Alex Hodges, Campus Carrier Arts & Living Editor
Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone. The Super Bowl is one of the largest and most-viewed televised sporting events, annually. Though viewership decreased by more than five percent from Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, 2018, numbers of viewers were still over 100 million. Now, I’d hate to lead you to believe that I am even remotely a fan of commercialized organized sports, so I’ll get to the point.
One hundred million Americans may have been watching Super Bowl LIII, but I was watching one of the biggest super major tournaments in the competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee (SSBM) community. The top eight singles bracket of SSBM at Genesis 6 (G 6) took place Sunday night in tandem with whatever that football game was, if you even want to call what happened a game. I will never understand how some people paid thousands of dollars to see a field goal and a couple of interceptions.
Before I say any more, SSBM is a Nintendo party game with some seriously abuseable physics that happen to make it, if not the most, then one of the most intricate fighting games of all time. Its fast pace and seemingly infinite threshold of potential skill level have made it a gem within the competitive gaming scene since the beginning. Competitive Melee has had its ups and downs since its beginning, but since 2007 and the Revival of Melee, which was both a tournament and the result thereafter, it has been on the rise with more young and new players than ever.
I personally have only competed in organized tournaments three times, and I have only been present in the scene for almost four years now. However, I know enough about the scene to tell you that I would much rather be a part of the competitive Melee community than be a sports fan.
Sports fans and administrators spend much of their time focused on “their” team and “their” players. The National Football League draft is such an overly extravagant event, and players are being traded and signed for contracts worth millions.
The top Smash players in the world, while most of them being sponsored by competitive gaming companies, could never dream of making as much as, say, Tom Brady and his quadrillion Super Bowls. But it is not about financial exchange to them, or to any of the hundreds of thousands of noncasual Melee players. That’s not to say that the “gods” of Smash (the consistent winners of major and super major tournaments, annually, who have for some time made up the top eight to ten internationally ranked Smash players) don’t receive monetary compensation for their efforts.
At Genesis 6, Liquid Hungrybox, currently ranked number one in the world in competitive SSBM singles, took first place in a long and very close best-of-five set against Tempo Storm Axe.
The exact total of his winnings has not been announced, but back in mid- November, he walked away from another major tournament, Smash Summit 7, with the first-place title and $16,541.
All that is to say that competitive Melee does have its financial benefits if you can play well enough, but that is not the main point here.
The community is where the real value is. Any competitive smasher can tell you that, even if they placed poorly in an event or tournament, they had the time of their life. That is because every smasher knows what the community is all about, and that is to keep looking forward, to keep the Melee scene present, and to keep the spirit of competitive Melee as strong as ever while bringing in new players all the time.
There is a mini-series on YouTube called “The Smash Documentary” that does a fine job to show what SSBM is all about and what it means to its players.
If I had the time and space to fill more pages about it, I would, but I have to get back to practicing my tech-skill. I’d like to see Tom Brady’s hand at a smash-turn pivot jump b-air.