When it comes to Smash Bros., Beast Coast’s Mike Haze has been there and done that. A top-end Brawl player that transitioned to being one of Melee’s best Fox players, he has been a steady presence at big tournaments for years now.
With one of the biggest Smash tournaments of the year, GameTyrant Expo 2017, looming on the horizon, Haze took the time to talk with Inven Global about himself, GTX, and the Smash community as a whole.
How big is GTX for the Smash Bros. community? Big event, big prize pool, main event status?
GTX is looking to be one of the most stacked events of the year. If I'm not mistaken it has one of the biggest guaranteed prize pool in the history of Smash with $30,000 for each game. Competition wise, 23 of the Top 25 players will be in attendance making it a real top-heavy event for the open bracket.
▲Despite being one of the world’s most popular fighting games, Smash Bros.
Melee will not be a part of the upcoming Evo Japan tournament.
On the flipside, Evo Japan is one of the biggest tournaments scheduled at the moment and it is going to be a Melee-free affair. What are your thoughts on that?
It's definitely a shame that Evo Japan didn't have Melee included. Ultimately, it may have to do with Japan not having the same thriving Melee scene that other regions do. I and many others would have definitely made the trek though. Hopefully, we can be on that stage if Evo Japan returns next year.
The game included in Evo Japan that raised a lot of eyebrows (and, rightly or wrongly, was left holding the bag for Melee’s exclusion) is ARMS. That reopened the discussion on Nintendo’s handling of Smash as they seem to promote other titles over their best-positioned series. What’s your opinion on that topic and do you see anything changing at the moment or in the future?
All Smash players wish Nintendo would support and recognize the competitive Smash community. Nintendo publicly supporting the community would make the scene thrive but that's just not the case. At the same time that is what makes the Smash community so unique: we built the community from the ground up. I've been friends with lots of players for 10-plus years, spent days traveling and bonding with other competitors. You don't see that with most other communities. Our community is special in that way, to say the least.
▲The lack of support for competitive Smash Bros. by Nintendo has been a source of frustration for many pro players.
In that same vein, how do you think the Melee community as a whole is doing at the moment? Where do you think it’s going?
Melee viewership has been great for 2017 and attendance has generally been good for well-planned events. This year has had the most major events of any year prior so we're definitely going in a positive direction. To continue to grow we need to work together to bring more people out to events. Once people are there they always have a blast, but the hard part is getting Melee fans at events instead of just watching online.
Tournaments of any kind are always way more of an amazing experience in person, we just need to show that more.
How about the Melee meta? See any trends or shifts happening?
What is your dream for Smash Bros. as a whole?
My dream for the Smash community is to have as many people pursue careers within the community as possible. I've been blessed with the opportunity from Beast Coast and the Live Stream grind but not everybody is able to take the same leap that I did. Throughout the past few years, more opportunities to work within the community have come up through companies like Smash.gg, Wavedash Games, and even working production or running events. I would like to see that continue to grow.
What’s your dream for yourself, competitively?
I think the obvious answer here is to become the best player, but as I've grown my mentality the dream of becoming the best isn't as important. What's more important to me is being the best me that I can. I've spent more time recently focusing on mental clarity and overall health both in and out of the game. This will overall make me a better player long term.
The end goal of winning is still the same, but the route that I'm taking to get there isn't traditional.
Bringing it back, what’s your goal for GTX and what do you have planned after?
The grind never stops. I fly home the Monday after GTX then leave for Big House 7 in Detroit that Thursday. When I get back home I'll be focusing on campaigning for Smash Summit, then Too Hot To Handle in Miami towards the end of October. It'll be a stacked month but I look forward to it.