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"My ideology is based around love" - An In Depth interview with Smash’N’Splash 4 Head T.O - Jaaahsh

Z2G - March 21, 2018

The Smash 4 community has a message: we won’t take it anymore. Local communities across the world have decided that Cloud is single-handedly ruining the Doubles metagame. Despite this, a council of major T.O.s decided that the ruleset for Smash 4 would remain the same for the PGRv5 season. This announcement received wide disapproval ranging from top players to casual competitors alike.

Even before this decision, Down B Collaborations, headed by the Minnesota T.O., Jaaahsh, made an announcement. Cloud would be banned from the Midwest regional, Push More Buttons 2018. Even further, Cloud would be banned from all Minnesota Doubles events run by Down B Collaborations following their March Monthly. Jaaahsh has been setting an example at the local level of tournament organizing, has been highly critical of the decision to not change the national ruleset and its effects on the T.Os of local scenes, and has emphasized the importance of supporting your local scenes

Jaaahsh has worked and T.O’d mostly from behind the scenes at the national level. He has been part of key organizing staff of The  Big House tournaments, Genesis, Smash’N'Splash, Combo Breaker, and more major smash tournaments. I’ve sat down with Down B’s Jaaahsh to explore what it means to support your local Smash 4 scene and find out his thoughts behind the controversial Cloud bans in doubles and the recent Smash'N'Splash decision.

Hello Jaaahsh. Just so we can know who you are, what’s your role in the Minnesota Smash community?

For the last two-and-a-half years years of Smash Wii U, I have been the primary event organizer in Minnesota. I am by no stretch of the imagination the only tournament organizer, but I am definitely the principle one. I am the co-founder of Down B Collaborations which is a major event runner in Minnesota. Some of the more significant things that have happened in Minnesota smash in the last two years have come through Down B including the only Smash 4 weekly and the only cross-game monthly in Minnesota which includes Melee, Smash 4, Project M, Smash 64, and now Rivals of Aether.

I am also a travel for hire mercenary of sorts. I’ve worked at Genesis, Big House, Smash’N’Splash, Shine, Combo Breaker, and... I’m positive I’m missing a couple. I’ve traveled across the country working various smash events, usually as a volunteer coordinator organizing the pool captains and volunteer staff. I’ve also worked as the Head T.O for Combo Breaker and Smash’N’Splash for the last year and a half. I’ve worked as stream runner for a number of events, most notably Frostbite and The Big House. I’ve worked with several brands to get their name out and help with outreach.

You’ve worked with multiple different communities and across the nation at multiple events. What you’ve put out more recently, especially on Twitter, is about supporting the local communities. What is the local community to you?

When you think about competitive smash, generally we get caught up in a dichotomy of ‘well, what is competitive smash?’ Is it just top-level play? I think Competitive smash is just as much Nairo vs Dabuz at The Big House as it is random Luigi main #1 vs brand new Palutena main #2 that happens in Losers Round 1 of your local tournament. Competitive smash is a broad all-encompassing phenomenon, and we tend to get lost in the higher end of it. We tend to think the only things that matter are the majors, the Geneses, the Frostbites. I earnestly believe that’s true to an extent, certainly from a visible point of view, but the local community, the tournaments that are happening around you that don’t have 30 of the top 50 present or don’t have thousands of dollars in prize pools, are just as important for the health of the game.

"I think we get anxious, especially in the aftermath of the recommended ruleset put out years ago, about allowing communities to be different."

I am a huge advocate of local communities developing their own characters. I am a huge advocate of local communities being run in ways that make sense to those that go. I think we get anxious, especially in the aftermath of the Recommended Ruleset put out years ago, about allowing communities to be different. This stems a little bit from Brawl anxiety with banning Meta Knight or not banning Meta Knight and with different regions having different answers to what was seen as a huge problem. I don’t think there is anything wrong with locals having their own identity. I think it’s important for majors to have mostly the same ruleset, but I don’t think locals need to be a microcosm of the majors. Because of that, I’m a big fan of local T.O.s taking a pulse of their local communities—talking to their top players, their mid-level players, their low-level players—and finding out what makes the game interesting for them. I’m a fan of accepting that what makes the game interesting for New Yorkers might not be the same as what’s interesting to Wisconsinites.

