Ultimate Insight 13 : Blurry
1) Despite being a Tournament Organiser for over two years your contributions are often overlooked. Can you explain what you do in the Smash Community?

> My main gig is working with Jett running Friday Night Smash. I handle the seeding with assistance from BattleDolphin and monitor the bracket throughout the night to try to keep things on schedule. I’m always looking for ways to improve FNS and monitor feedback where I can. Within the general QLD TO space I’m probably most known for my ‘Blurvey’ surveys regarding rulesets. I’d like to think my efforts there have been instrumental in moving QLD to a unified ruleset over the past year or so, and it has been amazing to see my work expand to form the basis of what now is being trialed as an Australian wide ruleset.

I also worked closely with Jett to create and run Meta Shift at the start of 2020 which was Tournameta’s first major. That was a very big moment for me and one of my proudest achievements. Some other things over the years include the QLD Arcadian where I managed the room bookings and organising the bar for top 8. I similarly assisted the CouchWarriors QLD team with venue and organising the after party for Sunny Side Up. Recently I helped Ham set up the newest monthly, Flip the ‘Swich, which he has done a wonderful job running.


2) What did the process of bringing back Friday Night Smash post COVID look like? And what are your thoughts around the player cap and sign up processes?

> It was an interesting situation where QLD had relaxed enough restrictions for some months yet we could not start running FNS due to the university having a blanket ban on all ‘external’ events. Eventually we were advised by the student union (who own the esports venue on campus) to just go ahead and start running FNS again. Thankfully this didn’t seem to upset the uni. Funnily enough, the weekend that Jett planned to release the announcement trailer for FNS’s return by chance ended up being the same weekend Brisbane went into a short lockdown. We had to scrap the planned date last second but fortunately it only delayed us by another week or so.

Asides these bureaucratic factors, Jett was able to create a COVID safe plan to allow FNS to operate. I went around the venue with a tape measure to calculate the ‘unobstructed’ floor space required to define a player cap. Settling on 48 players was something we felt struck a balance between being as ‘large as possible’ while still falling fairly safely within the somewhat open to interpretation restrictions set by the government. In the past FNS was able to frequently hit numbers within the mid 50’s. I think this was about the ‘comfortable limit’ and I would likely raise the cap to something like this in a ‘post-COVID’ world for as long as we remain in the current venue.

The sign-up process at first was definitely problematic with the event hitting cap in only a few minutes as everyone’s speedrunning tactics evolved. It was obvious it was quickly turning into an arms race which didn’t feel to be in the best interest of the scene’s growth. The ‘stale queue’ priority rego system as it has been affectionately named was something Jett and BattleDolphin created as a response. I believe while it caused some initial frustrations it has been an excellent solution and has allowed more new players to attend FNS.


3) You played a big role in running the Queensland major Metashift. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced through the whole process?

> I think realistically the main challenges came down to liaising with outside parties from our core team. Often we were left waiting on replies to emails regarding venue bookings or discussions with sponsors/people lending us equipment. Vye handled the ordering of lanyards/passes and I remember it being a process with the supplier to get exactly what we needed. We also ran into some delays with postage and some packages getting caught up within the university’s mail centre. I remember receiving the fabric screen for behind our commentary booth during the first day of the event and quickly assembling it while the bracket was running.

Fortunately however, we started planning Meta Shift some 5 or so months in advance which gave us plenty of time to account for hiccups along the way. One of the joys of working on the tournament was the planning process overall did go very smoothly. Jett, Vye and BattleDolphin all were super on the ball and the four of us achieved a lot.

I think the other major challenge was just the strain of actually executing on our plans throughout the event weekend. Jett and I essentially set up the venue most of the Thursday, went home and slept, came back to work ~12 hour days for three days in a row and then didn’t leave until something like 3am on the Monday. It was a grueling task but thankfully all of the effort and pre-planning paid off in spades and while tiring, everything ran very smoothly. I’d like to take this chance to again thank Bip for acting as stream runner for Jett and Scrail for helping me manage brackets. Also a whole host of other volunteers that helped with various admin jobs throughout the weekend, without you guys it would have been impossible.


