Terrence "TKbreezy" Kershaw has been at the forefront of some of the biggest events in Smash. As the winner of the Inven Global Awards' Best Ultimate Commentator, he has provided some of the most memorable casting at some of the biggest events in the game.
Inven Global had the chance to speak with TKbreezy, to discuss his thoughts on streaming, Smash Ultimate Summit 4, and Smash's removal from EVO.
An honest look at: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate casting
A while back you talked about how there isn’t as much socialization as you would like regarding your stream, and that you wanted to figure out ways to change that. Have you made progress there?
No, I haven't. As far as streamers go, the only people that can game are people that have been established as gamers for years. A lot of people are using Twitch now as TV and, because of that, you have to lean into that meta. That meta kind of sucks, because I don't stream to be watched. I stream because I want to interact with people. I want to have conversations. I want to talk to people that I would consider friends, cool fans, or whatever.
As the years have gone on, that has become less and less a thing as far as getting new viewers to participate and whatnot. Currently, I am just doing a bunch of react content, and that will get the chat going and stuff. But I don't genuinely like doing react content, because I want to spend that time playing games. That's why I started streaming in the first place.
But I've just kind of changed my schedule, where I just do four hours of react content, and then I get off and do whatever the hell I want with the rest of my day, without feeling bad about the fact that I streamed some game I was super hyped for and no one was in the chat.
That was what happened with Horizon Forbidden West. I'd been talking about that game since the literal inception of Zero Dawn. Half the people were like, "I plan to play it. So I don't want to watch." Which is understandable. But then the other half of people were just...there. It was low viewership days — no one's really talking. And maybe it's just not a game that you can talk about.
But I have been in other people's channels where they have been able to play games as such — RPGs, action games with a lot of story, whatever — and still have a lot of people talking. And I think that's just a community that's been built on that. And I f-cked up too early in my career because I didn't build my community on that.
I built my community as a Smash guy who liked to play Smash. And I still do, but I like to also play other games, but those people weren't there for that. And just honestly — not being able to handle trolls and just random internet people f-cking with you when I was younger, did not help either. So kind of missed opportunity, I guess.
How was someone like Ludwig able to make the transition to variety so successfully in your mind?
He could potentially just be a better entertainer, or he has a team. I don't have a team, it's just me. I don't have someone to go through my clips, pick the best one, and make a video out of it. I don't have a video editor. Pretty much almost all the people that I hire for things for my stream are freelance. I currently have a thumbnail guy and he's great, he's doing a good job. But I don't have the rest of the team — strategists or anything like that. All the ideas that I come up with are my ideas, and I sometimes just don't have the means to execute that stuff.
I don't make a crazy amount of money from streaming. The bigger chunk of my money is definitely commentary. And that sucks because I feel like streaming is more consistent. It's never really been an issue yet, but in the future, it could be. But just in general, I feel like that has always helped people get a little further — when they have less stress in the background.
You look back to when Nairo was on Twitch, and he blew up. And he has a really good personality for that as well. But he also had his brother doing all of the backend stuff. So all he had to do was get on stream and be himself. And I know that's gonna help you with your mental because obviously a lot of the backend stuff for streaming can be tedious, boring, or depressing. It can definitely wear down on you, so by the time you even think about streaming or whatever, you're probably not even in the same mindset that you were going to be in when you started.
I will never say that these bigger streamers don't deserve what they have because obviously, they did something very well to get to that point. But their life is little easier than those who are on the come up who don't have the money to be able to make decisions like, "I'm gonna hire this guy to do my videos for $100 a video", or "I'm gonna hire this guy to like be my community manager" and things like that. All those jobs, I'm supposed to do. Or outsource when I have enough money, and I don't normally get a chance to outsource as much as I would like.
I’ve talked with pretty much every major Ultimate commentator, and the consensus among all of you seems to be that you don’t want to do commentary that much longer. Which is weird, because I think it’s a respectable position, and in things like sports you see people casting for decades. Why do you think that’s the trend?
If we're talking specifically Smash, it's because the viewer base and player base — we don't connect with them. These are now sixteen to twenty-five-year-old kids that are normally the top players. Even in Melee, Zain and iBDW are in their early twenties — they're getting out of college. I'm 32. We have nothing to talk about. There's some that I do — I genuinely like talking to Marss and Light and stuff. But that's few and far between, as far as people that are much younger than me that I can vibe with.
Smash also just isn't really that lucrative. I've been commentating this game this long because it's fun, and I still like the game. But at some point in time, I should be getting paid more for what I provide. And I'm not going to tell TOs that, because there is no money there. So what happens is for most of us, I think it's just a passion project. And now we are getting to the age where we need to start having real stability. At any point in time, Smash could stop being a good game to host or watch, and then I'm out of a job. And that's all of us.
That's the bigger thing for me — I would love to commentate this game for as long as I feel like I enjoy watching it. But going to tournaments and then not really associating with anyone is just...I kind of go to the tournament, I get on the mic, I hang out with the other commentators, and that's it. Back in Smash 4 days, I would talk to the top players all the time. But now in Ultimate, the player base is much younger. And I don't have a reason to be associating with a sixteen-year-old, or anyone under the age of like twenty-three.
