own lore and story. This is in contrast to other popular fighting games like Tekken, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat that each feature original characters and their own universes and lore.
Consider a series like Rabon’s that can add lore and backstory to a game that people already love and it is not that hard to understand where this popularity has come from.