This past weekend, I did something I've never done before: Attending a national-level Super Smash Brothers tournament! Community Effort Orlando (CEO) is a tournament hosted every year in Orlando for the entire Fighting Game Community (FGC). I happened to be there for 3 of the Smash events and I had a ton of fun!
After Smash 4 came out, I decided I wanted to get good at the game. I'll never be a pro player (I simply can't devote that much time, unfortunately), but I thought it'd be nice to be able to hold my own locally or regionally. So, I've been watching my replays and doing some analysis to try and optimize my play. As it turns out, I fundamentally did not understand fighting games, so it's been a pretty big uphill battle.
While I tried to be dedicated to preparing for CEO, life has recently gotten in the way. I've had a ton of travel for work, moved houses, and had a few family emergencies in addition to my typically packed work, gaming, and CTF schedule. As a result, I've been pretty stressed and not getting a lot of sleep.
So, I basically did the opposite of preparing. My doubles partner, Rstevoa, also wasn't able to get a lot of practice in himself. And, of course, we got virtually no practice in with each other. But, we went anyway!
Rstevoa and I got to the venue early and got a sweet parking spot. We got our badges and swag, then headed down to the room with the Smash setups. At 10:00, our doubles pool (A8) started!
...and we got #rekt. Actually, the first set went alright. We took game 1 as Yoshi (me) and Little Mac (Rstevoa), but the next two games just didn't work out (although they were close). The second set was pure destruction. I still don't know how to play against Cloud as Yoshi and neither of Rstevoa's picks (Little Mac for game 1, Mario for game 2) did much to help that. On the whole, I don't think either of us played well, let alone played well together. Guess that's why you practice?
Between our doubles pool and my next match, I got to see ZeRo vs. Prince Ramen live, which was awesome!
Unfortunately, I couldn't stick around and watch for too long. Our awful doubles performance was followed by my Melee pool (B1) starting at noon. I haven't played Melee since high school (2007) and it was painfully obvious to everyone there. What little skill I possess in Smash 4 enabled me to not look like a complete idiot, but I lost both sets pretty convincingly. I did get some great advice on what to improve on, though! Since having fun and learning were the whole point of entering Melee singles in the first place, I considered my performance a slight success.
After my Melee losses, Rstevoa and I went to go watch some of the live matches. Many of them were awesome (and being able to sit near Ally and hear his thoughts on a few of them was great). My favorite, though, was definitely Jade vs. Trela:
Fun fact: You can totally see me in my dorky Yoshi shirt next to Rstevoa around 11:14 in this footage. Unfortunately, I was also around to see her get knocked into the loser's bracket by Jtails a little later. Was still inspiring to see a relatively unknown player beat up tournament favorites with a "low-tier" character, though.
After spectating for awhile, then grabbing something to eat, I eventually got to play in my Smash 4 pool (E2), which started at 18:00. My first set was a quick 0-2 to JewingGum, who played Wario. I have literally never played a Wario main before! He was still the better player, but I feel like it would have been closer if I had more match-up experience.
My second set was easily 30 minutes later due to my next opponent not showing up and being disqualified. When I finally got to play, I had a hard-fought (and much closer) 0-2 loss to Blakexd9, who played Robin. Similar story here, except that I feel I had a much better handle on how to play Blake's Robin. Unfortunately, I over-committed and got punished for it one time too many.
Losing literally every singles game (and all but one doubles game) was a little demoralizing (and rather disappointing), but I can't really say I was too surprised.
The next day, Rstevoa and I came back to watch more matches and play some friendlies. I spent a few hours at a setup with Rstevoa, a Fox player from Alabama, a Wii Fit Trainer main from Florida, and a Zero Suit Samus player. I lost most of the games I played in the rotation, but I learned a ton - especially about what a good Wii Fit Trainer can do to you.
Later in the day, after wandering around a bit and watching more of the streamed Smash matches, Rstevoa and I decided to get good seats for Melee finals that night. Melee finals was delayed pretty significantly, so this meant we spent a ton of time watching streamed Street Fighter V matches and the Guilty Gear finals. Both were incredibly entertaining, though I definitely liked the look and feel of Street Fighter over Guilty Gear (honest question: does Guilty Gear have a neutral?).
When Melee's finals started, I was treated to one of the best matches I have ever had the pleasure of watching - Mew2King vs. Plup:
That entire set was ridiculously close and the ending had us on our feet! The rest of finals were great, but that set was definitely the highlight.
Unfortunately, I had something come up and wasn't able to drive back for the last day. I was, however, able to watch some of the stream. Top 16 was awesome! I wish I had been there in-person...
Fighting games are really challenging for me. I'm used to:
- Games where you simply practice a sequence of inputs (like World of WarCraft)
- Games where strategy plays out with long periods of time in-between actions (like Magic: the Gathering or Hearthstone)
- Games where prior technical knowledge and planning are king (like CTFs)
Fighting games combine all of these aspects, then make you do them in real-time against a live opponent!
Despite the fact that I lost literally every game I played, I had a ton of fun and am looking forward to future tournaments. Hopefully, if I can put the time in, I'll see some improvement before CEO next year.