Splatoon 2 – Competitive Introduction Guide

Hi! My name is Nikigod, and I am a member of the Exion community. I am somewhat of a recent joiner, as I have only been on the server for a couple of months now. However, the community is welcoming and friendly to all, and as such I feel no like I am no less of a member than anyone else. Case in point is Cloud (The head honcho of Exion) letting me write an essay on something that I love- Splatoon! I have been playing for years, since Splatoon 1 on the Wii U, and am a part of the competitive community in the sequel. The game has a childish charm, and yet is intriguingly competitively deep. Splatoon is even how I got into Amiibo training! I had some Inkling Amiibo that I used in Splatoon 1, and realized I could use them in smash! I loved training them so much that I decided to join the community! Talking about communities, Splatoon feels very similar to the amiibo training community in that it feels like a small, tightly-knit circle of friends, even though the community is larger than you might think. As you can see, Splatoon has been a part of my life for a while now, and I wanted to write about it. When I approached Cloud about this idea, he was very supportive, and here we are! For this overview of the game, I am going to be focusing on Splatoon 2, however I am going to be using the labels Splatoon and Splatoon 2 interchangeably in this summary. So, what exactly is Splatoon? Well, Splatoon is one of the newer Nintendo IPs, with the first game releasing on the Wii U in 2015. Splatoon 2 was released in 2017. It is a 4v4 shooter that is heavily focused on map control, as the guns shoot ink, which creates lots of strategy involving the aforementioned map control and weapon choosing. There is a wide variety of maps and modes, which will be touched upon later. The weapon variety is excellent, and you can sink lots of hours into this game without it feeling stale. You hooked yet? Let’s dive into this game, and what makes it so great. 


Splatoon 2 has 5 main modes. When you first start the game, you are only going to have access to Turf War. The goal is the description: ink the most turf to win. The team with the higher turf inked (this is calculated in percentage of the map inked) wins. This is an excellent starting mode, as it is an interesting concept and teaches the idea of map control well. You have a choice between playing objective and painting everything in sight, and trying to kill everything! Then, you unlock the ranked modes. Splat Zones is similar to hardpoint in other shooter games, only instead of staying in the zone, you paint it! This makes it so you can move out of the zone and push further when you are in control, creating more aggressive play. The next two modes, Rainmaker and Tower Control, function in a similar way to capture the flag, except you push the objective to the opponents base, rather than back to yours. In Rainmaker, one teammate picks up the Rainmaker and takes it to the pedestal in the other team’s base. The Rainmaker replaces their main weapon, allowing them to wield the Rainmaker itself, which shoots out explosions, and never runs out of ink. A key in this mode is making sure to paint a path for your Rainmaker carrier. This makes it significantly easier to move the objective. In Tower Control, close to Payload in games like Overwatch. You ride the tower into the other team’s base. There is a pole in the center of the tower, which can be used as cover should the opposing team attempt to end your push. Finally, Clam Blitz. This mode is somewhat of an outlier, as it has no real counterpart in other shooter games. Individual clams are spread out across the map. You can collect them, and once you have collected 10, a Power Clam will be created. Next, go to the opponents base, where their goal will be. By throwing the Power Clam with A, you can break the barrier, making it so your team can score individual clams. Note that your team cannot break the enemy team’s barrier if your barrier is open. This mode is often the target of much salt within the community, on the grounds that the mode is not fun to play and broken when playing in solo ranked. This is likely because most pushes end up being solo pushes by inkbrushes who run up, score, and run away. However, in teamplay and with voice communication, the mode is significantly more balanced. High-level clams play can be art, and can be an interesting window into the world of competitive play. The remaining two ways to play are the story modes and Salmon Run. The Octo Canyon story mode is a good way to introduce all the weapons and teach the basics of aim, ink, and the game in general. In 2018, the Octo Expansion was released, providing the Splatoon series with it’s first paid DLC. While only 20 dollars, it is very enjoyable, and is fun to pick up if you can! The challenges are all very fun, and the weapon and course variety is excellent! Plus, the end reward of being able to play as an Octoling is a dream come true for many a Splatoon fan. The final way to play the game is the new addition of Salmon Run. This is a horde-battle mode in which you fend off waves of enemy Salmonids while collecting Golden Eggs. There is a quota of Golden Eggs which must be fulfilled every round. A common complaint about Splatoon and Nintendo games in general is their lack of in-house voice chat. While you can use the Nintendo Switch Online app, it’s not very good, and requires a phone nearby anyway. Discord is best for this, as you can voice chat as well as find communities and people to play with. An important part of Splatoon online battles is the gear, and there are two main strategies for using it. First, you can just put on whatever looks best and run with it! While gear is more important at higher levels, when you play more casually, there is no big reason to obsessively pursue perfect gear. However, once you want to get better all around, you can try to make gear sets that complement your weapon. Acquiring cool gear can also be an entertaining objective, and making fashionable, competitively viable, and crazy ability-wise sets can be fun. While it is impossible to give all information on gear builds in an article that is supposed to be readable in under an hour, one can ask for gear tips for a certain weapon in every community, from Discord to the Splatoon forum Squidboards. A big part of Splatoon is aim, and a big subject in this game is using motion controls or stick controls. This is not as much a debate as a fact. Motion controls are better than sticks. This is similar to how a mouse and keyboard is better than a console. Snapping is much easier, movement is easier, and overall anyone who uses motion is a better-equipped player. While it may be hard to get used to motion, if one wants to get better at the game, the best way to do it is to learn motion controls. One last area of interest is the Inkling character in Smash versus the Inkling in Splatoon. As with most every character in Smash, the recreation is faithful and beautiful! While the character is more similar to the Splatoon 1 Inkling, it is still a good representation of the series. The ink feature is just like that in Splatoon, and the weapons used are all ones from the Splatoon games. Splatoon does many things right, like the setting and environment of the game. All in all, Splatoon has an excellent atmosphere, with the music, places, and culture all feeling like one cohesive world. The concept of the game is original, and creates room for deeper gameplay and competition. However, Splatoon suffers just as much as any other game from Nintendo’s P2P connection system and lack of good in-game voice chat. 


