- Friday, June 20
- I arrive at the venue around 11:00am. Check-in goes smoothly and I wait for the hall in which the tournament will happen to open, which is scheduled to happen around 12:00pm. That happens roughly on schedule, I go in, and the hall looks very nice and spacious. The Melee area didn't have an overwhelming number of set-ups, but certainly enough to run a pretty large tourney in three days. I warm up there for a couple hours and then go to the area where the matches featuring the pre-qualified players are set to happen, which was on the opposite end of the rather large hall. However, I head back to the area where the open bracket will occur around 2:15pm, because play is scheduled for that to begin around 2:30pm and I hadn't heard anything from any TOs from where I was. I didn't know if Melee announcements would be audible on the other end of the venue, so I was playing it safe. Not too long afterwards, an official of some sort prohibits people from playing casuals on the set-ups and has everybody vacate the immediate area about the Melee stations, so I hope that matches will start being called soon.
- Time passes and nothing happens. Over the course of the next 60-90 minutes, I walk around and ask multiple groups of smashers in the area if they have any clue about what is going on. The answer is always "no". Players on the opposite end of the venue waiting for the big name matches do not know, either. Meanwhile, we are still prohibited from playing on the Melee stations. A couple hours after we were initially forced off the stations, we are finally allowed to get back in and play casuals, but still haven't heard anything about the tourney. I eventually learn from KoopaTroopa that MLG was experiencing difficulties with their online bracket. I'm not certain of the details, but it seems like it was something along the lines of MLG having server issues and not being able to update the bracket because of it. Koopa himself heard this not from a tournament organizer, but from the streamer Chibo. Regardless, there evidently wasn't a back-up plan, so all we could do is wait. I go to eat and tell Koopa to call me if matches start being announced. I return shortly afterwards and nothing has happened. Finally, around 6:30pm, matches are ready to be called.
- Around the time that matches start being called (I don't recall if this was a little before or afterwards), people not playing matches are again told to leave the area. Based on what I observed, and later heard while talking to one of the security workers, it seemed to be fire code-related. The amount of space we have seems ample to me and would have been a dream at Apex 2014, but I'm not a fire code expert, so I won't complain about the call. However, while outside of the Melee area, it is difficult to hear the announcer. The evident unfamiliarity of the Melee announcer with the Melee scene leads to some pretty ugly name mispronunciations, most of which are merely harmless and funny. There is at least one player who is DQed because he didn't understand their pronunciation of his name, however. Meanwhile, matches for one of the games located near Melee are being called, and the announcer for that and the announcer for the Melee matches are frequently overlapping and rendering each other incomprehensible from the location I am at, which was about as close to the Melee set-ups as I was allowed to be. I eventually hear from another player that there is a monitor displaying the matches which have been called, so I start referencing that after a while instead of trying to understand the announcer. Allow me to emphasize that I never heard about this monitor from a TO of any sort, but rather another player who happened to be standing around, and my only assurance that said monitor was actually up-to-date came from other players.
- Around 8:40pm, I see my first match show up on the board. My opponent is very on top of things and I find him quickly, so we go over to the station on which our match is called and get ready to play. He tells me that he thinks there needs to be a referee watching the match, so he goes to find one. This is the first time I had heard anything about a referee. A referee comes over, but tells us that our match isn't scheduled to start until 9:00pm, so we should do handwarmers for 15-20 minutes until then. We play friendlies for a bit, the match is called a little after 9:00pm, a referee shows up, and we finally play the set.
- Afterwards, I go over to the other side of the venue, on which the crew battle is scheduled to take place at 10:00pm. Both crews get all their by members ready by around 10:30pm. At this point, I'm not sure if the people running the open bracket are aware that certain players will be unavailable for matches during that time, so I return to the open bracket area to talk to them about it. The official I speak to indeed said that they didn't have the crew battle in mind, and that there actually would have been a conflict involving Colbol coming up, so I make sure they were aware not to DQ him. I don't think this ultimately mattered since I believe that heat/wave/whatever-it's-called was delayed until tomorrow. After about half an hour of pre-crew battle and hype and preparations that I personally wasn't very appreciative of (although I can understand the appeal to spectators), the crew battle starts around 11:00pm. It ultimately ends a little after 1:00am. Saturday's matches are set to begin around 10:00am, so players in the crew battles and other competitors who were spectating it couldn't reasonably expect to get a great deal of sleep unless they skipped some meals and limited their socializing. I personally got around 5.5 hours of sleep and I wasn't exactly partying all night.
