Unity Ruleset Committee
The Unity Ruleset Committee, abbreviated as the URC, was an off-shoot of the Brawl Back Room on SmashBoards. The URC was intended to be a central governing body for Brawl with more transparency than a standard Back Room; furthermore, it intended to introduce a universal ruleset to Brawl that would feature an infraction system that would help "unify" tournaments. As an off-shoot of the Brawl Back Room, the URC exclusively worked on rulesets; it did not vote on tier lists, nor did it work on matchup charts for Brawl.
Despite featuring a number of top professionals in its ranks, the URC had a tumultuous history, owing to a number of controversies regarding their rulings. Amid the lack of widespread support by the competitive Brawl community, particularly after their ban on Meta Knight, the URC was officially disbanded in April 2012. Brawl rulesets have since been decided by how tournament organizers choose to run their respective tournaments, though a large part of the URC's ruleset is still used in tournaments.
The URC's ruleset set many of the rules that would be used in Brawl tournaments, and even with its shutdown and discontinuation, the same basic ruleset is still in use. Namely, the Unity Ruleset mandated the use of three stocks and an 8 minute timer, rules that are still in use for Brawl tournaments.
Several differences, however, do exist between the Unity ruleset and modern tournaments. The URC's ruleset features an arguably very lenient stage list, with a large number of stages that are now widely banned, such as Rainbow Cruise. Furthermore, the Unity ruleset, in its final incarnation, completely banned Meta Knight from tournaments; this explains the lenient stage list, as well as the reason that the Unity ruleset does not have a rule that would discourage planking.
The URC also offered a number of experimental rules that TOs could use in tournaments, provided they reported that such rules were in use on their respective SmashBoards or Nintendo Dojo threads. At its discontinuation, the following experimental rules were featured in the Unity ruleset:
Prior to the full ban on Meta Knight in competitive play, one experimental rule allowed TOs to also ban Meta Knight.
Unique to the Unity Ruleset compared to any other Smash ruleset was the use of an infraction system, similar to the system found in association football. Players who were found guilty of minor offences would be given a yellow card, which would place them under greater scrutiny from tournament organisers and similar parties. Players guilty of particularly severe offences, as well as players who received a second yellow card while their previous yellow card was still active, would instead be given a red card. A red card signalled that a player was banned from any tournaments using the Unity Ruleset until the card expired. Both yellow and red cards would expire after some time, with red cards expiring sooner than yellow cards.
During GENESIS 2's first round of pools, Mew2King had swept the rest of his pool with his standard Meta Knight, but against his last opponent, Sade, he elected to sandbag instead by playing Falco and the bottom-tiered Ganondorf, neither of which he ever used previously in serious tournament matches nor been known to seriously practice otherwise. This resulted in M2K losing the set when he should have easily won 2-0, potentially disrupting seeding of the next round of pools and the advancement of other players in the pool, though Sade reported the match as a 2-0 win for M2K to prevent this, feeling the win as undeserved. In response to this apparent bracket manipulation attempt, the Unity Ruleset Committee gave Mew2King a red card under their infarction system; they officially stated that it was due to having previously received a yellow card for bracket manipulation at KTAR 5, as well as alleging that Mew2King's conduct was sexist in nature, as Sade was a female smasher, and Mew2King's actions implied he did not consider her a serious opponent because of this.
The decision to red card Mew2King, however, proved controversial; a number of players believed that as he had already advanced to the next round, Mew2King was allowed one "non-serious" match, particularly if Sade did not voice any complaints about it. And the decision to ban one of the best players from tournaments was controversial in itself, as it was seen from the anti-ban players as diminishing the prestige of any tournament he was not allowed to participate in. Additionally, it was pointed out that the next highest placing player in the pool after Sade, KirinBlaze, still didn't make it out of the pool instead of her even with the match being officially recorded as an 0-2 loss for Sade, so it would have had no impact on the advancement of other players, while disrupted seeding wasn't considered a serious concern. Although officially banned from tournaments using the Unity Ruleset until his red card expired, a number of major TOs chose to ignore Mew2King's ban and allowed him to take part in their tournaments if he wanted to; most notably, Keitaro and Alex Strife refused to recognise the ban and allowed M2K to participate at KTAR 6 and Apex 2012 respectively, one of the biggest and the biggest upcoming Brawl tournaments after Genesis 2, undermining the ban and the URC.
Banning of Meta Knight
Amid growing concerns that Meta Knight was proving too dominant a force in Brawl, to the point of centring the metagame around him, the URC held twice a poll to see whether smashers would be in favour of banning Meta Knight from all Brawl tournaments or not. The first poll failed, as the "pro-ban" side could not attain a supermajority over the "anti-ban" side; in the second poll, however, "pro-ban" ended up winning with a supermajority of 75%. In response, the URC announced in September of 2011 that Meta Knight would be banned from all Brawl tournaments, both in singles and doubles, with the ban to start in January 2012.
Despite the widespread support for the ban, a number of top professionals stated that they would not recognise the Meta Knight ban, and that they would not attend any tournaments that used the URC; in response, a number of major TOs chose to use their own rulesets instead of the URC's ruleset, as to encourage top players to not only enter their tournaments, but to increase the number of potential viewers on their streams and videos. Most significantly, Alex Strife refused to ban Meta Knight for Apex, the biggest Brawl tournament series. A number of regions, however, continued to recognise the ban, leading to a fractured community where stage lists were different between regions owing to different legalities on Meta Knight; this was due to the fact that some stages strongly favoured Meta Knight's oppressive aerial, camping, and sharking game, such as Brinstar and Halberd. Furthermore, several players refused to travel to other regions, depending on whether or not Meta Knight was banned. These regions that kept Meta Knight banned however would eventually relegalize him, so that their region's players wouldn't lack crucial matchup experience against him and thus be ill-prepared for the major tournaments that kept him legal. Within a year of the URC putting the Meta Knight ban into action, Meta Knight being legal became the universal standard again, with few tournaments banning him after that point.
The resultant fracture of the Brawl tournament scene following the ban on Meta Knight is seen as a tipping point for the URC, as its attempt to create a unified tournament scene had failed. The URC later disbanded in April 2012 in response to having lost favour of the community.