“So, how was Evo?”
The question of the hour. Put succinctly, it was an emotional roller coaster for me. I arrived feeling down but thankfully departed with my spirits uplifted.
My Evo pre-hype was dampened by a myriad of personal reasons, having little to do with the event production or video games even. I won’t go into these here. What you need to know is that while I was excited to see my old friends, I also felt a lot of pressure on myself heading into this event.* How ironic, considering that I registered as a spectator and not a competitor. * I am speaking relatively when I say I felt “a lot of pressure”. The pressures felt by each individual will differ based on their personality and role in the scenario at hand. By no means am I trying to compare my feelings of pressure to a top player…
The Smash community has grown at such an accelerated rate, with roughly 2000 entrants at Evo this year compared to last year’s 970! Did I also mention that Melee broke over 200K concurrent viewers on Twitch? Major props to Armada by the way, for winning this year’s Melee Singles event!
From my perspective, the scene transformed from a small group of newly-established friendships in a school’s gym to what you witness now at Evo. Our community’s growth is awesome, insane, but also daunting.
One of the byproducts of said growth combined with the rise of social media is that there are a lot more people watching your every move: What you tweet, what you wear, what you say, and so forth. This is less of a complaint and more of an observation, a double-sided sword, if you will. I’ve asked a few of my friends about this phenomenon to see if they also feel similarly and sure enough, they do. You’ve most likely seen some of them voice their concerns on Twitter.
Luckily, there are a lot of great aspects that come with the territory of the rapid expansion of our community on top of the added paranoia. For me, I got to meet so many amazing people who showered me with their kind words (not to mention that we got to take selfies together).
I made sure to tell every single one of you that I genuinely appreciated it, since I was rather bummed coming into Evo. The things you told me still blow my mind. My brain is constantly replaying these encounters in my head, because it’s your support that keeps me functioning. I also apologized to several of you for appearing so exhausted and spaced out, which brings me to my next set of scattered thoughts.
It was simultaneously rewarding and stressful trying to find the time to see all my friends. This is both a side-effect of the growing community and the fact that because we’re such a tightly knit scene, it can be hard to see everyone in three days.
Luckily, I managed to see a good portion of them and even managed to smooth things out with acquaintances I’d stopped seeing eye-to-eye with a while ago. Oddly enough, I also had the opportunity to introduce myself and hang out with several community members that I’d never really chilled with before. I am so, SO thankful for these interactions because oftentimes, the Internet can strip away aspects of our personalities that can only be experienced in-person.
Reuniting with old friends and making new ones was hands-down one of the best aspects of this year’s Evo for me. So much that I started to become sad that just attending nationals simply isn’t enough time to befriend everyone or even adequately hang out with my old friends. For example, I was astounded by how large and kind Arizona’s Smash scene was. NorCal’s scene seems beyond welcoming. It made me ponder: What if in a few years I become a digital nomad? That way, I could book AirBnbs across the country and get to know and play with every Smash scene. Sigh, if only. The dream!
Ultimately, the Twitch “Salty” Afterparty was the culmination of this entire weekend’s good feels. I’ve been to lots of bumpin’ clubs before, but the experience of being at one where at every corner you turn lies a familiar face and friend? Let me tell you, the feeling of camaraderie was unparalled.
These are the same faces I saw eight years ago in a high school gym, the faces of those I lost to or defeated in tournaments across the United States, the faces behind the avatars of foolish forum posts. I may have had a bit of gin in me, but I can almost assure you that every Smasher I made eye contact with that night had the same glimmer of happiness in their eyes on that dance floor.
After a very long and delayed flight home, I’ve concluded that my experience at Evo2015 was a beautiful shitstorm. This trip was a well-needed reminder that the term “Smash community” is oftentimes synonymous with “homies”. Although I’m still quite sad that I didn’t get to meet and hang with everyone, I can only hope that this will be remedied with time and even more Smash nationals.
See you all next year.
Disclaimer: These are just my thoughts on my experience. These words should not speak for anybody else aside from myself.