Reflecting on 12 years of Smash - part 1
Hi all. My name is Dean, and my online tag is also, conveniently, Dean.
I attended the first CouchWarriors tournament after lockdown a few weeks ago, which got Smash back on my mind again after a long absence. April marks 12 years since my first Smash tournament so thought I'd share a few thoughts and memories about what's happened along the way.
Ever since I was a small child, watching my father and sister play Commander Keen on our Windows 98, and then owning and playing a game for myself (Pokémon Yellow), I've always liked video games. Super Smash Bros, particularly Melee, was one of my favourite video game series growing up, ever since I first played 64 at a friend's house in Perth when I was 6. Around the time leading into Brawl's release I was at an age where I was interested in pushing myself to become better at video games, and had better access to the internet to look up videos and guides and the like (my Smashboards account dates back to 2008, apparently). The upcoming release of a new Smash game obviously increased my interest in the series further and I aimed to take the release as an opportunity to get into the competitive community.
My first tournament wasn't until April 2009, 10 months after the Australian release of Brawl. I felt hesitant initially to go to tournaments at the time because
a) I was still very young; I would have been 14 in 2008 and was generally a pretty timid teenager that didn't really want to spend a whole day with a bunch of strangers.
b) Smashers are really weird
Instead I played a lot of Wi-Fi over this time (yeah, Brawl Wi-Fi...). I had one training partner in particular at the start that I met on Smashboards, then started playing a few more people, I think at the end I was playing with most of the MMGN crew (I think MMGN is dead now though).
Back then we only had one tournament per month, rather than the several per week we have these days. Tournaments were held in an arts centre in Collingwood. We didn't have a venue fee, but instead venue was paid for from the tournament entry fees and payout for podium finishers came from what was left over. I think if there weren't enough entrants to cover venue fee the excess came from the TOs pockets...
Everything was organised on Smashboards, up until the early/mid 2010s where Facebook gradually took over. After every tournament, players would post shoutouts to the other tournament-goers they hung out with at the tournament, as a way of spreading good vibes.
Anyway, I go to my first tournament and am unceremoniously 0-2ed. Mained Marth at the time. I don't have much of note to say about this tournament; I played Jei first up and take a game off him because he plays Fox, seeing that I am new (he thinks his Fox is OK but do not be deceived, it is very bad!) - after I beat it he switches to his main (Pit) and beats me handily.
Doubles was a bit more interesting - I was paired up with Mfrek, similar aged boy as me, and after the tournament get in a bunch of friendlies with his friendship group (Haydino, Alfa) which was nice.
In defence of my tournament performance, I was always going to struggle when I was using a controller like this:
a) Third party
b) A Frankenstein of two different controllers - look at the colours of the casing (to be fair I was pretty happy with myself taking two controllers that stopped working and turning them into one that did)
c) Missing the Z and M buttons. Why did it have an M button? I don't know. Third-party privilege.
d) Has no padding on the control stick; had long since worn off
e) The A button is partially pressed in making it hard to press
f) Finnicky about being plugged in - usually requires a bit of jigging around to get working.
Wonder if it still works - I'm surprised I still had it. The photo is new but it's just the same as it was 12 years ago. Anyway, that's my John. I pick up a proper controller not long after.
Due to scheduling conflicts the next two months, my next tournament isn't until July. I'd learned a bit from my first tournament and had kept practicing online so was a bit better prepared this time.
This tournament had round-robin pools, but not best of 3 like you might expect but instead best of 2 - if the score was 1-1 then there was no 3rd game, and we tallied pool results based on number of games won overall.
I'm in a pool with Tibs (best player in Vic at the time), Splice (top 5) and Haydino (top 10~12) and a couple of others - not sure what the seeding for this was like. There were 8 pools I think, no need for a pool stacked like this. Top 3 get out. Tibs 2-0s everyone in the pool so it's mainly between me, Haydino and Splice for the last two spots - I go 1-1 with Haydino, and also 1-1 with Splice (I switched to Ganondorf game 2 since I heard Ganondorf does "OK" vs. Mr. Game & Watch - somehow paid off) - Haydino ends up 2-0 over Splice as Splice plays Wolf in an attempt to avoid the Mr. Game & Watch ditto which means Splice drowns. Never fear Splice fans, he rebounds to win the August monthly.
I play Haydino again round 1 of bracket (man the seeding for this tournament was whack) and he beats me this time - I end up going 0-2 in pro bracket.
Due to more scheduling conflicts my next attendance isn't for another 3 months - no pools this time and I go 0-2 again but at least this time I can add the "but it was close!" tag to both sets. My losers set is against X who most people reading this won't know - he used to be co-TO together with Jei in this era but stopped attending tournaments at the end of 2009. I liked X a lot he really made me feel welcome at tournaments, and encouraged me to go to BAM which I otherwise wasn't planning to attend.
