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Q&A: Bear on The Big House 6 prep and Smash 4 growth

Slingshot’s Connor Smith caught up with Bassem “Bear” Dahdouh before the start of The Big House 6 to talk about expectations of the weekend, Smash 4 growth and the support of both Smash 4 and Melee.

Connor Smith: Heading into The Big House 6, what needs to happen, from a T.O. perspective, to make TBH 6 one of the greatest events in Smash history?

Bassem “Bear” Dahdouh: First of all, it’s a really good team. I’m just part of an awesome team of people. It’s not just one person. Any event I’ve ever worked with, be it Genesis 3, Combo Breaker or CEO, EVO or Shine, all these events are centered around a core group of individuals who actually put all their effort into it.

This event, Robin “Jugglerob” and Vayseth were the ones that approached me for helping in the back end for their main initiative, because this is mainly Robin’s tournament. Vayseth is the Wii U director. I’m kind of like the co-assistant for them.

A lot of it is communicating with the hotel, ensuring that things are in order. It’s a lot of pre-planning. I know Robin and Vayseth were here like Monday, communicating. We probably have eight different chats in different channels, either via Facebook, Twitter, you know, Slack. It’s to make sure everything is on point. The decision makers are all on the same page. That’s a big thing with a lot of main, bigger events. Decision makers at least need to know what to expect.

This event has definitely expanded a lot in the past six editions. Robin’s definitely been doing a lot for it; he’s probably running around right now, cause I know the night before your event, there’s always something that’s not necessarily perfect, and that’s not a bad thing, it’s just normal. You put out as many fires as you have to.

CS: ESPN just announced Swedish and Dabuz heading over to Renegades. I know you’re credited with being involved behind the scenes in other sponsorships. How does it feel to see all these players sign with good organizations that really want to support them?

BD: It’s wonderful to see good people get signed onto teams that are respectable in the industry. I’ve know Samuel, or Dabuz, for quite a while, since the beginning of Wii U — and even Brawl days. We first met in EVO 2015, so it’s been about a year and a half since we’ve been conversing. It’s really nice to see him get that kind of recognition. He is undoubtedly one of the top five best players out there. It fluctuates. According to his last ranking, we had him at No. 3. It’s great to see him get that recognition. I’ve always recommended top talent to any team that does approach.

If anybody says I do anything, the only thing I do is direct people where they need to be. Be it connect someone to the right person, so that they can connect them to the right person. A lot of times, people just don’t know how to reach out. It’s not the player’s fault, cause sometimes they might have work, they might have school. You can’t blame them, cause they don’t respond to every single inquiry. They don’t know who it’s gonna be.

Swedish Delight is probably the best free agent in Melee, that I’ve seen. So big kudos for Renegades for that. Their CS:GO team was based out of Las Vegas, for a bit. They were doing stuff at the Downtown Grande, so it’s nice to see them get into Smash Brothers. I did ask them, way back when if they were ever gonna get into Smash, but the scene didn’t grow as much as it did now, so there’s a lot more potential.

CS: You mentioned a lot of growth in the Smash 4 scene. Can you talk about where the scene exploded, and how it happened?

BD: In Smash for Wii U, specifically: when it started, a lot of the guys that came from Brawl. We didn’t know if was gonna get any bigger or stay the same. The Wii U hasn’t sold as many systems as the Wii, so I didn’t know if was gonna be as popular at first. Given the first EVO we had, I was like, “This is pretty big,” but that’s EVO, and EVO is always gonna be the most, typically speaking. As that year progressed, we saw Genesis 3 have 10,092 entrants.

Not just that. Scenes were starting to be built by a lot of these people in their 20s or late teens that are taking initiative to start being organizers, which is really important to the scenes. People that are actually gonna say, ‘Hey! I’m gonna put on an event for random people.’ Maybe they have some friends, but that takes a lot of guts. I have a lot of respect for T.O.s that do it where scenes are not existent.

