The next Smash Bros. Ultimate character will be a new Pokémon, here's why
When you think about it, this is really the only option.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game director Masahiro Sakurai confirmed in a January Nintendo Direct that the games' Fighters Pass 2 DLC will add six more fighters to Smash between now and the end of 2021. He didn't reveal who any of those new characters would be, but there's reason to expect that the next contender could be from one specific and widely loved Nintendo franchise.
Interesting comments from Masahiro Sakurai in an interview with Famitsu published Wednesday could be interpreted as a hint that the next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character is from Pokémon Sword and Shield, but even if that's not the case for Fighter 76, it feels likely that one of the upcoming six will be from Pokémon.
Sakurai acknowledged the game has too many Fire Emblem characters and too many sword-wielders. According to a translated version of the interview by Japanese games insider BlackKite, Sakurai made it seem like character selection is something that Nintendo executives decide and not something he gets much creative control over — at least in the case of the latest addition, Byleth.
"The new fighters were not decided by my own favorites," he said. "They're brought by Nintendo ... but it has been decided like that so I just proceed as-is."
We know that it was Nintendo's decision to have the latest character be the protagonist from Fire Emblem: Three Houses, perhaps because the game sold 2.29 million copies between April and September 2019. For Nintendo to add Byleth makes it seem like the company is ignoring roster diversity in favor of corporate synergy and cross-promotion for its video games. Adding Byleth was a move that may have irritated many fans, but it made a lot of sense when there's still the Cindered Shadows DLC due out for Three Houses in February.
Let's also consider that during the same Nintendo Direct when Sakurai announced Byleth as the 75th character in January, he confirmed that all six of the Fighters Pass 2 characters were already locked in and in development.
It sounds a bit like Nintendo is starting to approach Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as an opportunity to promote its own franchises, and right now one of its biggest is Pokémon, especially when The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra DLC packs are due out later this year.
This latest generation of Pokémon has a lot of staying power for this reason alone, and if Nintendo would release Byleth in Smash just a few short weeks before some Three Houses DLC, then why wouldn't they do the same thing with Pokémon Sword and Shield before The Isle of Armor is released in June 2020?
Furthermore, Byleth arrived in Smash roughly six months after the initial release of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Based on the space between the release of each character from the first Fighters Pass, we can probably expect Fighter 76 around April or May of this year — which just so happens to be about six months after the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield. Which is to say the development timeframe coincides perfectly, and Nintendo would have a good reason to keep pushing more Pokémon characters with its immensely popular fighting game.
Take all of this as pure speculation, but it makes a lot more sense for Nintendo to add someone like the Pokémon Sirfetch'd or even the Champion Leon than it does an off-brand character like Doom Guy or Travis Touchdown, especially when the timing would work out perfectly. For all we know, Nintendo has been developing a fighter from Pokémon Sword and Shield since before the game's release. The fully-evolved starter Cinderace would also be a fun, fleet-footed choice.