How to survive your first Smash tournament

Hey.

Greetings, you behind your screen.

From now on, you and I are buddies and I’ll tell you a bit about what’s gonna happen in your first tournament. I am warning you, it might be a little humiliating.

I know, I know, you were like the final boss of your circle of friends. But I prefer to give you two or three tips, so you can’t say I am not a good friend.

Pre-0-2 first Smash tournament tips

First of all, the basics: do not forget to bring your own controller. It may seem obvious at first, but I have nothing to lose to remind you of it. 

It happens to the best of us.

Bring water as well, you are about to spend your day locked in a venue full of CRTs, consoles and uptight smashers. It may soon feel like you are in an oven and it would be a shame to die of dehydration. Avoid Monster / Redbull or any other energizing stuff, the sugar peak is going to fuck up your brain, and it would be really counterproductive. If you need to wake up, have a coffee (ONE, not six in twenty minutes because the first five “didn’t work”, you get the point).

Also bring something to eat, nourishing type, like bananas or walnuts. Or not walnuts if you are allergic to it. Maybe almonds? Listen, whatever is nourishing and not too sweet, and which doesn’t try to kill you in the process, is good.

pretty bananas

Sleep and eat well the day before. Generally speaking, if you want to be in top condition, behave exactly like on a day before a traditional sport competition. Also: eat fruit (this advice is also valid on a daily basis, you’re welcome for the extra life tips).

If you still don’t know anything about the advanced techniques, I’d advise you to start right now, or it’s gonna be way more painful than it was already going to be. If terms like wavedash or L-Cancel don’t ring a bell to you, watch the videos in this playlist of SSBM Tutorials.

Check the amazing Code of Conduct, which will guide you on your way to being a decent person during this event, even if you don’t make it out of pools. By the way, if you run into women at the event (it’s possible, I swear), we’ve also written a blog post on how to be a good ally to female Smashers.

Also remember to check the ruleset of the tournament. Knowing the rules and format of the event you’re attending is always useful. Are you gonna get 0-2’d six times during round robin pools or only twice because it’s a double elimination bracket?

Let’s not forget headache medicine, CRTs screens are WAY too close to your face.

Prepare a playlist to help you focus during the games and cut yourself off from the noise of the venue, which can add unnecessary stress especially when you’re not used to it.

During the tournament

So, here we are.

As we all know (except you), the main point of this tournament will be oriented towards the social aspects and the search for psychological support rather than tourney performance, try to directly spot those who brought the beer try to establish contact with people who seem at least a little socially open and nice. Because yes, know this: there’ll be a moment when you’ll look behind you, and I’ll be gone doing other stuff that does not involve you. Do not panic, tighten your seatbelt and: go talk to people.

The main point of a tournament where the majority of the participants will not make it out of pools is to meet people. Anyone can become anything to you. A guy from your area you didn’t know about until now, potential smashfest buddies, maybe an archrival? A NEMESIS??? Talk to as many people as you can, and if you’re too shy to make the first step, standing next to people who are watching an interesting set and laughing with them is often a conclusive technique. And now that you finally remember that you never liked bananas anyway, and that you brought one following my advice in the first paragraph, you can give it to someone else. The icebreaking potential of this fruit is often underrated.

The Smash community is great, in that it focuses on the community atmosphere and the exchanges between its members, and in that everyone has non-playing expectations of the event!

Bouncing drunk seal
Here, a smasher whose non-playing expectations are definitely not the presence of a roleplaying stand

About the tournament itself:

Pay attention to the schedule and TO announcements, a disqualification (DQ) for not showing up at the TO desk can easily occur. Be more attentive if you are in a foreign country and are not fluent with the language, TOs can have a very personal interpretation of your gamer tag.

Warm up a bit, freeplay at least a minimum and don’t hesitate to threaten your friends to make them play if you didn’t manage to establish a proper contact with other people yet.

Hydrate yourself.

Remember you’ll certainly go 0-2.

