The fashion mogul, Mr. Cool Guy himself, Rod "RodTheDutch" Conyers opened up in an interview with Inven Global's Nico Smith.. Well known for his flair when it comes to his clothing choice, his deep sneaker closet, and his on-point poise and top-tier commentary, Rod decided to unchain himself. He holds nothing back in this exclusive interview.
Talk to me about the current state of Smash.
That’s a broad question, but one that needs to be answered. I'll be honest Nico, there is a lot of stuff we’ve asked for over the last ten years. We have gotten support from Nintendo, and other organizations have gotten involved with Cup O’ Noodles and Progressive. It feels good as a grassroots community, that these organizations that have nothing to do with games have gotten involved. The right players are getting sponsored. The community had a running joke about Envy | Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallet not being sponsored, and how it was a crime. But all is right in the world now that he’s been picked up.
Back in Smash 4, we saw organizations and tournaments getting involved with the smash scene for the wrong reasons. They wanted to be the end-all, be-all for the community. But we have to understand that where we were all those years versus now is different. The average player is coming to tournaments to be involved in the lore of the scene. They want to be in the room when the magic happens, see the Mang0, Hbox, Mkleo, and Nairo’s do the impossible. I would tell any organizations that if you want to successfuly win over the community, get involved with the community and not the pot bonuses. Dumping all that money into a pot that only a few players realistically have a chance at, doesn’t do it. Do less pot bonuses, and more things that benefit the community. Make sure the community knows that you care. We survived a decade plus with no support or pot bonuses. We look for TO’s that are trustworthy, organizations that are trustworthy, and folks who will treat us right. Those organizations who have successfuly done that know who they are, just like the ones who didn't do. Some organizations came through, dumped all that money, and then dipped because it didn't work right. What happened to going back to the drawing board, and trying to get right and fix it?
GTX showed up to Combo Breaker and EVO, getting to know the community, and building a real, authentic, relationship. Where I’m at, where you are in esports writing now, it wasn’t because what we had. You built a relationship with people, I built relationships with people, and it led to opportunites. I’m not going to just trust your money.
What do you think of the current dominance of FOX | Mkleo?
Leonardo "Mkleo" Perez is one of the prolific smash players - and that's because what he’s done for his family back home aside from what he has done as a competitor. What he’s done has made him into one of the best SMASH players, not just best smash 4 or Ultimate players. He’s the ultimate come-up story. He came from nothing, grinding and practicing his a** off, to being the best. He did it the old-school way. He came to UGC where he lost to Orion "Darkshad" Wolf, and didn’t finish that well. The next weekend was Detroit Showdown, and he dominated. Like, bro…..he gave BC | Ramin "Mr. R" Delshad an a** whooping. Like “I'm going to throw you over my knee and spank you” a** whooping, and that's what truly started his run. He went and won Tempo Storm | Gonzalos "ZeRo" Barrios Saga, then Genesis 4. At that point we all knew the run of dominance had begun. West Coast tournaments must feel like hometurf for Mkleo. He had always been deadly in Mexico, but when this young man started coming to the states consistently, he was a different beast. If you were to ask me, the Smash 4 Holy trinity was ZeRo, Mkleo, and NRG | Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada. We knew Marth was lethal when spaced and used correctly, but in Mkleo's hands it was surgical. And lets not forget about the world record holder ZeRo. What he did to the Smash 4 scene was unheard of. Like him being upset was the biggest news. I remember seeing how much the room exploded at TBH5 after ZeRo lost to Joesph "Seagull Joe" Raucher. He went ultra instinct. I was at TBH5 just because that weekend, wasn't working it or anything and was right there when that upset happened. That was my first time seeing ZeRo just stand up in the face of adversity. That losers run he made remains legendary, culiminating in that reset over Nairo and the TBH5 title.
What do you think is the best way to attract a team?
You have to offer more than just wins. T1 | Jason "ANTi" Bates and PG | Eric "esam" Lew are the embodiment of what to do. Add ZeRo and Nairo as well to that group. They do content creation outside of competing and getting results, plus they have personalities. This creates brands that they can continue to build, so the sponsorship lasts past results and competition. If you want to make this a forever thing, you have to have more to you than the standard smasher.
Rant on commentary for me.
I’m going to go all in. There's no point in tiptoeing around it. Commentary is nothing but a popularity contest. Not taking away credit from the commentary greats, but I stand by what I said. At one point it was about skill, but now it’s transferred into personality and making the chat laugh. The people don't want breakdowns and analysis as much now, they want popularity. Commentary is show business and you have to market yourself, and I understand that.
Before I got into commentary, I watched the greats and how they brought their stuff to the table. For example: Michael Jackson. He took from James Brown and Fred Estaire and added his own flavor to what they did. So I did the same. I have long natural hair, so I let it go. I get more dressy than the average commentator. I like to play dress up and experiment with different looks and see how the audience responds. I wear Akuma prayer beads (for turbulence on flights).
I put out a commentary thread, about how to get involved and into the smash commentary scene: RodTheDutch's Commentary Tips. It wasnt until around the summer tourneys that I realized it’s a different meta now than when I made the thread. You can look good and sound good, but the TO’s are looking for clout when it comes to the commentary for top eight. People who will tweet out their stream with thousands of followers. It really hurts us as commentators, that our relationship with TO’s aren't as solid. You ask about a commentary block and they say “Nah, we bringing so-and-so with the followers and clout." Don’t put on the commentary forms "what did you commentate at" when you really just want to see who has the most clout. If you want real breakdown and analysis plus commentary, get us then. Don’t get the person with clout who doesn’t know the game, and can't even talk about it. TO's are looking for guest commentators with clout. We are on streams as free plugs for these events, to direct the people to your product, using our skills to bring people into new horizons. There is a diversity quota when it comes to commentary too, a certain number of black guys, women, minorities etc that can determine who commentates with what organization.
