Ultimate Insight 6 : Milis
1) You're one of the many new faces that joined competitive Smash in 2019. What was the biggest challenge for you in your first few tournaments? Whether it be specifically in game or something external like anxiety?

> I'm gonna start this response with a bit of a tangent but it'll tie in to the question eventually. I only moved to the Sunshine Coast in February of this year, and prior to that I was living in Maryborough and had been for most of my life. I'd moved to the Brisbane/Sunny Coast area a few times earlier in my life to study at uni but undiagnosed autism + ADHD made studying at that high level nigh impossible and I ended up dropping out and having to move back to Maryborough, two separate times. The process of doing this meant that I ended up being really far behind in my life in a lot of different ways, and all the friends I had from high school and from meeting people at uni and everything else kind of went away as they all went on with their lives in happy and productive ways while I was constantly falling down the stairs back to step 1. On top of this, around the time the second time I dropped out of Uni, one of my close friends who I had connected with through our mental health issues and from the fact that we were both kind of in the same boat in terms of not moving forward with our lives all that much ended up killing himself, so it left me alone in Maryborough (which for people who don't know, is a desolate garbage town full of methheads) with no friends and no prospects and no one to communicate with aside from people I knew over the internet left. I also couldn't (and can't) drive, I was very isolated.

When Smash 4 came out, it was right around the time I was moving back to Maryborough for the second time. A few months (or maybe a year, I don't remember, I could probably look this up on ausmash) into 4's lifecycle I'd managed to convince a friend of mine to pick me up from the train station in Brisbane and stay the night at his for us to both go to one of the UQ Smash tournaments run at the time. I ended up coming 13th, and got knocked out by none other than Jett himself playing Zero Suit Samus and absolutely bodying me on his own stream. Who could have guessed that Zero Suit Samus was a bad matchup in 4 for dedede, the worst character in Smash 4. I had a great time though, it was some of the most fun I'd ever had, and it was actually one of the first time in my life I'd had the chance to be around people with similar interests to me. Every single friendship I'd had before in my life had come with the caveat that the friendship existed with like a second version of myself that pretended he wasn't interested in video games and nerd culture, and this was the first time I got to be myself around other people who were pretty similar. I wished I could be around these guys more, and was really envious that the guys there got to just live here and be part of this community for part of their life and for me I was only able to experience it for one day. After this I went back to Maryborough that day, and didn't go to another Smash tournament for 4 years. It was a really depressing 4 years.

So earlier this year, I moved to the Sunshine Coast at the start of February, and found out about the ranbats happening (at the time) at the end of every month and began making plans to go to one. I joined the QLD smash discord through finding it on Ausmash, and then when I introduced myself in there Ben Gold linked me to the Sunshine Coast discord, and I managed to organise finding a ride through those guys to get to the February Ranbat. so now, two paragraphs later, to answer the actual question: My biggest anxiety by far was meeting people and trying to make new friends. I was incredibly worried that I'd go to the tournament and people wouldn't like me, that I wouldn't fit in, and that just generally speaking I wouldn't really feel welcome, since that'd mean I'd be going back to just living a lonely friendless life, just closer to Brisbane instead of Maryborough. Not to get too dark but I was really, really investing a lot of my hope in my life that I would be able to find friends here, since if I couldn't it would mean in my mind that I just never ever would find any friends. Thankfully this obviously didn't happen. Since going to tournaments I've been welcomed as a shockingly central part of the community? It kind of really baffles me. Top players all like me and talk to me a lot, I consider a lot of them to be great friends. Jokes and ideas I've made have influenced the larger community. A joke idea suggestion I made a month or two ago just resulted in us running Pissmas, which was one of my favourite tournaments I've ever been to let alone help run, and lots of people from the community all cited as being their favourite tournament they've been to. The speed that I've been accepted and integrated into the community is so shocking and baffling to me, and I couldn't be more thankful for it. Being involved and accepted has been one of the best things that has ever happened in my life by far. Almost everyone I've met has been amazing and its made my life significantly more livable.

2) You're part of the Sunshine Coast based crew PISS GANG even going so far as to share a house with a few of the crew members. How has joining a crew impacted your Smash journey and how do you feel like you've contributed to the group?

