Mid-Season Mock PGR

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The PGR is amazing. It has done so much for Smash 4. The PGStats crew has created clear delimiters that sponsors and teams can understand. They’ve provided us a clear through-line that connects every big tournament throughout each PGR season.

With CEO Dreamland behind us, we’ve crossed a pretty solid mid-way point for this season. As such, I thought it would be fun to analyze the results thus far, and try to extrapolate a mock PGR. The idea is that if the PGR season ended today, this would be the top 50. Sinilar to mock drafts of the National Football League, the idea is to try and accurately predict, but also create some discussion and storyline leading into the bakck half of the season. Since it’s just me and one friend doing all the research and prep, we won’t be slow-rolling like the normal PGR reveal. Instead, below you’ll find all 50 names in order. Shoutouts to my amazing researcher, Skrasnic, who helped out with collecting all the results for this project. Give him a follow on Twitter.

 

ALL CAPS NOTE: THIS IS IN NO WAY AFFILIATED WITH PANDA GLOBAL OR PGSTATS! IT IS A FUN PROJECT FOR FUN AND DISCUSSION!

 

Methodology

Before revealing the names, I want to talk about the way this mock PGR was collected. We attempted to mirror what we understand about the current methodology for PGStats, but had no access to their formulas or internal stats. This is in no way affiliated or supported by the official PGStats team. That said, we did do the research and try to base every ranking on the same criteria. Some keys to our system to keep in mind:

  • Placings at S- and A-tier events were given the most weight.
  • Wins against the PGR v2 were used as tiebreakers to separate players with similar placings.
    • Wins were given more weight to lower/unranked players from PGR v2.
  • Consistency was valued over one good run. Top 8 at Civil War was not a ticket to the top 10 without other strong placings throughout the season.
  • Rankings were not weighted based on PGR v2. No player got boosted in their ranking because they placed high last season, we started with a blank slate.
  • Only events on the Tournament Tier System were considered.

Note: At the end of the article I’m going to discuss a few takeaways we learned from this process that could have affected the rankings. We were two guys working on this in our free time, there are bound to be some errors. Please give us feedback and we’ll correct any mistakes. Stay tuned if you have questions or critiques, we may address them there. Apologies again for the lack of graphics and whatnot. If anyone wants to work on another one of these with us to make it prettier, that would be awesome! With that, here is the PGR v3 mid-season ranking.

#50 Pugwest [Marth]  (PGR v2 #39)

Our first draft had Pugwest falling off the PGR entirely. However, upon revisiting he was saved by a solid performance at PAX Arena. He finished 5th at the invitational with a win against ANTi. That top 10 win gave him his spot over other potential candidates. Pugwest sits at the top of about 8 viable candidates for this position, he’ll need a few more solid wins and placings to secure his spot on this season’s top 50.

#49 2scoops FAD | Nicko [Shulk]  (PGR v2 N/A)

Nicko’s benefited from the 2GGC as much as any player. With 25th at both Genesis Saga and Midwest Mayhem Saga, plus a win against ANTi at Civil War, Nicko showed up when the competition came calling. As the season progresses, Nicko could very well climb up this list with more Saga events to come.

#48 LH | Eon [Fox] (PGR v2 N/A)

We worked hard to not over-reward one good run for any player on this list. However, 9th place at an A-tier event like Genesis Saga can’t be ignored. Eon also picked up a win over 6WX at that event. With no other notable placings, Eon will have to put in some work in the second half of the season to not lost his spot.

#47 Noble | Manny [Sonic] (PGR v2 N/A)

Manny is an example of consistency being rewarded. 17th at Genesis 4, 17th at Frame Perfect Series 2, and 9th at Smash Conference create a solid start to his resume. Like Eon, he’ll have to create more volume or pick up a few wins against the top 10 to not fall down the list

#46 MF |LH |K9sbruce [Shiek/Diddy Kong] (PGR v2 N/A)

His 97th at Civil War is the only thing preventing K9 from being ranked higher. 9th at Genesis Saga and Midwest Mayhem 6, along with 25th at Midwest Mayhem Saga create a strong start to the year. With a few more PGR wins and another few good runs, K9 may end up in the top 40 at the end of the season.

#45 CL | DSS [Meta Knight] (PGR v2 N/A)

While he has no higher placings than K9, DSS jumps ahead of him due to a volume of quality placings. 33rd at Civil War represents his lowest S- or A-tier placing. This is an example of our system rewarding consistency over peaks. If DSS continues to perform at this level, he’ll likely remain on the PGR v3 in a similar position.

# 44 Yatta Gaming | JK [Bayonetta] (PGR v2 N/A)

Again, we really did try to reward consistency over one good run. However, JK had one really good run. 7th at Genesis Saga has to earn you a spot on the PGR with only 3 months of data. That run also included wins over Mr. E and Rich Brown. He’s proven he can contend with top 20 talent, and make top 8 at an A-tier, who knows how far JK could go with another good run.

#43 eM | Zenyou [Mario] (PGR v2 N/A)

While he doesn’t yet have his own saga, he is probably going to be on the PGR this season. In his 5th place run at Genesis Saga, Zenyou picked up a win on ESAM. He also finished 9th at Midwest Mayhem Saga and 33rd at Civil War. His 193rd at Genesis 4 is the only thing preventing him from cracking top 40.

#42 Dath [Robin] (PGR v2 #32)

Dath earns the spot above Zenyou pretty much by out-placing him at Genesis. With a 33rd at Genesis 4 and 49th at Civil War, Dath has consistency with the two S-tier events of the year. That combined with 9th at Frame Perfect Series 2 give him this spot.

#41 CLG | NAKAT [Ness/Fox] (PGR v2 Totally Robbed)

Everyone who complained about PGR v2 for leaving off NAKAT gets redemption! His 17th place finish at Genesis 4 included a win over Kameme. Add to that a 33rd at Civil War and a 25th at CEO Dreamland, and NAKAT is putting together a very solid v3 resume.

#40 HY 6S | Javi [Cloud] (PGR v2 N/A)

Unfortunatley, no tournaments in Mexico have earned enough points on the TTS to be considered. However, Javi has put together some solid runs in the states to earn his PGR spot. In his 9th place run at Genesis Saga, he grabbed a win over Tyrant. He also finished 25th at Genesis and 33rd at Civil War. With a PGR win under his belt combined with a 9th at an A-tier, Javi just barely edges out NAKAT for the top 40.

#39 Falln [Rosalina & Luma] (PGR v2 #33)

As we’ll find many times on this list, Civil War was really great for several players. While Falln doesn’t quite have the consistency you’d like in a top 40 player, his 13th at Civil War gave him a solid placing along with a few good wins over players like Wrath and Earth. Without a few more good runs, Falln is at risk of falling towards the bottom of the rankings, especially depending on how the official PGR actually weights Civil War.

#38 KEN [Sonic] (PGR v2 #22)

Now, before everyone starts screaming, we all understand that KEN is a better player than this placing. However, he just doesn’t have many results according to the TTS. He has 17th at Frostbite and 2nd at Tokaigi, and that’s it. While these performances included some solid wins, it’s simply not enough volume to earn a higher placing using our methodology. With one or two more good performances this season, KEN will likely rocket up near the top 20 again.

Edit: It was brought to our attention that we didn’t properly account for KEN’s win over Nairo at the Umebura Tokaigi Qualifier. This would have likely given him a boost of a few spots, probably around #35.

#37 Nietono [Shiek/Diddy Kong] (PGR v2 #36)

In the lower half of this mock PGR, consistency at S tier events makes a big difference. Nietono has a 33rd at Genesis 4 and a 17th at Civil War. Add a top 8 placing to his resume at the Umebura Tokaigi Qualifier, and you have a promising start to the season. If Nietono holds this spot, he’ll be one of the most consistent players over multiple PGR seasons.

#36 MVD [Diddy Kong] (PGR v2 #47)

MVD has put in some work this season to climb up into the top 40. He has also traveled more than anyone else to this point on the list. Panda Global’s resident Diddy Kong has a 33rd or better placing at every S- and A-tier event this season except for Sumabato 17. Add to that a win over ANTi and a 17th place finish at Genesis 4, and MVD is proving that hard work can be rewarded.

#35 AC [Falco/Meta Knight] (PGR v2 N/A)

You might as well call AC the PGR slayer. Over the course of three Saga events AC has earned wins over MK Leo, Samsora, Dath, Ned, and more. He also made it to top 8 at Midwest Mayhem Saga. The man has single-handedly put Falco back in the conversation, and is a terror for any PGR player to meet in bracket.

#34 T [Link] (PGR v2 N/A)

Remember when we said Civil War helped some players? T got 3rd there. 3rd is really high at an S-tier event. It’s also not his only good placing this year. He finished 5th at the Umebura Tokaigi Qualifier and 13th at SGC. In his Civil War run, T also earned wins over Abadango and Fatality. One more strong showing at an A-tier event or better will cement T’s place at a top 40 player in the world.

#33 Circa | 6WX [Sonic] (PGR v2 #30)

6WX is a king of consistency in the back half of the PGR. 9th at Midwest Mayhem Saga, CEO Dreamland, and Midwest Mayhem 8. He also got 33rd at Genesis 4 and Civil War, and 7th at KTAR XX and Genesis Saga. With all these consistent placings, 6WX will be terrifying if he ever places first, since he’ll probably do it again soon after.

#32 Earth [Pit/Corrin] (PGR v2 #25)

Earth has had a great year. He’s taken 5th at Sumabato 17, and 17th at Civil War. Unfortunately, his strong placings were not necessarily paired with good wins. Being consistent and placing well actually reduces the value of any wins you have according to current PGR methodology. As a result, Earth will need to keep playing well and take a few more high caliber names to return back to the top 30.

