Competitive philosophy is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of contests. In the Smash Bros. community it manifests as the discussion of competitive values, such as what game mode is used, which in-game options are used, and whether or not metarules are implemented. More generally competitors refer to competitive philosophy as "playing to win".
Competitive values do not necessarily constitute tournament rules but the rules do usually reflect values. Because of this, how valid and important certain values are has been a subject of intense debate. Some of these debates generally involve what game modes, rules, items and stages will improve or hinder the tournament experience and metagame.
History of competitive philosophy in the Smash community
The release of Super Smash Bros. in 1999 was a relative dark age for Smash discussion and information because a major place for Smash Bros. fans to congregate did not exist yet. Most communication between fans took place across fansites on a young internet, which had been steadily growing during the Dot-com bubble. A few months later Gideon created Smashboards, which would go on to serve as the medium for most competitive play discussion. Advertisements for Melee tournaments began on Smashboards in 2002. The rules for these tournaments were sometimes whimsical and left strictly up to players, usually valuing stage and item diversity; In April 2002 Tournament Go, the forerunner to the first major international tournament circuit for Smash, included elements that are now typically banned or not used such as items, stages like Mute City, and a Free-For-All format. Popular rulesets grew more constricting, limiting the influence of the game on the players by banning items and certain stages. The evolution of values in Brawl, aside from the Meta Knight debate, followed a similar pattern.
Values that make up a competitive philosophy
There are several values that some players consider important for playing Super Smash Bros. competitively. An incomplete list of these values is as follows, grouped by proponents:
Note: There may be cases where some of these values may or may not be mutually exclusive.