> Piss gang is really funny just cause it was the most impromptu joke that just stuck around and latched on that everyone else really loved, so I got to keep doing it. We'd talked for a while about having a crew and some of the guys didn't like the idea because they considered the idea of crews to be really stupid, and inherently exclusionary in the sense that a crew by nature has to choose who is in and out of the crew, and despite the fact that everyone in piss gang is really cynical and socially impatient we don't like the idea of endorsing a concept that excludes people (I mainly completely agree with this), even if it would be excluding people we didn't like anyway, so we only wanted to make a crew if the entire idea of the crew was kind of abstract and not strictly defined anyway. That's why I don't really have an answer when people ask me "Is [person] in piss gang?" cause the answer is usually "I dunno man it's kinda up to him", since the criteria is just 1. come to Thursday practices 2. dont be in an other existing crew and 3. if you want to be. An important thing when we kind of "formalized" the group with a name was that it still remain largely and inherently informal. We aren't looking for players, we don't have a hard defined list of who's on it, we don't have a discord or anything (we have the sunshine coast discord but it's more of a regional discord than a piss gang discord), we're just a group of friends that put a name to the group of friends specifically so we could cheer each other on and be in crew battles for fun. Also just cause I love telling this story: the name came from a joke I made when we were trying to think of what to call the discord channel for organising our Thursday practice sessions, it was initially just called Thursday night boys and I think joz said it was a bad name and when Kyle asked for suggestions on a better name I immediately responded with the words "piss gang" and he changed the channel name and opened the channel with the message "due to the name 'Thursday Night Boys' being too confusing, the channel name has been changed now to 'Piss Gang' to hopefully clear a few things up" and it was so funny to me that I kept pushing the joke. Most of the guys hated the joke until I pushed through hard enough that they started liking it. All the Brisbane people latching onto the joke helped too. It was one of those "going so far with a joke it becomes funny again" jokes.

As for how it's helped me develop its helped me get any better at all at the game. Playing with Ari and Joz has been good since getting to play against some of the better players in the state helped me learn how to play a lot safer, since they're the kind of players who are going to abuse and exploit any unsafe thing I do, and they're quick to give help and let me know what I'm doing isn't safe too. Tom (Omta) and Kyle (WEEB) also have been critical in helping me get better, with direct feedback and help on what I should be doing. The first time I had a real big jump in success and stopped going from 1-2 and 2-2 to 3-2 and getting out of pools more consistently came from one specific session where Tom and Kyle watched a bunch of Zaki vods with me to go through how I should be playing as Dedede. Kyle even picked up Dedede and learnt to play him so he could understand how to help me learn to play him, and he ended up liking him and still plays him in friendlies now.

Mostly though they're just good friends and give good advice on how I should be playing and what I should be doing. Even if they all hate dedede and greninja with a furious passion. Which just shows I'm playing half decently.

3) You won the Ausmash 2019 award for best Twitter presence. What does this recognition mean to you? Do you ever feel the need to withhold tweets on certain topics?

> It's weird to me mostly. I don't really tweet ideas with the thought or intent of trying to get a bunch of laughs and clout, mainly I just have ideas in my head I kind of need to express and I often don't have the chance to express them to people in person, and especially didn't earlier in my life since for a long part of my life no one in it particularly cared about things I found interesting. I've kind of done this since way before I had twitter. early on at the back half of high school I would just make so many Facebook statuses constantly, and everyone hated me for it. I literally had friends from high school comment on my statuses saying "you don't have to post 14 statuses a day my guy" asking me to stop cause it was so frequent and annoying. Eventually though I moved to Tumblr and did more or less the same thing but to an audience who actually opts into seeing my dumb thoughts I post all the time. I ended up getting like, kind of famous on there I guess? I have a pretty significant following on Tumblr, in the realm of like 5-6k followers, and it's all from a combination of me just posting dumb jokes my brain needs to express and also like hashing out my thoughts on media and art, particularly video games obviously. I talk a lot about the design of video games on them. Then I migrated to twitter cause more people I like who talk actively use Twitter these days over Tumblr, so I just started using that and did what I did on Tumblr there instead (the increase in the character limit really helped here since I can be pretty verbose sometimes). So to me the whole Twitter thing is just me doing brain exercises honestly. It's I guess a kind of mental health exercise to keep myself less stressed to be able to throw my thoughts out there whenever I have them, and it also is obviously nice that people apparently enjoy them. I don't even really get why either but I'm obviously not bothered by it. I just think I say funny things every now and then and then people come up to me and are like "dude your twitter is so fucking good", it catches me super off guard but it's obviously really flattering. And to be voted as the best in the whole country at anything at all in the community after only being here for 10 months means a lot to me.

There's not really anything I feel I need to withhold in terms of what I can or should tweet about. I already in my day to day life put a lot of care and effort into thinking about how I talk about things and how I discuss things, because I don't like being offensive. I think it's lame. I think making efforts to be funny and appeal to people without putting down vulnerable groups is a really good skill to learn, and in terms of online markets and online clout and such there's a developing niche coming from groups of vulnerable people to seek out content creators who can be funny without being offensive through absurdist humour or humour through mocking people who maybe deserve it more, like racists and bigots and rich people. I like to push the envelope with some jokes but my idea of pushing the envelope I think is very different to most people's, and when I do make a joke that pushes the envelope I usually try to make it a very smart joke with a lot of thought into it. Sometimes I don't though, sometimes I just tweet "I am going to kill Chris Lilley" since I hate Chris Lilley with an intense passion and it gets my twitter suspended. But I try to avoid that.

4) The Sunshine Coast event Pissmas has just wrapped up. What do you think made the event successful? Do you have aspirations to take on a TO role in the future?

