If you’re passionate about Super Smash Bros., you may have fond memories of 4 players on the couch throwing items all over the place. From its humble beginnings on the Nintendo 64, Smash has continued to evolve, introducing competitive rulesets that make it one of the most exciting games to watch. It’s easy to see top level play and think performing like that is beyond you but, if you believe that, you’re missing out.
For Toronto’s Anweezy, the choice to enter his first tournament, the Canada East leg of GOML’s Online Circuit, ended up being a good one. He managed a stellar breakout performance, placing 9th in a bracket absolutely brimming with top tier talent. That’s not a bad result, considering the tournament had 229 entrants and featured fierce competitors like Blacktwins and SuperGirlKels, among others. He even had an incredible set against Riddles, one of the best Terry Players in the world (who also happened to win the Tournament), which went all the way to game 5.
“I really wanted to join an online tournament. I was like, ‘it's a good opportunity to get my name out there’. Soon after, my brother Scrim came up to me one day after I had just woken up and was like, ‘Yo, there's this GOML tournament. East Canada only and it's free to enter,’” says Anweezy about how he first heard of the tournament.
“I asked who’d be there and he said, ‘Riddles, Jw, and all those guys’. I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like a perfect opportunity for me to beat the best players in Canada.’ So I was like, that's dope, I'm gonna join it.”
1. You don’t have to travel to a Major for your first event
The first step is just entering. If you go in without the fear of going 0-2, accept your first time out as a learning experience, and just focus on playing your game. Anweezy’s journey started with competing against his brothers for sibling supremacy, and advanced to the next level when he entered the GOML circuit.
There are many reasons someone might not enter their first tournament. Sometimes it’s a lack of confidence in your own skills. Sometimes you’ll see a bracket full of names you recognize and think the playing field is too high caliber for you. Other times, the idea of travelling to pay a venue/bracket fee, only to get eliminated early doesn’t seem too appealing.
For 17 year old Anweezy, starting the 12th grade this year and needing to focus on school because he’s got his eyes on University was a big factor. This made GOML’s Canada East tournament being free to enter and online extremely attractive. Taking the time to do something new like this became a lot easier. He had been playing the game a lot, and it was finally time to give high level competition a try.
“I came into that tournament with the mindset that I was literally going to win the whole thing,” says Anweezy. “ I was at home, wouldn’t have to go anywhere, and my parents wouldn’t have to worry so, you know, it was the perfect opportunity for me.”
Online competition has its flaws, but it provides a place to start applying what you’ve learned about the game. The Smash community has an extremely vibrant online presence full of tips, tech and, most importantly, other players to face. You don’t need to balk at the idea of a packed convention hall right away. You can save the offline events for when you’re ready. Your first taste of competition is only an ethernet cord away (PLEASE USE WIRED CONNECTIONS).
2. Everyone has to start somewhere
Anweezy is a long time gamer. His genre of choice is JRPGs with Final Fantasy, Xenoblade Chronicles and Kingdom Hearts being among his favourite series’. He’s also big into action games like Uncharted and The Last of Us, but fighting games have always been huge in his household. The first fighting game he really applied himself to was Persona 4 Arena, and he’s been known to throw down in Granblue Fantasy Versus and Dragon Ball FighterZ. It was during the Smash 4 era that he began looking at games in a competitive light, though.
“I've been playing since I was a kid, so maybe like 5 or 6 years old. I was like 12 years old, when I really started to get into [watching] the competitive scene,” Says Anweezy.
“My brothers and I started getting more competitive because we started watching tournaments. We were like, ‘oh this is pretty cool, we can actually be good at this game.’”
Part of what makes entering your first tournament tough is not having a game plan you can rely on. It becomes a complicated issue because it’s easier to figure out what you want to do in a competitive setting by playing in brackets. If you’re too nervous to go in with nothing, you’ll need to look towards outside sources of inspiration while playing with a purpose.
Anweezy and his brothers weren’t able to go to tournaments as kids, so they only had each other and family friends as practice partners. At the beginning of Smash Ultimate’s lifespan, he mained many characters, including: Roy, Pokemon Trainer, Ike and Young Link. As he continued to focus and play more seriously, he began to get a handle on what he valued in a main.
He started hunting for a main with consistent kill confirms that could snatch early round stocks with ease. One of his brothers recommended Ryu, but Anweezy found the shoto posterchild’s Shoryukens to be inconsistent as an anti-air, leading him to finally settle on Ken Masters.
“If i’m gonna be honest, there are 3 main reasons I chose Ken over Ryu. I like how his back throw corner carries. I like his crescent kick and how it can extend into combos. I already talked about anti-air shoryu, so I also liked his roundhouse. They’re really good kill options,” says Anweezy.