There’s low-level players, mid-level players, and high-level players within each community, but how do you balance supporting the top-level players who can be more vocal and get more stream time with those players that might go 0-2 every week of bracket?            

To me, it’s all about having a fair perspective. That sounds really Midwest and Minnesotan, but I think there’s a lot of truth to that virtue. My goal in creating a ruleset, in general, is that there is an even playing ground at all levels for people who want to play in their different ways and their different styles. In making a ruleset for a community, I’ve certainly done quite a few creative rulesets for the community. Lord knows we had a nine-stage list and full stage striking for about four months. We held on to the eight-stage list with the Brawl Three (Battleship Halberd, Delfino Plaza, Castle Siege) for a long time. We held on to customs for longer than any other region I think; if not, we were one of the last ones to let go of customs. I think it comes down to what the pulse of the players in my region want while balancing with what is competitively viable at the time in the national meta. If we’re balancing the high-level and the low-level, it’s a combination of figuring out the cultural and competitive flavor of the scene and what’s happening nationally. It’s not trying to deviate too differently from the national scene so that our players can’t travel. We must make sure our high-level and our low-level players are not so far gone that they can’t compete out of state. That’s benefitting the high-level player’s practice, but also the low-level players also can feel like they are playing on the same field as their heroes they are watching on Twitch.

So it’s not like if hypothetically, the entirety of Minnesota wanted items, you’d allow items because it’s too far away from the national ruleset. Is that right?

Yeah, I think that’s fine. It’s one of those things where I would most certainly create a sub-event or an event that champions the use of items. But, in terms of creating a standard competitive event, I would stick as close to the Recommended Ruleset as I felt comfortable or was appropriate for the local scene.

Is that what you would recommend for smaller or isolated area T.Os? They may not be the ones going out nationally, but they’ll have 20-person weeklies or a monthly event that attracts greater attention. Would you say that these T.Os should look at what the community wants and also look at the national level and combine the two in a way that makes sense?

I would say instead of combining them, I would make a judgment call. If you live in an isolated area and your players are never going to travel (or you don’t think your players are ever going to travel), I’m going to lean more towards what they want from their competitive experience. Most likely they are not a community that is going to develop a larger competitive drive out of state. Now if among the twenty people you have, two of them want to be the best in the world, then you’re at a different level, and you have to listen to your community in a different way. When I talk about the Smash community here, generally speaking, I’m defining it as the group of people who aim to compete with the best at every level be it local, regional, national or international. So if you had a community of 20 people who really loved the Steel Diver item, maybe we don’t talk about that as the “Smash Competitive Community,” but we talk about it as our local smash community, casually speaking. I think that’s an arbitrary line that gets blurry sometimes. I think the customs meta made that blurry for a while.

I would say if a local T.O. has a community that really wants Duck Hunt back, for example, there’s no pain in letting a stage back. There’s no pain to making small or even mid-size cosmetic changes to a ruleset. I can realistically see scenes that have 3-stock 8-minute rulesets with Duck Hunt legal, and hell, probably Halberd and Delfino. I can feasibly see a scene that supports that, and all the power to the local T.O. and community.

"We’ve always gone a little beyond the national norm "

Minnesota has had a lot of different rules over time. With these rulesets differing from the national norm, has there been a lot of pushback with these rule changes?           

Generally, no. As a vocal T.O, I’ve never been afraid to talk about my perspectives. I think my openness and transparency has gone a long way to stopping that from being a huge point of contention. I think my decisions on rulesets have all had interesting rationales that people have agreed with, maybe not wholesale, but certainly agreed enough to participate in the community. We’ve also never had a ruleset, except maybe near the end of the customs meta, that was so far gone from the national meta that the skills were inapplicable. We had Wuhu Island legal. It’s not like fighting on Wuhu Island is an experience that is so unlike fighting on Smashville. You still do the smash brothers thing. You still have to condition your opponent and read them to win.