In the 2008-2010 period we named BAMs after movies - this one was called Rocky, and was just one week after the October monthly. The tournament is very stacked, most of the top Brawl players from around the country are in attendance and only 24 make it to pro bracket (before the tournament started it was actually planned to be fewer). Probably the largest, most hype Brawl tournament in Australia's history with 84 entrants.
I get the opportunity to play Corpsecreate in my pool who ends up winning this tournament in a huge upset (everyone slept on Perth - can you really blame us considering the quality of some of the gameplay we were exposed to?)
Also there was dodgeball Sunday morning! I didn't go but I'm sure it was fun.
Just one tournament left in 2009, as I don't believe CouchWarriors held December/January tournaments back then. Still riding the high from Rocky, it's a fairly stacked monthly with like half the NSW PR in attendance.
I make it out of pools and this time don't go 0-2, taking a win over Devil (top 10 player, who I also played in pools - man the TOs really didn't give stuff like this too much notice when seeding), and have a good "0-2 but it was close" set with Luke Atyeo. End up getting 13th place, my best yet.
Like mentioned, there were no CouchWarriors tournaments in December or January, so not much usually happened over summer. However, the TOs announced that the first version of the Victorian Brawl Power Rankings were being organised, and that it would have up to 20 players. Ausmash will show it as a 10 man PR but it's just that the only copy of the full list was in the first post of this thread: https://smashboards.com/threads/vic-brawl-power-rankings-version-ten-updated-last-year-lol.256236/
And when V2 came out the first post was edited and the previous list was removed. So the top 10 I posted to Ausmash was what I remembered and I didn't remember 11-20 sorry.
Anyway, I was excited for the release of the PR - I think I'd shown solid improvement in late 2009 and could be in contention for a spot around 20th. To my surprise I'm placed 10th! I had one single set win vs. the other players in the top 20 (vs. Devil from last tournament) and had never placed higher than 13th in the five tournaments I had entered so I was incredibly confused. I think Attila (panelist) was watching my set vs. Luke (who was top 10, maybe top 5? in the NSW/ACT region at the time) and my theory was that he was impressed by the "0-2 but it was close"ness of it. My other theory is that Jei thought I was good because at the October monthly we had a low tier tournament and I knocked his Yoshi to losers with Ganondorf. We will never know.
In 2010 some new TOs take over (Condog and Vermy taking over from Jei and X), and we also experience a sharp drop in attendance from the previous year - X and his friends didn't come anymore, the Bendigo crew couldn't come as often and we started hosting Brawl on different days to Melee so players like Dekar and Cao that come for Melee but would enter Brawl on the side wouldn't be there.
At some point this year we also get booted from the Collingwood venue, I think the official reason is that they wanted to focus more on arts events.
I run into ViVa (top 20 player) randomly at school one day - I had an inkling he may have lived nearby (I think there was a list of players+suburbs in a Smasboards thread once) but I never expected to run into him at school. He turns to me and he's like "Hey, are you...?" and then we both burst into laughter. He lived walking distance from my house so we end up meeting for Smash occasionally and he becomes one of my best friends.
At the start of 2010 I make it my goal to place top 8 at least once this year. Unfortunately for me after showing some improvement in the latter half of 2009 I plateau pretty hard - I make top 10 PR once more (only because Attila and Jei request not to be placed on that PR) but don't really do anything notable in tournaments. I had one hell of a bracket demon in JoeyJoeyJoeJoe - my eternal rival - who, despite being unranked, I think was 3-0 over me in this period. Do you understand how it feels to have your bracket demon be JoeyJoeyJoeJoe of all people?
There was also a major in Sydney called Thriller. I wasn't there but good job getting Smashers to dance:
BAM (also known as Robocop) this year was... interesting. I think there are four main thoughts that come to mind:
1. Extremely last-minute schedule change. Robocop was on the first weekend of October. Originally Melee singles was scheduled to take place on Saturday and Brawl singles on Sunday. Those of you into Australian Rules Football might remember that 2010 was the year of a drawn grand final which means that a replay was scheduled for the same Saturday as Robocop. Some travelling Queensland Melee players requested that Melee singles be switched with Brawl so they could attend the grand final replay - request was granted less than a week from the tournament. Unfortunate for me as Saturday was my 17th birthday and I had something planned. Oh well, I got over it.
2. We were still doing best-of-2 round-robin pools. I was in a pool with just two other players, Liam from NSW (top seed) and Vyse from Queensland, and top 2 makes it out. I play Vyse first, likely fighting for the 2nd spot behind Liam, and we play a 1-1 draw. Vyse plays Liam next and loses 0-2 to his Meta Knight. I play Liam next and lose game 1 to his Meta Knight; at this point he's guaranteed 1st in this pool and switches to his secondary, Ike, for game 2 vs. me. His Ike is much easier than his Meta Knight and I take the game, which puts me ahead of Vyse. If I still had feelings I'd feel a little bad that Vyse was robbed of the opportunity of a tie-breaker vs. me because of this sandbagging. Oh well.
