This post ended up being way longer than I expected, but these ideas mean a lot to me and I wanted to fully explain. Thanks in advance to everyone who takes the time to read it.

If you attended Apex 2015 and stuck around for Smash 4 Finals, you probably heard chants of “Melee” coming from parts of the crowd. You also probably noticed that, a few seconds later, shouts of “NO!” coming from many other attendees. Whether you were there or not, you can probably guess that neither “side” was happy afterwards.

There’s already a ton of discussion happening about this on Twitter, but I haven’t seen anyone actually split out the issues and problems yet. I think there are at least 2 different things we’re discussing at the same time without knowing it:

  • Respect for Smashers across titles
  • Respect for the time of tournament attendees

Respect for Smashers across titles

Almost no one who identifies as a Melee community member thinks that the Melee vs Brawl fighting in 2008 was very productive. Comparing the merits of the 2 games was an interesting and potentially healthy conversation, but we let things get personal and we stopped being respectful of each other.

We’ll tell you we learned that a big part of respect is not attacking or labelling people whose personal preferences aren’t the same as our own. In fact, many of our community leaders believe in the concept of “One Unit” – working towards a Smash community that is accepting and respectful of anyone who cares about Smash.

So why, then, at Apex 2015, did fans of Melee shout in disapproval in the middle of Smash 4’s Finals? Isn’t that blatantly disrespectful of Smash 4’s community, which is a huge subset of the Smash community more generally?

Well, yes and no.

Respect for the time of tournament attendees

I want to give some context for the frustrations some Melee fans encountered at Apex – if you have to skip some part of this article, I guess it can be this.

Everyone who attended Apex 2015 for Melee had to find their way to Secaucus, NJ, spent Friday running around in confusion, and made the 45-minute journey to Somerset, NJ at least once. Most of them were from out of the state of NJ. Many of them had obligations (work or school) on Monday.

Some of them had to wait for hours for a bus from the Clarion to Somerset, only to find that there wasn’t enough space. They had to pay for a cab to the venue and they were DQd from their pools.

On Sunday, SSBM fans came to the venue to watch on Finals day – those who watched teams arrived in the AM hours.

Melee Bracket was supposed to end at 5pm, but it didn’t. Smash 4 Finals were supposed to end at 8pm, but it didn’t. Melee Finals were supposed to start at 8pm and end at 10pm, but it didn’t.

There were a lot of things that went wrong at Apex, and as a result, we were still watching Smash 4 Finals past the time the whole event was supposed to have ended. Instead of being on their way home, SSBM fans were stuck waiting for top 8 with no updates on when it might start. On top of that, snow threatened to cancel flights and make the late-night drives home even scarier.

And then, someone, or a group of someones, hit a breaking point. Chants of “Melee” began, in opposition of the Smash 4 event taking place, and others joined in. From the stage it felt like at least half of the crowd was cheering.

I can think of some reasons why this chant was started, and why it spread, but I think they all boil down to 2 possible main underlying motivations:

  • a desire to hurt the Smash 4 event or community in some way
  • a desire to vent frustration and impatience

When I look at it this way, I have a really hard time believing that the people chanting were motivated by reason #1, even if I count “starting Melee early” or “cutting off Smash 4 Finals” as a subset of reason #1.

But, that doesn’t change the fact that the chant did hurt the Smash 4 event and its community.

Coming full circle

It’s my opinion that, to truly respect one another, we need to give one another the benefit of the doubt.

It’s true that anyone who started that cheer or participated in it was being inconsiderate of anyone who was enjoying Smash 4, but it’s my belief that very few of them were doing it out of a lack of respect for Smash 4 and its community.

To come full circle, all Smashers need to reject the action of cheering “Melee” because it implies that Melee is better than other games. We need to reject anyone who deliberately tries to hurt another event or community. This means that we all need to speak out against such things, and we also need to back people up when they do. For example, in retrospect, I wish that I had joined in with the “No” chant.

At the same time, all Smashers, including Smash 4 fans, need to acknowledge the very legitimate frustrations of the “Melee” chanters – we don’t want tournaments to run until 3am on a Sunday. We also should acknowledge that SSBM Finalists were asked to be available to play for 18 hours on Sunday (9am – 3am), which in my view is unacceptable.

Players and attendees need to let TOs and TO staff know what we expect from them. Out of respect for our time, we need them to make realistic schedules, fight hard to keep to that schedule, and let players and attendees know if things are slipping.

One Unit

I said on Twitter that “One Unit” is not a description of the way things are. Far from it. One Unit is an ideal, it’s a vision for the community that we are striving to become. To really understand One Unit is to understand that the starting point is each and every one of us, and that it’s hard work.

Working to be aware of how our words and actions might hurt others is hard, especially when we’re frustrated.

Working to listen to others and acknowledging them even when they’re doing it in an unproductive way is even harder.

But these are the things that One Unit is asking us to do.

What are you asking me to do exactly?

If you started, participated in, or didn’t see anything wrong with the “Melee” chant at Apex, I’m asking you to consider how that action hurt the people enjoying Smash 4 and why it may not have been the right thing to do.

If you were there for or heard about the “Melee” chant and think that Melee players are jerks and that they wanted to hurt Smash 4, I’m asking you to consider their experience of Apex and to acknowledge that their frustrations were legitimate.

Boiling our differences down to “the other side is wrong” isn’t how we’re going to get closer to One Unit. Join me in trying to find common ground in all that we do together as Smashers.