A lot of people don’t understand that many scenes didn’t exist until someone came along and built them. A lot of people are like, “Aw. My city doesn’t have one.” It’s because no one has took initiative. Sometimes it’s not doable, cause some people are just not there. It’s great to see that, and a big part of it is T.O.s, combined with people that stream the production for it.

I’m always thankful that we have people that are really committed to the streaming of Smash 4, competitive-wise, and T.O.s to bring people together. There’s been a lot of growth from locals, regionals. When I started as a Smash 4 T.O., like 200-man was a series I ran in Vegas, and that was considered really big. That was considered a regional, almost national. “Like, Wow! That’s awesome!” It used to be that 200-300 was massive. Now, if you have a  200-300 monthly, it’s like “Cool. That could be a monthly.” If you have an average size local is usually above 40, which is nice because it used to be about 20.

It’s definitely seeing a lot more growth. A lot more people getting involved. The character breath in Smash 4 is a lot more recognizable. People are like, “Oh, I know Cloud” or “I know Bayonetta, Mario, Luigi.” Normal characters. Then there’s also Pac-Man and Mega Man. I actually got into Smash 4, moreso because of Mega Man, because he’s one of my favorite characters.

You have that kind of introductory, gateway characters to the competitive scene. That’s kind of how I see Smash Bros for a lot of people that don’t know anything about fighting games, but don’t know anything about Smash Bros competitively. A character that they are attracted to, then they see the scene and they get into the scene and this energy is addictive. It is. It’s wonderful to see strangers get together and play.

It’s something that I’ve always been happy to see, as a T.O. for any event. Local or regional or any major. The Big House, it’s definitely one of the most prestigious events in the fall that I’ve always respected for Melee. Last year they did a good job, and it’s just an honor to be here.

CS You mentioned a lot of scenes wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for someone stepping up. Do you have advice for anyone that wants to take that role for their region, and be that organizer that brings everyone together?

BD: Yeah. The best way to do it is to reach out to certain community leaders. I’ll always give people advice when I’m available. My full-time job is a lot; it’s basically helping out communities with Smash.GG as a part of support. I do a lot of T.O. work on basic contract and helping people out. A lot of T.O.s are willing to help, like respected ones, and well experienced.

I’m always willing to help out. I know Champ from 2GG Gaming is always willing to help out and educate people. A lot of, even Vayseth, in the midwest, can do it. Any T.O. that’s out there, reach out. Go on Go on the forums for tournament organization. Read up there. It takes a lot to do it. I understand the hesitation, and kind of the fear of it. It is a scary thought. Some people start from their home, which is completely fine, but that’s scary with inviting random strangers to your house to play a video game.

Asking for help is the best way to do it. That way, you can get someone’s advice. You can learn from the mistakes of others. Every T.O. that has progressed to a certain level has made many mistakes before. I will not say that I have not made any mistakes. I’ve made plenty mistakes as a T.O. Looking back, I’m like, “Wow. That’s stupid. That should never be done again.” Then it never happens again. You’re like, “That shouldn’t happen!” And then you tell people, “Just in case you’re thinking this is a good idea, it’s not a good idea! This is what happened to me.”

CS: Any chance you’d reveal them?

BD: I would say a schedule. Your schedule is your most important thing. Having, say doubles. If you’re gonna run a Smash 4 tournament and have doubles in the middle of your tournament, don’t do that. Do doubles before. If someone’s ever like, “Hey, would it be a good idea to run doubles midway?” Be like, “No!” It’s better to run it beforehand, or completely after.

Make sure that, scheduling and timing, you do the math correctly. Just do the math. You have to figure out, ‘I’m gonna have 128 people. How many rounds am I gonna have, up to grand finals. Am I gonna have a break?”

Luckily now, we have a lot more tools to better prepare yourself. Before, when people started, T.O.s didn’t have resources to mathematically gauge how long it’s gonna take. Now, you can even look at past events. And it’s great to look at past events. Google Genesis 3 and see how that worked, and how long that took. There’s no time stamps, but there’s ways that you can see how they do it.

