Tourney News – Competitive Smash Takes Centre Stage at Apex 2015

Thousands of Super Smash Bros. players will gather in New Jersey this weekend for Apex 2015. It is the sixth annual tournament in the Apex series, and attracts the best Smash players from around the world. Records have been broken for this year’s Apex; over 1,000 players have entered the competition for Super Smash Bros Melee. The 2001 GameCube game still has a thriving competitive scene, even after fourteen years and three further instalments in the series. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has over 800 entrants, also making it the game’s largest tournament in its brief history.

Much of the focus and attention is aimed at all of the Smash activity over the weekend but several other games will be appearing too, including Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire. The event will be broadcast online by several associates, and a special ‘newcomer’ stream – aimed at players who want to get involved in competitive Smash – is being hosted by Screw Attack on their Twitch channel. The tournament was originally set to begin on Friday night, but safety concerns have resulted in the entire event being moved to a different venue and it being postponed until Saturday 31st January.

StreetPass UK recently held a competitive tournament in Birmingham for Super Smash Bros for Wii U, inviting 64 regional qualifiers from all across the country. Participating in this event were many respected players, including Michael St Louis, using his nickname ‘Hoe4U’. Michael, playing as Pikachu, achieved runner-up position after an intense match against his good friend James Miller (JMiller), who brought out all the shots as Luigi. The tournament was an eye-opener for many of its attendees and online audience who hadn’t experienced competitive Smash, and the venue filled with cheers and shouts as the matches showcased the fast-paced, intense brawling action that tournament matches usually display. James is already in New Jersey, participating in the SSB Wii U tournament at Apex.

The grand final of the StreetPass UK tournament can be seen here:

Michael is flying out to the states tomorrow to attend the rest of Apex, but he has been kind enough to offer some insight into the competitive world of Smash. He’s been playing since 2008, starting out with Super Smash Bros Brawl. “The SSB series to me is more intricate than any other fighting game on the market because you simply have more control of the character. You choose whether to commit whether you jump forward or not, opening up the idea of 3D chess to new live possibilities. Learning the games to a high standard can improve the quality of life by simply learning mechanics, analysing habits and patterns to figure out ways to read someones options, by altering your mindset whether you’re in the heat of panic, or just want to take that ‘high-risk, high-reward’ option.”

There’s certainly no doubt that Smash is a unique fighting game, contrasting with the more typical style of the genre by giving players total freedom around the stage and scoring by knock-outs rather than a health bar. So what kind of things would someone need to learn and practise to be successful? There’s actually an awful lot to it! “This question can get super in-depth. Carry a lot of endurance (mentally and physically) for back to back matches with as many players of different characters/playstyles. That’s the best way to gain knowledge of how a character’s moveset will look, or what effect it has on your character whether hit/whiffed/landed. Knowledge-wise, if you’re aware of frame data and a moveset’s startup frames, active frames and cool down, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you can do to benefit from risk or reward, while concluding whether you’ll be able to play the next move as a bait, punish or to reset to a neutral standoff with an opponent.”

When discussing the community, Michael was sincere with the problems it can have, commenting that “there are a flood of elitists out there who would rather force their opinion on newcomers, whether it’s damaging to pieces of the smash community or not.” Nevertheless, he remarked on how supportive and friendly many of its players are. “The community has a great urge to support when they see potential in individuals for European/international tournaments however, like Jmiller’s performance at B.E.A.S.T. 5 where there were more Melee players roaring for him. For the people who help within the community, they usually dive deep into their own pocket just to show moral support in guiding newcomers to feel welcome and a part of the community joys. Some of the closest people I know are within the same community.” Ending the interview, Michael stated, “The best thing about that is, I’m not even close to being the best, but I travel and learn more from those who are.”

Interested in getting involved in competitive Smash Bros.? Facebook group Smash UK is a great place to find tournaments and other players. Happy smashing!

A big thank you to Michael St Louis for contributing to this article

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