Even so, near the end of the customs meta, folks were beginning to say ‘hey Jaaahsh, the national scene is moving away from this,’ but at that point, I’d already expressed my anxiety that we were getting left behind. Because of that, I made the decision to stop the customs meta. We’ve had 4 major rulesets that Minnesota’s gone through. They have all been a little bit more experimental than the national norm. For a long time, we had one or two more stages legal than the norm. We’ve always had miis (default size, XXXX) legal since the end of the customs meta. We’ve always gone a little beyond the national norm in Minnesota. 

Talking about locals, imagine a scene that has had trouble recently. They don’t know what to do. They’ve lost attendance and interest over time. With Smash Switch on the horizon, you’ve said that this is the time to support your local scene. That call on Twitter has been retweeted hundreds of times. So how can not just local T.Os, but local players, and the community in these local scenes support their community?           

I think the answer to that depends on the scene itself. There are a lot of great ways that players don’t realize that can help support their scene. The reason I made that tweet and the reason I felt that way was because I was sensing a lot of malaise on twitter. ‘Oh, Smash 5 is confirmed, there’s no reason to care about smash 4 anymore,’ and more statements like that. It was such an unfortunate reaction to what a very exciting announcement. It’s upsetting that people are thinking ‘oh, there’s a new thing coming out, I’m not going to worry about this old thing anymore’ because there have been plenty of people who have had a lot of great memories from Smash 4 and from competing in Smash 4. I think many of them were attracted by the novelty of a new game they know absolutely nothing about aside from three characters. I felt compelled to say ‘there is still a competitive scene for smash 4. We are still out there. We’re still playing. We’re still pushing. We’re still trying to better ourselves and express ourselves through our play.’

In terms of what players and what folks, in general, can do; there’s the obvious support your local events. The infrastructure of your local scenes is not going to suddenly appear out of nowhere when Smash Switch comes out. Infrastructure has to be built, and relationships with venues have to be made, and capital has to be developed for local T.Os to buy switches or buy equipment for bigger events. Supporting your local scene by going means helping financially and helping infrastructurally.

There’s also supporting your local scene through content creation. When the new game comes out, there’s going to be a void on YouTube. There will be plenty of people reacting to it, but if you aim to be the best player or if you think the best player will exist in your state, how will the country, how will the world see your state when Smash 5 comes out? If they have no visibility now, they’re starting with nothing in Smash 5. The big regions for smash, Florida, Tri-State, California, Mexico City, have a lot of notoriety not just because they have the best players, but because the folks there do an excellent job of documenting, promoting and making their players visible. I think when I say, ‘don’t abandon your community,’ it’s not just for the competitors. Even if you’re not competing in Smash 4, pushing the word out about the local community that is competing; commentating, talking about, writing about, and making videos about your local community is paramount.

When Smash 5 comes out you want there to be a welcoming, established community that is for the new player. That’s another part of that tweet. When Smash 5 comes out, we’ll get a whole slew of new players who have never been part the competitive scene before. Being able to give them the best foot forward and the best community possible means we start building that now, not when the game comes out. When someone comes to their first Smash 5 local, or hell, when someone goes to their first Smash 5 major, what kind of community do you want them to see? You want them to see a loving and supporting one that is creative, interesting, and has great people in it. You’re one of those people, so why stop being one now? Continue to be that person so when Smash 5 comes out, so you have a status and you have a practiced rapport with new players, and you have a great thing to offer them in terms of the competitive community and the personality of the game. 

So it’s not over yet?          

