Heroes, Community & CCL Esports
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Let's revisit the insanity of early esports tournaments (2003)
The early days of Smash: Melee, back when out of state or international travel for gaming tournaments was a fairly new concept, there were some suuuuuper wild tournaments, personalities, and scams going down on the regular. Things like having some company sponsor a national tournament with regional qualifications, and then disappearing off the face of the earth once it was time to fly the winners out to the grand finals, or some random dude putting up a tournament prize pool of a few hundred bucks in order to lure players to show up to his backwater village - then having 0 money because he was so sure his group of friends would win and having to ask his mom to pay it.

Even watching a teenager sob literal tears of rage at a gamestop tournament while someone spends 10 minutes running in circles with a slight lead because they made everyone play on Hyrule Temple were fairly commonplace. We're going to take a more detailed look at one tournament in particular though, because it stood as the largest prize pool for one of the most popular competitive games for years after it's conclusion, and was run by an organization called the "International Video Gaming Federation" who had plans for multiple nation-wide events and was basically intending to be what MLG ended up being - if MLG had been run by insane clowns.

At the time, there was a Washington smash scene with monthly tournaments that 20 or so players would show up to, but none of us had played any of the nationally known players from other states. We actually heard about this tournament through a radio advertisement, at a time when both "officially organized" tournaments and 10k prize pools were almost unheard of. It was such a big deal that some of the established top players from so cal drove up to Seattle for the event, with basically no more information given from the organizers than "show up at this convention center at this time on this date."

Some of us smash tourney regulars from Washington arrived together and were absolutely blown away by the amount of people at a gaming event. Though the actual number of entrants, even with a 50$ entry fee, was somewhere over 150, there were way more than that in attendance from spectators, parents, organizers etc... We signed up and paid for the actual tournament together and got our first little surprise when the organizers starting telling players they weren't sure if this was going to be a 1 day or 2 day tournament. First mention of the event possibly being more than 1 day was given only after people had paid to enter. While this wasn't a problem for me personally, there were plenty of people who probably took a day off work, had to get a ride downtown, or the parents who had driven and escorted their kids to the event, that were none too pleased with this plot twist.

I guess, with all the complaining, they decided they needed to get things going quickly and started the event with some sort of pools system. How did you advance out of pools? Well, no one really knew, including the tournament organizers I guess, because after an hour or two they decided to re-start the tournament and use a different format. Now, the only documentation I could find on this event,  https://www.ssbwiki.com/Tournament:IVGF_NorthWest_Regionals  lists the entrants at 151. However, I'm almost positive there were far, far more players than that, and that many of the players that lost some of their initial games in the phantom round at the start of this tournament, simply left because they didn't understand the format, that they weren't eliminated after a loss, or that the tournament was going to completely restart. 

After realizing that keeping hundreds of people in a guessing game as to how many days the tournament would take place over wasn't a good look, the tournament restarted with the remaining players that hadn't been scamazed into leaving early, with their new 1-day format. The format was now best of 1, single elimination, all items on, and random select stages. Just for reference, in the last 15 years, there are almost never tournaments that use any items - and generally the stages are heavily restricted. I know the tournament wiki for the event says "double elim" but it most definitely wasn't. For those without knowledge of the smash tournament scene, this format would be the equivalent of like HGC finals Blizzcon being a single elim randomly chosen Heroes Brawl all the way through the tournament.

Alas, this rule set and random "re-do" of the entire tournament an hour or 2 into it wasn't even the worst part. The real kicker is, apparently looking to set new global standards in laziness, the International Video Gaming Federation chose to fill out the tournament bracket in the exact same order, top to bottom, that players had officially signed up and paid for the event on-site. Naturally, anyone arriving to the event in a group all signed up at similar times so... came to the event in the same car with your friends, family, or practice partners? Well, now you're playing each other in the opening round of a single elimination tourney, get fuk'd nerds.

I remember almost nothing from the actual tournament itself until the game I was eliminated, as the shock and disbelief from the way the event was run far eclipsed the early rounds of the tournament. I'm listed as 4th on the wiki page but I definitely wasn't that high, maybe quarterfinals. At some point late in the tournament I went up against a buddy of mine who was another local tournament regular, we randomed onto the stage Poké Floats, notorious for players falling through the stage to their deaths, and I was killed when we were on our last stocks by a poke-ball summon one-shotting me off the side of the stage.
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LMFAO good read