Toowoomba's Growth Against The Odds
Toowoomba has always been a bit of a weird kind of different scene. On the other hand, though, it’s always been a place that has hung on purely by its various dedicated community members. It’s been the place that I’ve loved and enjoyed leading. With my introduction into the smash scene coming into its second year anniversary in just under a week with the first Smash Ultimate tournament in Toowoomba taking place on July 20th 2019, and thus the anniversary of the birth of the Ultimate Toowoomba scene, I’m only too happy to make this little homage :)
People know me when they think Toowoomba, but I really want to highlight the other people in the scene that helped me get to the point I’m at today. Strap in and enjoy!


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Part 1 – The Old Guard

The date is July 20th 2019.
Toowoomba has had its fair share of spread out smash events throughout the years in the Smash 4 era. But, the start of this present-day scene was kindled with Ultimate as its game of choice, and USQ as a hosting venue, in a nice, humble little esports room at USQ. This was the first Smash Ultimate tournament based in Toowoomba, and with that, the start of a new scene.
This was the ultimate grassroots tournament experience, and it was pretty unique compared to some more typical tournament experiences, but also small, but it was a good kind of small – thinking personally, it’s surreal thinking back to those days, it was so different to a mainstream local experience like FNS or Star Forge in so many ways; rules, atmosphere, you name it.

And while the tournament records are sadly long since gone, it really only remains in my memories and the memories of the others of the long-gone “Old Guard” players of the scene. On the one hand, it’s sad losing that much history and some brackets of the smaller tournaments may never be found again, but on the other? I have the memories of those tournaments and an opportunity to relive history and tell a story. That’s why I’m here, so I can share these memories.

I remember walking in that venue at the first tournament and getting so excited, seeing so much of my favourite game being played, with so many people to boot! After all, relative to today, in the early days, the events had no problems getting 10 to even 20 people.
Instantly noticeable to me were small crowds of people along with the TO watching a set of friendlies. And one guy was absolutely dominating. In my eyes, an absolutely sick Sheik, I had never seen a competitive set, but even I could tell, this guy? He was freaking destroying this other poor soul. Launching him up and down with all these fancy combos and blowing them up with side b and up b alike. Newbie me loved it.
And there’s a chance you all at home might actually know this guy! Because I later learned that not only was he the best Toowoomba had to offer, his tag was LUSH. Skipping to the present for a bit, to give a bit of context, LUSH achieved #38 on the most recent February-April QLD 40 with his Wolf, along with just tearing up the Brisbane scene in general. But something you might not know is that he actually lived in Toowoomba for those early days, practically dominating the early Toowoomba scene.
Getting back to that tournament, personally, I was knocked out by a Zelda called Odin, one of the aforementioned Old Guard players and my first experience of a bracket demon for the next few months, in Top 8 (although the fact I didn’t go 0-2 at my first event was a miracle if I was honest!), but I got over my disappointment quickly as we were only too excited to watch the finals. The first Grand Final in Toowoomba’s history!
A crowd gathered around the lounge, and the character select screen loaded. The air was tense.

LUSH vs Pengairxan.

LUSH had his Sheik, pitted against Pengairxan’s King Dedede in Grand Finals. The first of many finals in Toowoomba’s history.
It ended up finishing quite fast, even for a finals set, as LUSH went in and crushed the competition with a pretty convincing win, winning the coveted Pro Controller prize.

Time passed as monthlies came and went, with the only thing to note being the collective protest of our ruleset.
Toowoomba’s ruleset itself was quite… unique, to say the least. Firstly, the timer was set at a questionable number of 6 mins which actually did mean some people (including me) lost just because of a time out. Still, thankfully the B03S and B05S were set out great closer to December, although B01s were the most common through the bracket in the early dark days.
But the kicker is that we ran Battlefield and Final Destination… and nothing else.
And it was random stages, so you didn’t even know what you were going to get.

You see, this is where Toowoomba’s reputation for wack rulesets comes from.


This was how most tournaments leading up to December would go. However, the scene of the finals placements would change as I got better and better and made my switch to Joker from Greninja (his up air is spinny like Greninja’s, so he should be similar right?) along with the various newcomers who were absolutely cracked with their own mains, who would become my own bracket demons for months to come.

A face that came to the scene as we inched closer to December was a name that Toowoomba would end up knowing well, both back then and even now.

His name was Barcus.

Present-day, Barcus has continued taking names with his win of Amateur’s Bracket at the most recent SotD #2, with his nasty and perfect execution ROB, tearing through the competition and proving his mettle. But when he entered the scene, he introduced our little scene to the concept of a top tier character, absolutely destroying the various low tiers scattered around Toowoomba's scene. Barcus was a name that you would consider if you thought about who could be the best back then, behind LUSH and another newcomer.

Enter HueHue.

Another newcomer who quickly made his name known with his signature red cap Wario and his absolutely brutal nair strings quickly made Toowoomba come to the same realisation that other players from outside Toowoomba had discovered already.

Wario was absolutely busted and, to us casual newbies, Waft was utter bullshit.

Why does it kill at 30?!