Hell no. Not even a little bit. It has hardly even begun. I grew up with Melee, and Brawl came out when I was in college. I wasn’t a huge part of the Brawl competitive scene but I was aware of it. When Smash 4 came out, my perception of smash was shaped so strongly by the Brawl competitive scene, and it was a somewhat negative one. When I started working with Smash, I had this anxiety saying ‘ugh, I’m not sure I want to associate so strongly here because of the negative experiences I had at these Brawl tournaments.’ I would hate for that to be someone’s experience coming into Smash 5.  Whenever I see someone acting derisively around new people at Smash 4 events, I remind them of that and say ‘This could be their first experience in the Smash community. Do you really want them to leave feeling like we're pugnacious and miserable and derisive?’ 

Let’s talk about Cloud. It was announced that Down B has banned Cloud from Push More Buttons 2018 and all Minnesota events after their March monthly which happened on March 10th. It’s been awhile since then. So, why? How’d that happen?           

Just like I said earlier, my process when looking at rulesets was to constantly be talking to players about their experiences. What I found was that though Minnesota had a lower rate of Cloud usage, we’d only have 4-5 players that would use Cloud in doubles, it was the experience of playing doubles at a regional or national level that opened our player’s eyes up and led them to conclude that Cloud was a negative force in doubles. It created an environment where there was no answer to the character other than to figure out how to best abuse the character itself. That’s something I’ve been leaning on to explain and justify my position. If you think of a character that’s dominated singles or has dominated another fighting game, players of other characters will generally look and see what tools their character has to counteract that character. They look to adapt to the top tier. For Smash 4 doubles, it was clear to me from watching and working plenty of majors, that players weren’t looking for counterplay anymore. They were looking for how to best abuse the character. This meant that there was no good counterplay available because no one was finding any counter play that was acceptable or successful enough to dethrone teams that use Cloud.

When it came time to planning Push More Buttons 2018, I thought to myself “what defines the Smash 4 competitive scene right now? This will be the event that is the cornerstone of Minnesota smash history.” The first one was the largest Minnesota video gaming event that had ever happened. How best can I serve the community that has provided me such a wonderful time running events.” For the 2016 version, it was part of the Midwest circuit, which was a new thing we thought would be fundamentally important to Midwest smash. It didn’t work out the way we thought it would, but it was still a big piece that made the event more important. For Push More Buttons 2018, we would still have the draw. People would come in from across the region, so we really thought about how we could serve the community. The first thing that came to my mind was to implement a ban that seemed logical for so long but that no other organization had been doing yet.

"For Smash 4 doubles, it was clear to me from watching and working plenty of majors, that players weren’t looking for counterplay anymore."

When I was making the decision, it had just been made clear that there would be no changes to the recommended ruleset for season 4 and 5 of the PGR. We didn’t know about Smash 5 yet. There had been an indication that doubles wasn’t going to change. The ruleset wasn’t going to change, and I realized it was on the local T.O to make these changes. I said to myself “we’re running a large regional, and we’re going to run this regional with the ruleset that I think makes the most sense for competitive smash.” That included banning Cloud in doubles. I made the announcement. I tweeted out about Push More Buttons 2018 and did another tweet from Down B about banning Cloud in doubles. They both blew up. People in the region were excited about Push More Buttons 2018, and people across the country and indeed the world were excited about the Cloud ban. We received a lot of messages of support. Lots of folks were retweeting it saying ‘finally someone has common sense.’ It was clear that the community at large was responding positively to the Cloud ban. Really, it was just the thought “how can I best serve my local scene” that led to this decision.

You’re one of the first U.S. scenes or the first U.S. scene to ban cloud in doubles. You also made it clear on social media and spread that news. It's been a few weeks. So many different scenes have now followed your example and banned Cloud in doubles. Did you expect that to happen?           

I did. I honestly did. There was a very clear polemic in the smash community. The community at large felt, that their desires were being brushed aside for the sake of normalcy, for the sake of keeping the norm and the status quo.

Before I answer the question more fully, I want to make something clear. I don’t necessarily see myself as the catalyst for this larger national movement. I think it’s irresponsible to say Minnesota or Down B or that I started the movement that would end up banning Cloud in doubles in a lot of regions. I think there are a myriad of factors. Certainly, my decision influenced and was a factor in the decisions for many folks in my surrounding area and maybe that had a ripple effect, but I don’t see myself as the principal actor for this change.

