Smash ‘N’ Splash 2017: In Review

Smash ‘N’ Splash was an event by Gamers HQ hosted at the Kalahari Water Park & Resort in Wisconsin. On the side of Smash was a smaller group of players who have been dedicated to another fantastic Nintendo title over the last 2 years: Splatoon. This, for me, was what I was there for. Splatoon being hosted by EndGameTV, I flew out to this event where I got to meet people who made this game something I wouldn’t have expected.

After a real slog of a flight from Manchester to Philadelphia, followed by two more connecting flights, me and BluRacer7 arrived. The somewhat small airport of Madison would be our final destination, then to get a taxi to take us to the hotel and venue. Upon arrival, it was safe to say we were both exhausted. At 10pm local time, the pools were obviously closed and our friends were out for a late night meal. Whilst we would’ve loved to stick around that night, we both needed our rest.

Safe to say though, when the morning came we were ready for action. Me and Blu woke up reasonably early, got ourselves ready and went for breakfast. For Blu, it was his first time tasting American-Belgian waffles. Having lived in Florida when I was younger, it wasn’t really new to me. I’d already been dragged around the local IHOPs by my parents in my pre-teen years. American food, to this day, still accurately matches Bill Bryson’s description of it back in the late 90s. As breakfast was coming to an end, more and more people were beginning to flock around our table. What started off as a bunch of our friends (Ace, Bronze, Sneaky, Hydrus – by their online aliases), quickly became into a wider circle of people who are all committed to the Splatoon community as a whole. It gradually felt like one large family coming together for breakfast – which was quite something!

Eventually we decided it was time to head down to the venue. We all went to grab our consoles from our hotel rooms, then made our way to the halls at which we would be playing in for the next few days. Here was where it all began. EndGameTV had already been working hard the day prior – getting a stage built, projector screen on the wall, and building the foundations for some really great memories. What I really had to admire is the way that each Wii U station was setup. You basically could just plug your console in, and away you go. It was the nearest thing you could get to having a Nintendo Switch dock for the older, less portable console. It was a pretty efficient system.

Our team, Aquarius, was comprised of myself, BluRacer7, Fate, and NineWholeGrains. We’re a pick-up team, forming a couple of months in advance of the event – for the event. That means we really didn’t have a lot of time to practice, but that was okay. For me, I wanted to have fun over anything else. Aquarius, we didn’t disappoint! Blu, Fate and Nine were brilliant to play with. Thank you, team! 😀

Whilst Aquarius didn’t make it to the top 8 finals, we did get some pretty amazing games when it came to the live set. In all honesty, my morale and self-esteem had been pretty beaten up whilst playing in the games off-stream; we took some hard losses. But we pulled together. I have to really thank Fate for being the positive energy in the group – it really helped me keep the right mentality. During the first streamed game we had, Blu had a small audience gathering to watch his brush gameplay in-person for the first time. We were pretty hyped, and took that match 3-0! To finish it on a victory felt really good. Then, me and Blu switched positions so I could stream.

When I streamed, we faced Spicy Kraken Rolls. Let me say, what a team. These folks are kind, entertaining, and most importantly, amazing fun. Jokingly, I like to think of them as our arch nemesis 😛 The final games I got to play against them were some of the most enjoyable I’ve had since day one of Splatoon.

Spoiler: I fell out-of-bounds, and in the water. A lot. Honestly, 2dos should be proud.

We lost 0-3, but let me tell you – it was close. On game two, SKR won with only a single point lead! It was exhilarating to play, and I managed to get a clip into the stream highlights for the day too. Big shout out to everybody on their team who was at the event: Bob, Bread, Bruce, Flara, and Squiddo! I hope we can play again soon!

Saturday, day two of the event and it was the finals. I pulled a bit of a derp moment for the entire morning. I spent the whole time worrying that it was actually Sunday – and it had all ended so quickly. I was panicking because I thought I was going to fly home the day after. Nope! Still had one more day. Sigh of relief, really. I desperately wanted to stay for longer. Well… duh. In the morning, though, I got to hang out with some other folks in the amateur bracket: Bread, RudeKeiser, Jazz and Putz12. We had a few games, and got to hang out for a bit. They’re all really nice people, and meeting Putz in person put a new perspective on things for me. I went to the event thinking you’re a mad man with a mission to rage so hard at your console. But in all seriousness, you’re actually a really cool guy! It was an honour to meet you, and a pleasure to get to talk to you 😀

In general, I’ve walked away from this event having a completely different outlook on the Splatoon community as a whole, and the individuals within it. At events like these, you actually realise that the people you meet are in fact that – they’re real people with personalities you don’t get to see the whole picture of over the Internet. I now have a new-found respect for Hanran too. They’re a team who know how to have some good laughs whilst playing the game at a competitive level. I really understand that now. You guys – you’re awesome.

The final set of Two Moons vs. Hanran was a final touch to the event which made everything worth attending to watch. Let me say, I never get passionate about old school sports. Growing up, I absolutely hated football (soccer). But this… eSports I can get behind. The room had such an electric atmosphere. I got there just in time to watch the finals, and stood beside Hitzel to catch the action. I haven’t shouted so much at a game out of pure excitement before. My loud college shouting voice got its time again… until I almost lost it haha.

With day two wrapped up, now was where we could take our competitive stuff aside and just get to meet people. We went to the Pizza Ranch as a group, and just spent some quality time with friends.

In the evening, I think Wolf from Chimera saved competitive Splatoon for me. After Smash ‘N’ Splash, I had plans to put the game down for a while. I hadn’t been sure if I was going to ever learn what I’m doing wrong. Well, we streamed from the event space that evening (joined by Hydrus and Putz12). He was watching my every move, giving me some real solid advice. From what we discussed, it was mostly poor decision making that was holding me back in S rank in online multiplayer. To have him there, giving me advice and being able to react to it was fantastic help. A personal tutor, for Splatoon?! Yeah that’s actually really epic. Thanks, man.

Then on Sunday, it was pool time.

The day was just perfect. 30ºC (86ºF). Not a cloud in the sky.

Wisconsin weather wanted us to have a great day.

We did.

Memories were made at Smash ‘N’ Splash. To everyone who attended, thank you. Thanks for sticking with this game to make such an incredible event happen. Thank you for bringing your personality and vibe to the Kalahari for the weekend. It was truly amazing.

I’ll see you all next year 🙂