Probably six times in a row depending on the tournament format, round robin pools are often a painful moment to live.

But everything’s gonna be alright, it IS ok (I’m your sis, reminding you of this is a part of my social obligations).

Thereby, do your best, even if you think it will be for nothing. Feeling like you underperformed is always super frustrating, whatever your level is.

Do not hesitate to ask some questions and request advice from your opponents once your sets are over.

Some breathing exercices according to your stress management will never be too much; we have an upcoming blog post on the subject.

Remember that this playlist you created does exist.

H y d r a t i o n.

Don’t forget to fistbump or at least greet your opponent before and after your set, because decorum matters and you definitely don’t want to be that kind of douchebag at your first tournament. You can also shake hands, if your palms aren’t too sweaty.

Post 0-2 tips

So, at this point you got washed, and you’re currently feeling a bit lost. It’s okay. You’ll be fine. I believe in you. 

Now. Let’s get to the point.

Take a look back at your performance. Where did you screw up, why, and how? Not going to sugarcoat, the major part takes roots in your lack of skill and experience, comparing to other players. But introspecting is the first step to improvement.

Try to set some goals: how did you live the whole thing? Do you feel like you should try harder, or be more chill between two sets? Or BOTH ? Of course, this feeling will probably evolve with time, but deciding now that in X months, you will be ranked into your regional power ranking, or that you’ll be able to beat this player who impressed you during your pools (or even this guy who slammed the door in your face, no judgment here) is a good way to maintain motivation and to keep an eye on your improvement.

Now that you feel a bit more comfortable, freeplay as much as you can with players around you and ask for feedback and some advice.

Go back to talk with the players you met in pools and with the people you like.

Try as many matchups as possible, maybe you’re still uncertain about your main and you’re starting to realize that yes, maybe picking Roy was not the idea of the century.

Don’t get discouraged by your results. Nobody expects a newcomer to win against their first seed, and nobody will make fun of your defeats. The only thing that matters is to enjoy the event.

If you still don’t feel confortable going up to people, maybe the tourney includes a ladder, which allows you to find opponents with the same amount of victories as yours. All this without moving from your chair.

Watch top 8 (and crews if there are some): those are always super hype moments, very entertaining, allowing you to discover the top players.

I don’t know if I mentioned it yet, but staying hydrated is really useful. For life in general. Not just tournaments.

Prof Pro staying hydrated during his set against Trif at HFLAN 2019
Prof Pro staying hydrated during his set against Trif at HFLAN 2019

Keep in mind that each player here started from scratch and knows exactly what you are experiencing right now (stating the obvious there: you’re not going to perform). Most players are there to learn and improve and they are excited to share their experiences with newcomers. The key is not to remain in your corner and to play against as many people as possible, because that’s the way you learn the most. The Smash communities and its players have a lot to offer, because many people here are willing to teach you everything: every enthusiastic newcomer will be valued, because it’s how the communities have managed to stay so active over the years. And they also bring cash prize to the top players who will win the tournament. Unlike you.

And when your thumbs start to hurt, eh, enjoy the venue, its players and its surroundings. After all, here we are… I don’t know to which tournament I brought you, but hopefully for you, I didn’t screw up too much and I’ll see at a major tournament abroad. So look at the silver lining of the situation: the tourism, the holidays, or taking some time to discover the local folklore. 

And then, hey, if you still have a hard time overcoming the saltiness, keep that in mind: we brought beer.

I interviewed many people to write this blog post, I would like to thank them all again for their contribution!
So shout out to: Amsah, Badnight, Bseed, Charlon, Däumling, Explo, Exy-, Fout NL, Happymealz, Ice, Jah Ridin’, Jana, JiM, Jim Morrison, KasparV, Leon, Liva, Exile, Mahie, Makenshi, otaK_, Pacha, Professor Pro, Psylo, Samplay, SchlimmShady, Unhaven, Solo and Zhu !

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