I was excited about the response. It was very validating. I had a small anxiety in my stomach about making the announcement. It was this little thing that said ‘what if everyone was just talking and nobody actually feels this way, and when you make this announcement, you look like the loser in the room.’ I never let that voice stop me from doing anything. That’s sort of a life thing. I always just let that voice be the uncertain voice in the back of my head and never give it power. It was validating to see the response nationally, internationally, and then of course regionally. Especially regionally. Especially locally because, of course, that was the goal of my decision: to benefit the regional and local smash scene.

In terms of what it’s done, part of the goal was to provide a precedent for T.Os. For instance, Iowa began discussing a Cloud ban in doubles. It was made explicit that they were thinking about it because they had a larger, more robust scene to lean on and say ‘oh, Minnesota did it, so now it’s ok for us. We’re not going to be this Isolated random scene.’ I think that’s what a lot of folks who have been banning it recently have been feeling, that they were going to do it earlier, but they also did not want to be the weird ones out. And it was in part because I was unafraid to be the weird one out and the Minnesota scene supported me and that this movement began. 

How has Minnesota been taking this? How have the Cloud mains been taking this?           

Three of the Cloud mains have been some of its biggest advocates. Sinnyboo242 has always, to my knowledge, said ‘the character has no place in competitive doubles,’ and he uses it specifically because it is the best character to achieve a victory. Jibca, another prominent Cloud main in the state, felt similarly. He has been outspoken about the character needing to be banned in doubles. And spiNR and Thor, who also use Cloud in doubles, both were explicit that this was a change that needed to happen. They were also frustrated, as with a huge portion of the community, that there had been no big movements on the major level to address this huge problem which was the centralization of Cloud in doubles.

Their response was incredibly positive. In general, the scene responded positively. There were pockets of folks who took the decision on a personal level and felt persecuted, but I think they understood. I did my due diligence and I did feel compelled to reach out and say talk with those players.   

"My ideology as an event runner is always based around love."

With that reaching out, is that something you see a lot of T.Os doing when you make decisions like this or is that something you decided you should do as a T.O for your scene.           

My ideology as an event runner is always based around love. That’s such a silly thing to say and it sounds cheesy but stick with me. If a tournament organizer is to be someone guiding the competitive environment, I believe that the primary interaction that they should have with the players should be of love and respect. So I think that when someone seems hurt by a decision, it’s important for me to say “hey, let me find a place for you or a way for you to feel ok about this decision and to heal.” At the end of the day, I’m running events that are supposed to bring people joy and allow people to have fun playing a video game. When I interact with the community in general and someone leaves my interactions with them feeling negatively, I always try to reach out and figure out what happened and how we can talk it through. It’s a piece of how I believe a community should be.

Let's talk about some of the recent announcements by some major smash 4 T.Os that the rulesets for a lot of the major events. What do you think of the announcement that Cloud will remain in the smash 4 recommended ruleset for doubles for the rest of the PGRv5 season?    

 I found the tweet interesting. I know and have worked with Bear and Vayseth closely, and I know when I made my announcement about Cloud, it received some attention from both. I believe Vayseth retweeted the initial announcement, and Bear certainly liked it. They have always made it a point to acknowledge my work as a T.O and I have done the same for them.

I found the announcement unsurprising. If you think of the context of a major tournament, especially one that has already had registration open or one that has already been announced, players expect for the rules not to change. So Smashcon, for instance, has had registration for a while. I think Tantalus felt backed into a corner where he couldn’t consider Cloud being banned because he’d already had people signed up who may have had the intention to play Cloud in doubles. I wasn’t surprised that Bear wanted to stick with the status quo. I think he and Champ both are the kind of folks who prefer being advocates for the community and not leading the community. I think they both enjoy running great events, but I don’t think they want to be seen as community leaders. I understand them sticking to the status quo. I think Vayseth has always been a little more about staying with what’s established. For two years, He has been running an extremely phenomenal event that used the competitive (recommended) ruleset. Frostbite went just fine, so why change anything?