3. Absolutely massive Victoria vs. New South Wales crew battle. Both states had all but one top player in attendance, there was so much pride at stake and had such a controversial ending. Have there been any other state vs. state crew battles on a scale like this?
4. Attendance of a few internationals; primarily Mew2King who absolutely trounced us, we weren't even close. Example friendly vs. a PR player:
Attila ends up being the top placing Australian. Attila is probably regarded as the best Brawl player in Australia, generally speaking, over the game's lifespan, and it was probably this tournament that established it for the first time.
There was just one last monthly for the year, just one last chance for me to get the top 8 goal I'd set myself.
I don't start well, fighting Attila early in bracket and not putting up much of a challenge, then fighting Timic (unranked player) and only barely scraping away with a win.
Next match was vs. Condog (top 10) and, not being happy with my tournament performances with Marth over the last few months, switch to my 2008 main King Dedede on a whim - it pays off, I take the win 2-0 and continue to take down Toshi (also top 10) to make top 8. Dekar, the GOAT, ends up knocking me out next round in what he described as the greatest Brawl set ever. I'm sure he was right. So it was THIS tournament that inspired me to become the cynical, bitter King Dedede player you've had to put up with for 10 years.
January in 2011 wasn't the dead month that it usually was - Dekar started hosting tournaments in Januarys in a church in Boronia, known for a few things:
Excellent tournament names (Don't Get Stabbed, Don't Get Bashed, Don't Get Hyped and Don't Get Jeied)
Phenomenal hype videos
And no air conditioning, good lord it was hot.
I become pretty good friends with Jei and Khoa (well I was already friends with Khoa I think) and we start meeting up occasionally for Smash along with ViVa, as basically the only Brawl players that lived on the west side of Melbourne.
I don't have too much to say about the 2011 year otherwise, performance-wise I kept going from where I left off from the last monthly to become a consistent top 8 player and consistently PRed in the 6th-8th region.
My previous bracket demon JoeyJoeyJoeJoe had been defeated, but his brother Toshi had replaced him; on the other hand I had a very consistent record over Jei and Jei always beat Toshi which made a strange triangle which was never fun for PR purposes.
I make grand finals for the first time in August - get knocked into losers early by Toshi but beat Splice and Dekar before facing Earl in grands who beats me pretty easily - I was never much of an opponent for Earl in Brawl, but was still happy to make top 2 for the first time. I don't think I attended BAM this year, so I missed Mango's attendance.
2012 had some interesting things. I think this was the peak year of the 'ban Meta Knight' movement.
After not really getting any new players in 2011, Dekar's Don't Get Hyped in January introduced me to my other eternal rival Sebby (no, not SebPro101; I'm talking the original Sebastian), and my good friend Jamwa. I think this is Sebby's first tournament and he ends up knocking me out for 9th. He plays Snake all tournament and loses to me easily game 1 with it, then switches to Meta Knight and basically never plays Snake again. Yes, it's my fault he became a Meta Knight main. I think this is also the Danza Brothers' first tournament.
February 2012 was my first time out-of-state for Smash - I travel to Queensland for SummerSmash together with Jei and Khoa. We and about 20 other people all stayed in Vyse's house for the weekend. In singles I had a very hard bracket; I think I was unseeded and they mixed me up with a Queensland Dean as I fought Apollo round 1 when most players around my level had byes, and ran into Earl early in losers. Doubles I did make 2nd together with Earl though - this was a Meta Knight-banned tournament so we tried a popular strat where Earl would go Lucario and get 2v1ed while I sat on the ledge with Mr. Game & Watch. Good fun. I don't remember too much else... I think I remember 3am pancake parlour.
But in general I spent most of 2012 playing Ganondorf/Zelda/random in tournaments and this phase continued up until about October. I didn't attend BAM this year either. I think this was the BAM that had Nova donate several hundreds of dollars into the prize pool, but only for people he liked - Earl ended up winning Brawl and didn't get any of the pot bonus. This ends up being the last time Earl enters singles for Brawl.
Brawl attendance in 2013 was down to pretty much just the diehards; usually <20 people.
BAM is in May, and I get to play Sebby in pools, and was just glad that I got a kill on him with the Inhale wind hitbox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtJLnZiBQn4#t=2m10s
I also beat Toshi in losers bracket for one of the few times ever, thanks to some very fortunate luck: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTNY6nJiazU#t=5m40s
I end up coming 5th at this tournament, losing to Tibs and Splice, getting top 8 at a major for the first time.
