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15 lessons learned

ShockSmash - December 6, 2017

My name is Steve Shockey, and I’m the host of “Beyond Beta Podcast,” a show that goes behind-the-scenes to look at video game culture. In the podcast, I explore the video game industry with publishers, developers, professional gamers, voice actors, writers, and more.

I decided to jump into Smash Bros. 4 and learn to play in order to highlight the difficulties, joy, and dedication that it takes to become an Esport athlete. I’ve been documenting the entire process on my website www.BeyondBetaPodcast.com. Over the course of the last few months, I’ve learned lot about myself and about the nature of Esport competition.

Here are my top 15 lessons I’ve learned so far:

  1. Don’t be a dick. Smashers will help you out and will provide feedback if you ask them, but you have to do it devoid of ego.
  2. Do your research first. Learn as much as you can before you start asking questions. People hate it when you ask them something that you can find in a 10 second Google search. If you’ve done your research, people will respect you more and will be more willing to help out.
  3. Fighting games are hard—way harder than you ever imagined. Like, painfully hard…no, soul-crushingly hard.
  4. Set realistic expectations in your tournaments. Don’t think you’re going to go and start kicking ass. Know that it’s going to take months before you get that first win in a tournament. In fact, it took me a month before I even took a stock. Then, it took another two months before I won a game. I’ve yet to win a set.
  5. Make a list of small goals. You’ll feel much more accomplishement checking off those baby steps as you’re getting your ass kicked week in and week out.
  6. Go to as many locals as you can. This is a great way to meet people, learn new things, and see just how good these players are. The more you attend, the friendlier and more inclusive people will become. When I tell people about the blog, they really open up. I tell them I have only a few months experience and you’d be amazed by how helpful and generous people are with their time.
  7. Understand the levels of competition. Look at the top ten in your region. See how good they are and compare yourself to them. Now, look at where they rank nationally. Then, imagine just how good ZeRo, Nairo, MkLeo, Salem and the rest of the top 20 PGR are compared to the best in your region. The scaling is insane.
  8. There are tons of resources available to you. Watch all the videos and matches that you can. There are literally thousands of matches, character guides, tips & tricks, and tons of other resources available to you. It’s also a good way to see your opponent’s habits and to learn their weaknesses.
  9. Really, don’t be a dick. I can’t count the number of times people have helped me out or have offered to train with me. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for them, considering how bad I am at the game. But, they did it because I’m always friendly and eager and express a desire to get better.
  10. Set good practice patterns. I can’t express how hard it is to train consistently. This is why teenagers can ramp up in Esports so quickly. They have more free time to play and practice. If you want to compete, know that you’re going to have to dedicate at least a couple hours a day to practice and play…and it would be good to add on an hour of match reviews to that too.
  11. Find players who play your main. ZeRo is a god of smash, but don’t just look at his Diddy Kong. Look at your local PR, who plays Diddy there? How do they differ from you and ZeRo? Look at mid-tier Diddy Kongs, how do they play compared to you, your local PR Diddy, and ZeRo? This was advice that was given to me and it was pretty eye-opening. Each tier plays and approaches the game differently. Same character, but different skill and understanding and level of competition. This understanding breeds insight.
  12. Listen to feedback. If someone gives you feedback, take note. Try to incorporate it into your practice, and then, into your play in tournaments. If people are giving you feedback and you’re still not improving, something is wrong with your approach to the game. I’ve dealt with this a few times personally. The issue is #13…
  13. There is an overwhelming large amount of data to learn. Don’t even think about frame data, just begin with terminology. Smashers speak in terms that you won’t know….BAIR, FAIR, JV3, SDd, SDI, the list goes on and on. Trying to learn everything in the game is like pouring a gallon of water through a funnel into another container. Yes, water makes it through the funnel, but a ton more gets splashed out. The best way to approach this that I’ve discovered is to learn, then, go back and re-learn. Watch those tips & tricks videos again. Watch those old matches. See how you’ve improved; see what you missed or didn’t understand the first time you played a matchup or saw a “How to” video. The trick here is to understand that you’ll never really know all there is to know about the game. There is always something new; always something that you missed or failed to understand when you first saw it or tried it. 
  14. Fighting games are the purest of Esports. There is no team. There is no one to blame. There isn’t a better weapon. There isn’t an upgrade. Every character has the same tools. The entire fight, win or lose, is on you and your skill. It is both exhilarating and beyond frustrating.
  15. Don’t buy into the drama. Every scene in every stage of your life will have its own drama or issues. This is not something unique to Smash or Esports. Realize that the Smash scene is incredibly supportive and friendly. Yes, there are issues, but don’t be a dick and or a downer and add to the drama. Be a positive force in your community, and people will recognize you for it.

This is the first of many blogs that will run concurrently with what I’m doing on my website and podcast. The posts here will be different and will cover big picture items versus the nitty-gritty stuff I post on my website. I hope you’ll check out both and help me on my journey into Smash Bros. 4.

I’m always looking for feedback and/or coaching so if you want to contribute, contact me through the website or hit me up on Twitter @SteveJShockey.


Steve “ShockSmash” Shockey

This blog post was written by a SSB World community member. Share your Smash 4 knowledge by creating your own blog post now.


I love how not being a dick is pointed out twice. Rings true in every element of life.
Xuramaz - December 7, 2017

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