EDIT: On second thought, I'm just going to make this into two posts. I'll make this the social one, and make a separate one just about how I felt about my gameplay later on.
First of all, what a crazy event! Props to the staff for efficiently running a huge (500?) man tournament in a single day; definitely unheard of in the tournament scene and that's absolutely amazing. Even though what I am about to say is a lot of negative stuff, let me be clear that what the TOs/staff accomplished here was nothing short of a miracle. Honestly, I did have a few personal complaints though, some about the tournament but more about the smash scene in general. First of all, I didn't get a VIP wristband despite HTC flying me out to the tournament .____. I mean I would totally understand if at some other tournament I didn't get one...I mean, who the fuck is druggedfox, right guys??? But when the ones throwing the tournament specifically paid for me to come, I feel like that's an inherent recognition of player skill. You could say it was an accident, but based on how I'm generally treated in the smash community it's unsurprising to me that this happened.
There's a ridiculous bias towards "top players" as well as an unfortunate social dynamic related to it. I talked to Jon (eBay, pgood falcon from Washington) about this a bit while at the tournament and he was so glad I pointed it out, wholeheartedly agreeing. People have known about me for years, but they have never acknowledged me. I don't mean acknowledged any sort of skill I may or may not have, I mean as a person. Prior to my performance at evo, do you think Leffen ever said hi to me as I passed by him? Do you think Shroomed ever stopped to have a conversation with me? I am *not* trying to put those specific players on blast; I was just giving examples to illustrate the concept. Note that these are situations where it would be considered fairly normal/expected for there to be some sort of social interaction; I'm not suggesting that they should arbitrarily go out of their way to do these things. I wouldn't mind this so much, if it wasn't for the fact that immediately following my evo performance...suddenly top level players *did* stop to talk to me. Even players I had never met would wave, say hello, strike up a conversation with me, etc. Obviously this is only a generalization and not true in every case by any means. A great example is s2j, who met me at Apex 2012 and talked to me a lot before ever playing me and knowing how good or not I was; I didn't see him again until we played at CEO 2015, and he acknowledged me and noted that he hadn't seen me in years, etc. Alternatively take Mango, who didn't talk to me before evo OR after evo LOOOL. But when we're both on stage, he'll take initiative to ask me questions or talk to me in a personable fashion.
Ignoring how smasher's treat each other and the VIP nonsense, let's look at seeding. The actual seeding used for the tournament, in my estimation, looked roughly like this:
9. Silent Wolf
I was told that Wizzy and I were supposed to be 15/16 (which means we wouldn't have to play round 1), and regardless of whether or not this was an honest mistake it really sucked. I'm good friends with Wizzy and teach him a lot of smash stuff, not to mention we are from Florida and Georgia and already play at some florida locals and various regionals. I can say with high certainty that such a regional/seeding consideration would not have been overlooked for someone in the top 8 seeds, for example.
This isn't the first negative experience I've had related (at least, imo) to my player skill. When I went to I'm Not Yelling there were various expectations of me as a player by the TOs/stream, but without any of the communication on their end that should have come along with it. I don't like being treated like less of a person because I'm perceived to be less of a player, but it's a consistent experience I have had in general.
Alright now let's talk about the crowd. I was so disappointed by the crowd at HTC, since the audience at a tournament is a huge part of the experience (for both the players and the audience). Never before have I seen so much emphasis on favoritism and regional bias, and so little love for GOOD GAMEPLAY. The crowd didn't make me play worse at HTC, it just made me sad (and it's not the first time I've experienced this, but it was the biggest offender for sure). Okay, I get it, I'm not from norcal, or even california. But when me vs colin happens and literally NOBODY cares even though it was one of the most insane sets of the tournament...it just makes me so sad. He almost 4 stocked me. One game I read his attempt to gimp me and killed him with a needle at 0%. We just absolutely fucked each other up. Crazy comebacks were made, there were ridiculous suicides/risky attempts off stage on both ends. In any other context, this would be the shit that gets people hype. People WANT to see the crazy stuff. Nobody cared and it was just so depressing. I could do the sickest sheik shit, never seen before, everyone's quiet. I got waveshine upsmashed by silent wolf/sfat? Crowd goes nuts. It's just so fucking lame, and it's not even a sheik problem. I saw colin do tons of hype shit and nobody cared. Nobody cares about good gameplay, they just want to see their guy win. It just disappoints me so much, because part of what makes me love this game so much is being able to share it with thousands of people who all experience the same thing I am. When I witness crowds like that, it just makes me question that experience entirely, and it's disgusting.
That pretty much wraps up everything I want to comment on. As far as my personal behavior, I sincerely regret not giving silent wolf a better handshake after losing to him to get 4th. I tried to remedy it at the time by giving him a real handshake, but that was still really bad of me and I hope he didn't take it badly. I didn't mean to be disrespectful with the first handshake...I just literally didn't have the heart/energy to give him a real handshake. I tried, and my hands just couldn't do it. Losing the way I did was a huge mix of emotions for me, ranging from disbelief to being upset that my tournament was over, combined with the all the pent up hype/adrenaline from playing 3 sets in a row that all went to game 5. I just couldn't handle it, and I hope that with more experience that doesn't happen to me anymore. Something I *don't* regret at all was popping off at the crowd after beating SFAT. It was 100% unrelated to SFAT and I think he knows that, but I sure was wondering where all the norcal chants went after I killed their hopes and dreams for the tourney. Seriously, I hated that crowd with a passion. Shoutouts to anyone in that crowd that cared more about good melee than they did about seeing me choke so their favorite player could win.
This article was honestly pretty negative, and I didn't start writing it with that intention. I wanted to make a couple side comments spawning from my conversation with Jon, and then focus on HTC from a gameplay perspective...but all the thoughts I didn't really realize I was having came out. Most smashers that I've met and hung out with are honestly awesome people, but there are a lot of social factors that create the issues I mentioned. I don't necessarily expect anything to change from anyone reading this, but if anyone cares about my thoughts then they'll find them here.
I'll hopefully bring you guys a much different post with my discussion of the gameplay at HTC! If not, then I'll at least make a post about something melee related ^__^