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Genesis 5: From Fan to Competitor to Star…

ShockSmash - January 25, 2018

There was an interesting event at Genesis 5, and it reinforced something I’ve been thinking about for a while. In philosophy, there is a theory called “equality of opportunity.” Let me break down the idea a bit and explain how it relates to Esports. In terms of philosophy, “equality of opportunity” means: 

“The ideal of formal equality of opportunity is associated with the liberation of economic practices and institutions from guild privileges and restrictions and with the development of competitive market economies. The slogan ‘careers open to talents’ expresses the aspiration to establish a world where government posts go to the most qualified and economic opportunities may be seized by anyone independently of whether or not one's parents are of noble blood or cronies of the king. The ideal is opposed to nepotism, the distribution of what should be public offices to one's relatives and friends just because they are near and dear to the distributor and quite independently of their fitness for the post. In this entry for the most part the terms “formal equality of opportunity” and ‘careers open to talents’ are used interchangeably to denote the same ideal.” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

This philosophy is worthy of much more study and explanation, but I don’t want to get too heavy on the philosophical side. What it means is that anyone can become anything they want…provided that they have the qualifications and skill. In Esports, this suggests that anyone can compete and become a top player. Anyone. Esports embraces this ideal wholeheartedly. It’s one of the most amazing things about Esports, and one of the reasons why so many people are drawn to them. 

The reason I’m pointing this out is because the opportunity to distinguish yourself as a top player is far greater in Esports than any other traditional sport. This is inherent in the general inclusion of most tournaments. Unlike other sports that may be invitational or built around a league, in Esports, and especially the FGC, you can enter a tournament by paying a fee. Once that fee is paid, you have a chance to compete against a top player…maybe even your idol. To the outside world, this may seem ridiculous. It’s not only possible, though; it’s happened time and time again. In fact, it happened to me at Genesis 5. 

I beat my first opponent, and by nature of the bracket, my next opponent was ESAM. He is the best Pikachu player in the world, and internationally ranked 21st on the Panda Global Ranking or PGR. I’m a fan of ESAM. When I started my journey into Smash Bros. 4 and started researching this project for my podcast, I took note of him because of his dedication to the game, work ethic, and seemingly friendly nature. When I entered the Vegas Smash 4 scene and began competing, Z, a top player in Las Vegas and one of the top 5 Pikachu players in the world, confirmed this about ESAM. They’ve been friends for years.  

When I went to fight against ESAM at Genesis 5, I messaged Z and we had a quick talk so I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself and get JV3ed—a term that means I get beat without putting any damage on him. After my talk with Z, he told me to ask ESAM for advice and tell him he said, “hello.” I did, and ESAM and I had a brief, funny conversation before the match.

I go into this story because it’s unique to Esports. It’s funny and amazing. Here I am…a guy with six months playing time with two additional months of Smash Bros. 4 research, and I’m given the opportunity to compete against the 21st ranked player in the world. Where else could this happen? 

I do want to be clear. I’m not saying that any idiot off the street can hop in and compete either. What I’m saying is that if you’re good enough and lucky enough and have put in a ton of work, you might be able to make a huge impact in the world of Esports. Case in point.  

  

Somehow our games got reported as 2-1, meaning that I took a game off of ESAM. The people I was traveling with from Vegas saw a few tweets about me taking a game and told me about it. I corrected the score with the T.O., but this started me thinking. What if I had beat ESAM? It would have been a huge win for me and might have catapulted me into the Smash scene as an up-and-comer. Remember, this was all in one weekend. I went in on Friday as a fan, watching matches and playing friendlies. On Saturday, I was a competitor, and on Sunday, I could have become a star. Unfortunately, I’m just not there yet. I couldn’t take a stock off ESAM, let alone steal a game.

 

What would have happened, though? I don’t need to guess. I’ve seen this happen. Right before EVO 2017, I was invited to attend and report on the Get Smashed: Summer School Tournament hosted by Milo Ocampo, 8-Bit Esports and the Downtown Grand Casino. This was my first interaction with Smash Bros. 4 and the first time I had seen Smash Bros. since 2001. There were around a hundred attendees that included International, local, and regional players. Yet, it was one person in particular that I noticed was creating some buzz and upsetting players. 

His name was Mistake. Yes, the same Mistake who just placed 2nd at Genesis 5. When I asked who he was, I heard that he was “Mistake — some Bayo from Canada.” Even with my lack of knowledge of the game, I noticed he was kicking ass, and people were taking note. He wasn’t ranked on the PGR; I don’t even think he was ranked on SmashBoards, and he was most definitely unsponsored. Nevertheless, he was making waves. Cut to six months later…Mistake is sponsored, ranked 13th on the PGR, #1 in his region, and almost won Genesis 5.

Now look at MKLeo, the winner of Genesis 5. He appeared on the scene over a year ago and was just starting to make a name for himself. Cut to a year later, he is on Echo Fox (one of the most prestigious teams in Esports), won numerous tournaments, has beaten the best players in the game, and is #4 on the PGR.

Another player got some attention this year at Genesis 5. A player named Chag. His Bayo beat Raito, the 32nd ranked player ranked on the PGR before he got knocked out by two other two PGR players. I heard that Chag is known in Mexico, but now he’s going to start blowing up on the international circuit.

Did I forget to mention that all three of these guys are under eighteen years old? That’s right. These young superstars are now competing against and defeating the same people they were watching play at Evo and other major tournaments just a few years ago. Over the course of a year, they have gone from fan to competitor to superstar. 

As Esports pushes into leagues and tries to create more structure and permanence in Esports so they can appeal to more traditional sponsors, we need to remember and keep this spirit of Esports alive. We need to allow players to have an equality of opportunity and make sure that if you’re good enough, you can become a top tier player and international superstar…regardless if you’re in a league, or sponsored, or fifteen years old. 

You can check out my progress in Esports at www.BeyondBetaPodcast.com, follow me on Twitter @SteveJShockey, and subscribe to my YouTube page called ShockSmash

Steve “ShockSmash” Shockey 

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