#31 Ned [Cloud] (PGR v2 #50)

Contending for PGR’s Most Improved, Ned has climbed far. He finished 4th at Midwest Mayhem Saga and 17th at Frostbite. He also won Midwest Mayhem 7, and beat ZeRo on his way to 4th place at Midwest Mayhem 8. Now with ZeRo in his region regularly, Ned has the potential to keep climbing towards the top 20 with a few more good showings and another win against the top 10.

#30 BSD | Elegant [Luigi] (PGR v2 N/A)

Beefy Smash Dood’s new Luigi main is having a banner year. He finished 3rd at Midwest Mayhem 6. His 17th place run at Genesis 4 included wins over Salem and Fatality. From unranked to top 30 in the world, who knows how far Elegant could climb by the end of this season.

#29 HIKARU [D.K.] (PGR v2 N/A)

Thanks to Vayseth, there is a crop of Japanese players who’ve been able to finally be recognized by the PGR. They were always strong locally, but unable to travel to compete in US majors. HIKARU represents the first of this batch to crack the top 30 this season. While his 7th at Civil War put him on the map internationally, HIKARU remains a contender back home with a 9th place at Sumabato 17 and 5th at the Umebura Tokaigi Qualifier. Not to mention, his Civil War run included wins against top 10 players like VoiD and Mr. R.

#28 DNG | Kameme [Mega Man/Sheik] (PGR v2 #11)

When critiquing the PGR v2, many pointed to Kameme. Outside of his 2nd place at EVO, many felt he didn’t have the placings to earn that 11th place spot. In a system that devalues peaks, coupled with Kameme falling off somewhat, he falls rapidly out of the top 20. Despite a 25th at Genesis 4 and top 20 finishes at all his A- and B-tier events, Kameme has not seen a top 8 yet this season. He also doesn’t have near the same quality of wins he had in v2. The world’s best Mega Man will need to start taking some names and holding on in winner’s side in order to climb back up into the top 20.

#27 RVL | Mr. E [Marth] (PGR v2 #18)

On PGR v2, Mr. E had a 1st place finish at Glitch 2 boosting his results. Unfortunately, his 2017 performance has been less than what many expected. He still has strong runs at Civil War (25th), Genesis Saga (9th), and Frostbite 2017 (9th) as well as a 7th place at KTAR XX. However, he most recently finished 65th at CEO Dreamland. Hopefully this most recent performance was a fluke, and Mr. E can quickly return to form and climb back towards the top 20.

#26 IMT | ANTi [Mario/Cloud/ZSS/Meta Knight/Charizard/Sheik now I guess] (PGR v2 #9)

As we said at the start, we gave no weight to the PGR v2, except when considering wins. Every player was examined as though this was their first season competing. ANTi has yet to see a top 8 this season. He also hasn’t traveled to many events, missing both A-tier Sagas and Frostbite 2017. Being top 10 also makes it difficult to give weight to any wins he has on any PGR players ranked below him. His 9th place at Genesis 4 gives ANTi a shot to quickly shoot back up into the top 20, but without an A-tier top 8, it’s difficult to see ANTi climbing any higher than that with so much strong competition ahead.

#25 Locus [Ryu] (PGR v2 #45)

With Trela fading into the mist and Darkshad falling off, Locus is now the only PGR ranked Ryu. Fortunately, he’s been carrying that burden well this season. With wins over Ally and Nairo, Locus finished 7th at Civil War. Since that event he’s continue a strong run with 5th at Midwest Mayhem 8, nearly upsetting ZeRo. At his current rate, Locus is a very strong contender to crack the top 20 this season.

#24 PG | Rich Brown [Mewtwo] (PGR v2 #23)

Smash 4’s best piano player is an unfortunate victim of the PGR’s Japanese invasion. He’s got a 5th place finish at Midwest Mayhem Saga, 17th at Genesis 4, and 13th at both Genesis Saga and CEO Dreamland. As you’ll see in a moment, he literally misses the top 20 as a result of some amazing Japanese talent becoming PGR eligible. If Rich Brown can continue to travel and place well, we will likely see him finish in the top 20 by the end of the season.

#23 Shuton [Olimar] (PGR v2 N/A)

Next in the line of “new” Japanese talent comes the world’s best Olimar. He blew up in the west with a 5th place finish at Frostbite 2017 and placed 13th at Civil War. With multiple PGR wins including WaDi and Dabuz, Shuton is having a fantastic start to his PGR season.

#22 Tsu [Lucario] (PGR v2 N/A)

It seems the PGR can only support one Lucario player, and Tsu has loudly claimed that role. He followed up a 4th at Tokaigi by taking 2nd at Frostbite 2017, upsetting ZeRo along the way. Add in a 13th at Civil War and Tsu has shown his Lucario can contend with anyone. Just as long as he doesn’t get seeded too high.

#21 9B [Bayonetta] (PGR v2 N/A)

Despite limited appearances outside Japan, 9B has shown his strength at every event. He finished 13th at both Genesis 4 and Civil War. At Civil War he took a win from Ranai, and defeated Rich Brown at Genesis. Without a top 10 win or a top 8 at an A-tier, it’s difficult to see 9B climb much higher due to his limited appearances in the US, but he is certainly capable of both.

#20 Samsora [Peach] (PGR v2 #29)

Starting off the top 20 is the Peach main who recently took 5th at CEO Dreamland. That run included wins over ANTi and VoiD. With multiple top 10 wins and top 8 at an A-tier, Samsora has shown significant improvement this season. He also has 17th at Civil War and 2nd at Smash Conference supporting his resume.

#19 EG | Zinoto [Diddy Kong] (PGR v2 #16)

We have not seen Zinoto return to his CEO form from last season. However, this season he did manage to take 1st at a B-tier event (Midwest Mayhem 6). That combined with 7th at Frostbite 2017 and 17th at Civil War, as well as 2nd at Midwest Mayhem 8 kept Zinoto from falling out of the top 20. However, he’ll need to keep up his control over the midwest with so much talent on the rise vying for a top 20 spot.

#18 PG | ESAM [Pikachu/Mewtwo/Samus] (PGR v2 #27)

ESAM has been vocal about how his recent top 10 wins should position him well for a good placing on the PGR v3. 5th at CEO Dreamland and 13th at Genesis 4 certainly don’t hurt either. Add in 4th at PAX Arena and 3rd at Smash Conference, and ESAM looks to be continuing to trend upward, with no limit on where he might finish the season.

#17 MVG | Salem [Bayonetta] (PGR v2 #13)

Just barely edging out ESAM, Salem holds onto his title as the best in Florida. His resume thus far is peppered with top 8 finishes including FPS2, Frostbite 2017, KTAR XX, and 1st place at Smash Conference. Salem also finished 25th at both Genesis 4 and Civil War, giving him a very consistent resume overall. Unfortunately, that solid resume is not enough to retain his spot at 13th this season.

#16 Fatality [Captain Falcon] (PGR v2 #28)

Many may cry fowl at this placing, arguing that Fatality only breaks the top 20 due to his run at Civil War where he finished 2nd. While that performance and the win over Nairo certainly helped, it’s far from his only notable placing. He also took 17th at Genesis Saga, FPS2, and Genesis 4. Those solid placings combined with an incredible run at Civil War offset some inconsistency in his other placings. However, there is plenty of season left and many talented players behind him. He’ll have to find a bit more consistency, or one more spectacular run in order to cement a top 20 finish.

#15 P1 | Tweek [Cloud/D.K.] (PGR v2 #17)

Tweek was one of the breakout stars at the beginning of this season. He took 4th at Genesis Saga and followed it up with 9th at Genesis 4 and 2nd at Midwest Mayhem Saga. However, his A-tier placings have been less incredible of late, finishing 33rd at Frostbite 2017 and 25th at CEO Dreamland. Fortunately, his strong start and 2nd place at KTAR XX give Tweek plenty of room to keep improving and little risk of falling out of the top 20.

#14 Ranai [Villager] (PGR v2 #14)

Thus far, Ranai is the only player to project at the same spot as PGR v2. He certainly has solid performances at Genesis 4 (9th), FPS2 (7th), Sumabato 17 (7th), and Tokaigi (5th). While more consistent in the new TTS format, Ranai has not seen anything quite like his EVO or Genesis 3 runs. If he should have a strong run at CEO or Umebura later this season, we could see the world’s best Villager start to contend for the upper limits of the rankings.

#13 DNL | Marss [Zero Suit Samus] (PGR v2 #15)

At the top of the PGR we see less dramatic movement, but each spot means that much more. Marss has fought hard to climb these two spots. He took 5th at Civil War and 7th at CEO Dreamland. New England’s favorite son also finished 5th at PAX Arena, collecting a win over ANTi. This season Marss has proven he deserves to be in the conversation with the best in the world, and shows no signs of slowing down.

#12 Misfits | Larry Lurr [Fox] (PGR v2 #5)

Like ANTi, our unbiased system was not kind to Larry. Fortunately, Larry had enough strong placings to stay in contention. He placed 5th at Midwest Mayhem Saga and 3rd at PAX Arena. The honest Fox main also grabbed 13th at Genesis and 9th at Civil War. Larry remains a strong player and dangerous man in any loser’s bracket. With multiple big events remaining this season, there is every chance that he returns to the top 10.

#11 Kirihara [Rosalina & Luma] (PGR v2 #48)

Clearly the biggest jump this season, Kirihara has suddenly found himself a dominant force. He followed up a first place finish at FPS2 with 5th place at Civil War. This is in addition to taking 4th at SGC and 5th at Tokaigi. He’s earned wins over Dabuz and ZeRo along the way, just to name a few. We may see Kirihara’s place on this list swing a bit before the season ends, but there’s no question he’s earned a place among the top 20 in the world.

