Tucked in the corner of The Big House 6’s on-site friendlies room, a crowd surrounded Juan “Hungybox” DeBiedma as he warmed up for the day’s upcoming matches at a makeshift setup on a folding table in the vendor side of the room.
Although their focus was on the top player’s practice, many took notice of a quaint new business, which littered its table with controllers, paper slips and other clutter to keep track of orders.
The vendor in question, Mike “Typo” Bassett, offered various controller modifications and repairs for players and spectators alike. Each mod took anywhere from 5-30 minutes, depending on the order.
His brand, Home Run Controllers, is the latest grassroots service to cater to competitive needs in esports. Typo started attending events in August and has received recommendations from top professionals and personalities such as Jason“Mew2King” Zimmerman and Kris “Toph” Aldenderfer.
Special thanks and shoutouts to @Tipomastr for his controller maintenance booth at #TBH6. Knowledgeable fellow. Would do business with again
— DARK TØPH (@toph_bbq) October 9, 2016
“I don’t understand why I was the first person to do this,” Typo told Slingshot. “I actually believe (David ‘Kadano’ Schmid) definitely does a better job than I do. But he lives in Vienna, Austria. He doesn’t come to these big tournaments. To me, it’s pretty mind boggling that I’m the first person to go out there and come to every single tournament, and just be the controller guy.”
Typo is a hesitant entrepreneur, as he emphasized the importance of contributing to the scene and making people happy, rather than tapping into massive profits. He was a music management graduate student who learned to repair controllers while breaking several world records in Melee’s Home-Run Contest mode.
“The thing about Home-Run Contest is that it’s very, very tough on your technique,” Typo said. “You have to be really precise. There’s a lot of technical inputs. I would go through controllers like crazy. It was just natural to just take a controller apart and see what I could fix.”
Typo recalls repairing his first stick box by using a soldering gun. “Miraculously, I didn’t screw it up. I don’t know how,” he said.
Typo took a break from competitive Melee during his undergraduate years but continued to pick up the controller every now and then for Home-Run Contest.
“When I came back to the scene, I never lost that thought of, ‘This controller isn’t working out. Instead of buying a new one, I can just fix the one I already have,’” he said. “I just kind of took that interest of modding my own controller. Whenever someone said, ‘Yo, I go this problem with my trigger,’ I go, ‘Hey! I can fix that.’ That’s pretty much how it started.”
Typo’s breakout came this past summer, when James “Swedish Delight” Liu needed a fix after losing sets he attributed to problems with turn around needles on Sheik. Swedish reached out to Typo and drove an hour away to an N.J. local, with the hopes that a repair might be solve his dilemma.
“I always say my life changed due to Mike’s controller tuneups,” Swedish told Slingshot. “Now I know when I’m truly bad and can’t blame my controller.”
After determining that it would be financially irresponsible to not monetize his popular services, Typo decided to travel to big tournaments and help raise money for his flight to Smash the Record a few weeks ago, to which he was invited to perform in a Home-Run Contest exhibition.
— IMTypo (@hrcTypo) November 7, 2016
At Shine 2016, he offered to fix Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams’ controller the night before the tournament. That night, he met several Midwest professionals and said he was surprised by how open they were to his advice.
“It was really crazy cause these are all people that I’ve been watching on streams and legitimately supporting them, and they’re in a hotel room, asking me questions,” he said.
His time at Shine was a success, as he worked on controllers for several high-profile competitors.
“I was fortunate enough to do shield drop mods for Mew2King, who actually ended up winning the tournament itself on the controller that I modded for him, he said. “Which is really really cool, considering Mew2King has so many freaking controllers!”
According to Typo, Mew2King’s knack for finding good controllers is remarkable, given that they come from natural impulses.
“Mew2King has unconventional ways of saying it, but he has a very strong and intuitive way of understanding what makes a controller good,” he said. “The issues that he looks for in a good controller are essentially the same issues that I look for, except that I’ve just had a little bit more technical data to look for.”
In September and October, Typo took online orders, continued his studies and prepared for The Big House 6 in Dearborn, Mich. There, he brought a Melee setup to draw players in, which resulted in more orders than he could imagine. Once again, he worked on the winner’s controller, this time Joseph “Mang0” Marquez, admittedly after the grand finals.
Recently, Typo attended the Super Smash Hitbox Olympus, toward the end of October, and published his first controller guide on Melee it on Me. Typo hopes to clear up popular misconceptions, such as the belief that newer Smash 4 GameCube controllers are inferior.
“People always tell me older controllers are definitely better,” he said. “It doesn’t have much to do with the age, compared to wear. The thing about controllers is that a brand new controller will never unlock its potential until you’ve broken it in and worked it in for a period of 6-10 months.”
Shield drop mod: $25
Snapback Reduction: $10
Trigger lube+general cleaning: $5
I can mod yours or sell new. DM for details!
— IMTypo (@hrcTypo) November 16, 2016
As for his brand, which he said was more of a platform than a business, he does see the potential to grow.
“I definitely want to expand, as far as modding controllers for other systems, like PlayStation or Xbox,” he said. “Doing things like button-remaps. I’m not 100 percent sure if I want to do it by myself or with myself being the sole director of the project. I’m in the process of figuring that stuff out, kind of as we speak. This whole thing has being going by so quickly.”
He also floated the idea of streaming, as his latest world record with Captain Falcon went viral, topping the Smash subreddit and garnering more than 1,300 retweets.
“Ultimately, I would like to be working for somebody, but I’m also looking to expand into streaming,” he said. “I think Home-Run Contest and things with controllers are definitely streamable material.”
Typo learned that controller repairs are something he enjoys, no matter the effort. He described his journey to the big house, which included a nine-hour drive from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“One of the most powerful things is that success in anything comes down to whether you enjoy what you’re doing,” he said. “I had been up for over 24 hours. I set up my booth and I worked a 12-14 hour shift. I don’t say that because I revel in the fact that I was hustling; I say that because I enjoyed it so much, that all I really needed was coffee and monster.”
Although his future is unsure, Typo knows he’ll still have time for tearing apart controllers and world records, alike.
“There’s been a lot of different things tugging on me, he said. “To me, working on controllers, it’s something I want to explore as something that’s part of a career. I’d definitely want to do it. It’s been a wild ride. ”
Cover photo by Connor Smith