Interview with the Smash Commentator Fendrick Lamar



Sun 3rd Jun 2018 - 5:44pm

Disclaimer: This is a guest contribution by Matthew Lewis and the events / matches discussed have already passed so the information may not be completely up to date.

Josh "Fendrick Lamar" Lamar has been one of the premier commentators in the melee scene. Fendy, as he is also known, has commentated for years and has lent his play-by-play skills to Melee's biggest tournaments, such as Genesis, EVO, and Super Smash Con. We got the chance to interview Fendy about his relationship with Melee and his thoughts on the upcoming Smash game for the Nintendo Switch.

Let's start off with Smash for the Switch. What are your thoughts? Are you interested in playing competitively?

FL: Unless it's similar to Melee, I don't think so. I think it's too early to tell. I'll definitely give it a try, and if it goes well, then maybe I'll pick it up. But I think Melee is going to be the competitive focus for me. If I were to get [it], it would be to play casually online with my three siblings. But again, maybe it's a brilliant game, maybe it has all of the mechanics that make Melee so fun. I'm going to reserve some judgment but, for now, my needle is leaning on the "no" side. But I'd be very happy to be proven wrong.

What did you think about the selections for the Nintendo Invitational and how do you feel Nintendo's view on the competitive Smash scene has changed compared to 10 years ago?

FL: I'm really happy with the picks. I think they did a good job of picking personalities with Mang0, Armada, Lucky, and Plup on the Melee side, and Zero, Abadango, Mr. R, and MkLeo on the Smash 4 side. They all bring something different to the table. I also like the international focus, that they brought players from all over the world. There's been a lot of discussion about female representation in this group. I do think that for this group that they put together, it makes sense that there weren't any women invited just because they wanted the top 20 talent. I would love to see this as an opportunity for women to break into those ranks just so they could justify being in that group. Clearly what they were going for were the very elite players and, unfortunately, the matter of fact is there aren't any female players in that group. So maybe next time, but I'm glad that the group that they have is good. I will certainly be tuning in. I'm very excited for it.

For Nintendo's view on eSports compared to 10 years ago, I definitely think they are moving in the right direction. I still think that they are moving pretty slowly. You know with the establishment of Nintendo Versus. Partnering with more and more smash tournaments that I think that they are moving in the right direction. I still think they are leagues behind all of the other developers when it comes to the top eSports. So maybe this will be a good moment for us and for them. If Smash for the Switch is good, then maybe we'll adopt it and we'll throw these big tournaments for it. If that happens maybe they'll start coming in with more actual support like securing more venues or providing more money. Maybe some better social media marketing. I think there's a lot of growth but that's kinda like a double-edged sword where were really far behind but that also means that there's pretty much nowhere to go but up. I do think we are going up. If you look at where we were 2013-2014, with the EVO cease and desist and then the small changes going with Smash 4 and the first invitational. Also just the continued growth, I think is good and think we can keep growing and I certainly do hope that we keep growing.  

Me too so you're a Marth main correct?

FL: Yup, green Marth every day.

So let's say Marth doesn't even exist in Melee, who do you main?

FL: So I've truly put in probably under an hour, maybe under two hours of playing time with literally any other character in the game. I'm one of those guys where, "Marth is the most fun character for me to play. He is my best character and I hate losing, so why would I ever play anyone else and I still have room to get so much better with him." If I had to pick another character, I really like what a lot of Falcos are doing. I think that with Mang0's resurgence and the new school style, what guys like Ginger have been pushing, I think I have room to go there. So I'd think Falco would probably be my choice but it's just so hard for me to imagine a world without Marth. But to answer the question, it would be Falco.

Ok, let's take it one step further. If Melee doesn't exist what eSport do you see yourself playing competitively?

FL: Hearthstone. I dabble in it already right now. My peak rank was rank 4 which is not terrible. I stream it every now and then. I've actually thought about getting into Hearthstone commentary so that'd be the easy pick for me.  Also a long time ago, I dabbled in League of Legends, I don't think I don't think I'd do it anymore. Maybe Overwatch, but no Hearthstone would be the easy choice for me, I have a lot of fun playing and watching it. Maybe one day I'll have a lot of fun casting too.

You're from this area, correct?

FL: So I'm from Michigan originally but I lived in Washington D.C for a little under 3 years.  

So as a region how do you feel MD/VA holds up compared to the rest of the top regions?

FL: It's interesting, we've had one super big national threat at one time for like 2 years and that was Chudat at his peak in early 2017. and now we got guys like Zain and Llod. I think 5 on 5 if we got our best players like Zain, Llod, Junebug, Jerry, Chudat, Chillin, Milkman, we have a lot of really good players that can do really well. I think 5v5 or 10v10, were like 4th best. I still think we are behind Florida and SoCal. We are probably behind Tri-state. I do think MD/VA can go toe to toe with any other region. Our depth is a little lacking in comparison to other regions. If we did 20v20, then we'd be smoked by NorCal. I think we would get crushed by Tri-state. We'd definitely lose to SoCal. As a whole, I think we are a pretty solid region. I think that it would be hard to argue with ranking MDVA any lower than 5h or 6th.  

Out of all of your wins, which one are you most proud if?

FL: I'm most proud of my win over Toph at EVO 2017. I'd beaten players better that Toph, but to do it on that stage yeah that was pretty insane. It's definitely my most proud win and I will never forget it. I have a lot of other really good wins too. I've beaten players like Rishi, Zain, Ginger, S0ft. Yeah but the Toph win my most proud win.  

Any advice for beginning players?

FL: I would say it's okay to get your ass beat. It's okay to get destroyed, it's okay to lose. Because the sooner that you accept that losing is part of the process, then you'll get better. When someone beats your ass, ask them for tips. I think that's the one thing I would say. I'd also say make sure you are playing for the right reasons. So have fun with the game, play the characters that you like to play. It's a 17 year old video game. I genuinely believe if you aren't playing for the right reasons, then you shouldn't be playing at all.  

Who do you think is the most underrated player right now?

FL: 2saint. Just based on the MIOM rankings if you look at it, he's ranked number 100.  He's very clearly bare minimum top 50, probably pushing even higher than that. I think Jerry actually is underrated. If you see Jerry at his peak, he's way better that other people at the 80ish rank. If you look at his wins, He has wins over Dizzkidboogie, he has wins over Captain Smuckers, Chillin. I think those two are underrated. I also think KJH is getting to the level where he's pushing top 25... top 20. He's a little under, but he's getting there. 

Last question who is going to win today?

FL: I think Llod’s going to win. He has only like one loss to Chu, and him and Zain go back and forth. They played at Pat's House where Llod won in winners and Zain won in losers. I think it can go either way but I think Llod is going to find a way. I also don't know how the brackets are set up. I know La Luna is here. Rishi is here, Slox is here. There are a lot of good players here, but I think we will see Llod on top. We will see a Llod versus Zain grand finals.

We’d like to give our thanks to Fendrick for taking time out of his day for this interview. We wish him the best for the rest of 2018!