Hi all,

As you may have heard, The Big House 5 was recently announced set to take place October 2-4, 2015 here in Michigan! I want to take a moment to address why Project M (PM) is not back in the game lineup this year. The game lineup is one of the first decisions a tournament organizer (TO) makes when planning an event, and I can assure you it’s not made lightly. For context, PM has been a featured game at the last three installments of The Big House series, but it won’t be at TBH5 this year for a few reasons: risk, equipment, and leadership. These all circle back to my overarching goal of providing the best possible experience for my attendees.

Risk. The Big House has grown beyond the point where it could be self-sustained by the TOs themselves; in order to continue running, it needs resources (volunteers, equipment, promotion, etc.) from sponsors who have a very real business stake in the event and who will understandably not associate with a game that presents a legal risk. This is why featuring PM at a potential 1000+ person nationally-streamed tourney isn’t the same as featuring it at a small house tourney in your basement. PM is an amazing development creation and I’ve very much appreciated the attendance from the community in the past few years, but the game‘s legal status puts TOs in an impossible position to host it at big events in the future. It may be difficult for spectators to grasp this concept; they’re not the ones who risk everything to ensure the success of an event, and they’re not the ones who lose everything if wrong decisions are made. But from the perspective of a national TO, I want to provide the best possible experience for my attendees, and at this magnitude of attendance that means working with real business partners who won’t touch a modded game. I’m confident PM will continue to thrive at the local level, but the unfortunate truth is, the game‘s presence will always limit the ceiling of resources that a national tourney can attain. The Big House reached that point a long time ago, and I don’t wish to suppress the tourney’s growth moving forward.

Equipment. This year, I’m taking care of most of the tourney’s setup needs by working with various equipment vendors who have Melee and Smash 4 equipment, but do not have PM equipment. In previous years, I’ve crowdsourced setups from attendees through venue fee discount incentives. Crowdsourcing equipment works well at the local and regional level, but it doesn’t cut it at the national level after a tourney exceeds a certain tipping point in attendance. With bigger and bigger turnouts, the entire planning process relies more and more heavily on having a minimum number of available setups, and I can’t afford to jeopardize the tourney experiences of potentially 1000+ attendees at TBH5 due to a lack of equipment. This was an issue at recent PM tourneys I hosted, including the PM event of TBH4 where we had to negatively change the phase two pools format on tourney weekend due to a lack of setups. It continued to be an issue even after I implemented a system in which attendees committed setups through online registration, then got penalized at the door if they reneged on those commitments. It’s really tough for me to comprehend that attendees would rather take a $20 fine at the door instead of following through on their setup commitment to help the tourney run. For a TO to be able to support a game, the game‘s community must be able to support the TO.

Leadership. Although many events these days reach out to national TOs on a help-for-hire basis, I feel more comfortable tapping into my organic network of Michigan TOs — people who can help me build a local volunteer pipeline for the event, can reach out to nearby Smashers for help with setups, can make site visits to the venue with me, and so on. Because of this, I need a strong partnership with a game’s local community to make it possible for me to host them at a big event. The Michigan Melee local leadership is as strong as ever, and there are so many people to thank for that, I couldn’t possibly list all the names. On the other hand, the Michigan PM local leadership is not where it needs to be in order for me to work with them on a large-scale tournament that meets my standard of quality. My search for a local TOing partner with the game has come up empty, and recent attempts to support PM at my events have resulted in few setups being brought while nobody gets held accountable. There is no Juggleguy of the Michigan PM scene, and I need there to be one before I entrust half the resources of a national tourney towards a game that I’m personally not as passionate about as Melee. This isn’t particularly anyone’s fault, but part of my TOing philosophy is that if I can’t do it well, I won’t do it at all. If the hunger, maturity, and motivation to partner with me for a big event doesn’t exist within the Michigan PM community, then I can’t feel confident in my ability to throw an amazing event for the scene.

A word of advice to fans of PM, or fans of any game looking to make a splash. When a big tournament offers you an international platform to be showcased on — whether it’s EVO, Big House, your local FGC behemoth, whatever — take that opportunity as a community leader and work hard to maintain it, don’t be complacent while sitting on the sidelines. Look at what the Melee community did with EVO 2013 a couple years ago. Sure, EVO isn’t a “Smash-centric” tourney by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean you sit back and watch as a community leader. It means you rally to get the scene noticed on social media. It means you hustle every day until the deadline to produce as many registrations for your game as possible. It means you use your sphere of influence to get people to bring setups so the tourney can happen as scheduled. It means you go out of your way to make sure there are enough volunteers to help the tourney run smoothly. It means you do everything in your power to show the organizers that you should be back next time.

All things considered, I’m excited to welcome the Michigan Smash 4 scene to The Big House series for the first time. It has an existing foundation of local leadership in Michigan; I know which TOs to ask for help and I know they’ll be reliable. Its community has a hunger for the national spotlight; the local tourneys here have gotten bigger and bigger recently and those numbers have not been lost on me. And it makes a lot of sense logistically; the crossover entry with Melee is only about 20%, so more unique attendees come through per additional entrant which allows me to consolidate resources effectively. At the end of the day, I make these blog posts because I want to explain my thought process, not because I owe an explanation to anyone. I don’t plan on addressing the game lineup any further moving forward. The most important thing to understand is this decision gives me the necessary peace of mind such that resources can be better focused on providing the greatest possible tourney experience for attendees. You can trust The Big House to maintain its standard of excellence hosting Melee and Smash 4 under the same roof without diluting the quality of either event, and I look forward to the challenge of fulfilling this promise. Keep your eyes peeled for updates soon, and see you in October.

Robin Harn