> Pissmas was a huge success and I couldn't have been happier with how things went. The majority of the credit needs to go to Joz for being a great TO and Kyle for organising the majority of the rewards. Part of what made the event successful was all the people from Brisbane and the Gold Coast who were willing to come all the way up for it. We couldn't be more thankful that everyone who came up for it did, and it was specifically because they came up that made the event worth coming up for, as paradoxical as that might seem. I think the key thing that convinced everyone to come up for it though was the Twitter campaign we ran every day leading up to it, they were funny and clever enough while actively showing off some of the really cool things to be won for the event to encourage everyone to come up for it. The posts were obviously a combined effort from everyone in Piss House (me, Kyle, Tom and Aiden) but it was largely Kyle who was the mastermind behind most of them, so I do attribute a lot of the success of Pissmas to his work he did before the tournament.

As for aspirations to take on a TO role in the future, I really would love to do it, but not if it will detract from being a competitor. I want to compete first and foremost, and being a better player is most important to me. I have this same situation with commentating too. I wish I could do it all. I wish I could commentate top 8 at a major, while playing in top 8 at a major, while also being the TO running the major and organising the stream. In my mind though being a competitor is more important to me, so I prioritise it in the order of Competitor > Commentator > TO, in terms of my responsibilities. I'm happy to commentate, but not if I could play, and I'm happy to TO or assist in TOing but not if I could play or commentate, and so on. Everything is just so appealing. There's no satisfying answer to this thought. I just wanna do it all.

5) You've made it onto the first two editions of the QLD40. What advice do you have to players that are looking to break into the 40?

> Be lucky like me and get to be good friends with top players. Just being around good players even just to hear conversations about the game can help you get better as a player. Hearing how Shitashi and Ari talk about the game even from the most social of perspectives really really shows how they view the game, and it encourages you to thinks about it differently, and it will actively shape the way you think about it and then indirectly influence the way you end up playing. You can't do it on your own. You need to regularly be playing with people of your own skill level and people way better than you too. Enter as many tournaments as you can. Make friends who live nearby, play with them, organise weekly practice sessions, make it part of your expected routine so it happens and doesn't fall apart after the first two. Ask top players for friendlies at tournaments, and don't be disappointed if they say no, since they're busy too, but do it anyway. Ask me for friendlies too. There's a good chance I'll say no but I might not. You just need to play the game a lot, and play with good players. I also think it's really important to learn what level of learning the game you're at. When you're early on you should dedicate to one character, then only think about playing a new character when you think you've hit a wall with the first one. Then when you swap to a new character it'll give you a fresh perspective on the game, the learning from two characters will develop your fundamental understanding of the game itself, and then when you go back to your initial character you'll find you're better with them anyway without even having played them in a while. My Dedede got way better after I started learning Greninja. I beat a PR player with him yesterday and nearly went to game 5 with Ari with Dedede even though in the last two months I'd played him in exactly one bracket match just cause playing greninja honed my fundamentals a lot more than just playing dedede ever would've.

Also one thing I did that really helped me was, since I play a really weird character like King Dedede, and I'm (arguably, but imo) the best dedede player in the state, I didn't have any direct access to players better than me to see how I should be playing dedede better. I didn't have a Ben Gold also in the state playing the same character as me really well I could follow and ask for advice and watched what he did against matchups I struggled with, so what I did instead was I sought out as many vods of people I could find internationally playing dedede as I could and took as many notes as was humanly possible. Most of it was Zaki, but I reviewed a lot of other random dededes I found too. I also didn't restrict it to making note of good things to do, I also was pretty vicious in my notes about the garbage bad things a lot of them did too so I could push myself to learn to avoid doing them myself.

The short version of this answer is 1. have friends who are really good or try to play with good players whenever you can 2. understand what level of play you're at and focus on learning the game in ways that reflect that 3. seek out better players of the same characters you play to learn what you should be doing 4. eat your vegetables


For things I wanna promote I don't have anything huge. Mainly please come to Coastal Clash, we know it's a long drive from Brisbane and the Gold Coast but it means a lot to us when people make the effort, and it really helps the tournament out. The kids in the Sunshine Coast area don't really get the chance to play as much as the kids in the other regions, and Coastal Clash is the one chance for that for them, so good Brisbane/Gold Coast players coming up every month is really great for them to get to meet those people they probably look up to and also to play against them as well. Sunshine Coast doesn't have as good of public transport to Brisbane either like the GC does so the kids with lack of access to drivers/cars don't get to even go to the Ranbats or FNS's. I know what it's like to be isolated from those areas and communities so doing what we can to involve those kids in the community through Coastal Clash is pretty important in my mind, and Brisbaners and Gold Coasters coming through is a big part of it. Aside from that, I like to recommend people just take the effort to think about the way you communicate and consider taking a more compassionate approach to everything, it's really not too hard to shape the way you act and communicate to make the world a little easier and more comfortable for those people who aren't as lucky as us.

by Mittens 12/16/2019 00:00:00

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