Open Letter to Champ: The Case for 2GG

Dear Champ,

I am relatively new to competitive Smash, but I have been an active professional in esports for several years. In that time I have seen titans in the industry like League of Legends grow from nothing. I’ve seen dreams come true, dreams get shattered, and a lot of people on the internet have said hateful, stupid things. I wanted to take a moment to help put all the hate you’ve been getting into context. From my perspective what you do is incredible, and if you don’t have time to read this, let me just say DO NOT GIVE UP!! You have the respect of so many people in this community and you will see us fight for you in the coming days.  With that said, here are a few thoughts.

Internet Hate

I’m sure you already know this, but the internet is a uniquely hateful place. While there is so much good, the anonymity of the web and the ease of access to influencers creates a space where people who normally would not matter get to voice their opinions directly to people in positions of power. Unfortunately, many of these people are young, and simply do not have a respect for the damage their words can cause. This leads to people spewing terrifying hate online, but if you met them in person they’d likely want to shake your hand and tell you how great you are.  It makes no sense but I can promise you it’s true.  Many of the people sending you the most hateful messages are actually some of your biggest fans.

I would beg you to consider this, it’s something that Day9 (a popular streamer for Starcraft and Hearthstone) says alot about internet culture. When people are being hateful online, it means that they are engaged. Something is happening that feels very important to them. When you read these hateful comments, instead of thinking “oh my god, these people all hate me personally!” think “oh my god, all of these people care so much about the health of the Smash scene!” I know this seems insane and impossible, but it is what any internet personality has to do. Unfortunately, whether you asked for it or not, you are now an internet personality.

Rely on the people you respect.  Have D1, Zero, EE, TK, Anti, or any of the other people in this community attacked you recently? To my knowledge, they are all actively defending you at this very moment. If anyone you respect in the scene has given you thoughtful, considered criticism, take it to heart. While you must listen to the feedback from fans, simply recategorize the hate as “interest relating to Smash”.  Wow Champ, look at how much “interest relating to Smash” you’ve been generating lately!  You must be doing something right.

Scheduling Conflicts

From your post, it seems like all the hate you’ve been having to battle is coming as a result of scheduling conflicts. While this is a very real issue in the smash community, lets tackle a few flaws with the hate right away.

First, people are accusing you of trying to hurt other tournaments. Every sane person in the smash community understands how much you care about the health of smash as a whole. We know you are not out to make 2GG the only tournament scene on Twitch. Please know that so many of us really do understand that. However, this year you have become one of the premiere names within the scene. After Abadango saga, every tweet, thread, and post I saw was proclaiming you the very best TO in the community. There are a lot of people who simply hate anyone who is the best.

Talk to Zero, he can tell you all about it. There are so many people that just desperately want him to lose. Most of these people probably like watching him play and would acknowledge that he is extremely talented. They just get more enjoyment out of an underdog story. To them, Smash is less interesting if one guy wins everything, and so for them to get the maximum pleasure, Zero has to fail. In fact, by winning Zero is actively stopping them from enjoying this game they love!  Wow, Zero must be an evil jerk for winning all these tournaments! Crazy, but that’s how the brain works.

So now that you’re the big name, any time you’re tournament conflicts with a smaller tournament (and they are almost all smaller tournaments) suddenly there is an underdog story!  We have to rally behind the little guy!  Remember, all these people are the sort of person who finds an underdog story to be automatically more compelling. Because Glitch2 is a smaller name than something big, suddenly it’s more interesting. That person may not actually have cared at all about Glitch (they may have, it was a great tournament). But now that it’s an underdog, suddenly they have a reason to care. Now they can participate because there are stakes that are relevant to the way they like to consume media–the underdog story. Again, these people probably love the sagas, and love 2GG tournaments. Many of them probably prefer a 2GG tournament to a Glitch tournament. However, Glitch now has more direct impact on their personal method of satisfaction because they can actively participate in the “defense” of an underdog.

The same thing goes for conspiracy theorists. These people get a huge rush of adrenaline when they think they are uncovering an injustice in the world. For them to get satisfaction, they have to be catching someone else doing something wrong. “The new saga is the same day as another tournament? Clearly this means that Champ doesn’t like the TO of that tournament, so he’s tricked all the pros and commentators into coming to his tournament so that he can destroy this person he doesn’t like!” Again, this style of thinking has nothing to do with you. Because of the way this person likes to consume media, they’ve created a version of you that best fits into their favorite version of events.

Its important to remember that none of these people are evil, and likely none of them actually hate you. You are just a character in the narrative that they are creating. The hate they send you is part of a story that they are telling through social media. Despite the personal attacks you are reading, it is not actually about you as a person. It’s about the version of you that they’ve created. And yea, that guy probably sucks, because they’ve designed him that way. Remember that only the people that actually know you can comment one way or the other about who you are. From what I’ve read, they all think you’re pretty amazing.

Now then, let’s quickly talk about the problem itself, because it will never stop being a part of the conversation. There are too many Smash tournaments. It’s simply true. Every weekly, monthly, and larger event wants facetime on Twitch now. While smash is in a great place, the tournament scene is actually growing faster than the fanbase. Its pure economics–there is too much supply for the demand. In any crowded market, there is going to be fierce competition. The market has to regulate itself, and that unfortunately requires some products (tournaments) to fail. If 2GG goes away tomorrow, it may stop the problem for a couple months, but someone else will fill that gap. And frankly, they’ll probably do a worse job with the space than you are.

We are in a tournament boom. In a year, there will be less tournaments than there are now. Or, there will be more but there will be a clear hierarchy of tournaments, and smaller events will be scraping for views against established brands. But guess what, this is actually the best thing for Smash! This sport desperately needs the market to regulate. We need the fans to tell us what sort of tournaments they want to see, and what things they don’t want to see. From the views and the interest you’re generating, I think it’s very clear that the market wants 2GG tournaments.

It is ok for some tournaments to fail. It is ok that not every single scene gets a turn at the number one spot on Twitch. If we go that route, then every tournament outside of the very biggest events will just stagnate. Smash deserves excellence at every level. The only way for that to happen is for anything that isn’t excellent to fail, grow, learn, and come back better than before. 2GG has done it’s learning and it’s failing. What you have built is now excellent. You’ve said that you want to serve Smash as a whole, you are not in this for yourself. What Smash needs is for competition to regulate the market.

Competition is such a wonderful thing for any industry! Competition forces tournaments to innovate, to continue to pursue excellence. While competition may suck for some of the people that lose, it is the only way that customers (fans) can get the best, healthiest experience possible.

 

Champ, I beg that you do not stop. I pray that you continue. By staying strong an pressing forward, you will continue to demand excellence from the Smash community. Your success holds every other event to a higher standard. While some may fail the comparison, and some tournaments will have fewer views because of you–I would much prefer that world to a stagnant one where 2GG was not sharpening the bleeding edge of tournament excellence. We desperately need you. You are our key market influencer right now. Your success (and some people’s failure in light of that success) will determine the future of competitive Smash. Without Nintendo at the helm, people like you are the only ones guiding us. It isn’t fair, and what people are saying to you is not right. I would give anything to take away all the pain that you’ve had to suffer. But I believe I speak for so many in this community when I say thank you for bearing that burden. We thank you so much for carrying this weight, for dragging Smash forward to a better future.

 

Thank you Champ, thank you 2GG. Here’s to many more years of success.

 

–Trent

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