#10 LG | Abadango [Mewtwo] (PGR v2 #7)

While he may fall in the PGR standings, Abadango has had a solid year. He finished 5th at Genesis and 9th at Civil War. This in addition to a 3rd place at Tokaigi, and 9th at SGC. He is hurt by a lack of attendance at the other Sagas and A-tier events so far this season, along with some incredible performances by newcomers to the top 10. He’ll need to defend his spot in the top 10 against some stiff competition throughout the remainder of this season.

#9 CLG | VoiD [Sheik] (PGR v2 #6)

With no major wins under his belt, VoiD’s #6 finish last season was due to his consistent presence in the top 8. Unfortunately, the same has not been true this season. He missed the top 8 at both S-tier events this season with 9th at Genesis 4 and 33rd at Civil War. We did still see our boy finish in the top 8 at Genesis Saga (3rd), Midwest Mayhem Saga (7th), and CEO Dreamland (7th) which secures his spot in the top 10 for now. Hopefully VoiD will remain consistent as the season finishes, allowing him to remain firmly in the top 10 or even move back towards top 5.

#8 NRG | Nairo [Zero Suit Samus/Lucina/Bowser/ask me again tomorrow] (PGR v3 #3)

Many will be surprised to see Nairo this low, as his season has been largely stellar. He took first at the Umebura Tokaigi Qualifier, and then won Tokaigi itself. He finished 3rd at both Frostbite 2017 and CEO Dreamland. When you get to the top 8, the things that set these players are minor details. Nairo is unfortunately the only player in the top 8 to not place top 8 in at least one of the two S-tier events this season. Fortunately for Naifu Nation, there’s still plenty of season left for Nairo to overcome that fact.

#7 C9 | Ally [Mario] (PGR v2 #2)

Last season, Ally’s standing was largely due to his victory at EVO. While he has no S-tier win this season, he did finish 2nd at Genesis 4. Ally is another player who’s been hurt by his lack of attendance. He has not attended a single A-tier event yet this season except for Frostbite 2017 (7th). While his placings at B-tier events are solid, and his resume remains good enough for top 10, the volume is not there to justify going any higher than 7th at this point. If he attends the remaining Saga events and does well at CEO, we could easily see him climb higher.

#6 ???? | Mr. R [Sheik/Cloud] (PGR v2 #10)

The prevailing theory is that Mr. R has left Elevate for a new, better deal with a new team. With his performance this season, that should come as little surprise. He finished 5th at Genesis 4 and 9th at Civil War. Being the only PGR player from Europe also allowed Mr. R to grab some free points by taking 1st at Beast 7, to go with his recent 2nd place at CEO Dreamland. With trending memes, potential new sponsors, and a rising stock in the PGR, we seem to have come a long way from POOR | Mr. R.

#5 2GG | Komorikiri [Cloud/Sonic] (PGR v2 #12)

Thanks to the overwhelming support of his sponsor, Komorikiri has been one of the most well-traveled players of the year. He has attended nearly every A-tier event this season, and made top 8 at all but Frostbite 2017. With a 7th at Genesis 4 and 17th at Civil War, Komo remained incredibly consistent all season. I would imagine Champ and crew are quite happy with their choice of player to sponsor.

#4 Captain Zack [Bayonetta] (PGR v2 #20)

At this point, many people have closed this article and are currently on Reddit stating that this placing invalidates the whole project. I myself was very skeptical of placing Zack this high. However, the results speak for themselves. While he does not get credit for the win over Komorikiri, his 4th place finish at Genesis 4 remains valid. This is in addition to taking 4th at Civil War. Save for Dabuz, no other player on the PGR made top 8 at both S-tier events this season. This is in addition to finishing 5th at FPS2 and Midwest Mayhem 6. Captain Zack is unquestionably a top 10 player this season, where he finishes will be one of the biggest stories going forward.

#3 FOX | MVG | MK Leo [Cloud/Marth/Shiek] (PGR v2 #8)

While we did not seek to reward one strong placing in this mock ranking, it is my belief that winning an event should still carry significant weight. However, to be top three in the world, that win needs some supporting evidence. Leo backs up his 1st at Genesis 4 with his placings at Genesis Saga (5th), Frame Perfect Series 2 (3rd), and Frostbite 2017 (13th). This placing is also significantly helped by our small pool of data. If these are Leo’s only notable placings at the end of the season, we will likely see him fall back down near his #8 from last season. However, as of right now MK Leo has had the third best overall performance this season.

#2 RNG | Dabuz [Rosaline & Luma/Olimar] (PGR v2 #4)

As with Leo, taking first at an S-tier gives Dabuz a significant boost. However, Dabuz is making a case for this placing even without over-valuing that win. 4th at CEO Dreamland and Frostbite, 7th at Genesis 4 and Tokaigi, 5th at FPS2, 2nd at PAX Arena–no one can deny Dabuz has had an outstanding season. With no signs of slowing down, finishing in 2nd is a very real possibility.

#1 TSM | ZeRo [Diddy Kong/PersistentBlade] (PGR v2 #1)

What is there to even say? With an overwhelming number of first place finishes, 3rd at Genesis 4, and a body of work no one can even touch–ZeRo remains uncontested as the best player in the world. ZeRo could take the rest of the season to stream some Dropzone and still probably finish in first place. Put simply: ZeRo’s really good.

 

 

Thanks for Reading!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read, comment, yell at me, whatever! This was an incredibly fun exercise. We did learn a few things that I want to share here as discussion points to watch for when the final PGR v3 is released.

 

  1. SoCal bias–Every Saga event is A-tier or better to this point. This gave far greater chance to players from that region to earn a spot. Particularly at the bottom, the last 10 spots were flooded with SoCal players that made good runs at Saga events. It’s unclear whether or not this is a problem, but certainly something to keep an eye on with more Sagas to come this season.
  2. ANTi boosted kids–When breaking a tie between players, we gave special weight to wins against the top 10. ANTi has given out a lot of wins against the top 10 so far this season. This could have a very real effect on the PGR if players make top 10 and then fall of drastically.
  3. S/A-tier versus B/C–Our methodology gave significantly more weight to S- and A-tier tournaments. While our goal was to reward consistency, we still possibly over-rewarded players who had one great run at an A-tier event. This method left players like Scatt, WaDi, Tyrant, Saj, and Dyr completely off the PGR where a system that gave more weight to C-tier events may have given them a shot.
  4. The bottom is volatile–while I still don’t think there’s any reason to expand the PGR beyond 50, the bottom of the list is insanely up in the air. You could easily make a case for 10 different players to earn spots 45-50. No matter what, someone deserving will be snubbed on a 50-person ranking.
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Protecting and Growing Local Scenes

local.jpg

Earlier this week we discussed a potential road map which could lead to Melee HD. There was some awesome discussion on Reddit with that post and I really appreciate the community getting so engaged in this topic. However, one concern was brought up that I want to discuss further today.

Some were concerned that Melee HD would bring with it a better and broader online competitive experience. If that happens, it could potentially kill many local scenes. Why would nerds leave their house and drive two hours to a weekly when they could just play online? Now, some of you reading this are saying “that would never happen, Smash is all about competing in person and that will never change.” To a certain extent I agree with you, fake internet person I made up for the purpose of this conversation.

Clear and Present Danger

However, let’s consider something for a moment. I would imagine Blockbuster thought in much the same way, until Netflix and Redbox came along. Taking that analogy further, more cable providers are getting access to movies while they are still in theaters. Movie theaters are having to adapt, or risk losing business. Same with card shops. Where once you had to go to the shop to play in tournaments, now games like Magic Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon all have online versions that are accessible from home. This is a very common issue for most industries. Everything stays the same way it’s always been, until something changes. While I don’t think local play will ever completely die, a great online Melee experience could potentially hurt local scenes.

Obviously, Melee HD is largely a pipe dream at this point. Even using my road map from earlier, we are still at least a decade away from release. However, It is entirely possible that Nintendo could decide to make Smash 4 online not suck. If they added an official ladder with interesting incentives, you could very well see the same threat to local Smash 4 scenes.

Let’s even assume Nintendo never gets their act together and their online systems always suck. Smash is rapidly gaining competition in the Platform Fighter genre. Games like Rivals of Aether, Brawlhalla, and whatever Wavedash calls their game will have active developer support and care deeply about a quality online experience. As those games gain support and investment, they represent real competition. You could very well see players become disenfranchised with the local scene, and abandon their favorite Smash game in favor of the online scene for an indie platform fighter.

Prepare for Tomorrow

So, while the threat is not immediate, it is absolutely something we should be thinking about now. I’ve spoken often about the importance of “future-proofing” your organization. Whether you’re a massive brand like VG Boot Camp or a tiny local in Idaho, you need to take time to plan for the future and solve problems before they exist. We need to learn from movie theaters and card game shops who have been dealing with this issue for years. Today let’s examine some ways to make your local “future-proof”. Hopefully we’ll also show you some things that can help grow your scene today.

Ambiance

Most movie theaters used to suck. They were dirty, the movie didn’t start on time, the cashier was rude, and the food was mediocre at best. Your house was way more comfortable, but it didn’t have the new Xmen movie, so you were forced to go to a theater. Now, you can sit on your comfy couch and watch Xmen on your giant TV with no loud old dude asking his wife why the guy with the claws is so mad all the time. Movie theaters were forced to adapt. They couldn’t change their product or compete on exclusivity anymore, so they had to compete on ambiance. They added reclining chairs, more food options, bring that food to you in your seat, serve alcohol, etc. By adding all this ambiance, they made going to the movies feel special. You don’t have to go to the theater, but you get a better viewing experience than you would at home.