With a main that exemplifies his values, he was able to begin refining his game plan and playstyle. The low stakes of netplay are attractive for trying out new things for sure, but Anweezy was lucky enough to have fairly skilled siblings to grind out long sets with. After putting in countless hours against his brothers and getting “eaten alive”, it was off to the lab to get BnBs down pat, and theorycraft situations.
He shouts out his brother Scrimgore’s ability to play multiple characters for giving him an early edge on matchup knowledge. With base level information on many of the top tiers he’d face, as well as the time spent doing his due diligence in training mode, he was ready to actually compete in his first tournament ever.
3. You might surprise yourself
There’s no point in going into a bracket thinking the worst and assuming you’re going to get blown up from the jump. If you’ve been putting in the work and developed a plan, you should believe in it. Even if your game plan doesn’t work out, it’s better to fully apply it and have that data, rather than half-heartedly give it a go and wonder what would have happened if you stayed true to yourself.
“I was confident. I was like, ‘I know I can beat these guys. I'm pretty good.’ But, deep down inside I was scared. What if I get out? What if I drown in pools? You know? The day before, I could barely eat,” says Anweezy who, despite signing up with the intention of winning the whole thing, still had some pre-tourney nerves to deal with. He focused on staying resolute to his game plan, powered through the feelings, and began to have his confidence rewarded.
“After I did well in pools on the first day and made it out in top 32, I was still scared but I felt a lot better. Once I made top 16 on Sunday, I got nervous again. I was like, ‘do I really have to fight Riddles?’”
Looking at potential bracket matchups ahead of time can be a gift and a curse. With so much content available online, scoping out a bracket ahead of time lets you investigate potential opponents and gather data. It also lets you know that you may have to go up against a top 50 on the PGR player like Riddles, which probably doesn’t help your nerves very much.
Anweezy acknowledges that focusing too much on Riddles would have been getting ahead of himself, though. He still had to make it through extremely talented players like Nova Scotia’s Vapor. He kept trying to force his well crafted game plan, made it through some tough players and finally came up against Riddles in what would be one of the most exciting matches of the whole tournament.
Pushing a top 50 PGR player to game 5 during your first tournament ever is a feat worthy of recognition, and the online community came out in support. Riddles was impressed with his showing and sent out a tweet about how wild the set was, calling Anweezy a “hidden boss”. He gained over a hundred followers on Twitter following the set, and was welcomed with open arms.
“I'm not going to lie, it felt pretty good. If I had the power to put an impression on someone who's number 47 on the PGR, imagine if I could do that against other players with PGR ranking. After that, I thought I should [enter more tournaments] just to make an impression on the Smash community and let them know who I am. I was glad Riddles did that. Shout out to him.”
Riddles would go on to take the set 3-2, and then Anweezy would lose to Montreal’s Z, finishing the tournament at 9th place, but he had already made a splash. He didn’t dwell too hard on the losses, and instead recognized what he could do to bolster his game plan the next time out.
4. You’ll learn the ropes and want to keep going
He plans to make little adjustments like not immediately mashing the rematch button, instead taking the time to calm down between matches. He also noticed that mentally, he lost his edge once Riddles began climbing back from his two game deficit, causing him to lose grip on the game plan he had so steadfastly adhered to all tournament. Dealing with tournament stress only comes from playing in tournaments, so he made the first stride towards that by simply entering.
Being his first tournament, he wasn’t sure about a lot of the idiosyncrasies regular competitors take as a given. He was impressed by how well the online tournament was set up to walk him through things like stage picking and banning. If you didn’t have someone available to explain it to you beforehand, you probably remember being confused why this random player in pools at your first tournament was asking you to rock paper scissors and waiting for you to ban something. The online tournament environment gave him all the information he needed to learn the process.
While he’s focused on a future involving post-secondary education, Anweezy is thankful for his experience during the GOML East Circuit, and is hopeful he can add regular competition into his life.
“Just enter a tournament, but not to place well... Well, obviously you want to place well, but it's a very good learning experience for learning how your favourite players play. Let’s say your favourite player is MkLeo. You can go into your tournament like, ‘Oh, this is the setting MkLeo has to play in.. It’s pretty stressful.’ It's a good way to learn how to deal with that,” says Anweezy about why people should go ahead and enter their first tournament.
“Who knows? Maybe eventually, once you join your first tournament, and you're feeling confident, you'll think, ‘Yeah, I want to join more tournaments.’ I definitely want to compete with as many good players across the country or even across the continent as I can.”