Picture this: It’s 2015 and a change in tone can be heard amongst a crowd made up of youngster Ness and Link cosplayers. The chant is subtle at first, but within minutes it becomes a roaring force that rivals the volume of most Korean propaganda loudspeakers: “We eSports now.” To the untrained ear the phrase is nonsense, but to a skilled reporter, not unlike myself, the phrase is a harbinger. It’s the winds of change whistling past our ears, taking with it all mentions of harassment, our biased commentators, our ultra-funny meme tags, and our freedom. In their place, this behemoth of change promises us money, security, fame, and most importantly, kickass jerseys.
Most members of the community see this change in climate as a cash grab, a chance to take some of that Weedmaps and Red Bull sponsorship money and run while we have the corporate piggy bank’s attention. In stark contrast, real journalists and community icons with integrity, like myself, are interested in the effect this change will have on the future of our players and the overall health of the community.
While using my expert journalist skills to hound top players on the internet for comment, I came across a few whistleblowers willing to use me as their messenger to the world.
“It all started when Dr. PeePee changed his tag,” famed Florida Marth player “Bongsoldier” says to me via DM on the NarutoFanForums. “I respect his play a lot, but watching him cave to professional pressure? The man was frankly a disgrace.” When asked why Melee’s move to eSports and top player’s adaptations to this movement was an issue for him, he stated, “If Melee events aren’t a safe place to scream the N-word and threaten people with rape, where is?”
Author Note: I realize this last statement will be very controversial to many, and while I’ve tried to get Bongsoldier to elaborate further, he refuses to answer my questions, opting instead to DM me images of Mario-themed Japanese pornography and links to his Facebook meme page that he’s “trying to get off the ground.”
If there’s one thing I learned in the half a semester I spent taking journalism classes, it’s that a reporter always needs to delve deeper. With this in mind, I knew that I needed to scour even further to get as much information as possible on the reasons and opinions surrounding the rapid change in Melee’s climate. This search for answers led me to the doorstep of one of my former associates, Brad. Brad and I go way back to the days I spent in Amsterdam researching how many weed cookies I could eat before passing out in a playground. (Yeah, that’s right, I do medicine based articles as well). While Brad is not directly associated with Weedmaps, the official sponsor of the esteemed Smash Summit 3 tournament, he was a massive fan of both the company and their mission. I think this not only adds weight to his opinion, but perhaps makes it more valuable than that of Weedmaps’ CEO.
Brad: “Sponsorships and pot bonuses are dope,” Brad says bluntly as he eyes the pen and pad in my hands. “But don’t get me wrong, the censorship of our commentators’ speech is an issue. If HomeMadeWaffles isn’t allowed to yell ‘Forfeit my N-word’ at the top of his lungs during a tournament like Genesis anymore, then who is?”
The Best eReporter Ever: “The freedom to say the N-word seems to be a reoccurring theme amongst the anti-eSports movement, would it be fair to say this is your main concern?”
Brad: “I don’t think it’s our main concern. Being able to call people ‘fag’ and smoke blunts in the bathroom is a pretty big concern of ours as well.”
The Godlike Journalist: “An understandable sentiment for sure, so you aren’t tempted at all by potential sponsor’s alluring jerseys?”
Brad: “I would be lying if I said I didn’t want a jersey, but what’s the point of owning a jersey if it can’t have my tag, ‘Sergeant Smegma,’ on it?”
The topic of jerseys just keep coming up over and over again, and it’s definitely not just because my five prepared questions all pertain to sponsorship jerseys and where I can buy them. Part of me wants to believe that the eSports movement is about getting public recognition for the work players put into the game, and the other part of me can’t get over how kickass jersey feels on my nips. (Seriously, sports jerseys are like sweat pants for your upper body, and you and I both know how much these nerds love sweatpants).
Full disclosure my dear readers, I tried to get responses from such Melee icons as PPMD, D1, The Crimson Blur, and the head of Nintendo America, Reginald “Reggie” Fils-Aimé, but was shut down due to pending litigation for my intrusive (read: impeccable) harassment (read: journalism). It seems the powers-at-be want nothing more than to keep the wandering eye of the public sealed shut, and thus for the time being my investigation must be put on hold.
The answers and changes occurring in the Melee scene leave us with many questions, questions about how we will be expected to act. Can we continue our dank, rugged, and degrading behavior that we have grown to accept and love? Or will we have to shape up, become “eSports,” and act like decent human beings? Both sides of the table, in my humble reporter opinion that is worth much more than your humble reader opinion, are asking for, and expecting, extreme change. Whether it’s for better or worse, well, that is up to you.
On a side note though, this whole eSports thing might mean that our venue will finally install that second restroom.
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Strike to Pokefloats.