Written by Jason Mani
On March 5th, 2016 I attended a Super Smash Bros. tournament called Shots Fired 2. This tournament included various versions of Smash Bros. including the original Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64, Super Smash Bros. Melee, a custom modified version of Super Smash Bros. Melee called Project M, and Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, more commonly known as Smash 4. The tournament was sponsored and generally coordinated by a company called MVG League, otherwise known as the Most Valuable Gaming League. Unfortunately I did not get the most value I expected from them given the price of admission.
I have been familiar with the Super Smash Bros. series for most of my life. My first major game console was a Nintendo 64. I received it as a Christmas gift when I was nine years old. I then stumbled upon Super Smash Bros. while browsing a Blockbuster one Friday night, as was the ritual for me and my siblings. I played the game all weekend and stayed up way past my bedtime doing so. I renewed the game the next Friday and I was hooked. As time went on, interest naturally waned, but when Melee came out I was at it again; however, this time I had developed a friend group that was also passionate about the game. The Wii was released when I was in high school and with it came the anticipation of a new Smash game. The weeks that followed the announcement of Super Smash Bros. Brawl were some of the most fun my friends and I had waiting for a new game. We would wait up all night for the Smash Dojo’s next update, eagerly anticipating a new character, stage, or mode to be announced. The newest iteration of the game, Smash 4, has breathed new life into our Smash obsession with its improvements and additions to the series. This revitalization of our obsession led to a new-found interest in the original game, Smash 64. This past year I lived in a house with four other guys and Smash 64 became a staple of our downtime activity. More than one thousand games must have been played by our group in those months. This time was filled with Kirby mirror matches and fun challenges for our best player, such as him playing all twelve characters against our mains to see who could get the most wins. These factors are what led me to begin following the professional and tournament Smash communities, from weeklies, to monthlies, to majors.
My new-found interest led me to delve into the Smash community. My first thought was to look for a subreddit related to Smash and naturally there is one for every flavor of the game and more. This pulled me deeper into the world of of stream watching. From tournaments and practice, which then evolved into following the professionals as they made their rounds through the circuit. After a few months, I wanted to see professionals play in person, in order to get a feel for the people and culture of the Smash community. Maybe I would even try out an event myself! This path guided me to Shots Fired 2. It was the perfect storm of a Smash event for me. It was close to my home, had a good number of recognizable pro players, and one of my friends was already entered to play in the Smash 64 tournament.
My thoughts on my first Smash Bros. tournament are strongly mixed. When my friend and I first arrived at the venue we were a bit confused. There was no sign indicating the entrance to the parking area and there was no indication that an event was going on inside the venue. We walked through the doors and found a sign that indicated that the tournament was upstairs. Once upstairs, we were greeted by a throng of people and a cacophony of noise. No check in table, no MVG employees, just the semi organized chaos of 200 plus people playing Smash. We decided to look around first to see where everything was and take in the sights, expecting to eventually be pointed in the right direction either by a sign or organizer, but neither were to be found. We were, however, able to see Mew2King play a friendly, which was a nice positive that came out of the calamity.
We were in search of the Smash 64 section of the event. After wandering around and being star-struck, we finally asked a random attendee where the Smash 64 tournament was. This helpful man directed us downstairs to an area with no signage. Finally we found the Smash 64 venue tucked away, nearly hidden, in a back corner of the building. The lack of signage or organizers at the entrance of the main venue had me questioning my 45 dollar entrance fee, but the problems did not end there. There were very few amenities at the venue, which the addition of could have warranted such a high attendance fee. There were no food or water vendors or even water fountains. There was a single craft vendor, however, who was selling some cool Smash related items. The biggest disappointment for me was not being validated as an attendee; nothing separated me from a random guy off the street despite me paying 45 dollars! In the end, I felt like MVG had done a disappointing job making me feel like my entrance fee was going anywhere but straight into their pockets. The lack of key organizing elements and dearth of water and food made the event feel unprofessional. Even worse, giving attendees nothing special to commemorate the event did not induce a feeling of good will towards MVG.
Despite the issues I had with the oversight of MVG, the experience was a net positive thanks to the awesome Smash 64 community I met there. David Shears , the Smash 64 tournament organizer, made the best out of a fairly difficult situation. His leadership let the Smash 64 tournament run without a hitch in spite of a few bumps along the way. I met some great people who are passionate about Smash 64 despite its niche status. Even though they are serious about being the best that they can be at their sport they still manage to have fun playing it. They treated me as an equal as I jumped in and played a few friendlies with some of the best players in the country. After being soundly beaten, they were kind enough to give me a few tips. This community showed me that Smash 64 is on the right track and has room to grow.
Being introduced to the professional Smash community has brought new life to my obsession with the series. It has introduced me to a community that is ready and willing to roll with the punches and find novel ways to grow their brand. They are passionate people willing to go the extra mile to share their love of the game to all who are interested. With a little help and a few tweaks, the Smash community will be on track to becoming a staple of sports and entertainment on the screen of the common man.