First, before getting into today’s topic at all, I want to apologize for my part in stirring the pot yesterday. I let passion and intrigue get the best of me and pushed the narrative that I found to be most interesting, rather than providing a fair, balanced account of the events. It was unprofessional, and unfitting of the quality of content I attempt to create with this blog. While I know I have very little influence in the Smash community currently, I do take what little credibility you’ve given me very seriously. I failed that yesterday, and want to apologize to 2GG, and to anyone I mislead during the initial moments of the drama that unfolded.
For anyone who doesn’t know, we’ll do a quick recap of what transpired in a moment, but I briefly want to explain the point of this piece. Upon reading it, the first response of many will be “why dredge up drama that proved to be false?” “Aren’t you just making more trouble by revisiting this issue when it’s solved?” To those people, I would beg that you read the entire article. I will attempt to present the facts of the event in a neutral way, and want to simply discuss the lessons that can be learned from them. I believe that there are very important things to discuss here that will matter as Smash organizations grow in size and influence. I will in no way attempt to build up the controversy or create new drama, merely examine historical events from a PR and Marketing perspective, as I have done several times before on this blog.
So What Happened
Briefly, for anyone who didn’t see, yesterday CEO Dreamland kicked off with doubles for all events. Unfortunately, the event started with no streaming. Jebailey and GIMR took to Twitter to explain that their assets were delayed due to their streamer having a near-death experience. They were working to resolve the issue, but the stream was delayed by several hours, so most of the doubles matches took place with no stream coverage.
Eventually, the 2GG Twitter account tweeted asking where the stream was. While in actuality this was an honest question asked by a busy man who had not seen the explanations, it had room for interpretation. Myself and a few others believed that 2GG was actually subtly making fun of CEO for having stream issues. While most dismissed this notion, it gained traction when suddenly Jebailey responded.
Now, it should be noted that 2GG quickly refuted Jebailey’s claims, many people were quick to clarify the misunderstanding, and both 2GG and Jebailey apologized for the misunderstanding and overreaction respectively. Within a few hours, any potential beef was squashed, 2GG was then tweeting out the streams and helping CEO gain it’s lost momentum back. Clearly this was a simple misunderstanding with no ill will or vindictive planning behind it.
The Public Figurehead
Since I initially saw the 2GG tweet the same way Jebailey did, I want to explain that reasoning first. If you take a moment to read back through my past posts, you’ll see that I am a massive fan of 2GG. I have been critical at times, and do take genuine issue with some of their marketing decisions, but on the whole I find them to be one of the most important things happening in Smash. After Civil War, they are the undisputed kings of Smash tournament organization. They are a monolith, towering over everyone else.
Because of their titanic stature, it is easy to sometimes forget that their organization is in reality rather small and volunteer-focused. When the 2GG tweet went out, it stuck out for this very reason. 2GG is so influential and able to pull off things like Civil War, how could they possibly not follow people like Jebailey and GIMR? How could they have possibly not already seen the announcement? Since it seemed so unlikely that no one in the organization was aware of the issue, the only logical conclusion was that this question was in fact a comment on the situation itself.
However, as soon as you realize how the 2GG twitter account is handled, it’s easy to remove that concern. Champ does not use his personal Twitter. It has virtually no followers. From everything I can tell, he is also the only person who runs the official 2GG account. He also still has a full-time day job. As such, it makes perfect sense that Champ, the human person and not 2GG the all-powerful smash organization made that tweet. A very busy man had a short moment to catch up on some smash action, and hadn’t seen the explanations because he had not caught up on his Twitter feed yet that day. Simple, and makes perfect sense.
You Speak for the Brand
This is precisely why I wanted to discuss this drama at all today. As 2GG continues to grow, there will be more and more people who separate 2GG the brand from Champ the human. Eventually there will be a majority of people who don’t even know who Champ is, but actively follow and support 2GG. Look at the massive gaming convention, PAX. They were started by two guys named Mike and Jerry who make a funny webcomic. Now, most of the people that go to PAX are not going to meet their favorite webcomic creators. They are going for esports, to see their friends, and to see upcoming video games. If you polled the entire crowd at a PAX, you would likely find that a surprising number of the attendees don’t even read Penny Arcade, they just wanted to go to a great gaming convention.
If the official PAX twitter had posted something like what 2GG did, there would be no recovering from it. PAX has a full-time organizational staff who are actively involved in the games industry. It would be unacceptable and unbelievable for an organization of that scale to be unaware of events in the industry. As an organization, 2GG is quickly entering the same domain. They are the kings of Smash 4. Their mission statement and customer-facing messaging are always about supporting the community as a whole. It is not okay for an organization of that scale with those values to be unaware of events at any A-tier tournament. However, it is perfectly reasonable for one man to have a busy day at work and not see what’s been going on.
Had this tweet come from a personal twitter account for Champ, there is no room for interpretation. “Hey guys, busy day today but wanted to check out the Dreamland streams, anyone know what’s up?” Very clear that one man didn’t know what was going on and asked a simple question. However, when you tweet from the official account of an organization, every tweet speaks for the brand as a whole. You are saying that 2GG the organization is unaware of what is happening at Dreamland.
Overall, this particular event was harmless and quickly resolved. However, it represents one of the potential dangers that has made me so critical of 2GG’s PR strategy in the past. Any business, and any good PR strategist would tell you that the president of an organization cannot tweet from it’s official Twitter account. If you should ever accidentally tweet the wrong thing, overreact to a rude comment, or post something controversial, you are doing so on behalf of the entire organization.
Let’s even remove the vindictive interpretation of this tweet. Obviously Champ meant no harm and was asking a legitimate question. However, it does make 2GG the organization look disorganized. Bam was at the event. How could 2GG the organization not know why the streams were down, when a member of 2GG was in attendance? Now, Bam was actually at the event as a representative of Esports Arena, but he remains a high profile member of the 2GG brand. It creates a difficult disconnect when the brand doesn’t know what’s happening, but an influencer in the brand is actually at the event, and obviously aware of what’s happening.
Not Just a Person Anymore
Again, in the context of this specific circumstance, everything is perfectly clear and there are no issues. However, the potential danger remains. As 2GG continues to grow, there will be more separation between the brand, and the man behind it all. Champ will have to remember that when 2GG tweets, most of its followers will not see Champ the human sending the tweet. They will see the big, corporate organization behind Civil War. It may not be a problem today, but it represents a gap in 2GG’s seemingly impenetrable armor.
This is a lesson for every member of the smash community to learn. We all love to throw tags in front of our names and be a part of a clan, team, or organization larger than ourselves. However, as Smash continues to become more mainstream, the influence of that tag will become larger and larger. Eventually, you will no longer just be representing yourself. When you wear that tag, you will be representing and speaking for an organization. This is a responsibility that every member of the community should take seriously. If you want smash to grow, and you represent any sort of brand or team, remember that your social media carries a different significance. Consider the weight of that responsibility each time you click “send”.