Genesis 3 Day Three as a Volunteer

and Why You Should Volunteer At Your Next Major

 

Arjuna “Goldman Snacks” Capulong

 

    You saved up all your money for the past few months, cleared your schedule, and traveled all this way for a major Smash tournament. Now that you’re here you want to play lots of Smash, get matches in with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, and watch the upsets. You didn’t come all this way for r e s p o n s i b i l t i e s, did you?

    As I’m typing this out, it’s the morning of Day 3 of Genesis 3 in San Jose, California. I’m a Chicagoan traveling to the West Coast, and I’m elated to be part of one of the largest and respected tournaments of 2016. I asked several G3 attendees their reasons for traveling to San Jose this weekend, the most popular answers being:

 

  1. “Matches with people I’ve never played with.” With over 3,500 people in attendance, I have a high chance of getting games in with people outside of my region. Playing against a variety of playstyles is important to leveling up one’s gameplay. As a Midwesterner, I have to admit that the skill floor felt noticeably higher in California than in Illinois, so I would have particularly benefitted from playing lots here.   

  2. See hype matches between top players. With 75 MIOM ranked players, high caliber talent is plenty here. Genesis 3 had several nail-biting upsets, such as Redd v. The Moon, N0ne v. PewPewU, Nintendude v. Mew2King and many, many more.

  3. Hang out with awesome people. Having a hotel filled with Smashers offers a unique social experience that can sometimes be overwhelming for the hotel staff. I often compare it to a fr@ house. However, one could room hop at one of the hotels and find old friends, meet new ones, and possibly run into top players.

 

Genesis 3 is crushing it in all three of these aspects. So why would I want to do anything besides these, let alone have to worry about responsibilities that potentially affect other players’ tournament experiences? As a volunteer, my G3 looked like this:

 

Day Zero: There was a volunteer meeting Thursday night, and I try my best to make these out of respect toward the TO staff. I had to wake up at 4am that morning to make the flight that would get me there without destroying my wallet. It was cool to see San Jose Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom transformed into a Smash battlefield before it was filled with gamers, though.

 

Day One: I practiced as much as I could in the morning for Melee singles. I played my pool out, got eliminated. I did helped with stream running for an hour or two, got dinner, saw some of the crew battles. I slept early because I was still tired from traveling to San Jose, and needed to wake up early for my volunteer shift the next day. Didn’t go room hopping that night.  

 

Day Two: I needed to be at the venue 9am - 4pm to help with the stream. During this time, it was sometimes difficult to watch the matches I wanted to, but I did get to meet many top players by helping out. Playing was out of the question. By the time my shift ended, I had already felt pretty invested in helping the cause, especially when I realized that Engdrew and Spencer of Showdown were operating the streams the whole day, and the other stream runners were also staying for the rest of the night. Seeing the crowd get hyped for the matches was energizing, and I was compelled to do what I could to the core staff’s jobs easier. I only got a few friendlies in toward the end of the night. The evening of Day 2 is usually a good day to room hop and party, but I personally felt pretty exhausted afterward.

 

Now that I’m here at Day 3 though, I am SO hype for Melee Top 8 in 2 hours. Today, I don’t have to worry about anything but watch what will probably be some of the best gameplay this year, and I’ll have some of the best seats for it thanks to volunteer perks.

 

I’ve only been playing Melee competitively for a little less than a year (let’s go post-doc kids) so I think I’m just now starting to learn what it means to be a part of the Smash community. I remember my first several months I was much more focused on my own gameplay, my own experience at a tournament, and what I was getting out of Smash. Volunteering for a major helped me realize a few things about what involved in putting on a tournament of that scale:

 

  1. It requires a lot of people. I can’t recall the exact numbers, but from glancing at the volunteer schedule, I think it’s safe to say there were over 100 volunteers for Genesis 3.

  2. It requires a lot of time. Each volunteer put in at least 4 hours, and if there are over 100 volunteers, that’s at least 400 hours of work spread out.

  3. It requires TONS of energy. Although there are many volunteers, there are also specialized jobs that only a few individuals can do (stream operating, media documentation, Zhu montage) so these individuals are working all day to make sure the Genesis 3 tournament experience can be the best it can be.

 

These points seem fairly obvious, but working behind the scenes helped me really understand what these mean. The term “grassroots” seems to be thrown around more jokingly than in the past, but the spirit behind it appears to remain. Although we are now seeing more sponsorships and support from eSports than ever before, our recent bounty of major Smash tournaments could not be possible without the folks behind the scenes. Knowing that, being a part of the team, and seeing the crowd really enjoy a production that you had a hand in can feel just as awesome as winning a match. Lofty ideals aside, here are some great perks to working behind the scenes:

 

  1. Priority seating for Top 8. Today, Day 3, is often what people mean when they say they want to spectate hype matches. After putting in the work during Day 1 and 2, it is a huge relief to not have to worry about getting good seats. After seeing photos of the stage for G3’s Top 8, I definitely want to be up front. Having it at the City Civic National Theater should offer a viewer experience unlike the Evo or Big House 5 stages.

  2. Free gear. The staff shirt volunteers received the red G3 shirt, which really stands out in a crowd of gray G3 shirts. Gotta say, it’s easier to push through crowds and get around when people see you have a staff shirt on.

  3. Meeting top players and personalities. Volunteering is the easiest way to start building rapport with the upper echelon of the community (I’m a newer player who has learned to accept the meritocratic nature of this community), and since “getting good” isn’t all that easy, helping a top player figure out where they need to be can be a good way to have a reason to talk to someone. This could also lead to friendlies.

  4. Learning how everything works. I think that few Smashers truly understand the work that goes into hosting a tournament. If you’re interested in streaming, see how much equipment is involved, what kind of software you need to learn, and what systems are in place that help the streamer find their matches. If you’d like see what it takes to be a TO, check out how the TO desk is constantly paging players, what process is in place to get matches reported, and why brackets get delayed when they do. Learn how great Smash productions are run so that you can help your local scenes improve their tournaments.

  5. Feels good man. Hear that crowd getting hype? You helped make that happen. Zhu said that Genesis 3 is one of the most emotional tournaments he’s documented, and knowing that somewhere down the line, yelling at Nintendude to hurry up because the venue was closing lead to the audience spectating what will probably be one of the largest upsets of the year must be pretty great. In a way, isn’t experiencing this collective feeling of hype what makes us human, after all?

 

I strongly recommend traveling out to a major to experience the best the Smash community can offer. Genesis 3 is not my first major, so I was also less worried about fear of missing out of the “major experience.” Once you’ve had that, definitely consider volunteering at the next major. Help out with your local tournaments too. The TO’s will certainly appreciate the help, and you’ll be helping the Smash community continue growing beyond anyone’s logical expectations.

- Arjuna "Goldman Snacks" Capulong, Genesis 3 Side Stream Runner

Follow @MeleeEveryday for live tweets of G3 from the Midwest perspective.

(Author's note: I was short on time when first posting this, so I will update this later with photos and better formatting.)