The Smash community is amazing. I’ve been a part of a lot of esports communities, none is more passionate and loyal than this one. There is so much support and love for this game, it seems like all anyone wants to do is play Smash, and see other people fall in love with the game.
Unfortunately, Smash still lives in this weird place in the modern esports world. For as big as Smash is in the zeitgeist, it is relatively insignificant compared to games like Counter Strike, DOTA, and Hearthstone. With how popular the game is, Smash esports should be competing for views and prize money with these games. The reasons why we’re not should be obvious, and I’ve talked about them plenty here. We won’t waste time retreading that ground today. Instead, go read this article
to get an idea if you’re new here.
While many people want Smash to maintain it’s grassroots nature, I don’t think anyone wants the scene to remain stagnant. We all want more views, more players at our locals, and more people just falling in love with our favorite game. However, if you’re not a top player, streamer, or TO it can often feel like you don’t really have a role in our growth. Sure you get your friends to play, maybe they watch a tournament with you, but we’ve all felt that sting of helplessness. We all know what it’s like to see inferior views on an event, or watch a local die out and wish there was more we could do.
That’s what I want to focus on today. I want to give every smasher some real, practical steps they can take to help grow Smash as an esport. We’ll be talking about using the tools that every Smasher has at their disposal–your Time, Money, and Influence.
Quick Note–I’m not asking anyone to do everything I’m going to list below. The purpose of this article is to provide you with clear action steps if you want to be involved in the growth of Smash. Doing any one of them will help more than you can possibly imagine.
Your time is a powerful resource. Although there is a limited supply, it regenerates every day. We’re going to look at some of the best places to spend your time that will help Smash grow.
Every boss will tell you otherwise, but your time on Reddit matters. When new people get interested in a gaming community, one of the first places they go is the subreddit. Seeing a healthy subreddit is often a major decision-point, especially for PC gamers. obviously Smash is not a PC game, but it is a game everyone has played, and it’s an easy game for someone to love as an esport without playing actively. If you enjoy Reddit, stay active. Comment, upvote, and make sure you are actually subscribed.
Your Local Scene
Obviously, if you want to support Smash you should go to your local weeklies. Investing your time there requires going a step further. First, stay as long as possible. Even if you buster out early, stick around and hang out. As your scene grows, you will occasionally have people drop by on weekly night to check it out. They may show up an hour or two late because they just want to see if it’s worth investing in next time. If that person walks in to see only the six people left in bracket, they will get a bad sense of the scene.
You can also invest your time here by actually improving the event. Get there early to help set up or stay late to help clean up. Volunteer burnout is a massive problem in grassroots organizations. If you can make the TOs job just the tiniest bit easier, it allows them to be infinitely more successful. You’d be amazed how much you can change a culture by just stacking some chairs at the end of the night.
Money may be the root of all evil, but it’s also the root of all growth. If you are interested in spending even 5 bucks on Smash’s growth, I will tell you where it can help the most.
These guys are setting the standard for event streaming. They are also a streamer that is getting to work on events outside of Smash. If we want the scene to grow, having contacts in other esports is huge, especially esports outside the FGC. If you want Smash to grow, your Twitch sub for Unrivaled Tournaments will go far.
Xanadu is an amazing resource for Smash. It gives every local TO a goal and a hope. While you can watch other weeklies to support them, Xanadu is giving us the opportunity to direcly fund their growth and success. The more Xanadu succeeds, the more other local scenes will continue to grow.
Smash has terrible view numbers and no developer support. It is a very high risk-low reward esport in which many teams don’t want to invest. By buying team swag, you change that evaluation. Cloud 9 was thrilled to pick up Ally because they saw that Mang0 was making them crazy amounts of money. Immortals is thrilled with ANTi because he sells jerseys and shills well for sponsors. If Fnatic had proven metrics that having a Smasher leads to 5% more annual profit from merch sales, I guarantee they would have already signed Mr. R three weeks ago. If you want more Smashers to get signed, buy swag from existing orgs, and make sure they know you bought that mousepad because you are a fan of their Smash player.
Not Player Compendiums
This is obviously going to be controversial and I’ll do a bigger discussion on it later, but it matters for this conversation. Player compendiums were critical to allowing Smash to survive the early years. They are a wonderful way to support active smashers. However, they do very little to help Smash grow as an esport. All of our top players have teams that will help them cover travel costs.
Again, I’m not saying that compendiums are bad or even wrong. By helping to get all these Greninjas to Greninja Saga, 2GG is doing exactly what the community wants, and it will make the event even more cool to watch for existing fans. However, it will not add new viewers from outside the Smash Community. If you want to see your local hidden boss compete at a saga, and that is worth $200 to you, I am not at all telling you to stop. However, if you want to use your available money to help Smash grow as an esport, I am telling you that player compendiums are not an effective way to do that.
Smash will grow by investing money in our leaders and influencers. Subscribe and donate on Twitch, buy merch, or buy some pizza for your next weekly. Heck, just mail three dollars straight to Xanadu. These are all methods that will make your dollar carry more weight for the growth of Smash than player compendiums.
You may think you have no influence in Smash. You’re not a top player, a TO, or a YouTuber. You have like 13 followers on Twitter. How on earth are you going to help Smash grow? Well, there are two ways. One is within your Sphere of Influence, the other is as a consumer.
Everyone has a Sphere of Influence. There are people in your life who will adjust their behavior based on your words and actions. You are also a consumer, which means you have all the power in the world.
It’s sort of insane how much power retweets have in modern marketing. Shares are a key metric for decision makers everywhere. Whenever you see an ESPN article, a news story, or a sponsor announcement, slam that retweet button. DO NOT JUST HIT LIKE! No one is checking to see how many people your retweet reached. They are monitoring the traffic on that tweet, and counting the number of times it has been shared. When content creators and sponsors see that Smash-related tweets create meaningful activity, they will invest more time, money, and effort into the Smash scene.
It’s also important to remember that most organizations view Smash as one game. Twitch combines the view metrics for Smash 4 and Melee as one esport. Therefore, sharing any social media about another Smash game will only benefit your preferred game.
Download and Watch
As I said, you are a consumer. Therefore, you create influence by boosting metrics. Views and downloads matter SO MUCH to sponsors. Any time you’re not actively doing something, turn on a Smash stream. Watch a YouTube video. Even if you don’t want to listen to it, download podcasts like The Set Count to boost their numbers.
Without Nintendo’s support, Smash has a massive barrier to entry for non-endemic sponsors. Our metrics need to prove that investment in our scene is worth it. The more views, subscribers, and downloads we have on our content, the more attractive Smash becomes.
If you’re reading this, you are probably a true Smasher. This game is as core to your identity as anything. The modern culture is all about celebrating your true identity, so do that with Smash! Tell people why you love this community, what Smash has given to you. If you have a story of making friends, finding a relationship, or overcoming life obstacles because of Smash, testify!
Share your passion, and let people know that their lives can also be changed by letting Smash into their hearts. Don’t just talk about cool combos and tournament results–share the why behind your passion. Make your friends, family, and anyone in your Sphere of Influence understand that you are who you are because of Smash.
Obviously there is plenty more that can be done, and maybe we’ll revisit this again soon to talk about some more ways to grow our game. For now, remember that every person has a role to play, and even the smallest actions can make a huge difference. Don’t sit on the sidelines just because you aren’t a major streamer. Use these tools and watch how Smash explodes.