With the sun rising on Romulus, Mich., this morning, the eyes of all Super Smash Bros. players and fans are on the Big House 4. Day one of the annual event was devoid of any major upsets, but all players involved understand that it was only the calm before the storm.
As the competitive field narrows and the championship brackets begin, it’s not who you beat on day one, but how you played that matters most.
Even for regular champions, top form is the top priority. “Singles went well but our doubles matches were sloppy,” said Joseph “Mang0” Marquez. “I’ve been moving; I haven’t been practicing as much. We’ll see what happens.”
Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma is hoping that a new mentality gets him past Marquez, his longtime rival and frequent stumbling block.
“I’ve been working on my neutral game,” he said, referring to the importance of keeping a buffer of space between you and your opponent while still doing damage. “I’m also working on just staying positive even in tough situations. It’s really helped me in the past and it should definitely help me [in the final rounds].”
For young players, the event isn’t just a chance to earn some prize money—it’s a chance to prove that you belong among the pantheon of professional players.
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett is among the community’s rising stars, and his focused preparation earned him a win and a close loss against tournament favorite Marquez.
“It’s to the point where, if I play Sonic, I feel like I should just win,” he explained, referring to his favorite character in Project M. “I’m in loser’s bracket in Melee, but I was in a hard bracket to begin with. I think I’m going to do well in the final rounds.”
For up-and-comer Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson, nothing but his peak performance will do. “I had a great run at EVO and MLG but I haven’t been doing so well lately,” he said. “I’m gonna need one heck of a good night’s sleep so I can be on point for the big day.”
With the venue already stirring and high-profile matches being played as we speak, the atmosphere grows more tense by the moment. The Smash community fancies itself a group of friends after years of striving to gain traction, but for today at least, the friendships are on hold until the champions are crowned.