For the rest of 2013 we host tournaments at the Shadowloo HQ - for Victorian Wii U veterans you might remember these are the same guys that hosted the Over9k tournaments, but the venue used to be much more central, in Footscray I think.
TVs, tables and chairs were all stored at the venue, which was great for us. They also provided us with additional prizes to distribute how we see fit.
I end up being the main TO for the monthlies during this period, for some reason. Brawl was typically hovering around the 10-15 attendee mark, so we just decided to make entry free. For the additional prizes, I decide to reinstate the RanBat points system - winning a tournament during the season would award 10 RanBat points, coming 2nd would award 9, etc.
These SLHQ tournaments showed the true rise of the Danza Brothers, particularly Tomie and Steve, where I went from beating them both without too much issue, to Steve beating me consistently and becoming a top 4 player in the state, to eventually Tomie beating me as well and becoming top 5... shame the gang never really went to majors.
Sebby and Ledge also both establish themselves as top 3 players in the state.
A few personal highlights from these tournaments...
Halberd truly likes me (apologies for the audio desync): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvBzAyzE72w#t=10m10s
Took a set over Attila for the first and only time in August, I personally appreciate the start to game 5 the most but I acknowledge it's an acquired taste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjoj3_joAaA#t=22m6s After this he goes on to beat me in grands though.
Shadowloo Showdown in October is the end of the Shadowloo rankings season and I get enough points to be first place, edging out Sebby who got second; despite not winning any tournaments in this period the combination of consistency + attending most tournaments got me the top spot. The prizes are free entry to Shadowloo Showdown and a copy of Pokémon Y which was newly released - we split them between the top 2, Sebby gets the free entry and I take the Pokémon copy.
Shadowloo Showdown has a fair amount of players, with a few NSW and most of the active South Australia scene in attendance. I get the opportunity to defeat my eternal rival Sebby one more time before he stops entering Brawl, but lose to Attila and Ghostbone for 9th place.
I think I was housing Ghost (and Invisi) for this tournament. I can't believe that was how my hospitality was repaid.
This is the first tournament that Tin Man (Canadian Olimar player that was spending some time in Australia) attends in Victoria and he ends up winning pretty solidly.
In December I go out-of-state once more, back to Queensland, to catch up with THE Kurogane Hammer, Shitashi (more commonly known as crayon) and friends again. Only other Victorian in attendance is Attila. I think I do quite well this time around, getting 4th place and taking a set off Jaice who I think was a top... 2? player in this state at the time, before he knocks me out of losers. Apollo ends up taking the tournament over Attila.
This was the last year of Brawl tournaments.
2014 starts of with Miles' (the DonB) House which was initially intended to be a pretty chill weekend tournament at Miles' house but Dekar hyped it up so much Miles' house wasn't big enough anymore so it became Miles' Warehouse instead.
Had a great time at this tournament, was more casual in nature with heaps of friendlies, non-Smash games and the ability to stay overnight at the venue. Except I lost to Steve two more times :(
BAM is in May. Brawl at this stage had switched to a one-stock format (with sets being an extra game long to compensate), having originally been three-stock this whole time. I end up playing Shaya three times this tournament (pools, winners bracket and losers bracket), almost qualifying him for eternal rival status, especially after he beat me in a monthly the previous year. He knocks me out of losers and I get 4th place. I do pick up this though:
Not sure what kind of timeframe they were looking at, I'm not sure I ended up improving too much after 2010, aha...
We have another tournament in some fancy-pants venue in the city, hosted by everyone's favourite TO, dreadtech (also goes by breadtech, The Water Stinger or Lil' Daz). Brawl only had 7 entrants here but it was fairly contested, it was nice for Tibs to return from years of inactivity to give me an opportunity to beat him before Brawl died. I also get the opportunity to play Lucky (renowned American Melee player) in Brawl which was... uneventful. Attila double-eliminates me once again.
Shadowloo Showdown in August is the final Brawl tournament in Victoria, with just 13 entrants. I play, and beat, Tibs again in winners but he gets revenge in losers bracket. Tin Man is back in Victoria and I get the opportunity to play him in winners and he wins fairly easily - he ends up winning the tournament over Attila reasonably comfortably again.
At the end of the tournament, Attila, Jei and I all receive an award. This is mine:
I don't think I know who or what Chibo is, or if I ever knew, but I am grateful nonetheless.
I truly enjoyed my time in the Brawl scene - this was my main hobby through basically my entire teenage years, I met so many people, friends for life through my experiences here. Game gave me an experience to grow as a player and as a person over the years.
Any questions or comments, post below or on Twitter @no_mere_dean and I won't respond to them but you're still welcome to ask!
I intend to write a part 2 and possibly a part 3 soon!
by dean 04/22/2021 00:00:00
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