The Vergeben leaks are a series of insider info from the user Vergeben, a well-known leaker with a history of predicting fighting games, about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Having started before E3 2018, Vergeben's leaks were frequently discussed during speculation about the game's roster. Though the veracity of his claims is still debated by some, almost all of them have come to be true, with his only faults being that a Square Enix character would be the first one revealed as downloadable content and that Master Chief would be the fifth fighter in Fighters Pass Vol. 2.
Base game leaks
On March 16, 2018, eight days after the initial reveal of the then-untitled Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Vergeben posted a thread on GameFAQs, claiming that Ridley would be a newcomer and that the new Smash game would be an entirely new game instead of a port of an existing one. Exactly two months later, on May 16, Vergeben posted another thread on GameFAQs, claiming he had a reliable source with information on the character roster. Specifically, he said that Ridley and Simon Belmont would be newcomers and that the entire roster from Super Smash Bros. 4 would return with no cuts, with the Ice Climbers and Snake also returning after being cut from SSB4. Vergeben also claimed that the popular Microsoft-owned indie game Minecraft would be represented in some form.
The lack of cuts from SSB4's roster, the return of Snake and the Ice Climbers, and the addition of Ridley were all confirmed during Nintendo’s E3 2018 Direct, which officially unveiled Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This left Simon Belmont and Minecraft representation Vergeben's only unconfirmed claims. In response to a GameFAQs post asking about Simon, Vergeben replied that there would still be more things announced prior to the game's release, suggesting that Simon would be revealed at a later date.
After Nintendo's E3 2018 presentation, Vergeben claimed on Reddit that there were at least “half a dozen newcomers” left to be revealed, but he didn’t know who any of them were aside from Simon. He made another thread on GameFAQs, which has since been deleted, on July 28, reasserting Simon and adding Isabelle to his claims. A fourth GameFAQs thread he posted on August 3 claimed that a Pokémon from Generation VII would be on the roster and that it was not Decidueye, Lycanroc, or Mimikyu. Simon Belmont was officially revealed in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct on August 8. The same Direct also disconfirmed Mimikyu by instead revealing it as a new Poké Ball Pokémon. Additionally, Isabelle was revealed as a newcomer at the end of the September 13 Nintendo Direct, confirming his claims that she would be playable.
On August 18, Vergeben posted on a thread stating that Ken from Street Fighter would appear in the game as an Echo Fighter of Ryu. Four days later, Vergeben made another post on a thread, this time stating that a new third-party fighter owned by Square Enix would appear in the game. This led some to believe that Vergeben was simply taking info from the NeoGAF leak, but the next day he claimed in a thread that he did not know anything about the NeoGAF leak, and that it also contradicted his own information since it claimed there would be no new Pokémon fighter. He later said that he had heard seven different names for the newcomer and that Square Enix was intentionally sending out multiple names to prevent the real one from leaking.
In another thread by Vergeben he asserted that Incineroar was the Generation VII Pokémon that would appear as a newcomer. He also addressed the popular "Box Theory", which stated that there would only be two more fighters in the base game as the box art for the Special Edition of the game had room for only two more fighters. Though he assured that Incineroar and Ken were in the game, he also noted that his source for the Square Enix newcomer had never been wrong in the past. In the debate surrounding the Grinch leak, Vergeben made a post on October 31, suggesting that the Grinch Leak was fake as his information had Isaac as an Assist Trophy rather than a playable character.
On November 1, 2018, the final Nintendo Direct for the game revealed Ken and Incineroar as the last fighters for the base game, as well as revealing Isaac to be an Assist Trophy, confirming Vergeben's claims about them. It was also announced in this Direct that there would be additional fighters as paid DLC, which had the potential to include the Square Enix newcomer and the Minecraft content, the only two remaining unconfirmed claims.
Pre-Fighters Pass Vol. 1
On September 16, 2018, Vergeben claimed the game would have post-launch content, allowing for his claim of a Square Enix newcomer to still be true in the event that Box Theory was proven correct, which it eventually was by the November 1 Direct.
