A guide to becoming a competitive Smash 4 player!

Joined
May 22, 2006
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#1
So you want to be part of the Smash scene? Great! There is nothing that would make us old smashers happier than to make Smash 4 the biggest competitive scene we've ever had and put Smash on the map. With the 3DS release around the corner its time to start thinking about how to do it. Here's a quick guide on how to get started using available resources like Smashboards here. Note these are not in order! I highly suggest you do all of these at the same time for the best success.

Want to know how I did it? I shared my own story in the second post here.
If anyone thinks I'm missing a point or a useful website, share it in the thread and I'll add it to the OP!


#1 Choose your main

The first thing on everyone's mind is choosing a competitive main. The TL;DR of the thread is that there are three criteria to choosing a main: 1. Fits your playstyle, 2. Actually like as a character, and 3. You win with.

You don't need to think too hard on this step though because you can always change your main as you get better at Smash. Your old main will always make a solid second.


#2 Find or Make a scene

Competitive Smash Bros started as grassroots and it shows in how we get together. The biggest hurdle to becoming a competitive smasher is finding your local scene. Look for the thread for your state in Regional Zones or go to Facebook and search for the group nearest to you (i.e. "Arizona Smash 4" or "Michigan Smash 4" are the names of groups I'm in). Find some people near where you live and start hanging out with them. A lot. The secret to success in competitive Smash is play, play, play. Play with people around you constantly and help get each other better as players. These are your training partners. Tell them how you are beating them or areas they could improve and they'll do the same for you. Be each other's rival and play as often as you can.

Is there no scene around you? Play online! Resources like SmashLadder (new site by famed Pikachu player, Anther) or Nintendo Dojo or r/smashconnect can help you find other online warriors. Players who are probably much better than matchmaking could find for you. There is always a way to get good at competitive Smash Bros.

Or you can even make a scene where you are. Find one or two like-minded people and train with them. Get better and better then travel to tournaments and start placing in them. If you keep at it, you'll find people that will be willing to join your scene. You could help grow competitive Smash in areas where there never has had much activity as long as you have a passion for Smash.


#3 Attend tournaments

Part of playing is having somewhere to show off your achievements and test in the field. Play in as many tournaments as you can. These will be like your hyperbolic time chambers in the beginning, and you'll often see yourself jumping in skill level as you attend more. Find them in the Tournament Listings, on your Facebook groups, or on All is Brawl.

You won't do well your first few tournaments if you are going where the best players will be. Keep going to those tournaments. Continue to challenge yourself against the best and you'll start to do better. Play tons of friendlies before or after the tournament against people you lose to and keep trying to beat them. Becoming a solid competitive player doesn't happen overnight. It takes perseverance to start placing well. It can take months to really make a dent in your placings early in the game's lifespan because everyone else is getting better too. But keep at it. Keep playing. You'll start climbing the ranks after you put your time in.


#4 Be part of your community

Share your thoughts, smack talk your new friends, and start learning about the people around you. Post often in your Smash group on Facebook. Become a regular on the character board for your main. Make your new home the thread for your state in the Regional Zones.

Being a part of the community for your region and state makes going to tournaments feel like seeing friends more than just playing Smash.


#5 Learn about the game

There is a LOT of information about Smash Bros. Can you B reverse or wavebounce your specials? Did you know Ness can PK thunder twice if he hits the wall? Do you even know what your opponent's custom move does? Have you heard of the Rage Effect or Vectoring (whatever we're calling it now)?

Learn about Smash. Use your resources. The character boards contain a lot of information. The new Smash Academy board is bursting with great info. General boards like this one will often contain threads with compiled info you can look over.

Keep up to date with discoveries and you'll start to learn the nuances that make Smash such a deep game. You don't need to memorize frame data (unless you want to be Mew2king) but you'll never know when an obscure factoid about the game can save your butt in a tournament match.


#6 Don't give up

You're going to lose. A lot. Best thing to get better is to lose to people more experienced or skilled than you.

Don't get discouraged. Don't stop going to tournaments. It will get better as long as you keep playing. Your tournament jitters will fade over time and you'll stop being as star-struck playing against the best players of your region. It takes time and effort but you can do it. We all did.


