Life has been changing a lot for Phil "EE" Visu. A new area to live in, new games to commentate, and the Smash scene continuously growing. No matter what has been thrown at him, though, EE continues to be one of the funniest and most prolific commentators in the game. Inven Global had the chance to talk with EE, and discuss his thoughts on life, the future of the scene, and personal lessons he’s learned recently.
Rated EE for in-person tourneys
It’s been about a year since you made the decision to move to California. What has it been like for you? Has anything surprised you about it?
I'd say the biggest surprise for me was I didn't think I would be as comfortable as I have been as quickly as it took. I thought it would take like a year or so to really get the lay of the land and get a feel for the people and the area. Nah, man, I think two months into it I was like, "Damn, this kind of feels like home." Obviously, there are a couple elements that are missing like friends, my mom, and stuff like that. But nah, I felt like I adjusted pretty quickly. That surprised the hell out of me.
The biggest benefit that I've had since moving is just health-wise, because I've lost a good amount of weight. I take advantage of the godlike weather that we have. I've enjoyed a lot of new experiences like food and stuff like that, to be honest. Collaborating with people — there's obviously a lot of creators who live in California, but because of the pandemic, I haven't been able to see and link up with as many as I would like to. But I've gotten a couple good ones in there like Alpharad. I've hung out with him a couple times and we've done some content together, for sure. Obviously, I live with another great content creator in VoiD — we've done some collabs and stuff like that. There are definitely opportunities that present themselves, so it's not too bad
What have been the most noticeable changes for you since you’ve been back to offline tournaments?
Oh, well besides all the masks, I guess the biggest adjustment I've seen is it does seem like the policy on events seems more responsible, if that makes sense. Minors seem like they're prioritizing as far as, "Okay, let's make sure that they're with somebody they need to be." Alcohol is not abundantly on the floor available and stuff like that. And all that stuff is cool, you don't need that kind of stuff on the tournament floor anyway. But it seems like a lot of the things that people talked about needed to be adjusted or changed coming back into the offline world has actually transpired, and people have done a good job. And efficiency too, I think events have been a lot more efficient lately.
We’ve seen a lot of players and commentators sometimes not showing up to events. One of the big reasons for that seems to be that streaming is just a way better option. Do you think this will be a problem long term?
It just depends. For example, when I was streaming full-time, grinding, I was averaging 2,000 subs. But then I kind of tapered off, because it became less interesting to me. Because I do like going to events, making content at events. You know, for Coney, this is his first time getting to that level, so he's just kind of riding that high and enjoying it and seeing what he's gonna like out of it. And I think the biggest difference between him and a lot of us is he's married and he's a father. So he has an opportunity to still make money, still enjoy what he likes, but not having to leave his home — a big benefit to him. If I was in that situation I'd probably be doing the same thing.
That's a big deal if you're a family man like him. But I could see that being more of a trend, especially with some of the players as well if their content continues to blow up and blossom, and they can kind of get the rights to co-stream these events officially. Yeah, I could see some of them fading out and just taking the content creation. Because long term, that's where you're gonna make your money over playing.
Is it overall a net-positive? On one hand, it sucks there being fewer people around. But at the same time, you have people like Ludwig or Alpharad that can drive a lot more money and interest in the competitive side.
I think overall it's good just because like at the end of the day, whatever's eyes on the prize. Even if we lose five top players to them deciding to be content creators, there'll be five more new ones to step up and take those spots at tournaments. We're never gonna have a shortage of good, talented players to entertain the crowd.
It's just all about maximizing how many eyes you can kind of get. Because I feel like the more spectators, the more people who actually care, is where you're going to see the opportunity for more big creators or more sponsorships to get involved and just keep fueling the scene. Which I think is always good, because we don't have developer support, so you have to get it another way.
What do you think of just tournament environments as well? Obviously, the Summits in Ultimate and Melee hold a big presence, and you have things like Nairo’s invitational now that has a huge payout and is much more comfortable environment for top players. Do you think that might start to be a trend for top players? Do you think most enjoy that more?
