I just ate half of a cold Domino's pizza and some bread/butter and onion loaf with BBQ sauce from Tony Roma's so my brain isn't at its best right now.
If your thumb isn't on the pulse that is the competitive MK9 scene, you may not know why I've gone ahead and revisited Smoke with a brand new kombo video in less than 2 weeks. Well, the folks at NRS (NetherRealm Studios) have been super eager to show their dedication to making MK9 a balanced tournament fighter. Unfortunately, this has involved a flurry of kneejerk nerfs and balance changes before a proper metagame has been allowed to evolve. One of those changes was a removal of a key feature in Smoke's offensive game, the OTG (off the ground) Smoke Cloud. Now, rather than have a mechanic unique to him, Smoke has become just another ninja. With the lengths they've gone to tout their easily tweaked system, I can't imagine it would have been difficult for them to simply adjust the way damage scaling works after an OTG Smoke Cloud. Instead they just took it out. It's not a huge deal, he still does pretty good damage, but the real problem is what this nerf represents. It seems like NRS is more concerned with homogenizing their cast rather than balancing them within the scope of their unique quirks.
Another victim of their wild swings with the nerf stick is Kabal. Previously Kabal could use his ability to stop his Nomad Dash to create a block stun loop. This wasn't an infinite, but the opponent was forced to take damage to escape from it. While it could hardly be called balanced, the constant pressure and forward momentum of the loop seemed fitting for Kabal's character. Making the second hit of the chain whiff on crouching characters would have made the loop easily escapable, but NRS decided they just wanted to remove it instead. Now Kabal is just an above average zoning character with a very straightforward play-style at melee range.
I know NRS means well but rolling out tweak after tweak after tweak makes it feel as if they aren't taking the time to consider their options. They are slowly draining all of the flavor out of their game while simultaneously frustrating their player base. Rather than tweak the damage scaling of Smoke's combos, they made it so that every Smoke player out there has to relearn a completely different set of combo timings and setups because NRS wanted them to do 6-8% less damage. Now every Kabal player who went to the trouble of learning that extremely execution heavy loop and its related mix-ups are forced to sit there and be below average at close-range.