A big point to make when talking about the Splatoon competitive landscape is the difference between the Japanese scene and the western scene. In Japan, Splatoon is the third highest-ranking Esport ranked by interest, ahead of Call of Duty. The game is very big in Japan, which logically makes the competitive scene much more developed and advanced there. However, the western Splatoon scene is far from desolate! For those who want to become involved in the Splatoon competitive community, the door is wide open! A great hub to join is the Inkademy Discord server, which is linked here. You can ask for tips, discuss weapons, and join a team from this great starting point of a community! The main “league” in the western competitive community is Leagues Under the Ink, abbreviated as LUTI. It is split up into divisions ranging from the lowest ranking Division 8 down to Division 1, and from there Divisions X and X+. There are also many great resources for improving in this game. Many Splatoon Youtubers (nicknamed Splatubers) do “how to use __ weapon” content, or just how to get better. Ones I recommend include a German player named Wadsm, linked here and a British player named ThatSrb2Dude, linked here (often referred to as DUDE for easiness of speech). For the more advanced, you can dig into some content from the Japanese community! Because the scene is much farther along there, there are myriad channels with players who main every weapon you can imagine! There is a database for those who don’t speak Japanese to find their dream creator here. However, most Splatoon content creators are helpful and entertaining, so don’t feel limited to just my recommendations! Now, while it would take many more articles to explain all strategies and the current competitive meta of this game, however the basics will be touched upon in this article. Some good basic skills to learn in order to play competitively are how to use the strengths of your weapon (for example if your weapon has more range, you might want to space yourself away from your opponents, if your weapon is amazing up close, you might want to learn some strategies centered around stealth and getting in close to your opponents) and how to play more carefully, not just rushing in and getting killed every time. Another interesting facet of competitive play is team compositions. Because in scrims and tournaments you can coordinate your weapons with your team, one can create strategies and team play styles around weapon choice. For example, some weapons paint the floor better than others. Because of this, a team can create a composition (referred to as a “comp”) around painting the other team into submission by inking their paths and controlling a lot of the map. Because each weapon has a special, a vital part of team comps is special choice. For example, some specials like Baller and Bubble Blower are great for creating space and map control! Others, like Tenta Missiles and Ink Storm, put pressure on the other team. Specials are best used when they are combined for pushes or to get one’s team out of disadvantage, and no special assists helps with those more than Ink Armor. This special gives armor to your entire team, allowing them to survive one shot longer against all weapons. In the competitive community, this special is the target of much indignation, as it is used on virtually all team comps. Like it or not, however, armor is a large facet of team comps, and likely always will be. While on the subject of pushes, it is important to talk about how and when to push. When referring to pushing, the definition used here is quite simply, moving the objective or going into enemy territory. The best time to initiate a push is when one’s team is in the advantage state, meaning they either have more players than the other team, or more map control (meaning they have more turf painted. This metric should only count for “relevant turf” though, which is a term used to describe turf that matters in terms of pushes, like bases, mid, and the locations in between bases and mid found on most maps, usually known as “plat”). Pushing when not in advantage usually ends with the push being repelled quickly, and the aggressor team being put into disadvantage by being forced to retreat. Different modes have different methods and instances for pushing. For example, in Rainmaker and Tower Control, the objective is the push. Because of this, most effort goes to moving the objective to the opposing team’s base. In Splat Zones, however, most pushes tend to be attempts to get out of disadvantage and take control of the zone, rather than pushing into the opponent’s base. Finally, in Clam Blitz, there is much variety. Pushes can be large efforts with many specials, or just inking a path and swimming to the goal. This competitive scene is so diverse and interesting, and though explaining it is complicated, it is well worth it to grasp the full reach of this game. 


Thank you for reading this article! If you want to reach out to me on Discord via DMs, my tag is Nikigod#7360. You can also find me in the Exion Discord server, which you can join here. Thanks to Shadow for helping me out with editing this article. Nikigod out!

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