With the amount of Waft setups and the dominance he showed in neutral, he quickly climbed his way to getting 2nd quite often tearing through the competition, running through Pengairxan and I quite often.

Barcus, however, was not so easy for him, he would find.

Quickly, the new fights to watch would become myself vs Pengairyxan and Barcus vs HueHue, as these particular matchups rapidly became close and red hot games to see who could get the other coveted grands spot to meet with LUSH.
The results of these games undoubtedly varied, and the sets were always nail-bitingly close as each new month brought a new set of skills to practice, to varying results for all these players on each month, despite the victor pretty much always being LUSH.

And then… December 10th came, and with it? Smashmas. The biggest event Toowoomba had ever seen with 16 people making it a record for us!
I regret that I wasn’t at Smashmas 1, but I digress because this was the biggest tournament at the time and the first to have a recorded bracket! This gruelling tournament had both the Old Guard in faces like LUSH, Narcissus, Pengairxan and HueHue with the New Generation of Prayjectile, Barcus, and Bshortz meeting in one place with all sorts of new and exciting matchups, with LUSH eventually finding a rather skilled looking newcomer in the bracket as the tournament progressed.

And then something never before seen occurred.

LUSH lost.

A new strapping newcomer, Bshortz, had downed him in Winner’s Finals with a clean 2-0. Absolutely nobody could have expected this.
Then, suddenly the title of 1st was being questioned. Could LUSH make a losers run back and reclaim victory? Or would Bshortz repeat his dominant performance?

Bshortz certainly was new to competitive, but his years of experience coming all the way from Brawl with a remarkable duo of Banjo & Kazooie and Marth, and later, an Incineroar pickup at his disposal made him a rather scary opponent on the levels of Barcus or Hue, and he even remains a likely candidate for the second-best player in Toowoomba, to this day.

LUSH tore through Losers, much to nobody’s surprise, taking out Hue in Loser’s Finals, who he had previously beaten in his bracket run, making Hue’s run a double elimination by LUSH. Barcus didn’t fare much better, drowning earlier in Losers.

And then suddenly, there were only two left. It was time for Grand Finals.

Bshortz in Winners vs LUSH in Losers, Banjo & Kazooie vs Sheik.

Bshortz impressively forced LUSH off his Sheik in their Grand Finals Set, as his Banjo skills showed their shine, even swapping to Marth to keep LUSH on his toes. However, LUSH fought back with force, as expected, with picks of his own Joker and Roy to beat back on Bshort’s hot streak.
Matches came and went, and when the dust had settled, LUSH had won 3-1 and took the reset.

The bracket was reset.

LUSH kept this hot streak and, despite Bshortz’s admirable showing, took it 3-1 once more. With that, LUSH took two sets to win the entire tournament, once again taking the win.
Smashmas was easily one of the most significant turning points for the Toowoomba scene, as numbers started to slowly dwindle as interest among the majority of the Old Guard began to decline, as they began to fade with the coming of the new blood.
And today I discovered that Pengairxan and I are the only ones left that still compete in Toowoomba tournaments that were among the crowd of that first wonderful tournament experience.

Part 2 – The New Blood

After Smashmas, life went on, and time passed. LUSH moved to Brisbane shortly after Smashmas and Hue retired from Smash to pursue other interests, and suddenly, for the first time, first place was up for grabs.

And with that fact, new blood kindled from Smashmas played for that first place position with ferocity, many of who still play and participate to this day. More known and current Toowoomba names all made their own efforts; Bshortz, Kyetro, M4TCH, Justicetom, Narcissus, Prayjectile, Barcus, and even some out of towners like MrHoboBob and Will05thom coming every now and then, putting on a serious challenge, as for the first time in Toowoomba’s lifespan, the best wasn’t immediately apparent.
Different victors would come out of these bouts: myself, MrHoboBob, Bhortz, Pengairyxan and Barcus being the main ones to make it to finals and take various names and titles, as matchups of Joker, King Dedede, two Banjo players and a ROB became common in Toowoomba tournaments.

However, it didn’t last, as the competition would come to a grinding halt with COVID as the year turned to 2020. The lockdowns of March and April started to affect the running of the tournaments.
Tournaments were halted as COVID slowly came and went. However, despite the odds, one tournament in July was able to run and the community that remained came alive, as a rather humble 8 people turned up and showed how we had improved over the last 3-4 months.

The Top 4 b05s to get through to the next round were Pengairxan vs myself and Bshortz vs a new player on an absolute hot streak.

Another recognisable player in the present day QLD scene, Will05thom.

I started my set with Pengairxan in a Toowoomba classic matchup of Joker vs King Dedede. However, a rather exciting surprise of Pengairxan’s new Mii Gunner secondary came, surprising the crowd and myself.
The games were close, but I did end up taking the victory with a gutsy reflect to a full charge shot, and in the end, advancing to Grands.

However, Will’s Bowser vs Bshortz’s Banjo was undoubtedly a new experience to watch. Bshortz definitely showed the scene what he’d be working on and how he had improved. Despite that, Will’s matchup experience of Banjo from his own brother, MrHoboBob, definitely showed along with his unique aggressive style of Bowser. His skilful combos combined with his control of neutral meant that despite Bshortz’s efforts, Will was the victor in the end.

