Ultimate Insight 14 : Xondrell
1) You're currently looking at breaking into the mid level. What motivates you to keep improving and stick with Smash?

> This is a bit of an odd point in time for me to answer this question, because I feel like my competitive spirit isn’t nearly what it could be, or has been in the past. Things in my personal and professional life have become frustratingly stagnant, and the resultant negativity has rubbed off on my mindset when I play Smash too – especially when my results are not what I would expect. You’re often told to not let results get to you, but when it’s combined with external factors, that can be really hard.

Something I’ve worked out over the years is that regardless of my skill-level at something, I just need something competitive to take part in, and I’m often left feeling empty without that. When I was younger, it was soccer or tennis, and as I grew older the focus of my competitive interest veered more towards video games. In high school I was part of a clan in a mod for Jedi Academy (Movie Battles 2). When Team Fortress 2 released, I moved to that game and eventually started my own clan, “Interrobang” or “‽“ that competed in the online OzFortress ladder. Later I started playing League of Legends, and that lasted a whole seven years, all of which I was an absolute scrub.

At the time of Ultimate’s release I had been playing Yu-Gi-Oh for a couple of years at Good Games Spring Hill, and I had just bought a Switch. Yu-Gi-Oh was getting a bit tired for me and I heard there were Smash nights (FNS) held at the same venue. While Smash hasn’t been one of my all-time favourite franchises, I had played all of the previous games in the franchise except Smash 4, so it was familiar to me and I gave it a shot. I immediately thought that the community was a big upgrade as there was a lot of friendly trash talk, and a lot of excitement, not least of which came from a fellow Mega Man player that just so happened to be PR in my region. I think that part of the community is a real selling point and it’s why I stick with Smash specifically.

As for what motivates me – I think it has changed significantly since I started playing at the start of Ultimate. It used to be that I wanted to show everyone “how cool” Mega Man was, I was looking at Kameme digging for things to try that would help me convince people that Mega Man could be a hype character, but this was obviously detrimental to me having a balanced game plan and stifled my growth as a player. I do still feel the same way playing Pac-Man, that I want other people to know how cool my character is – but I’ve taken learning fundies and how to carry out different gamestates (neutral, disadvantage, advantage) more seriously as well and I think if I do get good results it will be because I put the time in to practice these things, and because I’ve grown mentally as a player.

I’ve also gotten a burst of motivation by starting the X-Men. As the co-founder of the crew I feel like I have more of a reason to try and improve, not only to represent the crew better from my own standpoint, but to give my crewmates a better player to practice against too. Having said this, I feel like I’m starting to appreciate the social side of the smash scene a lot more than playing the game itself.


2) QLD tournaments are typically run by top level players which can potentially limit their perspective on the overall experience. How accessible do you think tournaments are for your skill level and is there anything that you would change to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone? 

> I think that the QLD scene is really accommodating to lower level players. Not only are top players ready and willing to help, but things like the Arcadian (that I didn’t get to go to unfortunately due to illness) and Redemption/Amateur brackets at most events really help give the up-and-comers a chance to shine. It would be a lot harder for them to improve in a situation where they just play two bracket games a week at FNS because of upsets in main bracket to give them a PR player Losers Round 1.

The out-of-city events like Coastal Clash, Flip the ‘Swich, GC Fight Club and Smash on the Downs are also really important for making Queensland a more accessible Smash scene and as a result a lot more of a competitive region. I absolutely applaud the effort that these organisers go to in order to carry out these events and hope they (or at least similar events) remain staples of the Queensland events calendar.

I think a couple of things I would like to return post-covid would be the QUT events from Mr. Fast and Boost, both QSS and SSQ. While I didn’t go to SSQ as often due to schedule conflicts, it’s extremely noticeable in hindsight that the lack of a not-for-ELO event has left a big hole in other peoples’ Smash experiences. I really enjoyed the monthly QSSs personally, much for the same reason as Redemption/Amateur brackets – because of the fact they were round robin pools you were guaranteed to get more games in. As a result you could more accurately gauge how you’re performing at a particular point in time versus a large variety of players. You will also notice which of your weaknesses are being exploited the most, or what you’re doing consistently well at. This gives you an idea of what you need to work on the most. I’ve found a lot of times that the hardest thing about improving is knowing which area to start with – and these events definitely helped with that.


3) What is it like for you to face a PR level player?

> Usually when I play against a PR player, it’s hard for me to have the goal of winning. I just can’t stop the subconscious feeling of “they’re clearly much better than me”. So I usually try and divert my attention to something else, whether it’s learning something, experimenting with my pacing, or getting affirmation that a certain strategy works against different skill-levels of player. At the same time though, these sets are usually pretty early in bracket, so being Bo3, you don’t really have a lot of time to adapt and learn on the fly. Personally I tend to learn a lot more from extended sessions with the same player, where I can have an open dialogue with them about what’s happening in the games (something that’s not as beneficial in a tournament set) and I think that shows in my results from around Pissmas 2, when I was playing a lot with Eric, Harry and Ben Leshyverse outside of events.