This should be the same at your local event. You have to make the experience of coming to a local better than sitting at home. Every time I go to a Magic release event, the venue either sells snacks, or has a deal with the restaurant next door. One place actually had an iPad where you could order a burger, and someone from next door would bring it over to the venue. Do you have food for your attendees? Can you bring in a fridge and sell snacks? Could you partner with a local food truck or diner?

Card shops don’t do as well with our next point, but the ones that do thrive beyond belief: cleaning. Think about it: much of your target audience is below the legal driving age. If they want to come out to a local, they need Mom to drive them. How comfortable is Mom with your venue? How bad is the smell? How many spots are there on the carpet? How many holes are in the wall?  Even if you don’t own the venue this is fixable. Run a vacuum, light a candle, bring some posters for the wall and a rug for the spot on the floor. If you have the space, create a “Moms and Girlfriends Chill Zone”. These people are almost more important than your actual attendees, because they control whether or not that kid gets to come back next week. With minimal effort, you can make the experience of attending a local far better than sitting alone playing wifi at home.

Welcome Newbies

Smash is constantly growing, and will continue to do so for several years. As it grows, you are going to get new people showing up for your events. At your next local, go outside and try walking in as a complete newbie, someone who’s never been to a tournament in their life. When you walk in, do you know where to sign up? Is there someone there to walk you through the process? Are the rules clearly posted and available? Is someone on staff assigned to welcome you and walk you through registration?

Never underestimate the power of a greeter. This is something we can learn from churches. Go to any church with crappy attendance, and see how long it takes for someone to greet you. Next, go to a bigger, successful church. Odds are someone is there the moment you get out of your car. They guide you to the “welcome desk” where you fill out a card with your information. You probably get a welcome gift. Then someone explains the flow of service, points out the bathrooms, and escorts you into the sanctuary. They guide you to your seat, and the people around you immediately shake your hand and welcome you once again. Then, within the next week you get an email or handwritten letter thanking you for coming and informing you of the next upcoming events.

How’s that compare to the first timer experience at your local? I promise you, get a greeter on staff and some solid welcome practices, you’ll be amazed at your retention rate. Don’t sleep on that follow-up email either. This is a powerful tool that takes no skill and little effort for massive returns.

Special Events

This is something that movie theaters are nailing lately. The whole marketing tactic for theaters now is to make attending the theater special. Ambiance plays a role in this, but so do special events. Many theaters will show limited runs of unique movies like Dragon Ball or Mystery Science Theater. They broadcast live opera, making it more accessible to people who don’t live in New York City. League of Legends partnered with a bunch of theaters to show the World Championships last year. These events make it so that going to the theater is more than just a weekly routine to see the latest Fast and Furious film. They pepper in these unique events to grab a different audience or give their regulars a new experience.

One could argue that Smash already succeeds at this. We have monthlies and majors that break up the routine and provide a bigger experience. However, to a casual observer a monthly is just a bigger version of the weekly. It’s not really a unique experience. Maybe a PGR player gets flown in, which is cool, but it’s not necessarily special when compared to the weekly experience. It’s still just a singles bracket and doubles side event, just with more people. Plus, monthlies don’t necessarily translate to increased attendance at your weeklies. I’m talking more about special events that shake up the weekly routine.

If your weekly is close to Halloween night, have a costume contest. Once in a while do a ladies night where women get free registration. Once a month do a theme night where the venue gets decorated. Introduce different side events. Talk to your regulars, see what would be fun for them.

The key to these events is marketing. Make sure you plaster flyers and branding everywhere you can. Advertise at the venue at least a month in advance. Encourage your regulars to invite their friends. Put up flyers at every local college and mall. Get the word out, and deliver on the promised experience.

Incentivize Attendance

You want your weekly to be a habit for your regulars. Ideally the event is enough fun each week that people want to come back. However, life often gets in the way, and it’s easy for gamers to get distracted and miss a week here and there. You cannot allow this. When people break their routine it is hard to get back on track. If someone misses a week, they are way more likely to miss the next week. Regular attendance is critical. You need to be able to count on numbers for planning, marketing, and growth.

Every card shop rewards attendance at their weekly events. All Magic leagues have a point system that carries over multiple months. Think about how well daily log-in rewards work in mobile games. That same psychology works with attendance rewards at your weekly.

Local power rankings are a great place to start. Players need to keep attending events in order to compete for that top 10 spot. However, PRs are fundamentally flawed for incentivizing attendance because they exclusively reward performance. When you want your weekly to grow, you can’t just reward the 15 best players in the region. You need to reward that awful Ganon player who busters out every week but hasn’t missed a weekly in two years. That guy matters so much!

Go a step beyond PRs and come up with a loyalty program for your weekly. Give out prizes, let people earn points of some kind just by showing up. This will take some planning and organization, but it goes such a long way. You make missing even one weekly a decision with consequence. You’re not trying to punish people with lives, but rather you’re rewarding the people that keep you going. This is also useful for retention. When someone new shows up, now they’ve got these floating points that have no value unless they come back next week. If done right, an incentive program more than pays for itself.

There are plenty of other ways to keep improving your local events, but let’s hear from you guys. What do you do at your local that’s been working great? If you attend weeklies, what could your local TO do better? What’s he doing that well? What else can we be doing to “future-proof” our local scenes?

The Road Map to Melee HD

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About a month ago, Blizzard Entertainment announced a remastered version of their ground-breaking RTS, Starcraft: Brood War. The game will keep all of its mechanics and gameplay identical to the original version, but will update the graphics and optimize the game for modern computers/monitors. This was of course met with excitement from the Brood War community, but left me with a burning question: if Starcraft, why not Melee?

The parallels should be obvious to anyone who knows both games. Each is an old entry in a franchise with modern, popular titles in circulation today. Both have incredibly difficult mechanics that represent a high skill floor. Further, both games are still heavily supported by their competitive communities. At the surface level, both games appear to have equal merit for HD remasters. Heck, Melee is a newer game, so it should be even easier to optimize for a newer console like the Switch. However, when you start to examine the differences beyond the games themselves, the games are worlds apart. I believe that looking into the reasons to make Starcraft Remastered could give us a road map for how to make Melee HD a reality.

Korea

Blizzard has made it clear that they made Starcraft Remastered specifically for South Korea. They even made the announcement at a South Korean Starcraft event. The company was losing control of the biggest esports market, and Starcraft Remastered was their only way back in.

Let me explain quickly for anyone who doesn’t know esports outside of Smash. Essentially, Starcraft was the first major esport. In Korea, Starcraft is essentially what Football is in the rest of the world. Pros are huge stars, matches are regularly shown on mainstream TV, the game is a cultural institution. When Starcraft 2 came out, Koreans tried it. They still come out to international competitions to take other players’ lunch money. However, back home Brood War has remained king. Blizzard was spending all this money on marketing and production to try and sell Starcraft 2, and the biggest fans of the franchise just weren’t biting. However, because Brood War was no longer being supported by Blizzard, and its age was showing, Blizzard was starting to lose control of the esports market in Korea. Players and viewers have been slowly transitioning to more modern and rewarding experiences like League of Legends for the last several years.

Nothing Blizzard did with Starcraft 2 was ever going to recapture the Korean market. The game just didn’t give them the things they loved from the original. The company’s only option was to find a way to make money off of what Korea actually wanted–a remastered version of Brood War. The biggest fans of the Starcraft franchise made it obvious what they wanted, and giving them what they wanted also made the most financial sense to Blizzard. This is a key piece of the puzzle, we’ll talk about it more in a bit.

Remake, not Remaster

This is overwhelmingly important. You do not want Nintendo to announce Melee HD today, because Japanese companies have proven that they would always rather remake a game than remaster it.

Let me explain. In a remaster, nothing is changed except for the performance of the game. Graphics are updated, and the game is optimized for modern computers/consoles and TVs. A remake is completely different. Bugs are patched out, the game is rebalanced, new features and game modes are added, new characters are introduced. The core of the game is there, but in many ways you are playing a brand new game.

Blizzard understood that they had to remaster Starcraft, not remake it. Many people have argued that they should have updated the game–given you access to more hotkeys, update the pathing of dragoons, etc. However, making any of these changes would have fundamentally changed the balance of the game. The difficulty of controlling units is the only thing preventing Zerg from being completely overpowered in that game. If Blizzard had tried to introduce new units, given the game modern control conveniences, or fixed the unit AI, it would have broken the game. Doing so may have made the game more accessible to brand new audiences, but that’s not why they made this remaster. They made it for the existing fanbase–for the passionate esports fans in Korea who already love the game but want it to run better on their modern PC. Those fans did not want a remake, and would not have supported it.

Currently, Nintendo and Japanese developers in general have a preference for remakes over remasters. They viciously patched Ocarina of Time and Majora’s mask to remove the bugs that speed runners utilize. New characters and gameplay were added to the DS port of Super Mario 64. With Nintendo’s current philosophy, even if they were convinced that Melee HD made good business sense, they would remake the game rather than simply remastering it.

For the Community

Starcraft Remastered was ultimately made for its community. Blizzard takes pride in their place in esports history. They recognize how privileged they are to be such an institution in Korea. While they are going to make a profit from Starcraft Remastered, the game was ultimately made as a thank you to this giant community that made them the titans of early esports. It took decades of unwavering loyalty to their game, and Blizzard tried desperately to bring them over to their newer, more profitable titles. However, eventually they recognized that there was something special here. There was an opportunity to reconnect with this fanbase in a way that benefited both sides.

Blizzard will always continue to push Starcraft 2–the game has far more opportunity to make them money. However, they recognized that there was enough opportunity with this loyal fanbase of their old game that they decided to work with both games for the good of everyone.

Where Melee HD Falls Short

So, those are all the reasons that Starcraft Remastered works. Many of you probably already see what is missing for Melee HD, but let me spell it out and see how we can get there.