Vergeben made a post the day after the Fighters Pass was revealed, reiterating that he was confident a character owned by Square Enix would be added and claiming they would be the first DLC character, while also restating that Minecraft content would be coming in some form. Additionally, he stated that Senjougahara__Hitagi, a contact of his, heard that the Minecraft content would be the game's protagonist Steve as a playable character. He also shared that Hitagi's sources claimed there had been talks of a Granblue Fantasy newcomer as DLC, most likely Katalina. Hitagi initially verified the Steve and Katalina claims, but she later retracted the Katalina claim, saying that the "deal" was not related to Smash. On November 21, Hitagi again stated that Steve was definitely coming, but also announced that she had given up on trying to find out about the rest of the characters, as the ones she heard about were starting to look like red herrings, including any Square Enix fighters, thus bringing Vergeben's claims into doubt as well.
On November 24, another insider by the name of Ryce stated that Vergeben was most likely misled about Steve being a DLC character since this claim was first made long before the DLC choices were set in stone. Vergeben made a post agreeing with Ryce and stating that he heard that Minecraft would still be represented with a boss battle, despite acknowledging the fact that nobody had found any references to Minecraft in the datamine of the full game. However, this did not contradict Hitagi's claim of Steve being DLC.
Fighters Pass Vol. 1
At The Game Awards 2018, Joker from Atlus and Sega's Persona 5 was revealed to be the first DLC fighter, directly contradicting Vergeben's claim that the first DLC character would be a Square Enix character. Vergeben later justified this discrepancy by claiming that Joker had been moved up to the top of the release schedule at the last minute.
On December 30th, 2018, Vergeben made a post clarifying that the Square Enix newcomer was most likely a Dragon Quest character, namely Erdrick, Luminary, or Slime. This correlated with a separate alleged leak originating from 5channel, claiming that Erdrick was the Square Enix character, and would feature the Luminary as an alternate costume, while the Slime would appear on a Dragon Quest stage. He later asserted on April 25, 2019 that Erdrick was definitely in the Fighters Pass. He also reiterated that Minecraft content of some kind was being added to the game, but that it did not necessarily mean that Steve would be playable.
On June 6th, 2019, Vergeben claimed that Banjo & Kazooie had a "99% chance" of being part of the Fighters Pass. He also once again reaffirmed his claim that Minecraft would be represented through DLC, though he was still unsure if Steve would be playable. Banjo & Kazooie were confirmed in the E3 2019 Direct along with Erdrick, albeit as a skin for Hero, something Vergeben stated he took great joy in as he was not informed of multiple Dragon Quest skins, and that this also explained why he kept hearing Luminary along with Erdrick. He later dismissed a popular 4chan rumor that the 4th fighter in the Fighters Pass would be a female character with a "mecha".
On September 1st, 2019, Vergeben claimed that a playable character owned by SNK Corporation would appear in the game and that he had heard one potential name of the character. A day later, he made a thread with a gif of Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury and later claimed that Terry would be a DLC character. Terry was later confirmed in a Nintendo Direct on September 4th, 2019.
Following the reveal and release of Terry, Vergeben dismissed several rumors about the identity of the last character in the Fighters Pass:
- He claimed on October 24 that the final fighter would not be Ryu Hayabusa from the Ninja Gaiden series, though he claimed that there was some possibility for Ryu to be added in later DLC outside of the first Fighters Pass.
- He later claimed that the final character in Fighters Pass Volume 1 would not be:
- Scorpion from the Mortal Kombat series on November 4.
- Geno from Super Mario RPG or Doomguy from the Doom series on November 10.
- Gordon Freeman from the Half-Life series on November 25.
- A character owned by Nippon Ichi Software on November 26.
- A character owned by either Ubisoft or Nihon Falcom on November 27.
- A character owned by either Bandai Namco or Level-5 on November 30.
