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Published March 30, 2020

It’s Week 3 of the International Melee Quarantine, but it hasn’t stopped the Melee community from dealing with the pandemic in a way that its members know how to do best: playing Melee. Like I wrote last week, this isn’t currently viable in person, so most of the competitors have shifted to playing Netplay.

Most notably last weekend, New Jersey Melee members Vestboy_Myst and DarkGenex, ran Quarantined Rapport, a Netplay edition of the Quarterly Rapport regional series. Ran specifically to raise money for the Direct Relief organization – which donates money to COVID-19 related causes – the tournament raised over $5,000.

As for results of the event, because it’s Netplay, there’s not many meaningful takeaways, but out of an obligation to fill this column out, I’ve written the results below.

1. Forrest
2. Rishi
3. Michael
4. Chem
5. Dom / PudgyPanda
7. Aklo / bobby big ballz
9. Swedish Delight / SluG / Smokey Bluntz / Slox
13. 2saint / Bones / Jflex / Free Palestine

Some interesting sets of the event include Forrest 3-0’ing Michael with Game & Watch, Aklo 3-1’ing Swedish Delight, Swedish Delight eliminating 2saint for 13th (2saint was DQ’d early), Dom 3-0’ing Aklo’s Fox and Link with Marth (along with 3-1’ing SluG), Warmmer 2-0’ing Michael in winners (though Warmmer finished in 17th place), and Chem’s run to fourth as the 16 seed, in which he beat Swedish Delight, Slox, and Dom.

For the next part of the column, I interviewed an old friend of mine and new Netplay TO: SaveAsUntitled.

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A rough transcript of what we have is written below, with my questions bolded.

So Save, when did you get the idea of a Netplay weekly?

It was a very an on a whim and out of nowhere kind of thing. I had planned my whole month ahead with the content pieces for the big weeks of events we were supposed to have for weeks straight before everything started getting canceled and I remember just feeling so defeated as the news kept coming in. Once I finally got over my wallowing, I was looking to put all of this new free time towards something and with the positive response this got, the answer became clear. Long story short: it just kind of came out of nowhere but felt like the logical progression – if they’re aren’t going to be any events, I’ll run my own.

What expectations did you initially have for running the Untitled series?

I just expected it to be a tiny 32 player event that would barely hit that player cap and whose attendees would mainly end up being people who follow my content closely. I expected to run the stream and TO all myself, so I didn’t want it to be too big anyway so I could still manage it, as I had experienced how much work TOing events could be from running IRL Smash events when I was still in college.

What’s different about running a Netplay event vs college one?

Well, the skill level of talent is very different. For the Melee events at my university (LaSalle), I was able to TO and win the tiny 10-person events, no problem. For the ultimate events which had a whole lot entrants, most of the players were still casuals. With Untitled, I’m not the only one running the event. Patti, Jean, and Axis mostly handle bracket management and the logistics; I run the stream, commentate, produce the event and handle its marketing side. I’m focusing on getting all of the puzzle pieces in place in the days before the event so that during it, I can solely focus on making the stream good, hoping that what I’ve set up will hold and the TOs will be able to deal with anything that happens.

What struggles or challenges have come up with the event?

The biggest issue I think is dealing with lag and all the issues around that, like DQ rules, what regions of players can enter, etc. I think events like these have to decide if that want to be a local or a regional; I’ve chosen the latter. The official rules as stated limit the event to regions classified as East Coast, with players closest to the event’s host getting the nod in cases of DQs. But these region guidelines aren’t strict if players are able to demonstrate their ability to have playable connections with competitors.

What goals do you have for the future of the series or your content?

We’re only 3 weeks into running the event so I’m focused on making Untitled as good as I can each week before I think big picture. Judging anything long term in the crazy times we’re in right now seems like a fool’s errand. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a handful of ideas bubbling around in my head for potential offshoots or higher stakes versions of the Untitled series – even IRL entries once everything blows over. Honestly I have no clue for what kind of content I’m still going to be able to make once I’m more settled in to running Untitled. That’s my top focus as of right now as a content creator and I’ll figure that out once I get there.

Do you think the series will stick around once the pandemic is over?

That’s also hard to judge as well and I really think depends on how long we don’t have IRL Melee events for. I know it is a cop out answer but my response is radically different if this lasts another month/4 months/until a vaccine is created. I’d love to keep it going, maybe even in the form of an IRL weekly in downtown Philly but I don’t want to waste my already strained mental bandwidth on something that is largely out of my control.

Any chance of a Crush, Druggedfox, Mew2King or Hungrybox appearance at an Untitled?

We’ve already had tons of incredibly talented players competing in just two weeks of running the event (lloD, Rishi, bobby big ballz, Michael, Polish, htwa, etc.) so I don’t think it would be too unreasonable to see one of them in the future.

Is there anything else you’d want to share or say for closing words?

That it’s okay for people to feel legitimately upset that their favorite hobbies are being shaken up by this global pandemic. Being disappointed that you don’t have Melee majors to watch on the weekends isn’t incompatible with caring about or acknowledging the serious global crisis that’s going on.

You can sign up for the next edition of the Untitled series here.

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