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Dave's Stupid Rule

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Dave's Stupid Rule (DSR) is a regulation that is in effect at most tournaments. While there are minor variations of the rule, they all have the same intention: to prevent a player from having an unfair advantage by playing the same stage multiple times in a set. Today, the term Dave's Stupid Rule most commonly refers to Standard DSR, which prevents players from counterpicking to any stage on which they have previously won a game throughout a set.

Dave's Stupid Rule is named after Scamp, a player that was active in the early Melee metagame.


The exact definition and variations of Dave's Stupid Rule have changed throughout the history of competitive Smash. However, the two most common forms of the rule are "Standard DSR," and "Modified DSR." The terms "standard" and "modified" have applied to both of these variations in the past.

"Standard DSR"[edit]

The most widespread variation of Dave's Stupid Rule is that a player cannot counterpick to any stage they have won on during the set in question. For example, in a Melee Fox vs. Marth best of five set, Fox wins game one on Battlefield. The Marth then counterpicks to Final Destination but Fox wins game two; the Marth counterpicks to Final Destination again and wins game three. Due to DSR, the Fox cannot return to Battlefield or Final Destination for game four, because they had previously won on both stages in the set.

"Modified DSR"[edit]

"Modified DSR" is a variation of Dave's Stupid Rule that states that a player cannot counterpick to the last stage they won on during the set. In the previous example, under Modified DSR, the Fox player would be allowed to counterpick to Battlefield for game four, but not Final Destination. In practice, this variation only has an impact on best-of-five tournament sets, and is no different from Standard DSR in best-of-three sets. This ruleset was more prevalent in the earlier days of competitive Smash but has become much rarer nowadays; in Melee it has become completely replaced by Standard DSR.

"Modified DSR" presently refers to the original implementation of the rule; discussions following the controversy at Revival of Melee 5 and rule changes in the Apex series led to informal redefinitions within the community. Scamp has stated that the phrase "Dave's Stupid Rule" originally referred to this variation, but the definitions of the terms eventually got switched over time.[1]

Other variations[edit]

Game-restricted variation[edit]

This variation of DSR states that no stage that has already been played in a set may be picked for another game in the same set, regardless of what the results of the previous game were. In the previous example, the Marth player would not be allowed to counterpick to Final Destination for game three, as they already played on that stage for game two.

According to AlphaZealot, this rule was used in Major League Gaming tournaments at some point prior to 2009.[2]

Random rulings[edit]

Another variation to Dave's Stupid Rule states that if the counterpicking player chooses Random and ends up selecting a stage they weren't allowed to choose, the match may continue unfettered. In some tournaments, where only three or four stages are allowed, this is often a viable strategy to get the same stage twice in one match. In most modern tournaments, however, Random is not considered a valid counterpick.

"Stage Dismissal Rule"[edit]

Amid criticism of Dave's Stupid Rule, the German Smash community elected to modify Dave's Stupid Rule again to rectify the perceived flaws of the previous ruling. Jokingly called "Tero's Smart Rule" after tournament organiser Tero and later renamed the "Stage Dismissal Rule" (SDR) as a visual pun on DSR, the ruling states that players cannot pick a counterpick stage again if they have previously counterpicked and won on it. Initially obscure, the rule was given greater exposure after Scar and Armada praised it in a Melee It On Me podcast; it is now commonplace within the European Smash scene.

Gentleman's rule[edit]

The Gentleman's rule, sometimes called the gentleman's clause, is an addendum to Dave's Stupid Rule used in some tournaments. According to the rule, any stage can be played on regardless of legality, provided all players consent to the stage's use. Assuming this is the case, Dave's Stupid Rule is ignored, potentially allowing for players to use counterpick stages that they have already used, as well as allowing for players to use stages that are generally banned in tournaments. The gentleman's rule is frequently invoked to skip the process of stage striking and moving directly to a commonly accepted neutral stage (for example, Smashville in Brawl). The rule is also sometimes invoked in cases of sandbagging, where higher-skilled players might allow their opponent to choose whatever stage they desire.

The Gentleman's rule is commonly used by players regardless of its formal inclusion in a given tournament's ruleset. Typically, tournament organizers will maintain a right to nullify it regardless of whether both players consent to a specific stage. TOs may also explicitly ban players from selecting banned stages to preserve the integrity of the tournament, though this may not be as commonly enforced in smaller, casual events.


Dave's Stupid Rule was created by Scamp following Tournament Go 4 in 2003, when nearly every stage in the game was legal. In an interview on YouTube, Scamp says that he came up with the idea for the rule after noticing that Ken would frequently roll a random stage, and then counterpick to that stage later in the set, because he had already done well on that stage in game one. Scamp wanted to increase stage variation throughout the tournament, and suggested his idea to head TO Matt Deezie, who implemented the rule in his future tournaments and started referring to it as "Dave's Stupid Rule." The ruling then became widespread throughout major tournaments across the United States.[3] As mentioned earlier in the article, the rule only prevented players from counterpicking to the last stage they won on in best-of-five sets; it was the original version of Dave's Stupid Rule, but eventually became known as "Modified DSR").

Dave's Stupid Rule was at the center of a major controversy following the best-of-five winners' semis set between Mew2King and Unknown522 at Revival of Melee 5 in 2012. The TOs at RoM 5 had chosen to use Standard DSR, in contrast to all other major tournaments held that year, which used Modified DSR. Although Mew2King had won the set 3-2 at first, the TOs forced the players to replay game five, because Mew2King had counterpicked to Final Destination; he had already won on Final Destination earlier in the set, but was unaware that the ruleset forbade him from doing so. The players then clarified the ruleset with the TOs, and Mew2King was forced to pick a different stage for game 5. Unknown522 won the replayed game, advancing to winners' finals. Many community members, including well-known TO Juggleguy, criticized the TOs for failing to enforce their ruleset during such an important stage of the bracket, and encouraged tournament organizers to properly advertise their unique rulesets in future events.[4]

Although Standard DSR started out as far rarer than Modified DSR, it quickly began to rise in usage following Revival of Melee 5. As the legal stage list in Melee continued to shrink, and stage bans in best-of-five sets became less common, Standard DSR gradually began to replace Modified DSR throughout competitive Melee. As character matchups were continually optimized, stage counterpicks became more important in competitive matches than ever before. Due to the perceived advantages many characters had on certain stages (for example, floaty characters' survivability advantage on Dream Land and Marth's elevated chaingrab and punish game versus spacies on Final Destination), players began arguing in favor of requiring competitors to win across a variety of stages; in particular, Mew2King was well known for repeatedly counterpicking spacies to Final Destination as Marth to rack up "cheap" wins. Standard DSR is now universal across all Melee tournaments, which has alleviated the aforementioned matchup imbalance issues created by certain stages.

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