- He posted on December 6 that the final character was definitely not owned by Capcom, Sega, Konami, Arc System Works, Spike Chunsoft, Marvelous, Epic Games, Touhou Project, Bethesda Softworks, Koei Tecmo, Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, or Nintendo, most likely not from Microsoft or Square Enix, and definitely not a character already in the game as an Assist Trophy or spirit.
On December 7th, Vergeben stated that he would try to check if the final Fighters Pass Vol. 1 character was owned by HAL Laboratory, Game Freak, Intelligent Systems, SNK, or Atlus. A different post he made later the same day clarified that the list of companies he had posted the day before was incorrect, and that only the specific characters he listed next to the companies' names were disconfirmed. The characters he disconfirmed in this post were Arle Nadja from Puyo Puyo, Sakura from Sakura Wars, Crash Bandicoot, Tracer from Overwatch, Reimu Hakurei from Touhou, and Kat from Gravity Rush.
On December 8th, he made another post claiming that the final character was not Sora from Kingdom Hearts, Sol Badguy from Guilty Gear, Ragna from BlazBlue, Billy or Jimmy Lee from Double Dragon, Dante from Devil May Cry, Phoenix Wright, Sir Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins, Amaterasu from Okami, the Monster Hunter, Sam Porter Bridges from Death Stranding, Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher, Monokuma from Danganronpa, Kratos from God of War, or Master Chief from Halo. In the same post, Vergeben noted the confusion over his source's uncertainty about it being KOS-MOS from Xenosaga, since they had denied that the character was owned by Bandai Namco: he said this was likely because his source had mistaken KOS-MOS for a Monolith Soft character. However, the 4chan post that suggested KOS-MOS, claiming she would be revealed during The Game Awards 2019, was later debunked as The Game Awards aired with no new announcements regarding Smash.
Shortly before the presentation that revealed Byleth on January 16, 2020, Vergeben claimed that the final character was not KOS-MOS and reiterated his claims that it was not Dante, Phoenix Wright, Amaterasu, Monster Hunter, Sir Arthur, Morrigan, or Leon Kennedy from Resident Evil. During the presentation itself, Vergeben posted that his source had told him it was Byleth shortly before the presentation began and stated that the Mii Fighter costumes would be Altair, Cuphead, a Rabbid hat, and two Mega Man outfits. He later provided a timestamped screenshot showing that this message arrived fifteen minutes before the presentation began. Although this screenshot could easily have been edited, his initial post came before the point in the presentation where the Mii Fighter costumes were revealed, which would indicate the screenshot and therefore his source's information was true.
Fighters Pass Vol. 2
After a long period of silence, Steve was announced as the second fighter in Fighters Pass Vol. 2, aligning with Vergeben's longstanding claim of Minecraft content. In regards to how it came over two years after his initial claim which was long before the second Fighters Pass was even conceived, Vergeben theorized that Steve may have been in the works for as long as three years and repeatedly scrapped and revitalized due to the fighter’s complexity (as Sakurai mentioned during the character's initial announcement). This is supported by a statement by a former Mojang Studios employee saying that discussions surrounding adding Minecraft to Smash started "at least 5 years ago" -- roughly when Ultimate entered development.
When asked for an update on Ryu Hayabusa's chances, Vergeben stated that he knew for a fact Nintendo met with Koei Tecmo to discuss Super Smash Bros. and that he would be surprised if nothing came of it, but he was not able to confirm if Ryu Hayabusa or any other Koei Tecmo character was indeed coming. On January 5th 2021, a spirit event for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, a Koei Tecmo developed game, was announced, presumably being part of - if not the entirety of - what Nintendo had discussed for with Koei Tecmo. Another spirit from Koei Tecmo would also arrive, Sophia, from their Persona spin-off, Persona 5 Strikers.
Another long period of silence preceded his next post, which was made hours before E3 2021 and on Reddit instead of GameFAQs, implicating Master Chief as a newcomer. However, while Kazuya was announced in the E3 Nintendo Direct on June 15th, Master Chief was not. Later that day, 343 Industries community director Brian Jarrard stated on Twitter that he was not aware of any plans to put Master Chief in the game; eight days later, Vergeben acknowledged the error on Reddit (along with some other false information he had suggested), and also noted that he had cut ties with one of his "oldest sources."
