Apex 2015: The Tournament That Almost Wasn't

After a series of disasters caused the tournament to be shut down, fans banded together to save it.
New Jersey Police and Fire Marshalls On-Scene © Robert Paul/@tempusrob/rmpaul.com
By Barrett Womack

Apex 2015 has not gone as expected, to say the least. 

From the dismissal of Apex Series co-founder, Alex Strife, to devastating winter weather, to the partial collapse of the Apex 2015 venue, Apex has already been a case study in Murphy’s Law – whatever can go wrong, will. Yet despite all of these hurdles, the Smash community has once again stuck together and persevered through adversity. In the course of less than three hours, Apex 2015 went from a tournament doomed to fail to a testament of exactly how tenacious the Smash community can be.

Condemned From The Start

When Smashers awoke to a fire alarm at 8:50 A.M., few people thought much of it. With over 1500 gaming enthusiasts all holed up in one spot, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine one hooligan decided to cause some chaos. However, it ended up being quite a bit more serious than that. As had been previously reported, the venue of Apex 2015, the Empire Clarion Hotel in Secaucus, NJ, had suffered some structural damage a little over a week ago. The venue assured Apex staff that it would not affect the event itself at the time, and were taken at their word. The fire marshal, however, saw it differently. When a fire official came to check the event for safety this morning, he found it severely below standards.

D'Ron "D1" Maingrette Sharing Venue Change Info © Robert Paul/@tempusrob/rmpaul.com

The ballroom holding Smash 4, Brawl, and Nintendo 64 setups was condemned just ten minutes before morning pools were about to start. On top of that, the room housing Melee setups was running off of a dangerously small number of electrical outlets, another emergency waiting to happen. The verdict was clear - the tournament could not continue. Or, at least, not at the Empire Clarion.

Soon after the announcements were made, the community sprang into action. Smashboards owner AlphaZealot suggested running pools in hotel rooms – CEO’s Alex Jebailey and many others immediately began scanning for new venues, running through the proverbial phonebook to find another place that might be able to host the biggest Smash Bros tournament of all time. It was a Herculean task, exacerbated by the fact that what was supposed to be a three-day tournament would have to be cut down to two. Arguably the worst part of all was that this entire debacle was taking place directly in front of Nintendo. Apex 2015 is the first Smash-centric tournament sponsored by Nintendo – such a colossal failure would surely keep Nintendo from ever sticking its hand into competitive Smash again.

Sky Williams Keeping Fans Informed © Robert Paul/@tempusrob/rmpaul.com

Revival of Apex

Anyone who follows the Smash community knows it’s had its fair share of adversity. In the early years of Brawl, the existing Melee community and the new Brawl scene took part in a vicious culture war that nearly destroyed competitive Smash Bros for good. Even after both communities stabilized, Nintendo has historically been skittish about associating with the competitive scene, even going as far as to attempt to block streaming of Melee at EVO 2013. Through all of this, Smash has always found a way to persevere, and Apex 2015 would be no exception.

Within three short hours, Apex staff had righted the ship. With the help of Twitch, a new venue was found and booked, and by 4:30 this afternoon the entire tournament was uprooted and moving to the Garden State Convention Center in Somerset, NJ. Volunteers and tournament attendees helped haul televisions and setups into vans, while Smashboards and Apex staff coordinated online information hubs, keeping attendees and viewers in the know throughout the ordeal. As it stands, Apex 2015 is set to kick off tomorrow morning – doubles events may be cancelled, but that’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to salvage the biggest Melee and Smash 4 event of all time.

Players and Spectators Help Move CRTs © Barrett Womack

Only in Smash

Finally, after a morning of excitement that only a Smash tournament could provide, Apex 2015 will begin. It won’t be the event that everybody expected, but the show will go on. Many people had wondered whether or not Nintendo would sever ties with the competitive community with disaster after disaster. To the contrary, Apex has proven exactly how resourceful and tenacious the community can be. The competitive community and Nintendo haven’t always seen eye to eye, but one thing is for sure: Nintendo should be proud to have such a passionate and driven group of individuals behind their game.

For more coverage of Smash Bros. at APEX 2015, follow @RedBullESPORTS on Twitter.

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