Its really that simple. Follow these steps and you can be part of our world. Who knows? Someday you could be the next ZeRo, Armada, or Mew2king. You just need to try.

TL;DR Smash Bros is more than just a game. Its a community, an experience, and a journey. Give it a try and you'll love every step of it.
 
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Joined
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#2
When I first joined the Brawl scene I was a complete unknown in the scene who just found out that my local university holds regular Smash tournaments which I had never heard of before. When I started, I would place near the bottom of every tournament I went to. Pretty early on I was able to meet the "big names" of the Michigan scene at the time like Anther, Lain, Needle of Juntah, Omniswell and others. They destroyed me. The first time I played against Lain, he turned to the person next to him and bet him a dollar that he could beat me with Dedede's down B. He won the dollar.

I didn't let that stop me though. I was determined to become good at Brawl. I kept playing at these tournaments, and I would seek out the players I would lose to all the time, the top players were always willing to beat me into the ground. I played a ton of friendlies with them between matches or before/after tournaments. We got to know each other and I was one of the familiar faces they would see at tournaments. They would start coming to me to play because after a while we actually became friends.

I invited them over to my place for Smashfests where we would just play Smash for hours and hours together. My apartment that I shared with another fellow Smasher became the hub for the Michigan community to gather. I had an open door policy so people would come whenever they wanted to play Smash, and the best in Michigan got even better. Whenever I wasn't in class, doing homework, or studying for a test I was usually playing Smash with someone at my place.

By playing against each other constantly we became better and better. I started placing higher every tournament. I went from a nobody that would get so nervous that my hands would shake and I would sweat, to the 5th ranked in Michigan. I placed top 10 at Midwest tournaments and could keep up with some of the best players in the country. Almost every weekend we would pack the car with the best of Michigan and we would roadtrip across states to play in tournaments all over. A 4-5 hour drive in the car listening to Be A Man on repeat was part of the experience. We even liked each other enough to drive 14 hours to New Jersey for the first big Apex.

I've hung out with and played the biggest names in the Smash scene. I've driven around Mew2king, taken games off of ADHD, won a 1v2 against Ninjalink and Boss, and much much more. But Smash isn't just about playing the game. I've helped run tournaments with Chibosempai, commentated some of the most hype matches of my time, and spent nearly 2 years being called Panda more than my real name.

My time in competitive Smash is still one of the highlights of my entire life. Being part of this amazing community is something I've carried with me even when I quit so I could move forward in real life. I don't regret a single moment with these amazing people.

Smash 4 has reignited my passion for this scene and I can't wait to start going to tournaments again. I hope I'll see a few of your fresh faces at my local tournament scene!
 
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HAEJIN

Smash Apprentice
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#4
I honestly tried joining Smash competitively, it's a really receptive scene to new people, but here at where I live (we do have a pretty big smash scene, around 50 players playing constantly in tourneys) the scene is REALLY douchebaggery, they don't care at all to new people and are just plain disrespectful, I mean, it's not even trashtalking, it's just plain disrespect. And the major heads of the scene (with the exception of one or two) are really scumbags and pretty much tells you to "go f*ck yourself" if you try to talk to them or something. Really close-minded people and because of that I've pretty much abandoned the competitive scenario, but the scene seems really chill and receptive to the new members in the USA, if I get a chance to go to USA I will no doubt be trying to attend to a tourney or two, even if that I don't play smash competitively anymore.
 
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Joined
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#6
I honestly tried joining Smash competitively, it's a really receptive scene to new people, but here at where I live (we do have a pretty big smash scene, around 50 players playing constantly in tourneys) the scene is REALLY douchebaggery, they don't care at all to new people and are just plain disrespectful, I mean, it's not even trashtalking, it's just plain disrespect. And the major heads of the scene (with the exception of one or two) are really scumbags and pretty much tells you to "go f*ck yourself" if you try to talk to them or something. Really close-minded people and because of that I've pretty much abandoned the competitive scenario, but the scene seems really chill and receptive to the new members in the USA, if I get a chance to go to USA I will no doubt be trying to attend to a tourney or two, even if that I don't play smash competitively anymore.
Try your local scene again for Smash 4. I'm willing to bet that with a new game they'll be way more receptive to new people!
 