Going back to the point of the tweet, I presume it was prompted by the huge upswing of conversation about Cloud in doubles that had been happening. Everyone’s been talking about it, everyone’s been considering it. It seemed high time for them to be talking about it. It was, however, a huge turning point in this discussion. With Vayseth’s creation of the GSC (Global Smash Community) before this announcement in his twitter, it created this sense that rulesets would be made by folks who many people perceive are separated from the competitive community.

 I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Champ, Vayseth, and Bear are not competitive Wii U players. Tantalus had a stint as a ROB main. I don’t know how great he was, but at least he had a competitive stint. But may players felt that the three of them, if not the four of them, were not in a good place to be making these rule decisions, especially when they are so popular at all levels. At least in terms of PGR season 4 or 5, the resistance to changing the ruleset struck many as the head T.Os saying ‘we heard your opinions and we don’t care.’ Whether that’s a fair perspective or not is not for me to say. I don’t think it is personally, but it’s a perspective issue. 

The main backlash you mentioned is like this perceived disconnect. Is there a way to resolve that feeling of a disconnect even if it’s not really there? 

Resolving it is not necessarily a question of ‘how do you resolve this disconnect?’ It’s just a perspective thing. It’s how people end up perceiving this controversy. I think Tantalus has already started doing the work of repairing what people think his disconnect from these ruleset perspectives are by working with GimR and declaring that Xanadu weeklies will ban Cloud as an experiment.

I think that that’s every T.O, every one of the four will do the same thing. I also think it’s important that they rely on other T.Os at other levels to do those experiments for them as well. I don’t see, for instance, Hyrule Saga, changing its stance on Cloud in doubles. As I’m pushing for Cloud to be banned in doubles, it’s for the health of the game. I also understand and have always emphasized the personhood behind the person making the rules. The fact of the matter is that the person making the rules for Hyrule Saga does not feel like Cloud deserves a ban in doubles, that’s fine. That’s on them. That’s a decision they can make. It’s an unpopular one right now for sure, but it’s a decision that is open to being made. 

Considering you’ve worked with a lot of Smash 4 major T.Os and worked in almost every region, do you think the rift in ideas in say Cloud bans or Miis will create a rift in relationships between you or other local T.Os with the major T.Os.?           

I don’t. There has always been a culture of respect amongst event runners. Whenever I’m hired to work an event, I always respect the rules of the event as they are written. I don’t raise hell about them. We’ve already had a period of this when different regions and different T.Os followed different rulesets around Big House 5 when the stage list was changing. I would go and work in a region and there would be seven legal stages. I would work in another region and there would be eight legal stages. I would work in another region and there would be 6 legal stages. This has never caused bad blood. This was always something you respect. You respect the local T.O’s decision. You respect the major T.O’s decision. You follow the rules they set forth. If you’re the one writing the rules, then you write the rules as you see fit. If you’re working that event, you have the option of honoring those rules and you don’t have to work those events.

I have never experienced anyone being disrespected or leaving because a ruleset was different. We all understand the difficulty that running an event implies. We respect each other for the work we do. I have nothing but love for Vayseth and Bear, and to an extent, Champ and Tantalus though I don’t know them especially well. I think they are all phenomenal people. They have all done great things for the smash community in general and especially the Wii U community. In some cases, they even benefit the larger FGC. I will continue to support all their work because all their work supports a community I belong to and that I love. 

It was announced that Cloud is now banned in Smash’N’Splash 4 doubles. How did that happen? 