Sora was revealed to be the final Ultimate newcomer on October 5th, 2021, officially disconfirming Master Chief as a potential newcomer. Vergeben's last public statement on Ultimate prior to the reveal was made on September 23rd, in which he stated that he hadn't "heard anything at all about who the final character is."
Leading up to the reveal of Ultimate, Vergeben was derided for having previously shared supposed leaks for other games that were later proven false. His defenders, then in the minority, argued that he had nearly an equal amount of leaks that had come true and that the reason for his inaccuracy was that he himself is not an insider, but instead has connections to insiders and sometimes hears rumors from unreliable sources. All information that made its way to the public did not come from Vergeben directly, but rather disseminated similarly to a game of telephone, with his sources going to him and him going to the community. As a result, several details were often misinterpreted or lost in transmission before they could be discussed.
Similar to the Gematsu leaks for Smash 4 during E3 2013, the confirmation during E3 2018 of several of Vergeben's major claims sparked a large amount of discussion surrounding them and their authenticity. Believers of the leak cited Vergeben's history of accurate insider info, while ascribing any potential and future falsehoods to the aforementioned fact that Vergeben himself was not an insider. Detractors were wary of Vergeben's potential to be a repeat of the Gematsu leaks, with accurate information at the start but less notable or outright wrong information towards the end. Another camp accused him of stealing information from other leaks, though many of the purported examples were, in fact, copycats of Vergeben.
The two predictions that gave Vergeben most of his credibility were Isabelle and Incineroar, for very few other rumors had suggested their inclusions. Incineroar, in particular, was largely exclusive to Vergeben: many credited him with popularizing its inclusion, with most other leakers suggesting Decidueye, Mimikyu, Lycanroc, Tapu Koko, or Zeraora as the new Pokémon fighter. Furthermore, a large portion of the community had chosen to believe the Grinch Leak despite Vergeben adamantly denying it, and thus he was vindicated when the Grinch Leak was debunked by Incineroar's reveal.
His claim that the first DLC character was a Square Enix character, the first claim of his to have been proven incorrect, provoked skepticism about his information. Vergeben's claim that Joker had been moved up the schedule at the last minute was largely accepted, in particular due to confirmation that Masahiro Sakurai had been requested by Nintendo last minute to prepare a trailer for Joker's reveal, leaving him unable to demonstrate any gameplay. Skeptics pointed out that the leak by definition was not infallible due to making a completely wrong assumption, though this argument was dismissed as a fallacy of composition that did not degrade any of Vergeben's other claims.
Though his claims for Hero and Terry came to be true, doubt was cast upon them due to several other rumors making similar claims. For Hero, multiple posts including the aforementioned 5channel leak suggested that Dragon Quest representation would come in some form, well before Vergeben starting making similar claims himself. He had also used the name "Erdrick" instead of "Luminary" like these rumors, despite the Luminary being the default costume for Hero and Vergeben mentioning several times that he kept hearing the name from his sources. For Terry, the webpage that first triggered speculation about an SNK fighter came before Vergeben made any claims about an SNK character, even denying allegations about commenting on the matter.
Vergeben's claims leading up to the reveal of the final Fighters Pass Volume 1 character drew large amounts of skepticism and criticism, as he shot down a vast majority of popularly speculated characters without outright stating the character's identity. In addition to this, the fact that the source was uncertain about KOS-MOS, a Bandai Namco character, despite the source apparently debunking a Bandai Namco character beforehand, drew more skepticism. Criticism increased after Vergeben walked back several of his disconfirmations on December 7; Vergeben justified this by stating that he had misunderstood his source, but many refused to accept this explanation. After The Game Awards passed without an announcement, many claimed that this definitively proved Vergeben was wrong, despite the original claim for a TGA announcement not coming from him. He also garnered much criticism when he claimed to have been told the character was Byleth fifteen minutes before the presentation but did not reveal this until after the presentation began; however, his accuracy in predicting the Mii Fighter costumes that had not yet been revealed in the presentation seem to suggest that he may have had inside information after all.