4) Metashift had 120 entrants and is widely considered as one of the best Smash events that QLD has ever hosted. What do you believe makes a Smash major successful?

> I could write an endless list but I think it’s really valuable to look at major’s from a more big picture standpoint. What is the single most important thing attendees get from coming to a major? To me it’s the time spent with their community and friends and all the stories that are born from that. I believe your goal should therefore always be to foster an environment and atmosphere that allows exactly that to happen as effortlessly as possible.

Basically every aspect and design decision of Meta Shift can be traced back to influencing this. Jett and I wanted the experience to be as comfortable as possible. This started with spending a tonne of time planning the schedule and ultimately deciding to opt for a fairly uncommon 3-day event length. What this meant though was there was very little stress for both players and event organisers trying to meet strict time limits. The less everyone had to worry about being on the clock meant more time for people to hang out, watch sets and create those memories.

It also meant we had an entire extra day to fill with events and opportunities for attendees to get the most out of their experience. This included making the somewhat risky decision of not only running a ‘new’ event format with our 3v3 Crew bracket but also giving it the primetime spot of Saturday arvo/night. I was confident that an event like this would be perfect for fostering the community atmosphere and bringing more people together. I’d like to think it did exactly that given the resounding positive feedback it received.

The insane stage setup was a love letter to the production quality Tournameta is known for. I hope everyone who walked in and saw the stage and sat on it themselves were left thinking “yeah this is something special”. Jett’s amazing streaming prowess and the effort he put into announcements, trailers, custom animations/transitions all were in an effort to bring the hype to the rest of the country and world. Jett from day 1 made it clear how important the at home experience was to him and I couldn’t agree more. There is no better way to share how sick the event is, document all the amazing stories and encourage people to attend the next one.

Other little attention to details that I’d like to highlight were things like the bar and food being connected to the venue during the Sunday arvo as well as the dedicated friendlies area having its own big screen to view the stream matches. Aspects like these are really important to not create areas of segregation in the event space so attendees don’t have fears of missing any ‘big moments’. I wanted the whole space to feel alive and connected no matter if you were in the front row of the crowd screaming ‘feet’ or hanging in the corner having a beer with your closest mates.


5) If finances or COVID wasn't a factor, what would your dream QLD major look like?

> Meta Shift was a wonderful result of the vision Jett and I created and I’d love nothing more than to see it taken further. If anything, with infinite resources I would spend a lot of it on fine tuning all the little things that help it run smoothly and turn the production quality of the event up to 11. A larger venue to play host to big entry numbers would also be high on the list but I’d still be very set on the space feeling personal and like ‘one big party’ where possible.

I’d love to expand the scope to include more supporting events, primarily a ‘Salty Suite’ held the night before the event or possibly at the end of the first day. A different venue with a more intimate setting could really create some amazing storylines. It would also open up so much design space for a totally different atmosphere and aesthetic to push through branding or stream design.

Turning Meta Shift into a recognisable brand and event within the greater esports industry in Australia would be very cool. Things like merch and rewards similar to what Beyond the Summit offer for their ‘Smash Summit’ events is something I would take a lot of inspiration from. Lastly expanding to include and highlight other games such as Rivals of Aether would be a very natural progression, possibly even branching into the larger FGC with games like the new Guilty Gear. Of course Jett’s very own ‘Sumorbit’ would have to be on that list.

===

Blurry was one of the members of the team to get the tournament series Flip the Swich up and running. Headed by TO Ham, FtS is fresh into its life cycle but has quickly cemented itself as one of the premiere events on the QLD Smash calendar. With a singles bracket, on-site kitchen, darts, pool, FGC side brackets, crew battles and most importantly Minecraft VR, this is more than your normal Smash experience. If I grew up in Ipswich and turned out alright I'm sure you can make the drive out for the day and not be too traumatised.

by Mittens 03/22/2021 00:00:00

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