It kind of comes with the territory, which is also a big reason why I've been picking up games like Tekken and stuff, because I know that those people were closer to my age. Top Tekken players will be older than me. I don't really feel like there are any top players that are older than me in Ultimate.
An honest look at: Smash Ultimate Summit 4
What were your impressions of Summit?
I think this is probably my favorite Summit, but also I think they need to stop not using us in skits. No shade to the players, but a lot of them don't really have that type of personality. They're stoic, they're serious, they're quiet. It's hard to use those people in a skit when you have six obviously charismatic commentators. Why don't you use them in anything? I think the people they have used in these skits are great. Marss is good at what he does, Light's good, Maister's great, etc. But that's only a small fraction of the people that are there. In that vein, it sucks because I know I've asked, and the only skit that I've ever been in is one that I basically wrote. And that was cool.
But outside of the skit stuff, the Summit itself was dope. I think that there needs to be something done about tiebreakers. That ate up a lot of time. And it's too easy to get a tiebreaker if one person just happened to be playing badly that day or whatever. So I'd rather we just do head to heads or two up/two down or whatever. That would have saved us a lot of time. The side events were super fun as well. So outside of my skit stuff, I had a great time.
One of the biggest talking points of Summit was how long it ran for. What was your opinion of this, and what was it like behind the scenes?
It's tiebreakers and it's commercials. Whatever deal they have with Twitch, they just have to run too many commercials — sometimes it can be anywhere between three minutes to ten minutes. That's gonna cut a lot of time that could be used in another way. Setup can sometimes take a little bit. Wrangling top players can take a little bit. Squad Stike surprisingly took four hours.
So there are just a lot of working parts that could be refined. But as far as the commercial thing, I don't think that's ever going to change. Right now Amazon and Twitch are about trying to make as much money as possible. When you get a deal with them, normally there's a commercial thing that you have to abide by. I knew this from the VG days too, but they were a little less commercial heavy back in the days.
Twitch is only getting worse, to be honest. [laughs] I know that's part of the reason why things took kind of long. But, everything else I said was still a factor.
Was the criticism warranted?
As far as the commercials, we really can't do anything about that. That's at the hands of the corporation and not BTS. BTS didn't set out to just do a bunch of commercials. I'm sure they make good money from it, but that's still definitely a Twitch deal. On the other side of things, I think it is valid to have criticism over the tiebreakers. I know that's getting us more Smash, but it is also cutting away from some of the other things that people really like about Summit: Mafia, skits, etc.
Regardless of if you hate watching all of the other fun stuff, you can always just come back on Sunday. That's the day to watch Summit if you want just quality Smash all day. But there are people who really love seeing the top players, personalities, and things like that. And that's why I liked that "Can a Smasher Land a Plane" segment.
Not only did you see our personality on the couch and how we mesh with them, but you got to hear them speak to, and hear their jokes and how they are and stuff. And I feel like that helps with humanizing people which desperately needs to happen in this community. Because I feel like sometimes there is a level of celebrity, that I just don't believe we should be having as Smash players.
An honest look at: Nintendo getting involved in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate esports
Smash World Tour 2022 was announced. Of all the locations, where do you most want to head to?
I haven't been to any tournaments in Europe yet for Smash. I've been to Rotterdam for Brawlhalla, but not Smash. Probably Japan too. I went to Evo Japan, but it was during the one where they did it in Fukuoka. So I didn't get to go to Tokyo or anything like that. It was still a cool experience in Japan — everyone says Tokyo's a different experience, though. And probably anywhere in South America. I like the South American scene a lot. They are much more aggressive in general as far as gameplay across all the games that I've commentated. So definitely would like that.
Some of the biggest events like Riptide, Genesis, CEO declined to be part of the circuit. Why do you think that is?
I only think because they're probably with the Nintendo Circuit that Panda is doing. That's my only thought about that. There are three different conglomerates running around now: you have VGBootCamp with the World Tour, Panda with the Nintendo circuit that's been announced at least, and then we have BTS and Summits. So not everybody is willing to play nice, and that's okay. That's part of competition. But I feel like that's probably the biggest reason why they wouldn't be there is because they probably have some deal with Nintendo.
How will that go having those to circuits going head-to-head?
There was a time in Smash 4 when we had a real big issue with "Smash inflation." And I felt like that was messing up the attendances for tournaments because you had to pick. You were like, "I'm either gonna go to the east coast this weekend, or I'm going to the west coast this next weekend." And so it was basically cutting attendance in half from when we used to have one major a month when it became two or three majors a month. And not everybody can make three majors in a month, unless you're sponsored.
So that's going to hurt attendance when we would have like super majors basically, where it was like we had Genesis, Pound, Apex, and Big House. Those were the biggest tournaments, so everyone would go to all those tournaments. But now we have all those plus Mainstage, the Glitches, all the 2GG sagas. There's a lot of Smash to be had now so it's easier to be able to skip out on events. So I am a little afraid about that. But who knows if I'm being afraid for a good reason.
