As discussed before, the 2GG Championship on December 1 – 3 was an exciting, high-quality tournament. However, this isn’t to say that there weren’t a few bumps on the road throughout the event. One of these bumps was the unfortunate breakdowns of a few players throughout the event. Simply put, pressure got to a few of the entrants at the 2GG Championship.
With future high-stakes Smash tournaments possibly becoming more frequent, it’s important to discuss the prevalence of pressure in competitive Smash. Pressure doesn’t just affect play style. It can make players crack underneath it, and under-perform. Every sport and esport contains players that go through the experience of cracking under pressure. Smash is no different, in that regard. The 2GG Championship serves as a good reminder that Smash players are just as capable of cracking under pressure. Moreover, this tournament serves as a good lesson on how we should improve dealing with tournament pressure. Let’s talk about it.
Pressure at the 2GG Championship
One of the Smash community’s largest critiques of the 2GG Championship, in hindsight, was the Round Robin approach to the event. Certain players performed very well in sets, yet didn’t proceed out of pools because of the event’s priority on number of matches won. This caused a few players to calculate their results before their sets had ended. In the mind of the player, why try to win if it’s impossible for them to proceed? In addition, there was so much money and viewership that made the stakes so high that it got into players’ heads.
Two players succumbed to this circumstance, albeit for different reasons. These players became victims of pressure, drastically affecting their performance at the 2GG Championship. Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey is an example of an incredibly talented and admired player that simply gave up sets throughout the tournament. Dempsey beat himself up over losing matches, feeling the high-stakes pressure of the event’s $50,000 prize pool. This made Dempsey play worse and worse, to the point that he intentionally committed self-deaths (SDs) in multiple matches.
Another player that ended up in a similar situation was Griffin “Fatality” Miller. The Captain Falcon found himself in a pool group with the likes of Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, Larry “Larry Lurr” Holland and Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick. Miller found himself losing 3-0 in his set against Holland, and lost his set against Fitzpatrick 3-1. When it came to Miller’s set against Barrios, Miller ended up hopelessly throwing out Falcon Punches, leaving himself wide open to Barrios throughout their entire set. Miller had given up, knowing he was not going to make it past pools.
Pressure and Smash
These instances are understandable. Pressure gets to all of us, and anyone that plays competitive Smash, whether low-stakes or high-stakes, can attest to that to some capacity. Realistically, it’s impossible to completely remove oneself of pressure, especially when playing against such talented players as was the case in the 2GG Championship. However, this doesn’t mean that pressure must equate to “giving up” sets and playing poorly. As a community, we can learn from this.
I’ve experienced tournament anxiety and pressure in Smash on numerous occasions. In my experience, the best way to cope with pressure in the context of playing a competitive game among so many talented players is to simply play. While this may, understandably, be more difficult for higher-stakes events such as the 2GG Championship, I feel that it is equally, if not more important for high-level players to cope with their tournament pressure effectively.
If the top players can manage the pressure placed against through simply playing their best, and giving as good of a tournament performance as possible despite the odds placed against them, that resolve may bleed through the rest of the community. If viewers see their most admired players be in a position in tournament where they feel pressured, and they deal with it through not letting the pressure get to them, then the viewers watching will feel inspired to do the same.
Part of doing well at tournaments is learning how to deal with the pressure and anxiety of being at a tournament and playing against other skilled players. If we see high-level players do this, regardless of the level of stakes at the tournament, then we, the competitive Smash community, may become more able to effectively cope and deal with tournament pressure.
Of course, seeing players deal with pressure will never automatically make other people capable of dealing with pressure. However, my point is that if we see other players deal with tournament pressure well, then viewers can feel that dealing with tournament pressure themselves is more possible.
What do you think on this subject? Have you encountered tournament pressure and anxiety? How did you deal with it? As always, join the conversation and let us know!
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