Nintendrone

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#7
Thank you for this. I intend to go to tournaments for Smash 4, and maybe have an opportunity to make a name for myself, as stiff as the competition is in Florida.

My skill in previous Smashes capped because my friends aren't as invested in the game and I don't need to improve to beat lower-skilled players. With my Smashboards account and better online in Smash 4, finding good players will be easier than ever. Let's hope I have the free time to compete.
 

Oatkeeper

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#8
I live in a relatively remote area of Scotland so I am the competitive community where I live. I have friends that enjoy playing it but I don't think they really care for the intricacies and nuances.
 

Noa.

Smash Master
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#9
Thank you for this. I intend to go to tournaments for Smash 4, and maybe have an opportunity to make a name for myself, as stiff as the competition is in Florida.

My skill in previous Smashes capped because my friends aren't as invested in the game and I don't need to improve to beat lower-skilled players. With my Smashboards account and better online in Smash 4, finding good players will be easier than ever. Let's hope I have the free time to compete.
Florida is a very active region. There are players all over the place.
 
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#10
I used to play just friendlies against siblings and friends, so i never got real competitive, but i knew that scene existed. Now that I'm older I'm Curious about the scene in TX? DFW area if that helps.
 

BRoomer
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#13
Sometime when there isn't a scene you have to make one. I went to a school for making video games and no one there knew about the competetive community. SO I got a group together and we started playing. Dome people din't want to play the way we did (or couldn't invest the time we could) but our little group grew and eventually connected with other groups.

Also Hi @ Noa. Noa.
 

Noa.

Smash Master
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#14
Sometime when there isn't a scene you have to make one. I went to a school for making video games and no one there knew about the competetive community. SO I got a group together and we started playing. Dome people din't want to play the way we did (or couldn't invest the time we could) but our little group grew and eventually connected with other groups.

Also Hi @ Noa. Noa.
Hey Lessthanthree. Are you going to main Palutena or Sheik in smash 4 lol?
 

Opana

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#16
I likely won't be a tourney goer, but I'll try and dominate online at least.

Good read.
 

WritersBlah

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#17
Florida is a very active region. There are players all over the place.
Mainly from central Florida on up. South Florida has a lot of competitive players, but the issue is we're all really spread out. Drives that can last 20-30 minutes are regular in the area, and considering I don't have a car, my only competition consists of my university mates, who, to be honest, are probably going to be a good starting point for me.
 
Joined
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#19
Hey Samurai, nice to see you're still active in smash. I remember you from the old smyn days.
*hat tip*

I actually left the scene like 4-5 years ago to go to med school. But now that I'm done and Smash 4 is coming out, I started getting more active again lol. Its always nice to see someone that used to listen to SMYN after all these years! Great memories there :)
 
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#20
Great Guide, totally gonna use this fo my competitive journey. If only it would be of use to my cousins though (who haven't even mastered the basic controls in any of the games).
 
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#22
Mew2King, Mang0, Armada, Hungrybox, CT ZEro, etc...... How do these guys make cool gamertags for themselves? Not exactly important, but I went to at least tourneys now and I still can't think of anything good and I got another one tomorrow.

Any advice you guys have on making a catchy gamertag? How do you guys do it? I need one right before tomorrow.
 

ChooChoo

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#23
Sadly, Smash in my area is almost dead as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think my level is enough to start playing against most people here without being beaten miserably. The few posts in the Regional Area forum seem to be inactive. Everything's against me! Anyway, it was an encouraging read!
Mew2King, Mang0, Armada, Hungrybox, CT ZEro, etc...... How do these guys make cool gamertags for themselves? Not exactly important, but I went to at least tourneys now and I still can't think of anything good and I got another one tomorrow.

Any advice you guys have on making a catchy gamertag? How do you guys do it? I need one right before tomorrow.
It's all about perspective here. Using a Pokémon, a fruit or a number as your tag isn't that impressive. It's how you defend it that makes it worthy! Despite that, you can see a pattern of rather simplistic names there, so maybe that's the way to go? Anyway, good luck, whatever name you come up with!
EDIT: given your name, with a little twist it becomes PK Kong. Use Donkey/Diddy Kong sporting Ness' shirt as your avatar, make some merchandising and enjoy your new millionaire life.
 