First, Starcraft Remastered only makes sense because of its success as an esport. Melee is popular, and more popular than Smash 4, but it is still a relatively small esport. In terms of sponsor interest, viewership, and prize money it’s probably not even top 10. For Melee HD to ever make sense, there has to be a massive spike in esports interest. There need to be thousands of people who love watching the game but don’t play it. The game needs to be regularly seeing 50k prize pools for every major. Even if every other hurdle is overcome, the game will not make financial sense for Nintendo without a significant growth in Melee as an esport.

Second, it has to be made clear that the game needs a remaster, not a remake. There are many things that could be improved in Melee. It’d be great to have one more solid competitive stage to replace Pokemon Stadium. Balance patches would be amazing to boost up some of the low tier characters. I don’t trust Nintendo to do that correctly. If we get new stages and balance changes, but they also give the game Smash 4’s ledge grab mechanics, is that worth it?

To me, that fundamentally changes how the game is played, and potentially splits the playerbase between the old and new versions. The versions must be identical for this to ever work. Nintendo needs to understand that we love this game BECAUSE of its flaws. The things they would want to change are exactly what make the game popular. Changing those things would make Melee fans not buy the new version. I think we are already doing a great job communicating this, but it needs to be even clearer. When Nintendo is finally convinced to port Melee, they need to understand that the best business decision is to make an exact port of the current game.

Third, Nintendo has to actually care about esports. This is currently the second biggest hurdle facing Melee HD. Nintendo has shown almost no interest in supporting esports for their current titles, much less older games like Melee. Melee HD only makes sense as an esports play, so Nintendo first has to see the financial benefit of being directly involved with esports. This means that as fans of Melee, we have to be fans of anything Nintendo Japan does that even remotely supports esports. We need to give them massive views for events like Tokaigi. If they ever do a tournament for Splatoon or Arms, we have to support it like crazy. They need to see that they are leaving money on the table by ignoring esports, which will lead us to then convince them why Melee has so much potential in that space.

Finally, Nintendo of America has to want to fight for us. Japan is about a decade behind when it comes to internet culture. You can easily see this in the way Nintendo designs their online functionality, as well as the way Atlus has tried to censor streamers with Persona 5. The nation as a whole is very set on doing things their way, and shows no signs of changing any time soon. As such, Nintendo of America is where we should actively focus. They have already proven that they are aware of Melee. If they didn’t care about it, Hbox would never have been part of any Smash promotions they’ve done. From everything I can see, the guys at Nintendo of America actually like competitive Smash, and Melee in particular. We have to show them that Melee support is a fight worth having with Nintendo Japan. They’ve already supported Smash 4 at a few events, and see the potential in partnering with TOs to promote Arms.  The Melee community needs to support this initiative. Instead of asking “why didn’t Nintendo tweet about Melee” we need to say “it’s so cool that Nintendo is supporting Smash!!!!!!!”

This is an area where Smash 4’s wins are Melee’s wins. Smash 4 is a way easier sell to Nintendo Japan, and it’s a place Nintendo of America can start showing more support first. Since most big events have both games, it’s up to the Melee community to show their support for Nintendo when they make these moves. If you’re at an event with an Arms booth, go try it out. Tweet about it. Tweet at the Melee gods about how cool it would be to see them battle in Arms. If you ever see Hbox or Mang0 or someone involved in a Nintendo promotion, share it like crazy. However, you need to also support that promotion if it has ZeRo or Nairo. Remember, any time Smash wins, Melee wins.

As you can see, there is a long road ahead if Melee HD can ever become a reality. However, Starcraft Remastered shows that huge game companies can see the value in their old esports titles. If we follow this road map, we have a real shot at seeing Melee HD in our lifetime. With any luck, our hands will still be able to hold controllers by then.

The Mental Game: Motivation, Confidence, Depression

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I have always loved Smash for it’s mechanical freedom. Coming from MOBAs, the free-flowing movement options in Smash left me in awe. With enough technical execution, characters have seemingly endless kill options and setup opportunities.

Much of the success of a Smash pro lies in their mechanics. Especially in Melee, there is a skill floor so high that it is impenetrable to someone the first time they touch the game. This is why the game is so beautiful to watch. If two players execute their inputs to the best of their ability, the player with better technique will win every time.

However, Smash’s true beauty lies in something beyond it’s mechanics. The better player does not win every time. There are no crazy RNG mechanics like in Hearthstone (or at least very few that meaningfully impact the average match). The reality is that, like all great sports, being physically talented is only half the battle. Where Smash truly excels as an esport is in it’s mental game. Knowing matchups, conditioning opponents, reading tendencies, etc. Even beyond knowledge, a player’s mental state plays a critical role in their ability to perform on stage. Today, I want to explore three potential limits to a player’s mental game, and how to overcome them. The discussion today is based on what I have seen on Twitter from a few specific players, but we’ll be generalizing today in order to be useful to a wider range of people.

Motivation

Prepare for the deepest and most powerful sentence you’ve ever seen on this blog: being really good at Smash takes a lot of work. In Smash 4, just learning all the relevant matchups is like taking a college math class. Not to mention all the practice required to nail your inputs consistently. There are so many talented players at every tournament, all fighting for that grand finals win. To remain competitive, you can never stop practicing, never stop learning.

Motivation is a key determining factor in success. Are you willing to put in the work day after day to master your mechanics, to learn your matchups? Can you drive six hours to a tournament, drown in pools, and come home on Monday ready to get back to practice? That is the level of motivation required to reach the top.

If you struggle with motivation, there are three keys to finding that drive, and keeping it going through anything.

1. Find Your Why

Why did you start competing in the first place? What was that moment that made you realize this was something that mattered to you? What is it about playing in tournaments that you love? If you understand your “why”, it reshapes everything. All the work, disappointment, and stress is just a part of the package. It’s a step in the process that keeps allowing you to do what you love.

Ray Lewis, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, said it best. “You pay me for Monday through Saturday. Sunday, you get Sunday for free.” He was willing to go through all the pain and hard work of practice week after week. To run, tackle, study, stretch, and lift all because it was part of the process that let him play on Sunday. He loved playing football so much, that it was worth any sacrifice to be able to stand on that field with his teammates. If you are struggling with motivation, take some time to reflect and find your “why”. Realign your practice, your focus, and your mentality on getting to achieve that “why” as often as possible.

2. Set Small, Achievable Metrics

This is the exact same problem everyone has with New Year’s resolutions. People set goals like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to read more.” These are great goals, but they have no clear, defined metric for success. The same is true in Smash. Setting a goal like “I want to play better” or “I want to win more” won’t help you at all. You haven’t defined what success looks like.

When you are struggling with motivation, you need to redefine success. Your brain needs to see that regular, consistent progress is being made. Set smaller goals that are clearly achievable, but still move you towards your goal. Set goals like “I will do 50 perfect-pivots in a row each day” or “I will play 100 For Glory matches this week”. These are goals that you almost can’t help but achieve. They require some effort, but the success is in doing a volume of work, not specifically in victory. Obviously you’ll work back up to goals like making top 8 or winning a major. However, when you are struggling with motivation it is important to train your mind to expect success. Allow yourself small victories as a practice for the big success down the road.

3. Be Held Accountable

Motivation is the first thing to go when you feel weak. Whether you’re sick, depressed, or just tired, there will always be times when motivation is virtually impossible. You have to have someone push you through those moments. If your goals truly matter, you have to put in the work even which it feels impossible. There are virtually no humans on Earth who can motivate themselves in moments of real weakness.

Find someone you trust who will hold you accountable to your goals. Someone who you know will ask if you’ve done all your perfect-pivots today.Someone who will then call you out if you haven’t put in the work. No one has ever achieved real success alone, don’t think for a moment that you’ll be the first. You need a support system in place not only to cheer you on, but to drag your lazy butt uphill towards victory.

Confidence

It’s amazing how many people are more powerful in friendlies than in bracket. Actually, it isn’t amazing at all if you understand psychology. Studies show that most people are at their best when relaxed. There are certainly some people who shine when under the most stress and pressure, but screw those people, they don’t need this blog. Confidence is critical in Smash. In a game of two-frame windows, a lack of confidence will ruin you. You can’t hesitate for even a moment or you’ll lose the opening to punish, miss your edgeguard, or just flub an input. To understand how to achieve confidence, let’s look at two of the best to ever do it: Mang0 and Armada.

1. Mang0

Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that Mang0 oozes confidence. He simply knows he’s the best. It’s not bragging, it’s not some facade–the man simply knows that he is the very best Melee player to ever do it. Many people would disagree, and the data doesn’t support this claim right now, but Mang0 genuinely knows in his heart that he deserves to win because he is better than anyone else.

This kind of confidence is so powerful. It lets you take calculated risks because you know they will work. “Of course I got that edgeguard, I knew I would.” When you play with that level of confidence, it removes all hesitation. Inputs come faster, strings are cleaner, it’s beautiful to watch. Obviously with Mang0 there are plenty of other discussions to have about the mental game, but for now just focus on this. Mang0 is so good BECAUSE he knows he’s so good.

So how do you achieve Mang0’s level of confidence? Believe your own hype. If you struggle with self-confidence, overcorrect. Find any small victory and practice being crazy hyped about it. “Holy crap, did you see that fair-footstool? I’m probably the best fox in the game right now. Larry Lurr better watch himself!” Repeat it over and over again. Give yourself a mantra. It will feel weird at first, but this is essentially a form of meditation. Like I said, don’t be afraid to overcorrect. If confidence really is an issue, you don’t have to be afraid of becoming some cocky jerk. Allow yourself one week just straight up believing that you’re amazing. Lost a game? Who cares, I’d crush that guy if we played best of 5. Drowned in pools? Psh, whatever, those matchups suck for my character, I’d have ruined them with my secondary. Go into every match just knowing that you are destined to win. If you can combine this with our next example, you’ll become an unstoppable force.