4) What are some of your favourite memories from your time in the Smash community? 

> Look this will probably disappoint some QLD TOs, but hands down my favourite experience in the smash scene was Big Cheese 2. But it shouldn’t actually be that disappointing, because it wasn’t really the tournament itself that made the experience so memorable. At the time, I was really burnt out on work, and just needed to get away from everything, so the timing was impeccable. From the moment I got out the airport doors in Adelaide, a beautiful cool breeze drifted over me and I could feel the weight being lifted off my shoulders along with it. It really set the tone for a great time away. Staying with the QLD guys in the airbnb was an awesome time, who could argue with smashin’ rumbos, shootin’ the shit and being a gamer til you couldn’t every night? Not only did I get to hang out with some of my favourite members of the community and best mates, but I also got a little closer to some of the players that I didn’t really interact with much. It really made me feel more a part of the scene than I had previously.

I didn’t really perform the greatest at the tournament or the event the night before, but I kind of expected that, having just switched mains from Mega Man to Pac-Man permanently after a lot of back-and-forthing about whether I should do it. So I just went into the events hoping to gauge the aspects of my Pac-Man play that needed the most improvement. The nights back at the airbnb playing with Harry, Ben and Chris (Shitashi) really helped me to bring an improved Pac-Man player back to Brisbane as well. Even though I was quite intoxicated, I miraculously did bring some lessons away from that experience. Then you had the tournament itself, and the thing I remember the most was how nutty Shadrew’s losers run was. Taking out Nikes was one thing, but then he proceeded to have one of the most hype sets I’ve seen against Jdizzle in R9, beat PurpleH the round after, smugly beat Voldemort R12 and had a nail-biting set with DD to come 5th. I still think that the Jdizzle set should have been on stream, I think it’s an absolute shame that it was lost to history except in the minds of those tonnes of spectators crowded around their setup at the back of the venue.

The next one I would say was Pissmas 2, and it’s a similar story here of things surrounding the event making it so memorable, though the tournament itself was memorable as well. I had Harry and Eric over for some friendlies the night before and we had a great time doing that and listening to some music we all enjoyed, and had a metalhead roadtrip up to the tournament together in the morning. Pissmas 2 was also where we met Liam (M4tch), so I guess you could say that Pissmas 2 was the X-Men’s origin story (thanks TOs). It also helped that I had a close 3-game set with BD that I was pretty happy with, as well as performing well in ammies against Mr. Dice. I really felt like I had undergone a lot of growth prior to this tournament, and in Iso Combat 2, and had feedback from people that this was the case but I feel like I’ve dropped the ball since.


5) Who do you think are some players that are currently overlooked and will be making waves in the future?

> I had a bit of trouble answering this question to be honest. I think we’re fortunate in Queensland to have so many good players that you never know when someone just outside PR, or even outside the QLD40 could make some serious waves. We’ve already seen this with Jix performing monstrously well in recent events, his Diddy truly is a thing of terror. So who could be next to make a wave? Well, I think a somewhat safe pick would be Mana. I think the general consensus seems to be that he could upset anyone at any moment. I’m not quite sure what is holding him back from consistency. If I had to speculate, maybe it’s a lack of drive to practice or maybe it’s that he can’t decide on a character to main, but only he can answer that truthfully. Just from talking to him though you can tell that he has a good mentality in-game, and backs this up with a lot of game knowledge. I think he could make PR at his peak for sure.

People probably aren’t after a safe pick out of this answer though. So let’s throw a couple curveballs I guess? Some players that I have some experience playing against recently that have impressed me are SKI, who recently won FNS249 Redemption Bronze with Hero; and Scott/max who has recently won FNS252 Redemption Bronze and came 2nd in FNS251 Redemption Silver (losing to Joser), both with Falcon. I’ve played friendlies with Scott both at tournaments and outside of them, and I’ve seen some massive growth from him in a fairly short time period. His results are backing this up too. I can see them both elevating their play a lot and possibly making waves in the brackets above their current best results.

===

Knowing that Xondrell was a big music fan, I had high expectations on what he was going to share here. He settled on the album 2112 by the band Rush with him singling out the title track 2112 in particular. Sitting at a stunning 20 minutes this track is an odyssey and it alone takes up half of the albums run time. It's packed with all of the charm of the mid 70s rock scene with power chords, huge vocals and that particular flavour of soul that just isn't present in modern music anymore. It can can easily be thrown on as background music but if you take the time to break down the lyrics it actually tells an interesting tale of disrupting order and the beauty of music. Rest in Peace Neil, may your lyrics and your legendary drumming live on for ages to come in the hearts of many

by Mittens 03/24/2021 00:00:00

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