Well, I've always thought invitationals were the way to go for some things. I understand open bracket is always hype, but sometimes you just want to kind of skip the riffraff and just get right into the meat of it.
And I love watching invitationals because I know what I'm getting out of an invitational. I know who's going, I know how talented they are, I know I'm probably gonna get some good casting or a great viewing experience regardless of that. So I've always felt like invitationals with top level players need to be more of a thing, so if that's where the direction for a lot of things goes, I'm okay with that. Obviously, we want large tournaments with open brackets to happen, but more invitationals is just not a bad thing to me. Right out the gate, you're skipping the previews and you're going right to the full-length feature.
When I've talked with other commentators, they say one of the hardest aspects of online commentating was not having a crowd. Would that not be more of an issue without large crowds at invitationals?
Oh, no, no, no. Because the thing with that is you're still in person. You're still in person, the players themselves are still getting hyped, you're still there, you're in the room, it's all about the energy. It doesn't have to be a big crowd to still feel the energy, but you want someone there, right? You don't want to commentate by yourself. Having another 10 to 12 people in there kind of gasping and holding their breath when those crazy moments happen too is a big deal.
Rated EE for top Ultimate players and Nick All-Star Brawl
How do you feel about where we are as far as how top 10s shake up? Did you expect the lineup of top Ultimate players to look like this?
One thing I thought was gonna happen, I thought Sparg0 was gonna become a breakout player. And he absolutely has, he's a top three player in the world as far as I'm concerned. I was expecting Leo to keep his number one spot, but not as definitive as it used to be. Because now he's lost a couple times. We know it's doable. Even if he did come back to win the tournament, the fact is, he can lose. I think that's pretty cool.
There's a host of new players who are going to be vying for that spot. I mean, a couple of top 10 spots are vacant right now. Samsora's vacant, Nairo's vacant, so those spots have to be filled. People are going to move up. Even after the new DLC era has kind of arrived, we haven't really got to see all the Japanese players come over and compete because of the pandemic.
There are just so many unanswered questions about who really is going to be in that top 10, that I think it's just an exciting time. Eventually, we'll get those answers, you know, but for now, it's just really fun to speculate. But it's definitely been a big shake up.
I was talking with Sparg0 earlier, he said he thinks it’s likely he’ll be the clear-cut best player in the world in one to two years. You’re someone that has watched players like Leo, like Tweek really come into their own. When you look at Sparg0, what do you think makes him so good? What makes him special?
I think Sparg0 is so good because he has what Leo had, what all those great Pantheon players had: They're not scared of anybody they play.
He's a humble kid, but he knows in the back of his mind, "I can beat this guy. I can beat anybody I go up against." And he has the skill to back it up too. And as those wins start to accumulate, those placings are there, especially now that we've come back because he was doing great online, comes offline, and just transfers seamlessly. There are no issues at all. He knows what he's capable of.
And not to mention, Leo cosigns, "Oh no, he's gonna be better than me in like a year. He's gonna be the number one player."
When you have that amount of respect, when you're that young and you're that good — I don't even think Sparg0's in his prime yet. That's the crazy thing. When he hits prime, that's when he'll just be the undisputed best.
You’re someone that’s definitely more positive about Nick All-Star Brawl than many. What do you see being the likely future of that game?
Well, I think for Nick All-Star, I'm glad that the devs are super active in the community. But I want them to not change and tailor the game too much to make it almost a Smash clone. Because it's got some unique aspects about it that I think is really cool. I do think the DLC that's inevitably going to happen is going to be great. I think some different color palettes for characters for when they do ditto match-ups is going to be very crucial, you have to have that. And then just some quality of life things like that — getting a voice pack, more stages, and just continuing to make the gameplay fun.
