This past weekend is why I live Smash. Not love, live.
The GENESIS series started off as an international tournament primarily for the GameCube version Super Smash Bros. Melee back in 2009, but also featuring the original Wii version Super Smash Bros. Brawl. This tournament was renowned in Smash history for the beginning of a new rivalry between the best player in the United States at that time, gamer tag Mango, and the best player in Europe at that time, Armada. Mango claimed the prize in a 290-man tournament in Melee, the largest tournament by far at that point in time.
GENESIS 2 arrived two years later in 2011, bringing back the rivalry between the two. This time around, while there were actually fewer entrants in the Melee and Brawl tournaments, this event still had much more to offer: a Smash 64 tournament, a Project M tournament (a community-based modification of Brawl), crew battles of the east coast’s best players vs west coast’s (where two teams face off, one at a time, until one team runs out of lives), and two sponsors SABERGAMING and Red Bull, offering larger prize pots for all tournaments despite their smaller sizes. As a bonus, Armada got his revenge and placed first in this tournament.
Alas, an entire half decade later, GENESIS 3 comes along, and it’s bigger than ever. Now featuring Melee, Smash Wii U (with its inception in late 2014), and Smash 64. Melee reaches a fantastic peak of 1,828 players (second only to EVO 2015 in Vegas at 1,869), and likewise with Smash Wii U with 1,096 (second to the same tournament at 1,926!). With so many players, crew battles became an actual side-tournament among regions from around the world: Japan, Mexico, Southern California, Northern California, Tristate, Texas, Florida, Maryland/Virginia, Midwest, and Southwest. On top of that, Smash Sisters became a thing: crew battles consisting of only females, a valiant and successful attempt at bringing in an underrepresented demographic to the world of Smash and gaming.
And if all of that wasn’t enough, Nintendo itself had decided to partner with this event, meaning they’re supporting the Smash community for the first time ever, helping out with logistics and setups throughout the entire weekend. Who knows what’s in store for the near future?
Given a fairly new game, who knew who was going to reign on top? Both Japan and Mexico were known to be extremely powerful regions, and they definitely proved that this past weekend. A new, theorized rivalry was finally about to reveal itself in this event: ZeRo, the renowned best player in the world for having placed first in every single tournament sans one in the entire history of the Wii U version, versus Ranai, the top player in the powerhouse that is Japan. Imagine any sport where you have the top two players in their respective regions, no, their respective continents, finally meeting to settle it once and for all. This, this is esports.
On top of that, practically every top-level player was going to be at that tournament, and nobody knew who was going to place what. With so many players attending in general, some unknown players may end up being discovered right in the heart of San Jose.
And on top of that, not anyone is going to fly out of their hometown just to play at a tournament! Of course everyone is going to be at least decent! Every single opponent I played there, both in and outside of the actual tournament, put up at least a bit of a challenge, improving my own game in the meantime and learning from each game, win or lose. Being able to meet and talk with every individual, seeing what part of the world they’ve come from and finding out what they do outside of Smash and gaming, was amazing in itself. Proving myself that I can compete with the world, winning money bets left and right (and proudly learning from those whom I’ve lost to) and placing my hometown Hawaii on the map, since we almost never get the opportunity to for living in the middle of nowhere.
…Unfortunately, my placing doesn’t say otherwise. I ended up placing 5th in my pool (basically a subset of a tournament, where each pool only consists of about 16 people and only the top 3 advance to the next round) for Wii U, which if I did the math right equates to being tied for 257th (out of 1098, top quarter, I’ll take that). Side note, I can’t play Melee to save my life.
After my run in the tournament however, and after the friendlies (the casual set-ups used for playing outside the tournament), I had the most memorable time just watching top 8. Said rivalries were about to unfold, and new talent was just about to be discovered. Top 8 consisted of players from all over, including Chile, Japan, East coast, West coast, Southwest, New England, and none other than Hawaii. Watching this live is pretty analogous to going live to a football game: you have your fan favorites, you have your cheers, and you have your upsets. Just add all that with a pinch of nerdy flavor (when the crowd chants game-specific terms, or when the crowd gasps when one barely escapes the brink of death) and the fact that you get to compete yourself the day before, and you’re golden. I was ever so fortunate to have also watched this with one of my closest friends since high school as well as with newer friends from San Diego, and we were all able to share this once-in-a-lifetime moment together.
Other amazing things that had happened throughout this event:
- A few people actually came up to me and recognized me, either from Twitch (as a viewer myself, not even a streamer) or simply from word of mouth for having entered national tournaments before.
- I had been told then, by someone I had completely never met or heard of before, that I was their inspiration due to my skill with their character (Donkey Kong), a character that’s known to be only average relative to the rest of the cast.
- I signed said fan’s Amiibo (DK, of course), signing with my gamer tag for the first time in my life.
- I won a solid $50 money match against a fellow DK player from Mexico, who was probably my toughest DK match yet (where I actually stood a chance, hah).
- I had not lost a single money match against any other DK player, except against the best DK player in the world.
Even if Smash isn’t your thing, or even if gaming isn’t your thing (thanks for reading all the way!), no matter what you do it’s all the same. Put in the hours, days, months, even years into a passion, a goal, hobby or otherwise, and you will be truly rewarded.
If you don’t have one yet, get a hobby! The people you meet, the emotions you feel, and the adventures you share can never be matched, and it’s all just because of one common interest. From games to sports to art to music, whatever you choose, the world is yours!