This weekend I took the trek up to Laurel, Maryland to spend an absurd amount of time at a horse-racing venue. In September, I journeyed to Ohio for Riptide 2021 as my first Smash major. Pound 2022, an event run at Xanadu Games inside of the Laurel Race Track venue, was a supermajor held from April 21–24.
I’ll start out by saying I went 0–2 (2–2 with DQs, but who’s counting?). For the first year I played Melee, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Over the past few months, having played a lot more consistently, I’ve been radically improving in practically every aspect of the game, except maybe mentality.
When I sat down to play my first tournament set, I expected to be playing a Puff, but ended up playing a Falco instead. This should have been good news for a Peach main like me, but I had been practicing the Puff matchup and was frustrated that it felt like it was for nothing. I’d had 2 Bang energy drinks when I sat down, and as I struck stages with my opponent and put in my earbuds, the tournament nerves hit. I nearly got JV 5-stocked in my second game of that set, and was so upset at my performance that I had to flee the setup after I fist-bumped my opponent and he went to report his 2–0 win.
After shaking off the tournament nerves I lost to a Puff who was much better than me and was relieved to be out of bracket. The rest of the weekend was more or less a blur of hanging out with some really cool people, doing some really cool shit, and playing and watching some really good Melee.
The Falco who beat me in R1 Pools came up to me in Artists’ Alley after we played, and asked me how long I’d been playing. I thought it was nice that, even though I was super tilted after our set, he still said hello to me and wanted to talk to me a little more.
The tournament was so fun, and some of the runs made by top players were really amazing. I will say, though, that I don’t remember much of Top 8, because I was asleep on a couch in a corner of the venue for most of it. I feel asleep to chants of ‘aMSa! aMSa!’ and woke to feel stupid for missing what I had come to Pound to see in person. Good thing there will be more majors, and there will always be more Top 8s to be held.
One thing I will say is I made some great friends on this trip. Shoutouts to Yani, Val, JoJo, Tawkos, Eddy, Louise, and all of the MD/VA homies. Shoutouts to Kalvar for being my rotation buddy. Shoutouts to NoJonsMods for fixing my Z-button and having the sickest buttons. Also shoutouts to Fiction for offering me his Taco Bell cinnamon bites, Shep’s a real one for that.
While I definitely didn’t get to play as many people as I wanted to this weekend, I still feel like my skill really improved, and I’m grateful that so many people I interacted with were so cool. Overwhelmingly, each time I go to a major or Smash event, I am surprised at how fucking great everyone is.
That being said, I experienced a monumental amount of sexism this weekend. The number of smashers in the venue assuming I knew nothing about Melee because I was a girl, or congratulating me for hitting basic tech, or being surprised when I had a basic understanding of the game, or assuming I wasn’t in bracket, was just really high. The Smash scene just isn’t a safe space for women, and it never has been. I know there are pockets of Melee folks who are really cool, and I love them for it, but more work needs to be done to make Smash a safer scene for women.
Still, I had a great time, and I’ll be back. See y’all for Riptide 2022 or Big House 10.
This trip was sponsored by: Bang Energy, DC weed, so many pre-rolls, McDonald’s, the Quality Inn, Coors Light, vending machines, doubles, broken conches, and Newport menthols.