On a hot Sunday afternoon in Santa Clarita, fists flew, music blared, and controllers clacked, as two friends were locked in the heat of competition. From the outside looking in, the fight was nothing more than two people sitting on a couch and staring at a screen, but once one took a seat and began to watch, he would see a bout unlike any he had seen before. This visitor has stepped into the world of competitive Super Smash Brothers Melee (SSBM), where every manipulation of the game is calculated and pride and money are on the line.
SSBM was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2001, as a sequel to the wildly popular Super Smash Brothers, which was made for the Nintendo 64. The premise is simple: Famous Nintendo characters fight one another until one is eventually the victor. And, while the game controls were made to be simple as well, competitive SSBM players have been, and still are, finding new ways to use all the tools the game provides and turn them into unbeatable strategies.
“We’re still finding stuff in the game,” Ryan Reagan, one of the founders of the SCV Smash community, said. “There’s so much control over what you can do.”
In the competitive SSBM world, the general consensus is that Southern California produces the best talent, so making a name for one’s self out of this region is extremely difficult. For David Nevers, Ryan Reagan, and Ben Janusek, their love for the game over the desire to become a professional SSBM player is what compelled them to create the SCV Smash community.
“The entire global Super Smash Brothers scene exists on Facebook pages,” Reagan said. “I wanted to see who was playing in the SCV, so I created the Facebook page to see if it caught on.”
Ryan’s Facebook page was only the first piece of the much larger puzzle that is the SCV Smash community. On the other side of Santa Clarita, Ben and his friend, Adrian Fierro, attempted to go from casual to competitive play through the help of online forums, live streams of tournaments, and documentaries. After hosting house tournaments with the same players, Janusek and Fierro wanted to test their newfound skills against other competitors in the valley.
“I messaged David [Nevers], and he was the first one to get back to me; we started talking,” Janusek said. “Because David brought his group to the Thursday tournaments, he told me to join the Facebook page. I think that was the beginning.”
As Janusek and Fierro’s tournaments began to grow, the SCV Smash Facebook page grew right along with it.
“Then the page exploded,” Janusek said. “So we started doing tournaments for two dollars, and the community started to take shape.”
The increasing interest in competitive SSBM tournaments was a positive sign for Nevers. However, he knew that for the SCV Smash community to garner any legitimacy, there would need to be a shift from unofficial house tournaments to more professional competitions at gaming establishments in Santa Clarita.
“We started doing [SSBM] tournaments at the Gaming Attic once a month,” Nevers said. “We had two really big tournaments, but after that, the tournaments started dying out.”
Despite the waning interest in the SSBM tournaments at the Gaming Attic, Nevers had seen just how big the Super Smash community in Santa Clarita was and didn’t want to see it disappear. With what he learned about hosting tournaments from his experience with the Gaming Attic, Nevers decided to create his own and, after searching for the right venue, he found it at Tapped Out Gaming in Valencia, the current location of weekly SSBM tournaments every Tuesday night in Santa Clarita.
“They did [SSBM] tournaments before, and they were already thinking about it; they just needed someone to reach out to them,” Nevers said. “I started doing monthly tournaments, and we got 40 people right at the start.”
Now, with a dedicated following and a legitimate venue to host tournaments, Nevers has hopes that the SCV Smash community will stay strong and grow even more in the future.
“I want people to have a good place to practice and hang out at the same time,” Nevers said. “I just want to make sure that the SCV is ready to be passed on to the next person who’s ready to lead it.”
Janusek echoes Nevers’ statement and is happy to see just how much the community has progressed from the small house tournaments he hosted with Fierro.
“We have what I wanted,” Janusek said. “We have this community; it’s consistent; it’s great, and the potential is all here now.”
The SCV Smash community is still working on making a name for itself against rival regions, like the San Fernando Valley and Ventura County, in competitions where area codes carry the reputation of the entire city. And, although the 661 is not quite at the top of the pecking order yet, the diligence of Nevers, Reagan, and Janusek has helped Santa Clarita come this far, and will only help the SCV Smash community moving forward.
Mr. Sports Santa Clarita Shoutout
The Santa Clarita Blue Heat greatly improved its standings in the United Women’s Soccer (UWS) Western Conference with a 2-1 victory over the conference-leading Real Salt Lake Women.
Real Salt Lake got off to a fast start, when Katie Rigby lobbed a shot over Blue Heat goalie, Jojo McCaskill. It took the women of Santa Clarita only eight minutes to tie up the game, when Melissa Fernandez scored in the 20th minute off an assist from Mele French.
The Blue Heat and Real Salt Lake Women began the second half tied 1-1 before Kassandra Massey gave Santa Clarita the lead, and the game, with her goal in the 56th minute.
The Santa Clarita Blue Heat now sits in third place in the UWS Western Conference, behind Real Salt Lake and the Houston Aces. The Blue Heat will have a chance to take the lead in the conference on its two-game trip to Colorado, where the team will face the Colorado Storm July 8 and then the Colorado Pride on July 10.