Obviously, there have been some things discovered like infinites and stalling techniques — just pass that shit out. And keep it pushing. It doesn't have to be anything weird or overcomplicated. Just keep it simple, keep it good.
And one thing too: People need to stop speculating how long the game is going to last. If you like the game, just play the game. You don't have to try and put an expiration date on when it's going to expire. Just enjoy it, go with the flow, and I think it can be present for however long to come. I'm not putting a time cap on it because it's a fun game.
Do you think it will lead to any kind of “talent drain?" If you look at VALORANT, the money and investment that’s been put in that game has led to many commentators and players in CS:GO to leave CS:GO? Could a similar thing happen with Ultimate?
Maybe. I mean I feel like something like Riot, don't they have where you cast their games exclusively? Look at Brawlhalla, there's plenty of money in Brawlhalla, and you got people like Flambo and TK who will go there and they'll cast Smash and they'll cast Brawlhalla. They don't have any problem balancing it. It can be a big prize pool and plenty of events, but it doesn't really get in the way of still enjoying your first love in Smash.
So no, I don't think it's going to be any kind of conflict of interest or anything like that. Maybe if there's a big Championship Nick All Star Brawl event happening at the same time as a Smash one, you're probably gonna go where the money is. I'm gonna keep it real: you do this for a living and you do this for a paycheck. So that's kind of the only thing where I think it would conflict.
Rated EE for cringe, real friends, and Beastcoast
You’ve been part of Beastcoast for a bit now? What do you ideally see from Beastcoast in the future as far as their place in the Smash scene?
Well, ideally, hopefully, Beastcoast frickin' listens to me and my friend when we tell them what player they need to pick up for Ultimate. [laughs] I mean, I'm just gonna keep it real. I love Beastcoast, they're great, but they are very slow to act sometimes on ideas and suggestions that I give as far as picking somebody up. And I get there's a lot of things behind that, of course, I'm not behind the scenes in all those meetings.
But no, being a part of the organization has been great, because they actually care, they're very responsive, very attentive, and they're just cool ass people. They legitimately enjoy Smash, they enjoy the fighting games. So yeah, I'm 1,000% in on Beastcoast, and as long as they say let me in some of those bigger meetings and start listening to my ideas we'll be just fine. I think we got two more years down the pipe. We got good longevity.
What do you think the biggest thing missing the community right now is?
Okay, so I think for me, I want there to be less clear bias, right? And this is mainly for online stuff. I don't care what anybody says. It's clear that if one person makes a mistake, they get dogpiled on. And I'm not talking about extreme mistakes, I'm talking about things like little shit. And another person does the same thing — missteps, misspeaks or whatever — and then the people who dogpile are actually friends with them, they'll just let it slide or whatever. No, if you're gonna hold someone accountable for some goofy shit, do the same to your friends. Keep everything balanced.
And maybe people could be less toxic. Let's just not blow everything out of frickin proportion. Everything doesn't need a goddamn Twitlonger. People just overreact to everything. It's actually very cringe and annoying. So that's what I would say. Maybe more forgiveness. I don't know, I don't know what word I'm looking for.
Where do we ideally see EE in five years?
Five years from now, I want to have my own esports team as a subsection of Beastcoast. That's what I want. My own esports team subsection at Beastcoast. And I want to have a million subscribers on YouTube, when I can find a way to consistently do the content I want to do. That's my goal,100%. And maybe have a kid because that'd be kind of cool.
What’s a personal lesson you think you’ve learned in the last few years others would benefit from?
Oh, easily: Keep your circle smaller than you might want to. Because I've had some "friends" who actually ended up being kind of grimelords that I don't really associate with anymore. And ever since I've limited who I consider a good, close, personal friend, life has been much better.
Put a lot of stock into a few people instead of spreading it all around. I think that's where it's at. You can have lots of friends, don't get it twisted, but not all your friends are in your circle. There's a difference between it. So know the difference, and you'll be just fine. That's what I've learned.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.