How did these events come to be what they are now? I’m not a founder but I was there at the beginning of the Smash Sisters experiment.

But who am I? My first tournament was in 2004 so I’m old school. Before that, my brother and I frequented a gaming center in Arizona that had a Melee setup and we beat every challenger there, until we met Taj. And similar to how players get acquainted at tournaments nowadays, we all became friends, and began befriended more people through Smash events and clubs–like Wobbles once college started. It’s great reflecting and even better to see what it’s like now–to see that Smashers are more connected than ever. We can also proudly claim that each year the scene becomes more and more diverse. But there is still a lackluster presence of women.

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Since childhood, I often found myself as the only girl in a group of guys so Smash tournaments didn’t make me uncomfortable. Sometimes being the only girl at a tournament I had notably different experiences, but I had established friends to be there with me. People new to the scene may not have that support going in.

I believe diversity with common goals and interests foster the strongest communities.

Fortunately, I was not alone in thinking this. Despite previous trepidations, Lilian “MilkTea” Chen and Emily “Emily Waves” Sun dared us women Smashers to try something new. For the first time ever, they would host an all-women event at Genesis 3 and call it Smash Sisters!

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Photo credit: Rob Paul

Sounds simple, right? Well, not exactly.There was more than a month of talks fleshing everything out for the best way to do it. Concerns, disagreements, and all possible issues were hashed out before the event could even be organized.

Although many of us were used to being the only girl at most tournaments, we could empathize with the other girls that simply didn’t feel the same way. Maybe they some read nasty stuff online and hesitated to join a local. The possibilities are endless, but Smash Sisters was created with the goal of making the community greater by accounting for, and welcoming, different comfort levels.

So much thought and planning went into Smash Sisters before the first event, that even the smallest details are intentional. Here are some facts and specifics to help clarify what Smash Sisters is and why they’re done this way:

Smash Sisters are events. Not a group, or a club

I’ve been asked; “are you a smash sister?” and the comparable of asking that question is “are you a Genesis?” or “are you an EVO?”

Smash Sisters are a series of side events at any tournament, not a club with members, and it isn’t the group “Women of Smash” either. I attend these events, but there is no kind of membership involved. However, a lot of participants are supportive of each other during and outside of the events.

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There is no money to win

It’s about having fun, and having a welcoming environment with friendly “for glory” competition, not for money (and especially not to “rank the female smashers”). Nobody participating is winning a money prize. But there are occasionally free wristbands for anyone that joins.

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Photo credit: Lilian Chen

These events are ONLY crew battles

It was determined that crew battles were the best way to welcome players of various skill levels while still being competitive, as well as friendly and welcoming. During the initial planning, it became clear that girls are not interested in these events to compare themselves to other girls. Players didn’t want to be ranked in an arbitrary categorization. We don’t use results in these crew battles to form PR among women.

In crew battles you are playing for yourself and for your team. It takes camaraderie and support. Often there are two kinds of battles at each event, casual and competitive. No noticeable difference separates these with the exception that sometimes competitive play is recorded.

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Photo credit: Lilian Chen

Smash Sisters events are generally off of public streams

The online chats and comments in some streams are not usually fair representations of most real life communities (they are often worse than people are in person). So at the risk of a bad first tournament experience, streams are generally avoided. There have been recorded battles because players want to watch their games to improve and it’s accommodated if tournament resources allow.

These crew battle events are held for fun, to welcome new girls, but the community still has a competitive core. This is the delicate balance the women backing Smash Sisters events want to maintain.

The goal is to get more women involved with a welcoming, inclusive environment. Hopefully the gender gap will close enough so these kinds of events won’t even be needed.

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Photo credit: Lilian Chen

Realistically, I don’t know if that could happen, but I think with the kinds of friendly leaders volunteering for Smash Sisters, it just might. At very least, it’ll help bridge the gap a little and that’s worth it.

For this article I asked as many women, trans-women, and non-binary smashers as possible to find out how their own experiences at Smash Sister events have been. Almost all stories were positive, especially how great the crowds have been. The cheering was always rowdy and positive rather than negative trash talk.

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Photo credit: Rob Paul

Not everyone had fully positive experiences. Many of these discrepancies came from the limitations of Smash Sisters being a side event with no funding. Limited advertising, set ups, time, cramped spaces, generally just more of the grass roots restrictions that smash has grown out of.

I hoped that I would still have the same positive sentiments after reading the anecdotes and I’m happy to say I do. Despite still being a work in progress, there has been progress. I know how rich the tournament experience can be so I encourage these events and the positive impact they will have bringing players together in the community.

I hope this helps to better understand Smash Sisters.

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Photo credit: Rob Paul

See you at Genesis 4!

Written by Sesh Evans
Edited by Marco Salazar de Leon, Kayla MacKay, and Brent Vickers