A lot of times we have been mistreated. There are events that promise to bring us back the next year, and they never reach out. Maybe they didn’t pay you properly. But the biggest thing is they never right the situation. A lot of us do this full-time. We deserve to be compensated fairly. We’d like to hash it out like adults. Just be honest with us.
When it comes to bullying, your name, your twitter handle, and your gamer tag is on stream in front of tens to hundreds of thousands of viewers. People get bullied man. I been called the n word, all types of stuff. I get it comes with the territory, but still it’s out of control. I don’t like commentators being memed. Look at Smash N’ Splash 5. Some YouTuber decided to make a tier list of commentators. Me personally I ain't think the s*** was king funny at all. Granted, people always have ranked people, but that’s still a form of bullying. I don’t give a s*** about your tier list. If nobody else is going to speak on it, I will. A lot of people let organizations talk to them any kind of way, and I’m getting vocal about it. I’m not with Nintendo or some brand or organization that I have to bite my tongue for. I think top players and TO’s don't have to. They get to say whatever they want and state their opinions, so why can't commentators? When I see people say s*** or bully my friends who commentate full time, I speak on it. That YouTuber thought it was the funniest s*** ever. I’m not the type to subtweet, or any of that, so I directly @’d him. I jumped straight into his mentions because I’m direct. Threads and stuff are just tools for people to spew negativity. So I put out some tweets. I was raised differently, I check all energy in person.
f you wanna give feedback DM or pull us off to the side at a major and chat with us, because when you open the floor On Twitter it just gives anime accounts the luxury of crapping on us. I’ve seen friends called all sorts of names and belittled on tier lists and feedback threads. A lot of people know this and still don’t care which is what makes me upset. But of course, people took my frustration for the tier listing as “oh he’s mad about his low ranking” hahaha. Son..I’ve literally worked every major under the sun for Smash. I don’t care if I was S-Tier.If you don’t like the commentary or feel so strongly about it either mute us, start commentating to prove that you can do better, or reach out. Simple.
Commentary is just a popularity contest. Some can say stuff others can’t. Some commentators don’t break down or can’t and only bring hype. If two commentators sounded the same it would be a problem. I want everyone to sound different. I can’t say the same for other esports. I know in Smash and the FGC, you know a voice when you hear 'em. I was denied EVO my first time applying after my first year of commentary. I did CEO top eight, canada cup top eight, combo breaker top eight, and more. I still was denied. So I went back and worked harder. I can only support my friends. There’s been a lot of undercutting in commentary. I get it, it's business. But a lot of business isn’t fair. I’m sure our favorite businesses were shady for a while to get to their current stature. But people know who the top commentators are, these set guys you’ll see most weekends. Some new blood has come in to use the powers that be, to upset the game. The game is watered down. There are newer commentators who have powers and influence in other areas, using that power to put TO’s in a precarious position: Do I have the best commentators on my stream, or do I have what’s financially best for my stream. Regional commentary organizers, have commentators who never have done anything big on top eights. There are commentators are on tri-casts who have no business on the air in a top eight. That doesn’t work outside a few select commentators. Come into the game gracefully. Don’t do it that way. No commentator in this current meta of Ultimate should be in contention for a top eight if you haven’t worked EVO or Genesis. Don’t even reach out for a top eight. If you haven’t done those two you shouldn’t even apply for top eight. Those are the two pinnacles of smash. Someone being a fan of your work is just that. A TO being a fan of your work is just them being a fan of your work. Not a guarantee or ride into top eight. Just cause I'm a fan of your mixtape doesn’t mean I'm going to sign you.
What inspires your fashion choices, and how do you think fashion is in esports?
Drew Face, my best friend, Drew Face is an actor on this canadian show, SQUAD. He’s a FGC commentator who can dress. Justin Wong can dress, the FGC is just the best in terms of fashion. We see older people in FGC, while smash is just the youngest community, so folks don’t care about presentation and how they look. When it comes to Smash commentary, I feel I'm the freshest. D'Ron "D1" Maingrette is the epitome of snazzy and dressy though. Like dude can dress. He's always crisp. Ladies, you can bring D1 to home to your folks.
Jordan "Virum" Campbell does it well too. Me personally, I’ve always been into fashion. Here back at home I host sneaker conventions and more. I try to see what works aesthetically and what doesn’t. I’m a tall guy, so I wish some things looked okay on me. I can get eccentric on the mic when it comes to my look.
I like my aviator shades, a turtle neck, I love my hair, and sometimes I have on a beret. Sometimes I wear trench coats, and I almost always keep a floral print shirt on. Why not show the people there are more parts to you outside of commentary? If we all dress the same and look the same, the commentators would be like a bunch of Agent Smiths. I like to think my dressing on the mic, got other commentators to up the ante and embrace their own style. There's nothing wrong with pushing the envelope. Explore a little more. When it comes to fashion in esports, Spiff Space, The 50/50, Meta Threads, UYU,and Gaming Gen with bombers at combo breaker have been killing it. Team Neon Black with the hockey jerseys also caught my eye. Fashion in esports shows that we aren’t just gamers. Commentators follow fashion too, and organizations are seeing that. First impressions are so important. Sometimes I saw you in a picture, a video, and felt like I met you then. I decided I didn’t like or I did like you based off of that. Look at your favorite celebrity. They are always dressed up. When I leave for commentary or an event, I want to look damn good.