The confirmation of most of his claims led several rumors to be falsely attributed to him, some of which were used by detractors to argue that Vergeben was unreliable. In these cases, an account would surface claiming to belong to Vergeben, which he would then shoot down. This became common enough that Vergeben began listing all of his accounts in his signature on GameFAQs with the note that "if you see [him] elsewhere (example: 4chan or Twitter) it's not [him]". Leading up to the reveal of Min Min, claims surfaced that Vergeben had privately emerged from his months-long silence with information on the ARMS fighter, claiming it would, in the style of Hero, include Spring Man, Ribbon Girl, Min Min, and possibly others as alternate costumes, among other claims about games besides Super Smash Bros.. However, the claims came without any supporting evidence and Vergeben never publicly backed them, leaving it doubtful that they truly originated from him.
The reveal of Minecraft content coming as part of Challenger Pack 7, well after Vergeben made his initial claim about it, drew divided opinions on its veracity. Those who supported Vergeben cited comments made by other insiders and a former Mojang employee that talks to get Minecraft content into Smash had occurred long before the game had released and the second Fighters Pass was even conceived, giving credence to Vergeben's theory that the character being scrapped was the reason it had not come when he claimed it would. Those skeptical of Vergeben noted that, by its nature, it is impossible to prove whether or not these were the talks that Vergeben had been referring to or if he even knew about them at all, even when Hitagi, the one who initially claimed Steve would be coming, ultimately turned out to be correct as well.
Although most agree that Vergeben must have had at least some legitimate insider information, some skeptics continue to insist that Vergeben stole all of his information from other leaks or point to the only two complete falsehoods in his posts as evidence for his claims being fake or even lucky guesses. Ultimately, Vergeben cemented himself as the most reliable source of information regarding leaks, whose mistakes are believed to result from believing an unreliable source, misunderstanding a report, or having his sources fall for false information.
The following are the claims made by Vergeben that came true:
- The game would be a brand new entry rather than a port of Smash 4, but that it would reuse assets from said game.
- Ridley, Simon, Isabelle, Incineroar, and Ken would appear as newcomers, with Ridley being revealed at E3 2018 and Ken appearing as an Echo Fighter of Ryu.
- The entire roster of Super Smash Bros. 4 would return, as well as Snake and the Ice Climbers returning after being cut in Smash 4.
- "Over half a dozen" newcomers would appear in the base game (including Echo Fighters, there were 11).
- Decidueye, Lycanroc, Mimikyu, and Isaac would not be playable, with Isaac appearing instead as an Assist Trophy.
- The game would receive downloadable content after release.
- Banjo & Kazooie and either Luminary or Erdrick (Luminary and Erdrick both being present under the banner of Hero) would be part of the Fighters Pass Vol. 1.
- Terry would appear as the fourth character in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1.
- The final fighter in Fighters Pass Vol. 1 would not be from Ubisoft, Bandai Namco, Level-5, Nippon Ichi Software, Nihon Falcom, Capcom, Sega, Konami, Arc System Works, Spike Chunsoft, Marvelous, Epic Games, Touhou Project, Bethesda Softworks, Koei Tecmo, Activision, Blizzard Entertainment, NetherRealm Studio, Valve Corporation, Microsoft, Square Enix, or Sony Interactive Entertainment.
- The Mii Fighter costumes releasing with Byleth would be Altaïr, Cuphead, a Rabbid hat, and two Mega Man costumes.
- Minecraft content would be coming to Ultimate as DLC and had been in the works since well before launch.
- Koei Tecmo content would be added to Ultimate during the course of Fighters Pass Vol. 2.
The following are the claims made by Vergeben that were false:
- The first character in Fighters Pass Vol. 1 would be a character owned by Square Enix.
- The fifth character in Fighters Pass Vol. 2 would be Master Chief from Halo.