2. Armada

Armada also knows he’s the very best to ever do it, but for a completely different reason. Hailing from Europe, Armada’s rise to prominence was a uniquely lonely experience. While he’s always had family and friends to practice with, there’s never been anyone on the whole continent even close to his level of power. He doesn’t get to play against demigods on a regular basis, he can’t attend as many smaller tournaments and practice against his fellow gods. As such, Armada has had to rely on his training to carry him through. He studies like a madman. He reviews vods, studies matchups, and practices his mechanics for hours.

When Armada shows up to a tournament, he knows for certain he is going to win, just like Mang0. However, Armada isn’t just believing his own hype. He’s trusting that the work he did in advance will carry him to the top. He knows that no one worked harder, studied more, or prepared better for this event. Nobody could possibly beat him, because they didn’t work hard enough. You can’t outwork Armada, so you have no chance at beating Armada.

When you struggle with feeling confident, this is a great tool to have in your arsenal. Just trust in your preparation. “Man, I always lose to Jigglypuff, but I’ve spent the last month watching every Hbox match I could find. Today, this Puff doesn’t stand a chance because there’s no way he understands the matchup as well as I do.” If you feel your confidence slipping, stop and close your eyes. Think back to all the work you put in for this event. This about the hours of practice, all the friendlies you won. Remember all the times you’ve beaten this character. If it’s a new matchup, trust your fundamentals. You’ve worked on spacing, on edgeguarding–trust that you are just better at playing clean Smash. If no one worked harder than you, there’s no way anyone can play better than you.  Believe it.

Depression

Motivation and Confidence are skills just like anything else. They come naturally to some, but to others they require practice. If you practice Motivation and Confidence, you will improve at both guaranteed. The same is not entirely true of Depression. Depression takes several forms, and can be at the root of all struggles relating to Motivation or Confidence. If that is the case, simply practicing the techniques above won’t be enough. You have to attack the heart of the problem first. In my years as a mentor, coach, pastor, and husband I have witnessed real depression in all it’s many forms. I promise you that it can be overcome. It can be made manageable. Today I want to give you a few tools, and some hope for how to make that happen.

1. Ignore the Lies

Everyone feels sad at times. What makes depression different is the way that your brain will actively lie to you. When sad, a healthy person’s brain will say “this is a bad feeling, let’s do something to fix it.” A brain with depression will instead say “this is a bad feeling, but you are a bad person so this is the correct way you should feel.” If that sentence sounds familiar, I want you to know that it is a lie. No one deserves to feel sad. You are wonderful, beautiful, and made just the way that God intended.

You deserve as much happiness as anyone else in this world. More than anyone else, because you are a member of our Smash family. We love you no matter what. Even if you play Bayonetta, we truly love you. Right now your brain is actively lying to you, telling you what you’re reading is not true. Do not let those lies win. Recognize that you deserve joy, and fight through the lies so that healing can happen.

2. Talk About It

Just like a mold or fungus, depression grows faster in the dark. However, that growth halts in the light. Talk about your emotions, explain exactly what you’re feeling. Talking to someone will help separate the valid emotions from the brain-lies. As in any good fantasy novel, speaking the name of something gives you power over it.

Further, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting counseling or therapy. It is my belief that every human on Earth would benefit from regular counseling, no matter who they are. The human brain is overwhelmingly complex–how can we expect to control it without expert help? You wouldn’t be able to drive a car if someone didn’t teach you, shouldn’t you treat your mind the same way? My DMs are open and my email address is listed on this site. If you feel like you have no one else, I would love to talk to you. No matter what, force yourself to at least verbally acknowledge to someone that you are struggling with this issue. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.

3. Medication

I am firmly against going to medication first for any problem. However, depression and anxiety disorders often stem from an imbalance of chemicals in your brain. Sometimes you need to take something to help regulate those chemicals. If you struggle with any sort of anxiety or depression, I would very strongly recommend asking a doctor about a drug called Lexapro. There are lots of drugs out there for depression, but many of them simply turn off your ability to feel extremes one way or the other, which isn’t really a solution. Lexapro simply gives you the power to sort through the real emotions and the brain-lies.

My wife describes it as if there is a screen door in front of the anxiety. She’s aware it’s there, but she can essentially examine it from the outside rather than having to live within it. If you have questions, I would highly recommend watching this video from the guys at Penny Arcade discussing the same thing. It was through this video that I first heard about the drug and thought to ask her doctor about it. I can’t tell you how much of a difference it’s made.

So, I know we took a rather serious turn at the end, but I felt that this entire article would have been pointless if we didn’t address the root issue for so many people. Smash is merely one aspect of life, but your mental fortitude is relevant for everything. Your mind is just as critical a tool as your controller. I know how much you all care about your controllers, you should invest at least as much time in your mind.

2GG vs CEO: No Beef but Lesson Learned

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First, before getting into today’s topic at all, I want to apologize for my part in stirring the pot yesterday. I let passion and intrigue get the best of me and pushed the narrative that I found to be most interesting, rather than providing a fair, balanced account of the events. It was unprofessional, and unfitting of the quality of content I attempt to create with this blog. While I know I have very little influence in the Smash community currently, I do take what little credibility you’ve given me very seriously. I failed that yesterday, and want to apologize to 2GG, and to anyone I mislead during the initial moments of the drama that unfolded.

For anyone who doesn’t know, we’ll do a quick recap of what transpired in a moment, but I briefly want to explain the point of this piece. Upon reading it, the first response of many will be “why dredge up drama that proved to be false?” “Aren’t you just making more trouble by revisiting this issue when it’s solved?” To those people, I would beg that you read the entire article. I will attempt to present the facts of the event in a neutral way, and want to simply discuss the lessons that can be learned from them. I believe that there are very important things to discuss here that will matter as Smash organizations grow in size and influence. I will in no way attempt to build up the controversy or create new drama, merely examine historical events from a PR and Marketing perspective, as I have done several times before on this blog.

So What Happened

Briefly, for anyone who didn’t see, yesterday CEO Dreamland kicked off with doubles for all events. Unfortunately, the event started with no streaming. Jebailey and GIMR took to Twitter to explain that their assets were delayed due to their streamer having a near-death experience. They were working to resolve the issue, but the stream was delayed by several hours, so most of the doubles matches took place with no stream coverage.

Eventually, the 2GG Twitter account tweeted asking where the stream was. While in actuality this was an honest question asked by a busy man who had not seen the explanations, it had room for interpretation. Myself and a few others believed that 2GG was actually subtly making fun of CEO for having stream issues. While most dismissed this notion, it gained traction when suddenly Jebailey responded.

Now, it should be noted that 2GG quickly refuted Jebailey’s claims, many people were quick to clarify the misunderstanding, and both 2GG and Jebailey apologized for the misunderstanding and overreaction respectively. Within a few hours, any potential beef was squashed, 2GG was then tweeting out the streams and helping CEO gain it’s lost momentum back. Clearly this was a simple misunderstanding with no ill will or vindictive planning behind it.

The Public Figurehead

Since I initially saw the 2GG tweet the same way Jebailey did, I want to explain that reasoning first. If you take a moment to read back through my past posts, you’ll see that I am a massive fan of 2GG. I have been critical at times, and do take genuine issue with some of their marketing decisions, but on the whole I find them to be one of the most important things happening in Smash. After Civil War, they are the undisputed kings of Smash tournament organization. They are a monolith, towering over everyone else.

Because of their titanic stature, it is easy to sometimes forget that their organization is in reality rather small and volunteer-focused. When the 2GG tweet went out, it stuck out for this very reason. 2GG is so influential and able to pull off things like Civil War, how could they possibly not follow people like Jebailey and GIMR? How could they have possibly not already seen the announcement? Since it seemed so unlikely that no one in the organization was aware of the issue, the only logical conclusion was that this question was in fact a comment on the situation itself.

However, as soon as you realize how the 2GG twitter account is handled, it’s easy to remove that concern. Champ does not use his personal Twitter. It has virtually no followers. From everything I can tell, he is also the only person who runs the official 2GG account. He also still has a full-time day job. As such, it makes perfect sense that Champ, the human person and not 2GG the all-powerful smash organization made that tweet. A very busy man had a short moment to catch up on some smash action, and hadn’t seen the explanations because he had not caught up on his Twitter feed yet that day. Simple, and makes perfect sense.

You Speak for the Brand

This is precisely why I wanted to discuss this drama at all today. As 2GG continues to grow, there will be more and more people who separate 2GG the brand from Champ the human. Eventually there will be a majority of people who don’t even know who Champ is, but actively follow and support 2GG. Look at the massive gaming convention, PAX. They were started by two guys named Mike and Jerry who make a funny webcomic. Now, most of the people that go to PAX are not going to meet their favorite webcomic creators. They are going for esports, to see their friends, and to see upcoming video games. If you polled the entire crowd at a PAX, you would likely find that a surprising number of the attendees don’t even read Penny Arcade, they just wanted to go to a great gaming convention.

If the official PAX twitter had posted something like what 2GG did, there would be no recovering from it. PAX has a full-time organizational staff who are actively involved in the games industry. It would be unacceptable and unbelievable for an organization of that scale to be unaware of events in the industry. As an organization, 2GG is quickly entering the same domain. They are the kings of Smash 4. Their mission statement and customer-facing messaging are always about supporting the community as a whole. It is not okay for an organization of that scale with those values to be unaware of events at any A-tier tournament. However, it is perfectly reasonable for one man to have a busy day at work and not see what’s been going on.