What were your impressions of Nintendo preventing Smash from being at Evo?
I am so disinterested in ever being upset about any of this stuff. Because first of all, it's two warring kingdoms, basically. You have Sony, you have Nintendo. Just off of the fact that Sony bought Evo, I already expected it not to be there.
Second, we don't actually need Evo. We have our own Super Bowls. We have way big tournaments for Smash that will get big views that Evo will get normally too for Smash. But then, at the same time, we can stop also complaining about Evo because everyone's always complaining about how it's two out of three until like top eight or top three or whatever.
And then people at Evo are complaining that Smash is taking too long because Smash is a very long game in comparison to other fighting games. To me it feels more like a win, to be honest. It sucks, I know that's Nintendo doing Nintendo things — but I would rather we focus on making our events the best they can be, and running them the way that y'all want instead of going to an event because of the prestige, but then complaining the whole time because it's not running the way you want it to run.
An honest look at: the Multiverse after Nickelodeon was a letdown
You mentioned at the time that the removal hopefully opens something up for Multiversus — do you have a good amount of faith that it can be a sustainable game?
I've only seen like a piece of it and unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to play it because the same week that I got the invite I was at Summit. I'm interested in it. I don't think anything's ever really gonna be able to beat Smash as a platform fighter, but you definitely have stuff alongside Smash. And there are some things that do it. Even though Smash players won't recognize it, Brawlhalla is killing it. Rivals has been doing well and a decent amount of Smashers have taken a liking to that. So I don't see why, if Multiversus is polished, why it wouldn't be able to get some shine as well.
Nick All-Star Brawl was a game that was hyped by a lot of players, but has sunk in popularity. What do you think the problem with All-Star Brawl was?
I like the game, but the game does kind of suck — as far as from a presentation standpoint. No voice acting, bland stages, bland character designs sometimes. Does it work as a platform fighter? Yeah, the game is fun. I'll play Korra — she did a bunch of cool combos, it's super fun. But when you look at it, it's not an attractive game. It doesn't stand up well to other platform fighters next to it on any level of polish. And so I know that eventually is going to get people out of it.
Then it also suffers that same issue that most platform fighters suffer: you can't be a casual. You can't just turn that game on and have fun, because literally everybody on there has been practicing. Same thing with Rushdown Revolt and Rivals. The only game that you can still be a casual win basically is Brawlhalla, because it's free to play and there's always going to be some scrubs playing. But you don't have that in the more technical-heavy games.
Plus, they didn't fix things fast enough, because it had a lot of cheese and a lot of jank early on, and they just didn't fix it fast enough. So I think a lot of people got tired of being janked and cheese. And even though you may have fixed it now, it's almost too late.
Why will Multiversus be different?
It looks like it at the very least. There's voice acting, there are good animations. I do think that it looks a little too zoomed out for me, but I haven't got a chance to play it yet. So we'll have to see when I actually get a chance to play it. But definitely starting off with a higher polish than Nick All-Star Brawl, for sure.
An honest look at: The current state of the Smash community and TKbreezy's place in it
What is something you would like to see in the Smash community improve that isn’t right now?
Just in general, I feel like attitude. There's too much complaining, man. It doesn't register to me — and maybe it's because I'm just not a player anymore. I still enter tournaments, but if I win or lose, I'm just trying to have some fun. But I can't sit and complain about a game that I spent this much time on. If I complain about that much, just stop playing. So that needs to go.
And I think complaining is somehow been seen as cool. Like, "Oh yeah, man, I hate that too." It's not cool. It's annoying, but that's just how negativity works. People love to gravitate toward negativity than positivity.
But I don't even think that's a Smash-exclusive that's really just a worldview that is kind of put under a microscope in Smash. Because this is where I'm at around the most. So yeah, just some more positivity about the game. It's not perfect, but it's a wonderful game. Even if you didn't buy the DLC — for $60, you got your $60 worth. If you actually do more than just playing competitively, or if you actually decide to play more than just one character or whatever.
We can leave off with a question directed more towards you. This can be professional or personal. What do you think you need to work on? What’s the biggest goal for TK in 2022?
I don't know, man, I just feel pretty discouraged in life. I don't feel like I have a goal that I'm working toward. This is just honest to god true. For anybody who is reading this: I feel somewhat defeated right now, just kind of in life. So I'm kind of aimlessly wandering until I figure out what I want to do next. It would be great to be a bigger streamer. That's probably not going to happen.
I'm looking into trying to get a job on the industry side of things, but I'm not looking super hard. Because I'm not broke, and I'm not struggling. I'm not like well-off, though. I pay my bills, I have a little extra money. That's great. But I would like to be able to make bigger moves and stuff like that in the future.
Just as of right now though, I don't have the mental capacity to be looking into stuff. I feel like my luck is just bad right now. It feels like so much stuff is just always working against me. And I need time to I guess reset or something before I think about what my next move is.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.