You can look at event pages, for even 2GGT, they’re great tournament series that runs a 400-500 man bracket in a day. That’s doable, if you have the amount of setups and the amount of time. You want to find out it’s realistic for what you want to do. You want to make sure you have the proper amount of setups and the space. Legally, some places, you can’t have 200 people, technically, at certain times. So you want to make sure you’re obeying the fire code at your venue, as well.

CS: There’s a lot of big story lines. Leffen’s return in Melee. As far as Smash 4 is concerned, there’s a little uncertainty at the top. We have Japanese players coming. What are you most excited about at this tourney?

BD: Smash 4, honestly, the story lines are phenomenal. Every major I’ve been at, I’ve worked — I’ve been at almost every major in the Summer. Only one I missed is Smash Con. But every major I’ve been at, the storylines are always about who is gonna get upset. That’s the one big thing. Who’s gonna survive to top 32?

It’s not even top eight. In Melee, you could probably guess half of top eight, most likely. Not to say that’s bad, it’s just the game has progressed to that point. With Smash 4, a lot of the players, in general, have leveled up. It’s not the best players getting worse, it’s just everyone else getting a lot better. They have the tools to teach themselves.

As far as players that I’m looking out for, definitely looking out for Salem. He’s from tristate. He’s probably one of the best Bayonetta mains I’ve ever seen. But also, big thing about him, he wrecked Apex 2013, so people think he’s gonna do that here. I want to see how he does. He’s definitely been pushing people’s buttons. He’s been working the scene really well and leveraging Bayonetta as much as she can.

Kamemushi, definitely looking after him again. He’s the one person that I said for EVO to look out for, and he got ended up being second. He is the type of person, very mechanical. Mega man is a very hard character to train up against because there’s not that many high-level Mega man players to the caliber that he has. Being as a person that mained Mega man, if someone needs to practice the matchup and comes up to me, I’ll let him know straight up that I can’t do that. I can maybe attempt to do it, but the precision he has is pretty terrifying.

Kameme, I think he changed it to, but either way, he’s definitely a player to watch out for from Japan.

Also, from Germany, Sodrek, the Fox main. He’s definitely a player that I’d like to see do really well. Not because he’s just a European — him and Mr. R are our highest level European players — but they’ve been pushing their limits over there, and they really want to get more of a highlight for their scene. I really respect the European scene for doing more. They’re adapting to the rule sets that we use here and are adjusting what they want to do.

In terms of USA players, definitely want to see how ZeRo does. He’s been having pretty good results lately. Kind of bringing it back up. You never really know, cause there’s a lot of…night terrors. Just people in the bracket that can decimate you, and you would never know that.

The player I haven’t seen in quite a time is Wrath. I just want to see how he does. He’s one of the high caliber Sonic mains that pushes people’s limits. He’s playing under Panda Global, temporary, because he won PG Key to the Big House. Mr. R, as well, he’s temporary Panda Global. They’re both free agents. I don’t want people thinking they’re part of our team. They won the online qualifier for it. Those two, along with Nakat, he’s been stepping up his game.

Larry Lurr has made a crazy losers run at 2GGT. Dabuz, in how he does under the brand of Renegades. Also Anti, ths is his first major under Immortals. Because, as much as he likes to joke around, being lavish, I told him to focus on qualifying to Top 8. He did it at CEO, so he can do it.

Top 32, even though after seeding, I still don’t think all top 32 that we’ve seeded, are gonna make it there. The level and breadth of players have gotten so good, that I wouldn’t be surprised if someone’s upset.

It should be a great tournament this weekend. Day 1, there’s gonna be an upset thread somewhere on Reddit. But, I’ll make announcements to confirm it on Twitter, cause we’re transferring online from paper. Definitely looking forward to how — basically the pools run to top 192, so I want to see how actual top 32 on Sunday looks like.

Cover photo by Connor Smith