Smash Bowl MMXXI, an event put together by Gridiron Gaming, sports a large stack of sixteen rulesets. Quite a few of these will see in play over the three-month-long tournament. Justin "paperfairy" Mills was one of the key individuals in drafting the ruleset and the general format seen in the event. If you want to know more about Smash Bowl MMXXI, we invite you to check out our initial piece on the event.
We sat down with Justin as the event was about to start to get more information on how he helped developed the tournament alongside Andrew “PracticalTAS” Nestico, Kyle “Grayola” Gray, and Ryan “L4st” Krichbaum.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity – Originally conducted from October 24th to the 29th 2020.
Sebastian Quintanilla: How did you come up with this format for the event?
Paperfairy: The event format itself was inspired by the Global Starcraft League, which I was watching when Thunder first approached me. I loved that the format makes players think about the competition as a whole, rather than getting tunnel vision on each of the matches. Who you play in a tournament matters so much, and the ability to influence that adds another layer of complexity to the game.
Regarding the rulesets, in trying to craft a unique format, I’m trying to play to the strengths of Smash Ultimate while also being mindful of the challenges of Ultimate’s online play. Smash Ultimate has so much content that most people never get to see, due to the nature of standard competitive play. By highlighting that content I’m hoping people will be more interested to tune in to our tournament.
We’re also aware of the challenges of Ultimate’s online experience and the reception of high stakes, competitive events in the age of online tournaments. By introducing a competition that won’t have bearing on rankings, or impact the zeitgeist of competitive play, we’re hoping players will have more fun, without the high stakes pressure of a typical tournament.
Andrew Kennedy from Thunder Studios said you brought in Andrew “PracticalTAS” Nestico, Kyle “Grayola” Gray, and Ryan “L4st” Krichbaum to help out getting it done, why these people?
PracticalTAS has a proven track record of looking at existing systems and leveraging his analytical skills and deep knowledge of the community. Given that I was building something entirely new, it seemed logical that I would tap somebody with those skills in order to best refine my creation.
Grayola is an up-and-coming organizer with whom I’ve worked in the past. Like me, he cares a lot about the player experience, and I knew that I would need help, so it felt like an obvious pick. Grayola also has a ton of knowledge regarding the game, which has been super helpful.
L4st is the director of Hungrybox’s “The Box” series and has a lot of experience working directly with top players in the Ultimate community. I wanted to work with somebody who already had those connections, and he’s proven invaluable on that front so far.
How did they help you get the format finished and ready for the event?
Loved the “Switch” To Rivals ruleset, any players from the 32 that you think might be well suited for it?
If memory serves, Aaron, Sparg0, Epic_Gabriel, ESAM, and Marss have all expressed some level of interest in the game.
Which ruleset is your personal favorite?
It would definitely be Nearly Legal. Everybody knows that the competitive Smash community has a reputation for flagging most new content as unsuitable for competitive play. While this is understandable, it is sometimes disappointing, and so it will be exciting to see previously flagged content finally get its time in the limelight.
What do you think about Gridiron Gaming in general?
It’s a super interesting initiative! We’ve seen with the success of Le’Veon Bell and Hungrybox that there is some sort of cross-promotion between physical sports and esports, so any programs to help continue exploring that is super exciting to me.
There are a lot of great things to look forward to in the Smash Bowl every weekend. And the rulesets might be chief among them. We already had a small taste of just how fun random can be this past Sunday. If you liked this interview, you might also enjoy our previous interview with the PFRPA and Thunder Studios. Get a closer look at how an initiative like Gridiron Gaming gets started.
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