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#25
Sadly, Smash in my area is almost dead as far as I'm concerned, and I don't think my level is enough to start playing against most people here without being beaten miserably. The few posts in the Regional Area forum seem to be inactive. Everything's against me! Anyway, it was an encouraging read!


It's all about perspective here. Using a Pokémon, a fruit or a number as your tag isn't that impressive. It's how you defend it that makes it worthy! Despite that, you can see a pattern of rather simplistic names there, so maybe that's the way to go? Anyway, good luck, whatever name you come up with!
EDIT: given your name, with a little twist it becomes PK Kong. Use Donkey/Diddy Kong sporting Ness' shirt as your avatar, make some merchandising and enjoy your new millionaire life.
You're right, it really is about perspective and how you defend your tag. I hate my Smashboards name and I barely remember why I used it, but PK Kong's not a bad idea! To make it easier though, I did find something good from one of my favorite games: Vampire Savior

I think I should use the word Savior in the 2nd part of my gamertag, but I still gotta come up another cool word to use.
 
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#26
Mew2King, Mang0, Armada, Hungrybox, CT ZEro, etc...... How do these guys make cool gamertags for themselves? Not exactly important, but I went to at least tourneys now and I still can't think of anything good and I got another one tomorrow.

Any advice you guys have on making a catchy gamertag? How do you guys do it?
EDIT: given your name, with a little twist it becomes PK Kong. Use Donkey/Diddy Kong sporting Ness' shirt as your avatar, make some merchandising and enjoy your new millionaire life.
... I'd totally buy that shirt. :ohwell:

Yeah though, this is like the -one- thing sort of holding me back from a complete jump. My only previous name was "Black Dr. Mario" (BDM for the Melee tag), which came from my love of the black color scheme for Dr. Mario... but people assumed it was a Dr. Mario who was African-American, hah hah. My current name SmashBroPlusB was basically me trying to come up with a "real" internet handle that wasn't complete garbage and didn't have X's or numbers littered through it. (Even at a young age, I knew better than to use something like fireblaster2258.) I liked how the special moves in Smash were comprised of a single button, B, and tilting the Control Stick in a single direction. They were easy to use and didn't require memorizing command lists, and special moves across different characters were sometimes widely varied and completely differed in function and properties. So yeah... I'm a "Smash bro" who likes the B Button. SmashBroPlusB. ... ... Pretty much.

Of course, it's been years since I started using this handle and I'm pretty cemented into it, but I obviously can't go to a Smash Bros. tournament and expect everyone to call me SmashBro. The poor announcers would confuse everyone out of their skulls! I've been considering "B Button" or something similar in the tourney scene, then continuing to use SmashBroPlusB on the virtual waves... though that almost sounds more ridiculous.

One other thing to note is how seemingly barren the Regional Zones subforum is. I heard other users touting how active the central Florida scene for Smash Bros. is, but most of the threads are either outdated or pertain to PM/Brawl (or both). I'm trying to get my feet wet so to speak, but I'm having a fair bit of difficulty doing so. Any tips or advice on the matter of finding complete strangers to share a game of Smash 4 with would be fairly appreciated!
 

Minuy600

Smash Apprentice
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#27
Thanks for the advice! I keep losing in 1v1's so it might just help to train more against better players. Time to get extremely frustrated!
 
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#28
I practice ATs and stuff a lot so I can enter a tourney sometime. Unfortunately, I don't know any nearby tournaments. I was so happy once I learned the DACUS!

SSB4 Characters I Play

Mains::4yoshi::4pacman::4bowser::4iggy::4greninja::4duckhunt::rosalina::4darkpit::4pit:
Secondary Mains::4zss::4pikachu::4fox::4wario2::4robinf::4shulk::4sheik::4sonic::4ness::4lucario::4drmario::4falcon::4villager::4miibrawl:
Characters I Don't Play and Suck as::4myfriends::4peach::4megaman::4wiifit::4jigglypuff::4samus:
 
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#30
... I'd totally buy that shirt. :ohwell:

Yeah though, this is like the -one- thing sort of holding me back from a complete jump. My only previous name was "Black Dr. Mario" (BDM for the Melee tag), which came from my love of the black color scheme for Dr. Mario... but people assumed it was a Dr. Mario who was African-American, hah hah. My current name SmashBroPlusB was basically me trying to come up with a "real" internet handle that wasn't complete garbage and didn't have X's or numbers littered through it. (Even at a young age, I knew better than to use something like fireblaster2258.) I liked how the special moves in Smash were comprised of a single button, B, and tilting the Control Stick in a single direction. They were easy to use and didn't require memorizing command lists, and special moves across different characters were sometimes widely varied and completely differed in function and properties. So yeah... I'm a "Smash bro" who likes the B Button. SmashBroPlusB. ... ... Pretty much.

Of course, it's been years since I started using this handle and I'm pretty cemented into it, but I obviously can't go to a Smash Bros. tournament and expect everyone to call me SmashBro. The poor announcers would confuse everyone out of their skulls! I've been considering "B Button" or something similar in the tourney scene, then continuing to use SmashBroPlusB on the virtual waves... though that almost sounds more ridiculous.

One other thing to note is how seemingly barren the Regional Zones subforum is. I heard other users touting how active the central Florida scene for Smash Bros. is, but most of the threads are either outdated or pertain to PM/Brawl (or both). I'm trying to get my feet wet so to speak, but I'm having a fair bit of difficulty doing so. Any tips or advice on the matter of finding complete strangers to share a game of Smash 4 with would be fairly appreciated!
I'd just call you Plus B. Not a half bad name tbh.

As far as I have heard, Facebook groups have started to dominate the tournament scene rather than the Regional Zones now. Things have changed since I stopped playing 4 years ago. Feels weird for people to call me Alan at tournaments instead of Panda but hey that's evolution I guess.
 
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Kayeka

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#31
In my unbound enthusiasm, I just signed myself up for not one, but two tournaments.

I sure hope that the scene in the Netherlands is rather friendly. I don't really react well to being "the new guy that everybody picks on".
 
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Logsmash

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#32
I'm in the same boat as most of the people who aren't near a scene of any kind, since I live in Manitoba and any Smash-related anything in Canada seems to happen only in Ontario or BC. Guess I gotta either move or start the scene myself....
 

MagmarFire

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#33
I'm not as active in the competitive scene as I'd like, although I am interested in giving it more shots. The issue, of course, is finding the userbase to play with and finding precious time, since I use that time at work, projects, other games, and random Internet stuff. And transportation's another issue... But all the hype in this thread is giving me an itch to try it more.

I don't see myself winning tournaments anytime soon, if ever, but expression's more important than winning for me, and I intend to represent Link (and Robin and Shulk) despite any sucky tiers and my better judgment. :)
 
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LIQUID12A

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#34
I will probably never attend a major tournament due to my region(even though there is a scene), but I like the info just in case I actually do get the chance.
 

Nevarro

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#35
Is there an IRC room for smash? I thought It would be easier to find and play against other people in such a place. I'm usually in the #redditfighting channel on Thinstack IRC
 
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I'll add you
#36
Really appreciate the guide! I've been around the smash scene since Brawl came out, but couldn't travel with my brother for tournaments due to being "too young" (I think the farthest I went was Springfield OH, and that was a rare chance). It's a different story now, and I'm constantly going to tourneys when I can. I think my biggest hurdle will be posting in my states group online, but I'm going to try and get past that >.<. I'm constantly asking what I should do next to become part of the community/a competitive smasher, so it's nice having a guide on this! Thanks Panda!
 
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#37
Is there an IRC room for smash? I thought It would be easier to find and play against other people in such a place. I'm usually in the #redditfighting channel on Thinstack IRC
I'm not aware of one. If someone else is I hope they share it with us all!
 

Nevarro

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#38
Could always make a room, or join me on thinstack. At this point I will play anyone!
 

Kayeka

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#39
Could always make a room, or join me on thinstack. At this point I will play anyone!
If you have gmail, we could use the chat function on that to schedule a few regular matches. It would be good to have a training buddy, even if it's via online.
 

Young$$$

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#40
I came pretty close to winning a G Stop tourney back at the midnight launch with Mega Man. I am destined to play MM for revenge! Also, I feel like I'm one of the few people that like him.
 
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