Had this tweet come from a personal twitter account for Champ, there is no room for interpretation. “Hey guys, busy day today but wanted to check out the Dreamland streams, anyone know what’s up?” Very clear that one man didn’t know what was going on and asked a simple question. However, when you tweet from the official account of an organization, every tweet speaks for the brand as a whole. You are saying that 2GG the organization is unaware of what is happening at Dreamland.

Overall, this particular event was harmless and quickly resolved. However, it represents one of the potential dangers that has made me so critical of 2GG’s PR strategy in the past. Any business, and any good PR strategist would tell you that the president of an organization cannot tweet from it’s official Twitter account. If you should ever accidentally tweet the wrong thing, overreact to a rude comment, or post something controversial, you are doing so on behalf of the entire organization.

Let’s even remove the vindictive interpretation of this tweet. Obviously Champ meant no harm and was asking a legitimate question. However, it does make 2GG the organization look disorganized. Bam was at the event. How could 2GG the organization not know why the streams were down, when a member of 2GG was in attendance? Now, Bam was actually at the event as a representative of Esports Arena, but he remains a high profile member of the 2GG brand. It creates a difficult disconnect when the brand doesn’t know what’s happening, but an influencer in the brand is actually at the event, and obviously aware of what’s happening.

Not Just a Person Anymore

Again, in the context of this specific circumstance, everything is perfectly clear and there are no issues. However, the potential danger remains. As 2GG continues to grow, there will be more separation between the brand, and the man behind it all. Champ will have to remember that when 2GG tweets, most of its followers will not see Champ the human sending the tweet. They will see the big, corporate organization behind Civil War. It may not be a problem today, but it represents a gap in 2GG’s seemingly impenetrable armor.

This is a lesson for every member of the smash community to learn. We all love to throw tags in front of our names and be a part of a clan, team, or organization larger than ourselves. However, as Smash continues to become more mainstream, the influence of that tag will become larger and larger. Eventually, you will no longer just be representing yourself. When you wear that tag, you will be representing and speaking for an organization. This is a responsibility that every member of the community should take seriously. If you want smash to grow, and you represent any sort of brand or team, remember that your social media carries a different significance. Consider the weight of that responsibility each time you click “send”.

Hearthstone and the Trap of Excellence

hearthstone

I should state at the outset that I am a very casual Hearthstone player. While I take my work in esports seriously, and value Hearthstone as a part of the industry, it has not been a game I have ever attempted to play at a competitive level. That said, I do very much enjoy the game. I also played Magic since the 7th grade, so card games have always been a critical part of my life.

With all that in mind, I’ve been looking at the “controversy” surrounding the Un’Goro release with a bit of confusion. I am in love with this set. Playing the priest quest deck is really neat, but more than playing I’ve been having a ton of fun watching all the pros experiment with new decks. The meta is so crazy right now, and there are so many different archetypes to explore, it will be many weeks before the top tier decks are properly established. As far as I can tell, the game is in the best state it has ever been, and this is the most well-designed set to date.

Why U Mad?

And yet, the majority of the Hearthstone discussion I’m seeing is complaining. Obviously that is nothing new, but this feels different. I wasn’t surprised by the people stirring up conspiracy theories about duplicates and rarity issues. The problems with last release made everyone’s brains more attuned to watching for those patterns. There was no way for that not to happen. What has been fascinating is the notion that the game is suddenly too expensive. With the quests, Hearthstone created 9 incredibly interesting deck archetypes that everyone wants to play. Every set has multiple legendary that every class wants, but this time suddenly every class has a viable archetype that demands a legendary to even begin building the deck.

There’s a discussion here about expectation bias and psychology, but I think any sane person already understands that aspect of the issue. Essentially, because everyone wants to play with 9 different decks that require a legendary, they are more disappointed to not get those specific cards in their pack openings. People can’t ask “what do I replace Open the Waygate with” like they do with other legendaries, because the deck is only possible with that specific card. This is not bad design or greed on Blizzard’s part, the quests only work as legendaries. It’s simply an issue of expectation.

However, I think there is another discussion to be had that has been at the core of virtually every complaint Reddit has ever had with Hearthstone. There is something I’ve never seen addressed that is actually not a solveable problem no matter what Blizzard does. Simply put, Hearthstone is too well-designed.

She’s Too Good For You

Allow me to explain. Hearthstone is not the best card game ever designed. That is a subjective discussion, but there are a lot of really great card games out there. What I mean is that the experience of playing Hearthstone is better than the gaming experience for any other electronic card game. The visuals, audio, interface, accessibility, and community are all vastly superior to any other game in the genre.

Go look at any screenshot of Magic Online. Compared to the Hearthstone board, Magic Online looks like complete garbage. I love Magic, I would always rather play it than any other card game. However, I won’t ever touch Magic Online because the interface and graphics are just awful. Day9 has also said as much. He prefers Magic as a game, especially for limited play. Unfortunatley, Magic Online is such an unpleasant gaming experience that he would rather spend that streaming time on Hearthstone.

Trapped in a Glass Case of Perfection

So, why is this a problem? Simply put, by providing such a better gaming experience, Hearthstone trapped its player base. By being more accessible and satisfying to play, Hearthstone exploded onto the scene. It dominates the market. However, Hearthstone was never designed to be the game for everyone. Like all of Blizzard’s recent decisions, Hearthstone was designed for a casual audience. The level of randomness, the design, the push for mobile accessibility are all intentional decisions that attract an audience who would not normally choose to play card games.

Think about it. Why would all of these top pros continue to play Hearthstone when no set has changed the things that frustrate them the most? Pros hate cards like Babbling Book, but more similar effects keep being introduced. It is very obvious that Hearthstone will never change it’s design to appeal more to the competitive audience, but none of them leave. Even if they do, they come right back. Why? Likely all these frustrated players would be happier in Magic, Duelyst, Faeria–so many other games. Why not just go play another game that better fits your interests?

They can’t for two reasons. First, most of these top players depend on streaming as their full time job. Because of Hearthstone’s dominance, they cannot afford to play another game. They are not variety streamers, so most of their viewership would not follow them to a new game. To abandon Hearthstone would mean to abandon their current lifestyle and primary source of income.

The other reason is more accessible to the broader playerbase: it’s hard to learn another card game. We talk constantly about the “new player experience” being difficult in Hearthstone, imagine how much more difficult that is in a more competitive game! Not only do you have to spend money to build a collection from scratch, you are also having to learn brand new mechanics and interactions.

Fallen and Can’t Get Out

 I have personally felt this trap on several occasions. I hate the RNG in Hearthstone and would much rather have a more tactical experience. I tried out Duelyst and fell in love thinking that I had found the game that could replace Hearthstone. Since that day I have logged into Duelyst probably four times. As someone with a job and a family, the notion of learning all these new cards, learning a new meta, and playing enough to build up a collection is just overwhelming. Even though it isn’t as satisfying, I just keep playing Hearthstone, because I just don’t have the time or energy to learn a new game, or the money to get a collection that competes with my Hearthstone collection.

So what’s the point of this conversation? Am I saying that we’re all just trapped little sheep, attached to money-hoses wickedly designed by Blizzard? No. I’m saying that by understanding Hearthstone’s trap of excellence, we can change the conversation. Suddenly the problem stops being Blizzard, it becomes us. Blizzard is doing everything right to achiever their goals of creating a fun, well-designed card game for casual players. They have no reason to change their design philosophy to appeal to the hardcore minority, and they never will. Instead, we have to stop expecting that anything will change. There won’t be more limited formats any time soon because that is not core to the goals of Hearthstone as a game. There will never be a tournament mode in the client because that runs counter to the game’s casual appeal. Cards with awful RNG will always exist because they appeal to the fun and frivolity that is fundamental to Hearthstone’s design.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

This also addresses everyone’s frustration with the quests. Hearthstone is not a game designed for you to be able to play every deck. You aren’t supposed to have every card. Even hardcore players like Trump and Day9 had to craft a ton of cards after their pack openings on day one. Hearthstone is meant to be a game where you build fun decks based around the cards you have. It should be amazing that you even have one of the quests. This is all perfectly in line for the design of a game like Hearthstone. It has nothing to do with Blizzard being greedy or the quests being a bad, pay to win mechanic. They are just really neat cards like all the other really neat cards.

So, in closing, take some time to really reflect on your experience with Hearthstone. If you are currently feeling frustrated with the game, take a break. Go try another game. Heck, go play Paladins or something that touches on collectible cards but doesn’t make them core to the gameplay. Take some time to really assess why you play this game, why you love it or don’t. If you keep playing this game expecting it to change, it’s time for us all to acknowledge that it will always be what it is–a casual, whacky, RNG-fest with a beautiful, accessible design. If that sounds like a fun game to you, play it!  If that description doesn’t appeal to you, I promise you there is another game out there that already does exactly what you want. I bet their community would love to have you.

The Best of Smash 4 Twitter

Through my esports career I’ve been a part of several communities. I’ve seen the hyper-intense professional focus of League of Legends esports. I was involved with the awkward birth and death of Infinite Crisis during it’s beta. I have seen Heroes of the Storm grow from an awkward baby deer to a full-fledged competitive video game. However, I have never seen anything quite like Smash twitter.

While there is certainly plenty of drama and in-fighting (dear god the whining about tier lists) the communal nature of Smash social media is fascinating. The community will so quickly rally around a meme and execute it well. We rally for support, raise funds, and troll our pros like no other scene I’ve ever encountered. With that in mind, I wanted to just briefly highlight some of my favorite things I’ve seen recently from Smash 4 Twitter.

Civil War Trash Talk

“Smash 4 players have no personality.” “There are no interesting rivalries.” Thanks to Zinoto and ANTi, Civil war changed all of that. You can find a full recap of the trash talk elsewhere on my blog, and I had a blast covering it. Though some found it cringey or forced, I loved it. It was a great piece of the buildup that made Civil War work, and gave us all something cool to experience as each new player got involved.