It’s one of these things where... when you run an event as large as Smash’N’Splash, it’s easy to say that it’s a national and think in this crazy abstract sense where it’s not connected to the area or time it’s taking place. I think that’s a mistake. Majors owe it to the community around them to reflect the smash culture they are based in. I take that to heart when I consider my job at Smash’N’Splash 4. Smash’N’Splash 4 is based in Wisconsin. Last year, when I took the reins of head Smash 4 T.O, I thought about how I could best implement a Wisconsin pride that many of the players feel and a greater Midwest pride that many of the players feel when they come to Smash’N’Splash. The obvious way last year was to implement a rule change that was popular in the Midwest, but not necessarily popular around the country. This was freeing the Miis: allowing guest sized Miis of any moveset to be used. We’ve continued that this year. That’s not changed as part of Midwest smash.

"Majors owe it to the community around them to reflect the smash culture"

When I considered the ruleset for Smash’n’Splash 4, I realized we had a potential disconnect in the weeks before deciding the ruleset. I’d seen not only my state but Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, chunks of Chicago, chunks of Ohio, considering and then implementing a Cloud ban in doubles. I then thought that this was a flavor of the Midwest. I contacted the head event organizer of Smash’N’Splash 4, Josh Weber, and we had an earnest chat about the health of Wii U doubles: why Wii U doubles had declined in popularity and viewership, and how local scenes were responding to it. He had a lot of questions and a lot of doubts, but at the end of the day, what he said was “I trust in you as the Wii U T.O, and I trust in your decision.” Together, we decided that if the local scenes are pushing for this ban, this is a part of Midwest smash. We absolutely want to honor the place where we’re holding Smash’N’Splash by implementing the same ruleset. 

You’ve been talking about the Midwest, but now Smash’N’Splash is considered a major event. It grew from a large regional to a national major event. That’s different from the local or regional community or identity. How are you balancing that decision with the regional identity with the national or major this has become? 

It’s with the same philosophy that I work with my local scene. I 100% believe that the Recommended Ruleset is exactly that: a recommended ruleset. When we looked at Wii U Doubles, we thought that, at a national scale, this event is suffering. At a national scale, viewership and interest is dying and has been dying for a long time. Again, it was a reflection of the local scene in combination with wanting the best for our event and wanting people to have the most fun playing these games at our event. We decided that the national title of our event mattered only in so far as needing to be open to different perspectives, but also that we needed to recognize that we have a responsibility to the national community to set a precedent that we think is important. So, we did. We have set a precedent for other T.O.s of similar sized events or larger to say ‘Smash’N’Splash did it.’ If Smash’N’Splash is billing itself as the smash vacation experience, why do you want your vacation to be bogged down by what’s driven a lot of people into malaise?

Smash’n’Splash 4 is the first major event to have Cloud as a whole banned from doubles. What do you see in the future of Cloud in doubles for the next six months? 

I think we’ll have a functional reconsidering on the major level of what the goals are for a tournament. Is the goal of a major to further the current meta despite how stagnant it may be, or is the point of a major to provide a unique experience at all levels, and to what extent do they want to follow the meta of the small communities that built it? I think the question that everyone needs to ask themselves about the majors that they are attending or running is: ‘what role can this event have in reinvigorating an event that for so long has been seen as the most enjoyable part of the game?’

Well Jaaahsh, thank you for joining me. This has been an enlightening conversation. Are there any last words you’d like to say? 

I’ll repeat it, but I always think that, as a player or as a spectator, if you have not reached out to your local event runner or your local streamer or your venue and said ‘thank you,’ do so. Go out and thank them. Let them know they are appreciated. Let your national T.O.s know they are appreciated. If you’ve ever been to an event that Vayseth has run or that Joe Barrels has run, let them know you appreciated and enjoyed it. It’s something we don’t hear as often as we should.

There is a lot of ink spilled right now, including this very article, about the end of Smash 4 and the end of its life cycle. Understand that that doesn’t mean this game is dead or dying. Indeed, these efforts we are making to revitalize Doubles from the grips of a repetitive meta shows a clear sign that there is a desire for Smash 4 to continue thriving. You are the primary person to help that. You are entirely empowered to help that mission along.

You can follow Jaaahsh on Twitter @Jaaahsh and the organization he is a part of @DownB_.

You can follow me on twitter @Zander2green.

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