San Diego Super Smash!

Hello! Today I’ll be talking about the world of Super Smash Bros!

Today I’ve just had my first experience in a major tournament within the city of San Diego. If you want to read about it already, just jump straight down here. Otherwise, for all the introductions with Smash and whatnot, read on.

Why Smash?

Super Smash Bros. is one of the very few video games I play, and at a competitive level. Smash is honestly in my opinion an amazing game paired with a fantastic community where everyone wants everyone to improve their game. Back in Hawaii, I’ve met dozens of friends solely through this game, some very close, and as a nerdy introvert that can be a very difficult thing for me to do. Some I’ve known for as long as over five years when I started playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl competitively; others I’ve just met the weekend before my flight to California. Especially in Hawaii, everybody is so kind. Simply ask to jump in on the next game if a Wii U isn’t being used for the tournament (“friendlies” stations), and from that one question you’ve already met a new friend.

With a one-on-one style, in addition to playing them, it’s natural to ask questions about real life, from simply when they’ve started playing competitively to what they do for a living, and the friendship just grows from there. At the same time, we tend to tell the loser what they did wrong and how to become a better player. Each individual has their own story, and behind every game is a cerebral exchange of analysis as they strive for one common goal. There will always be ways to analyze your play style and using that information to become a better player, and as an engineer that’s what makes this such an amazing game to me. The creativity (you know that word had to come up eventually!) behind each game awes me as well, having to figure out unique ways to get in and attack safely, or to get that final kill on your opponent without them expecting it.

Needless to say, I’ve made plenty of new friends at this tournaments. With tons of support for me using a lower tier character (Donkey Kong) and winning against some of the best in the city, people naturally gravitated to befriending me after each tournament match, and even in friendlies. At the same time I get to represent what Hawaii’s players have to offer, which everyone has definitely been amazed by so far.

Tournament Experience!

(tl;dr below!) Firstly, the the gap between good and novice in this city is enormous. There is no middle ground in my opinion. Today there were 66 players, one of the biggest they’ve had in a long time. On average they seem to have 40 to 50 players in weekly tournaments.

For those who are familiar with Smash jargon, bare with me! I’ll be assuming you aren’t.

This tournament uses custom moves. With custom moves, characters can switch their special attacks with different moves, which brings out many more characters’ potential, in addition to using certain moves against certain opponents. Tournaments in Smash 4 decide whether they want to use custom moves or not; the next international tournament held in July in Las Vegas will be featuring customs.

The first set I had to face was #11 in power rankings (PR) in Southern California (Socal, ranging from Los Angeles to even Mexico), a Sonic player. He loves spinning in place and playing mind games, canceling the spin to juke out an attack; it’s actually super tough when he actually goes in maybe once every dozen cancels, or maybe once every two. But it was an immensely hype set, with lots of barely making it out alive from the ceiling blast zone (the line at which if we cross, we lose a life) via our up specials (up B’s). I had to shake off my nerves from his mind games, so the 3rd match (each tournament set is best of three) became a taunt war (the character does a pose for a split second or longer without being able to attack).  I had ended up taunting maybe three times, once while literally touching Sonic spinning in place. My opponent got extremely annoyed since I had actually gotten away with it unharmed! This is usually seen as disrespectful, but in all honesty I just needed to shake off my nerves and get excitement from the crowd! He even taunted back himself, but I was able to punish it fortunately. I won the set and now people are saying things like “EXPAND DONG HYPE,” especially since in San Diego he’s 4th in the PR and he lost to “this random player who spams up B” (Donkey Kong’s custom up B is notoriously argued to be warranted a ban, but once people are familiar with the move it definitely is not banworthy. Intelligence of the move is definitely required to be used effectively). As the lack of aloha goes, he didn’t even say good game or anything after he lost the set, even though I offered my hand out. Unfortunate.

Funnily, after that set (it was on the main projector being recorded so everyone was watching), several people attempted at using Donkey Kong as well to abuse his up B. Although they all wanted the move banned, they all lost severely.

Second match was a new player, so I won that match easily.

Third match was against this Mario whom nobody knew. Mario is INSANELY difficult to fight while using Donkey Kong. The standard fireball is interesting since it creates a wall as tall as himself, and it’s much harder to approach against these than it is to just jump over the fast fireball, a custom fire ball which most Mario players prefer to use. The custom fire ball shoots fast and straight at a far distance, while the standard bounces and does not travel too far, similarly to the standard Mario games; the fast one is great for keeping opponents away from a far distance, but once they’re in that fireball is not too helpful. To all the players, don’t be afraid to play super patiently if that’s what it takes. This set definitely required the utmost of patience, and many of those watching told me they were literally feeling my pain.

