Why Syndicate Is so Important for Europe - an Interview With Marc Hagen

Last year, the Syndicate Tournament series proved itself to be a must-watch event, not only for the European Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Melee scenes, but to the whole world.

Hailing from the Netherlands, prominent Tournament Organizer Marc Hagen has been a part of this initiative since the beginning and has shared with Smashboards his thoughts on the relevance of Syndicate, and the impact it has made in his homeland and Europe.

Considering the team has had a full year to learn and apply new knowledge to organizing, we asked Marc about what was different organizing this year from last year

“In order to ensure participants get more bang for their buck and to make things more manageable for us, we got extra help for side events such as the ladders and Project M. Generally speaking, we were more organized and maintained a Trello board for the things that needed to be done. We took the elements that worked last year and, for example, quickly came to agreements with quite a few sponsors, both new and returning from last year. We are happy to count SmashBoards among them once again!

I wouldn't say it has necessarily been easier however, as this year we ended up not able to use PayPal after months of bureaucratic struggle with them. We had to set up an alternative system to process payments and manually add registrations to the events, whereas last year everything happened through Smash.gg. This required many additional work hours from our core staff.

Other than that it continues to be a major frustration how long players wait to sign up. We went from 250ish to 560+ attendees in the last 2 weeks, which of course meant we didn't know our final numbers until very late into the game. We were prepared to take a personal financial hit if things went sour, but it was looking uncomfortable for a long time. In the end though attendance more or less met our initial expectations and we are able to run the event the way we want it.

Finally, a personal pet peeve of mine is how careless or even unprofessional a lot of parties inside and outside of the community are in terms of meeting deadlines, getting organized or just being responsive in general. Our scene has a lot of room for growth when it comes to that.”

Looking, back, he shares what the team has learned from 2016:

“I think a lot of the lessons were practical, such as getting Smash.gg's functionality down after mainly working with TIO and Challonge. We unfortunately experienced about 30 minutes of Smash.gg downtime last year during the event, so this year we will take some precautions to not come to a complete standstill if it happens again.

This year we have been in touch with Liva from GGS a lot more to have a better handle on the production side of things and support him in realizing his ideas. We generally put more budget towards the production and trust that it will show.”

As such, he remarks the importance that Syndicate had in the European scene:

“I think Syndicate 2016 put the Netherlands back on the map as a country with major events to look out for. It was the biggest European Smash 4 tournament to date and we were happy to break that record with this year's edition. The feedback we received last year was quite positive and we hope to continue the trend.

As for the Dutch and European scene in general, it's no secret that we are struggling. Several mid-size and even major series were discontinued for various reasons, which takes away the foundation to build the biggest events on. As opposed to last year, turnout has gotten much harder to predict, as there is little left between the local level and something the size of Syndicate.”

Considering this, the question of what will there be in for players this year came as a no-brainer:

“As stated, this time we offer ladder events for both Melee and Smash 4 and a Project M side event. Last year we ended up having to cancel Smash 4 international crews for various reasons and this year we are confident that it will happen. We also hope the overall experience will be a bit smoother, as last year mainly teams on Saturday ran too slow.

Other perks include non-European top players (ChuDat, Wizzrobe, KEN and SuperGirlKels), proper attendant badges, a rewards shop and UCF for Melee at the first European major ever. We also secured hostel and restaurant deals to help people with accommodation. Make sure to take a look at our notable attendees page!”

Looking forward into the future, Marc shares his thought on what awaits the tournament series in 2018:

“We are so focused on the 2017 edition, that there hasn't been much talk for 2018 yet. One thing we will have to critically evaluate is whether we want to continue with the September time slot, as this puts us at the start of the school year and fairly close to recurring events like Heir.

Each core crew member will also have to determine for themselves whether they can again muster up the time, effort and financial risk required for a next edition. It's a big commitment for sure and a next edition isn't guaranteed at this point.

On a more positive note, running this event as if it's our last means we won't hold back!”

As a final note, Marc requested us to give a shoutout to Sydicate's sponsors:

They would also like to give a special shoutout to Brittany from Team Liquid for bringing out ChuDat and providing a jersey for the rewards shop.

And finally, be sure to tune in to Syndicate this weekend and to check out Sydicate's social media: Facebook and Twitter.
Mario "Diosdi" Osuna