It was up to me to defend the home crowd.

It was rather exciting final between Will05thom and myself. Although the games were neck and neck, with how volatile the Joker Bowser matchup is, I slowly started pushing ahead, and eventually ended up overcoming Will’s Bowser, winning the tournament.

Toowoomba was defended.

And yet after that, more time passed; the next tournament wasn’t until Smashmas 2. The last hurrah of our scene, and the biggest tournament we had ever seen, moving the setups to the indoor courts just so we could have enough room.

Smashmas 2 was exciting and thrilling in its own right. After all, it was the first true combination of the Brisbane and Toowoomba scenes. An opportunity like this is rarely seen. A chance to show Toowoomba to the outside world!
The new generation now had their most significant obstacle yet, the incredibly skilled Brisbane players, playing all sorts of unfamiliar and strange characters outside of the character bubble we were used to.

SadHour, Negima, Mittens, BattleDolphin, Joz and Leshy.
And a familiar face.

It almost felt like a tournament of the old days, as we discovered LUSH also competing. The tournament was on.
Despite these players, Toowoomba performed relatively well in Pools, with plenty of upsets being seen, with Justicetom’s win over Barcus, Barcus over squidfist, myself beating Negima, a particularly notable victory at the time and a great showcase of a Toowoomba win over Brisbane, and Will05thom, a relatively unknown name to the broader scene at the time, running through both squidfist and Joz’s Robin.
Despite these efforts, the progression to Pro Bracket itself was brutal on the Toowoomba players, with myself, Barcus and Pengairxan being the only ones from Toowoomba to make it out from Pools.

Three out of sixteen from Toowoomba, surrounded by all these cracked players from Brisbane, it was undoubtedly a terrifying prospect.

It became even drearier for Toowoomba as Barcus and I were matched in the first round of Pro Bracket in a somewhat bittersweet sort of luck. This was the norm of a regular Grand Final, after all. Yet, it was in Winner’s Round 1, in a spot where one would have to go to Losers in Round 1.
I clutched the victory, sending Barcus to losers, before being matched into SadHour and being beaten soundly by him and his explosive Snake and Lucina with a trouncing that I honestly hadn’t experienced since LUSH’s hot streak from over a year ago. These guys were the real deal.

Barcus was then knocked out by Leshy in Losers after taking a convincing win on MrHoboBob, and Pengairxan had a rather rough run of Leshy into Joz and lost both sets. Three people became one.

I quickly realised with a sinking dread that I was the only Toowoomba player left, as I got matched into a rather brutal matchup of Joz in losers straight after my loss, who was fresh off beating Pengairxan.

Once again, I was the only one left to defend Toowoomba.

A point of mercy in my favour was Joz, in this tournament, was using Robin rather than his insanely precise Lucina. I had a chance.

To this day, I remember the absolute panic of being down against this absolutely insane PR player. He was playing insanely well, and I constantly felt on the backfoot.

And yet…

I also remember the relief I got when I got just the right read on the last stock in a game 3 scenario and landed an Arsene F Smash, sealing the kill.
I was through!

The next matchup would end up being the most strangely poetic in a way, as Toowoomba’s last player would end up against Toowoomba’s former best.

It was now me vs LUSH.

This tournament suddenly felt like the early glory days, but instead of Sheik vs Greninja, it was a very different matchup of Joker vs Wolf. Yet, these were the same players, fighting it out in Toowoomba for the very last time.
This set also ended up going to game 3 and being on Smashville for the last bout.

And yet, LUSH took it once more – but this time, it was by a hair rather than the brutal three or two stocks of yesteryear. LUSH advanced and the last of Toowoomba was out, albeit at a respectable 7th against all these insane players.

And although I ended up eliminated, being beaten by LUSH, I couldn’t have asked for a better finish, and getting the rematch had been way better than I could have ever imagined. It may have been the expected SadHour vs Negima Grand Finals, ironically having a Pro Controller as a prize, as a callback to our very first tournament, but this was but one of the first tournaments in which the bubble of the Toowoomba scene and that of the wide world of the SEQ scene would collide.

And it was absolutely beautiful.

Toowoomba has shown up quite well in the present day – despite the scene falling into active abandonment following the collapse of the USQ based tournaments after Smashmas 2. However, efforts have been taken in Smash on the Downs to bridge the Brisbane Toowoomba gap, and renew local interest and improve the skill of our own player base.

With the showings that Barcus, Kyetro, Pengairxan and myself all showed at that tournament in both Amateur’s and Pro Bracket, there is some proof that Toowoomba’s players could be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

And I fully believe in that.

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The Toowoomba scene remains to this day. Although it’s at its weakest numbers-wise, the quality of players is easily the most balanced and high I’ve ever seen from my entire stint through tbar smash, with players like Bshortz, Barcus, and Kyetro, and myself looking extremely promising. Certainly, Toowoomba isn’t to be slept on, especially now, and I’m really interested to see what they do in the coming months and years. Watch out Queensland!

- Smasio

by Smasio 07/16/2021 00:00:00

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