Mainstage 2021 was a very difficult run for Cody "iBDW" Schwab. The top Melee player struggled with scheduling, controller issues, stomach issues, and even a stress-induced nose bleed over the weekend. Yet he still made it to the top 8.
But like for any top player, that wasn't the ideal outcome for iBDW. His tweets after Mainstage have ranged from frustrated and distraught to focused and determined. iBDW is notoriously passionate about the game — and that showed throughout the weekend.
Inven Global sat down with iBDW during Mainstage weekend to talk about the challenging event and how iBDW rose above the struggles to fight for his rightful place.
Sunday, Nov. 14: iBDW tweets from Mainstage
I saw your tweet discussing your frustrations with Mainstage's scheduling. What was going on with that?
Yesterday, I played doubles. It ended at 11:30 p.m. Then they gave me 10 a.m. pools today [Saturday], then 12 noon. Now, I have to wait until 8 p.m. to play again. I'll be playing till 12 tonight. Then I wake up for another 10 a.m. tomorrow… Horrendous scheduling that’s not really healthy for the competitors at all.
Has this been a common issue you've run into at Melee tournaments?
You have no idea. Every single event has some ridiculous thing. Half of the events are properly run. It's very, very frustrating. And they don’t talk to us about it. I’ll complain on Twitter. Leffen will complain. The TOs will be like, "Oh, they’re complaining." But nothing is done.
Now we’re trying to get it to change. That’s unfortunately how it works. We need some way to make this more sustainable. I have a stomach condition. I can’t be up all day competing under high stress and not being able to eat. It's genuinely unhealthy and way harder than it has to be.
Without Nintendo being involved, the community is very grassroots and there isn't a lot of organization between tournaments. Do you see this as a good or bad thing?
There are pros and cons. I like it because our game doesn’t get patched. We don't get interfered with. We run things how we want to usually.
But obviously, the lack of money in it does hurt. It's frustrating when there’s a lack of professionalism. it's a bunch of 30-year-olds running it who don’t have a lot of experience at a professional level. Some of them do, some of them don't. Obviously, when they don’t it's very frustrating.
What keeps you motivated?
I just want to be the best. I really like meeting people. It’s just really fun.
Some pros, like Hungrybox, consider you the best right now. Do you agree?
Third best. I’m the best at this event, but overall, pretty much the third best. The two people I need to start beating very, very soon are Zain and Mang0.
What are your thoughts on Mang0's resurgence?
He needed motivation. He lacked that for a few years. Zain kicked him in his ass. He doesn’t want to lose to me at this point. He doesn’t want another person to worry about. It gives him a reason to keep going. He is very ego-driven. If he thinks someone is better than him, he wants to beat them. He doesn't want that to happen.
There are a lot of other upcoming pros in Melee. What are your thoughts on the scene changing?
A lot of them are pretty good. I’m still waiting to see people break into the top level. But I think there’s a lot of people who can push top 20 very soon.
Do you think that pools have become more frustrating due to so many more players becoming a challenge?
Practice. Just be better. If you can’t beat people in pools, you’re not beating people in top 8. Just be better. Practice more.
How often do you practice?
Five hours a day, six to seven days a week. Then I do analysis a few days a week. I do some preparation as well.
What has kept you so dedicated to Melee?
It’s my job right now. But I just really like the game. I’ve sunk so much time into it. It would be pretty silly not to keep going with it when I enjoy it.
Would you ever consider switching to Ultimate?
I would consider playing it a little bit once it stops getting patched and people are playing offline. I'll never play it online. It's abysmal.
Melee is the best game of all time. It’s my favorite game. What other game without developer support has lasted this long in this capacity for 20 years? There’s a reason for that.
ESAM recently said that Melee is a cult — in a good way. Do you agree with this?
If it's not in a bad way, then I agree. We’re all fanatical. We play this game for 20 years and don’t make that much money. But we sink our entire lives into it.
How do you stay so dedicated to a game that hasn't really changed at all? How does it stay interesting to you?
We got so lucky with this game. I don’t know how it happened, but all the top six characters are all good enough to beat each other but not so good that they are unbeatable. This happened by chance. It's one of the most ludicrous lucky things to ever exist in a video game.
What's also interesting is that the meta continues to change despite no patches or content updates.
It’s a shift. It’s just becoming better at harder and harder options. There are more consistent controllers too. That’s not an issue anymore. You can play a character in a variety of ways. Two people, two different experiences.
I heard you saying you have one of the best controllers in the scene, one of the most expensive. What sets it apart?
I have a bunch of quality of life changes. Highest quality buttons. I’m one of the very few top players that’s open to trying new things. It's like in traditional sports — new sports equipment is better than older ones. Why not? Electrical modifications, ridiculous things. I’ll try it out! And it normally ends up being very good! My Z button is literally a mouse switch.
Other players are starting to change their controllers, too. I wind up trying a mod. I tell everyone if it’s good or not. I'm the only one willing to try it at the top spot. Leffen too. The two Fox mains.
Monday, Nov. 15: iBDW tweets after Mainstage
iBDW's fans have told the passionate and talented Melee player to take all the rest he needs. He plans to exercise a bit more. He may take a break from teaching lessons. For iBDW, it's all about grinding and making himself healthier moving forward.
This weekend was exhausting. But he's already focused on the next tournament.
Mainstage is over.
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