- Saturday, June 21
- On Saturday morning, I want to be at the venue quite early. I have a suspicion that the staff will try to be very on top of things due to how little was accomplished the day before, so I get up around 8:40am, quickly go through the morning routine, eat a small breakfast, and arrive at the venue around 9:45am. As I walk into the hall, I hear Melee matches being called. This confuses me since the tourney was scheduled to start at 10:00am, but since I don't hear any threats of DQs, I assume that nothing has actually started yet, which turns out to be a correct assumption. Right around 10:00am, the referees are waiting for the matches to be called and I'm hearing DQ warnings by around 10:05am, if I recall correctly. I text one of the people on the verge of being DQed who hasn't arrived yet to make him aware of the situation and he hurries over, but gets there only after he and several prominent names had been DQed. After enough complaints, the staff reverse the DQs and have the matches involving said players transpire. All of my matches on Saturday went pretty smoothly, but that wasn't the case for everybody. For example, Zhu and Shroomed had to play each other; they both showed up, Shroomed wanted to run to the restroom, and Zhu was fine with this. Shroomed comes back, they start the set, and Zhu wins game 1. However, as Shroomed tries to start the next game, the referee declares that the set has finished, and that Shroomed had been DQed for the first game of the set due to arriving late, and that Zhu's single round victory brought the set count to 2-0. Zhu himself doesn't like this and wants to play out an actual best of 3, but the referee refuses. There was also an incident where Fiction and Westballz started playing a set in the pools portion of the tournament, and Fiction won game 1, but a referee told them their set wasn't supposed to start yet and the one game Fiction won wouldn't count, even though that round occurred on what I believe was a streaming set-up and was widely viewed at the venue, so there wasn't any reasonable doubt about the outcome of said game. Lastly, S2J and Colbol played a set, Colbol won, but there wasn't a referee around at the time; when one did show up, he told them the set they played didn't count and they would have to play again. I am told that S2J found this ridiculous and forfeited. While this might all seem to be the players' fault to an extent, allow me to remind you that I myself had only ever heard about the referees in the first place since my opponent I had on Friday was aware of them; I personally had never heard anything about them and I suspect many other players didn't, either. Pretty much the only things we had actually heard from TOs in general at this point were matches being called. Leaving that topic, doubles matches begin around 7:30pm. The doubles event is announced to not be an official part of the MLG tourney and is run by Sheridan instead. It seems to go pretty smoothly, and, in spite of the aforementioned announcement, it is featured on the main Smash stream for a bit.
- Sunday, June 22
- As I am no longer in the tournament, I only arrive on Sunday to spectate. Melee top 8 starts around 3:00pm, if I recall correctly. The sets are good and everything goes pretty smoothly. However, there is a pretty big downtime between all of the sets. Between breaks, commercials for spectators, and some interviews before and after sets, the tournament doesn't finish until around 8:00pm. I won't complain about this too much since I understand that MLG wants to appeal to viewers at home with some of the extraneous content and also has monetary incentives to play a ton of ads, but as a person at the venue, I would have rather had more time to spend hanging out with some of the distant travelers and other people after the tourney, so I would have liked it if everything finished earlier. I won't press it much since whether this is bad or not varies by the individual and is largely debatable.
- Concluding thoughts
- Allow me to enter more subjective territory for a bit. Personally, I think the biggest recurring problem was a lack of communication with the TOs. I rarely saw SolidJake, and I am told he was mostly around the part of the venue where the pro pools were being played rather than the open bracket, which I can't personally verify. Regardless, the meat of the Melee event was largely being handled by people not familiar with the Melee scene, and we were frequently left in the dark about what was happening, especially on Friday. I was talking to a Brawl player who went to the Brawl MLG events about MLG Anaheim and he initially blamed the players for many of the issues (barring the Friday internet issues), but he later said that AlphaZealot was constantly on the mic making sure everybody was crystal clear about what was going on; we had no such luxury this year. There were evidently other issues, but I'm not informed enough to give much meaningful insight into them.
Fly Amanita's MLG experiences and thoughts
a guest Jun 23rd, 2014 7,712 Never
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