The way it evolved was especially fun. We had some interesting exchanges and solid smack talk, but when the Frostbite crew rallied around the concept of Zinoto’s brand new sponsor, I knew there was something special going on.

#LocusLooksLike

I still go back through these every few days. Some people thought that this was a mean-spirited meme, but it was beyond perfect. Follow Locus on Twitter and you soon learn that this picture and meme perfectly describes the lovable World Warrior. Even better, there are very few misses in the whole hashtag string. Most memes will include a number of people that don’t quite understand how to do it right, but this one was nearly all winners.

GoFundMe

This is not really a meme or anything, but absolutely deserves discussion. It really is amazing how easily the Smash community will rally behind literally any cause. Whether someone is hospitalized, lost their wallet, or can’t get to a tournament, you are willing to share, upvote, and pay to support members of the community in need.

This is particualarly amazing to me coming from the Heroes of the Storm community. Before Blizzard got heavily involved, there was a LAN held at Esports Arena. One of the best teams in North America had no sponsor at the time, and the players all lived far away from the venue. ESA was not flying out any of the qualified teams, and so this group decided to do a GoFundMe in order to get the players to the event. The backlash was intense. While their devoted fans eventually got them funded, Reddit and Twitter were filled with anger that the team would even dare to ask the community for money.

This is a reaction I have never seen in Smash. We may discuss there being to many GoFundMe’s for trivial matters, but we still shell out and quickly rally to help community members with medical bills, and to get our favorite players to events. Those who don’t participate in other communities really need to understand just how unique and special you have made Smash.

2GG

These guys are insidious meme lords. Their use of gifs, emojis, and pictures are universally perfect. They could post a picture of an empty bucket, and suddenly Reddit and Twitter would be on fire discussing the potential of Bucket Saga. Say what you will about their PR and the mess with April Saga, but you cannot deny that their Twitter game is better than most multi-million dollar companies.

ANTi

If you aren’t following ANTi, then you’re just doing it wrong. There’s very little else that needs to be said. Dude just has a very solid Twitter with interesting content every single day. I also think he understands how to play the esports game better than anyone else in Smash, which makes him a personal hero of mine.

PersistentBlade

I’m not actually sure what this is doing on the list. There’s no meme here. PersistentBlade is just this amazing Lucina player who shows up to help out ZeRo whenever he needs it. Come to think of it, I’m not actually sure how that’s legal. You can’t sub out players during a singles match, but PersistentBlade comes in whenever ZeRo needs the Lucina in a matchup. Top player privilege I guess?  Weird.

Everybody Hates ESAM

Very few people agree with me, but ESAM is secretly the biggest star in Smash 4. Japan loves the guy, he has more Twitter followers than ANTi, and plays the world’s most adorable yellow rodent. Watch his YouTube and you find he’s such a fun, passionate dude. This is what makes it so fun to see him beef with people on Twitter. ESAMOpinions are almost universally reviled by the rest of the pro community, but they quietly just keep feeding him more views and followers. Don’t you understand you’re only making him stronger?!

MilkFirst || Mr. R

Two food-related debates have raged constantly within the Smash community–pineapple on pizza, and when the milk goes in the cereal bowl. Both show up from time to time, we have our fun and war with each other, and then they disappear until next time. However, one brave man took to Twitter last week and refused to bend to the whims of social media. He fought valiantly for his opinion, and was rewarded with a globally trending meme. ESAM retweeted literally every decent contribution to this trend, so give him and Mr. R a follow to get your recap if you missed out.

There were plenty of misses as many people didn’t quite understand where the joke was, but the scale of this particular event was incredible. When the dictionary gets involved, you know you’ve penetrated far beyond the insular world of the Smash community. Never before has a man with such a wrong opinion gained so much in a single day. It was especially incredible because there was no unified hashtag. Everyone just figured out the proper construction of the meme and stuck to it. This unity of theme shows just how powerful the Smash community can be when they know someone has committed a grevious sin, such as thinking incorrectly about food procedure.

ESPN and Smash Marketing

Recently, ESPN posted a March Madness-style bracket of the top pros across all of eSports. From it’s announcement, I was watching very closely, hoping that it would prove a theory for me. Now that the dust has cleared, and we’ve passed Civil War enough to talk about anything else, I want to discuss why this bracket matters. Particularly let’s talk about the success of Smash within it and what that means for our future as an eSport.

How We Won

Some quick highlights to recap first:
  • Every smasher made it into the top 32.
  • ANTi and Hungrybox made it to top 16.
  • Mang0 and Armada survived all the way to top 8.
  • Mang0 upset Bjergsen, the biggest star in League of Legends.
  • ANTi very nearly upset Daigo, the most widely known veteran in Street Fighter.
  • Armada took out NuckleDu, the current Street Fighter Capcom Cup champion and best American player.
  • Melee had more players in top 8 than League of Legends, the most-watched eSport in the world.

So, this is all super cool, but why is it relevant? Well, what it shows is the sheer passion of the Smash community compared to nearly every other eSports community out there.

We are nothing compared to the wider world of eSports. Games like DOTA and LoL have massive prize pools, every other title in the bracket has massive developer support for its eSports scene. Streamers of these other games have enormous followings compared to even Mang0 and Hbox. Bjergsen has far more followers and viewers that he could mobilize to easily defeat little old Mang0. And yet Smash came out ahead. Smash should have been one of the first games eliminated from this bracket, but we got every one of our players into the top 32 and far beyond.

We’re an Army

As a scene, Smash has struggled alone for over a decade. With no help from anyone, the Melee scene had to claw and fight for respect and recognition. They still pick up old CRTs off the side of the road to supply their tournaments. Being a fan of any other esport is easy, accessible, and often completely free. Being a smasher is hard, expensive, and a part of our very identity. It’s as core to who we are as our race, gender, and value system.

Therefore, when there is any opportunity to support Smash, we mobilize. We crowdfund like there’s no tomorrow. We drive to tournaments farther than anyone else would. We defend and evangelize our game to the ends of the earth. With no support from Nintendo, it is our passion alone that keeps Smash alive and growing.

This means that we come out in force even for something as small as a fantasy eSports bracket. Where Bjergsen may have only been able to motivate 10% of his massive audience, 80% of Mang0 Nation voted. We are a smaller army, but we are better organized and more fiercely loyal than any other force.

Leverage These Tools

Whenever I see something like this, my brain immediately goes to how it can help Smash grow. I’ve said over and over that we struggle with how to effectively market our events and appeal to sponsors. To me, this ESPN bracket is a critical tool that gives us some amazing selling points.

Think about it this way: You are a small energy drink company. You have approved a set amount of money for marketing within eSports. There are two options available to you for the same cost. Either you can sponsor a League of Legends streamer for a month, or you can fund a Smash Bros. tournament. In terms of stream numbers, you will theoretically touch more people by sponsoring a LoL streamer. But think about what you’d get from that Smash event.

First, at any S-tier event you’d have 600-1000 people you could physically engage. With a booth at the event you can give out merch and see Twitter explode with pictures of your logo and brand. Pros would be posting and talking about your brand because they would have direct access to it. Based on the poll, we know that pro Smash players have more direct influence on their fanbase than LoL players. The total number of followers may be smaller, but a higher percentage of them will be influenced by their favorite smasher endorsing your product.

Next, let’s talk about the trade off in good press. Millenials as a whole hate when someone directly markets at them. We destroy YouTubers who post sponsored content, and quickly turn on anyone who we perceive as becoming “too corporate”. However, Smash is completely different. Look back at Genesis Saga and how Cup Noodles were presented. The product placement was completely shameless. Instead of turning on 2GG and Cup Noodles for this gross monetization of our game, we were thrilled! We love Cup Noodles for supporting the scene. Instead of turning a beloved streamer into a corporate shill, you as an organization are supporting a grassroots scene.

Think about it another way. Go spend some time looking through ANTi’s twitter feed. The dude is completely shameless in shilling for brands. With only 38k followers, he has major brands like Bawls and Digiorno tweeting at him and sending him product. His feed is full of pictures with brands and plugs for his favorite products. I have yet to see even a little hate thrown his way for it. Smashers can get away with so much more when it comes to brand promotion. You can be blatant in your marketing, because you are supporting the scene rather than just trying to sell something.

From a PR perspective, that’s a massive win in favor of Smash.

ROI

Marketers are obsessed with finding ways to get more direct access to their key demographics. In the age of ad blockers and cord cutting, it is becoming so much harder to build a brand. Smash offers a unique marketing opportunity to shamelessly promote your product, and be loved for it! This is what we need to sell when approaching sponsors. Don’t just try to sell the numbers, sell the impact and return on investment.

Lastly, you can get a massive return for a comparatively tiny investment. Look at how much good will 2GG has earned from flying all those players to Civil War. Greninja Saga is a complete mess right now and there is virtually zero criticism coming at the organization. We just love them despite any flaws because they are so dedicated to supporting the community.

Imagine, as a small company, if you flew HIKARU to Nairo Saga. First, you would have a massive surge in activity on Twitter and Reddit. You would be guaranteed the front page of the Smash Reddit. Every TO and influencer in Smash would tweet your handle thanking you. You would get your brand as a part of his tag every time his matches were on stream. You could put him in a hat and shirt with your logo and still receive nothing but good press. For the cost of a plane ticket, you’ve effectively gotten your brand featured at the event.

I really hope we start to see TOs and event planners utilize these resources. There are so many simple, effective ways that brands can be integrated into the Smash scene and see massive returns for relatively small investment. All it takes is someone on the team knowing how to properly sell our scene on so much more than just view numbers.