4th match was against this experience Villager from Animal Crossing who preferred using the standard specials. This is interesting because Villager’s customs are argued to be banworthy as well. On the other hand, he prefers standard since he hates playing the patient game (Villager’s customs make it much harder to get in and attack safely). We were both one grab away from death in the 3rd match and unfortunately he caught me first. It was a legitimate loss, I’m not gonna complain, even though I took my own life (self-destructed, or SD’d) at around 20% (and still won that match! The stage was in my favor). Plus he is 9th in the San Diego PR, so he definitely had previous results to prove his worth. This matchup also required a great deal of patience, since he similarly uses many projectiles in both a rocket and a slingshot.

5th match I am unfortunately extremely annoyed! At this point (actually round 4), they were limited on time, so they decided to set all the losers’ bracket matches to best of one. I ended up against a Ness on Delfino Plaza. The tournament organizer (TO) just said, “You two go on any of the stations.” We play. The walk-off form (you can literally just walk to the blast zone and die) with the stairs dipping downward in the center appears. Right when I’m about to up B from the center to one side with elevated height, the TO announces “Are x and y playing?” referring to both of us even though he had just announced our match three minutes ago. With a mic and speakers in the room, which is something I wish Hawaii could implement because that was actually super useful. It may have been my fault that I didn’t shun it out, sure, but (even with my earphones in) my mind just said “YOU ALREADY ANNOUNCED US WE’RE RIGHT HERE.” I mess up the up B landing, which causes an entire second of vulnerability without being able to do anything; if Donkey Kong finishes using that move while touching the ground, he gets to attack immediately after. I die at EIGHTEEN percent from a forward throw while Ness was at his last stock at NINETY percent! (in Smash, you start each life at 0%, and the more hits you take, the higher your percent goes up and the more knockback each hit to you does. 100% is the expected minimum death percent.) And because it was best of one, I’m out of the tournament and couldn’t even redeem myself. This TO calling wasn’t the first time. There were probably about a dozen similar callings today, so unfortunately he did not even learn from his mistakes along the way. All my new friends agreed that I should have advanced.

In addition, because of the lack of time, even though they were considering finishing the tournament at someone’s house, logistics could not be solved and losers’ and grand finals were not played. I wonder how the final standings turned out, but I know I did take 9th place.

Other flaws in their system: they were doing raffles in the middle of the tournament. There came to a point where all the systems were free and they were still calling out prizes. “Wait, we haven’t given out all the prizes yet!” And even then, if people who are playing won a prize… then what? They miss the prize because did not come up to claim it. Secondly, not all the systems (including the recorded system) had the custom moves unlocked, so those who needed a custom set had to wait for another station. They started at 6:30pm when the start time is supposed to be 6. They knew the store closes at 10 yet they still both scheduled it that late at night (their weeklies usually have 40-50 people, but I don’t how many setups, so they should have accounted for an even longer and larger tourney since this was big tourney announced like two months ago. Plus it was on a weekend when their weeklies are on Thursday nights).

Regards, I finally got to make connections, take names, and represent Hawaii! I was hoping for top five, and everyone I met then totally agreed that I should have taken it. The guys the Ness player played, everyone agreed, were around my level too if not worse. They also agreed (including the Ness player himself) that I was the stronger player between him and me. In addition, everyone I met (except the Sonic player) did not believe that Donkey Kong is broken, even if they did before, because the games against Sonic and Villager went to game three and were still extremely tight.

Take-away / tl;dr:

  1. The taunt war HYPE. Won against a high level PR player, almost two.
  2. Don’t be afraid to play patiently, even if it means boring everyone including yourself. Some games can simply be a test of your mental patience. This also goes for everything in life.
  3. For the fellow competitive players (Smash or otherwise), appreciate your TO because it definitely requires hard work to pull off a great tournament! Especially of this size!
  4. Despite the negatives, it was definitely a fun evening with both coming out for the first time playing as well as meeting dozens of new faces.

I had to pay $40 for an Uber ride just to get here… thinking that I could have gotten it back in prize money. Fortunately I saved another $40 by getting a ride back home from a new friend! (Post on my transportation life coming soon.) Plus with having spent the entire afternoon in downtown for the first time checking things out, I think it was a worthwhile $40, since I definitely won’t be going out that far often (a 30 mile drive from Carlsbad to downtown). Hopefully the TO runs a smoother tournament next time!

Lastly… if you’re not playing Smash yet, play Smash! It’s a truly analytic yet creative game that fosters the hobbies of some of the most intelligent and life-goal-oriented players, and the community that supports one another is both welcoming and heartwarming. With 50+ characters to choose from, there will definitely be a style most fitting to you. Go out, meet people, think hard, and have fun!


Author: Kevin Who

Developer. Designer. Smasher. Reader. Creator.

One thought on “San Diego Super Smash!”

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