CEO2016’s Smashing Problem
Update from the Author:
In the last couple of days, I have received numerous amounts of critique and feedback from the smash community over at r/smashbros. While differences in opinion within esports are not as grave as in other areas, I like to hold myself to a certain amount of ethical standards. Reporting false information is a serious breach of those standards and turns my article into clickbait. This is the last thing I want associated with my work or my name and as such, I feel a few corrections are in order.
1. The Infamous GG Chant
a. I’d like to start by crediting both the CEO website and Reddit user housefromtn for bringing this to my attention. As per Alex Jebailey,” While I did not try to get the crowd too crazy, I simply asked if the crowd waiting for Melee was excited to get it going and they excitedly responded. They also got quiet again when I politely asked them to calm down and not affect other games going on. Their chant lasted only a few short seconds so I wouldn’t pick on their community too much for it”.
2. Best of 5
a. In my article, I mistakenly noted that there was a community pushback due to how CEO handled the match rulesets. From what I was able to read the brackets, Best of 5 started in Top 12 for winners and Top 16 for losers. From what I’ve seen, the main source of complaints came from Jebailey announcing that from now on he would be sticking to Best of 3 until Top 4.
3. Community Leaders and Top Player Privilege
a. I voiced my complaints towards some of the behaviors and comments made by top Melee players/community leaders. I still disagree with some of the comments made by both Leffen and MacD in the aftermath of CEO, but criticizing them without acknowledging the comments made by Jebailey shows bias. Exposing twitter DMs is unprofessional and the “top player” twitter could have also been handled better. I can sympathize with Jebailey’s feelings, but he could have set the better example to his attackers. Both Leffen and Jebailey have been in talks in the aftermath of the event working to better future events. I’d also like to note the comments of Robert “JuggleRob” Harn, who went out of his way to air out the chanting situation. Harn is a notable tournament organizer and did his best to speak up for his community.
b. In the article, I talked about top player privilege. The main complaint I had comes from the idea of pot floating. The article describes this as a player being seeded into Top 8, but this is actually just to skip the first set of pools. While I did discuss other demands that Jebailey brought up, I feel that some of those should have been discussed behind closed doors or shut down by experienced tournament organizers.
CEO, or Community Effort Orlando, is a yearly gathering run by Alex Jebailey. While initially put together as an attempt for Jebailey to give back to the community he loved, the tournament has become a draw for both domestic and international competitors. The event itself has grown from its’ humble beginnings and is now associated with lavish, wrestling themed production values and an overwhelming community presence. As CEO 2016 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the disappointing sportsmanship and appalling harassment exhibited by the Super Smash Bros Melee community.
CEO was not an event without problems, especially in regards to the Melee community. The key issues presented by the overall Smash community were due to the dropping of doubles, a team based tournament, and the general rule set for the tournament. Smash events are usually run in best of 5 sets, whereas CEO enforced a best of 3 ruling up until top 16. Top players, some who did not even attend the event, have been very vocal about the tournament in the days following. The community has also drawn a lot of ire from the general fighting game community in response to the public outcry after the tournament and the behavior during the tournament.
During Saturday night’s events both Guilty Gear Revelator and Melee’s finals were delayed. The KI and Tekken 7 events both wound up running over. As Revelator finals were set to begin, the impatient Melee scene proceeded to chant and heckle those on stage due to the delay. Members of the community also took to the stream chat and continued to complain about the delay. This is completely unacceptable and incredibly disappointing from a community that has worked hard to prove themselves in the past. The FGC and Melee scenes began to reintegrate after the EVO 2013 charity drive, where the Melee community made incredible donations to charity to get their game featured. Ever since then, the Smash scene as a whole has been a regular part of numerous tournaments.
After the event, Jebailey received numerous messages harassing and threatening him if the didn’t cater more to the community. Jebailey tweeted out a few examples of the abuse with one person threatening him that,”The Melee community at large won’t support CEO if you drop doubles and won’t do at least top eight in best of five ruleset.”. According to Jebailey on Twitter, he also received numerous unreasonable requests from the top players who attended as well as unwarranted slander from those who didn’t. This treatment is absolutely disgusting, especially since Jebailey welcomed the community with open arms and openly spoke kind words about their enthusiasm driving high numbers for the event.
The Melee community and the FGC have had numerous clashes in ideals recently, especially in regards to the demands of top ranked players. Requests of pool floating, private warm up stations, and general unrealistic requests have popped up at CEO and prior FGC events that have featured Melee. The FGC doesn’t hand out placements, they are earned. Legendary players such as Diago Umehara, Justin Wong and and Seon “Infiltration” Woo Lee all have to fight their way from the start of the pool to the very end. Catering to a list of elites creates stagnancy and deprives up and coming players from their chance to prove themselves. There are some players defending the practice of pool floating by claiming that having to work through the entire pool is “burning them out”. These games are about competition and if the game is so taxing that regular competition is causing burnout then perhaps it’s time for said players to retire.
Despite these complaints, I still have a lot of respect for the Smash community on whole. The Smash 4 scene has taken the aftermath of CEO to try and help better the tournament. Reports of members of the Smash 4 scene working with Jebailey came out a few days later and were praised by the man himself. There is a wonderful passion in the Smash community. The dedication to a fifteen year old game is astonishing. The game itself is a marvel of technical execution that breeds skilled players, all incredibly passionate for a game they love. The passion and love for the game is what brings us all together as players. It drives us to better ourselves through constant practice. It brings us together to compete and bring the best out of ourselves. The Melee scene and Smash as a whole have done some fantastic things for the FGC. I also feel that the FGC has helped the Smash scene grow and gain mainstream exposure. However, as the FGC struggles to find its’ mainstream professionalism in the world of modern esports, it might be time for the Melee scene to as well.