Interview with HugS: Local Hero



Wed 10th Apr 2019 - 6:21pm

The topic of locals is becoming a regularity in both the Melee and the Ultimate scene. With lower level players crying out to their heroes to attend the locals, high-level players are feeling the pressure of both competition and pleasing fans at the same time. Top players have argued both the importance and unimportance of showing up to locals, each providing personal reasoning for their attendance or absence. Hugo "HugS" Gonzalez speaks on both perspectives, as a high-level Melee player and a lower level Ultimate player.

There seems to be a regular trend in the community that insists on talking about the attendance of top players at locals. Typically speaking, many high-level players don’t attend their locals, but you not only attend Melee locals but also Ultimate locals too. Additionally, you do these on a regular basis. What is it that you learn from locals? Why do you attend?

HugS: I just want to start this by saying I’ve been attending much less of the Melee locals lately. I’ll explain a little later on. However, the reason I attend locals, at least when I’m attending them more actively, is that I feel it trains the certain part of the tournament play that you can’t get from friendlies, netplay, labbing, or watching Youtube videos. What you train is your tournament composure. That’s your ability to last a long time and have the stamina to play all day and the pressure of almost losing to someone who would be considered an upset. Also, keeping everything together when you're about to beat someone better than you. You can get all that from a local level, at least here in Socal, without the stakes of a major tournament. So it’s a good way to just train your ability to stay composed in tournament.

What’s your opinion on other players not attending their locals? Do you think they're stunting their own play, or do you think each player has their own personal way to practice?

HugS: I think that each player has their own way to practice and improve. Some players don’t see any benefits from attending their locals, especially players from weaker regions. I do think some people are a bit too busy with other aspects of their life to attend, so I don’t judge people for not attending their locals. People that think they're too good for their locals, especially in good regions? I don’t get that, that makes no sense to me.

What are the pros to attending locals, personally and generally?

HugS: Personally, it’s what I mentioned before, how it keeps me composed for bigger tournaments. Locals definitely help me with that. If you don't attend anything, you’re just labbing and practising at tech skill at home and then when you do finally go to a larger tournament, you get a little nervous and all of that goes out of the window so it’s just been a waste. I think locals are necessary, for me at least. I think for the scene, as a whole, it's good to give the local players a chance to play the higher-level players. They might not see them at major tournaments. This presence of bigger players at locals is just good for the scene. It motivates people to attend more locals and it motivates people to practice so they can beat these bigger players at the locals.

What are the cons to attending locals? Do you feel these are the main reasons that high-level players snub the tournament?

HugS: Some of the cons I think are deciding which locals do and do not count for rankings and which matches will and will not count for rankings. For a lot of top players, they're not incentivised to attend and enter locals because it could hurt their overall rank for the year. Some people attend locals simply for practice. If you’re being taken down a notch on your rank because you’re just practising for bigger tournaments, I think that’s a bit unfair and, frankly, not worth the risk. Some players, myself included, don’t want to enter as we just want to hang out with our friends, instead of taking a real hit to your career if you drop a couple rankings. All because you wanted to train and try out a few new tactics. I think that’s the biggest con for attending locals, at least for top players at least.

From a community point of view, some players get upset because they’d like to see their favourite players attend. Mid-level players prefer them not there as there is more likely chance of winning. What's your view on the community opinions? 

HugS: It’s on a case by case basis. However, at the same time, you could argue, why can’t the lower level players attend majors and play the higher-level players there and get better and reach them there? I think it’s pretty entitled to complain about what other players do with their time and demanding that they need to attend locals. I do see some the reasoning towards frustration towards players who have never ever contributed to the scene. Some attend easier locals and then will not show up to the difficult ones and those cases, you can understand why they’re doing it. You can understand the judgement.

Though, if someone chooses to stream, like Mang0 for example, and stick to that, I think that’s great. I think he’s doing more for the community by streaming and being himself than he ever would by attending a bunch of locals. So yeah, I generally don’t like when people judge others for not attending locals, especially as they’re usually unaware of what those player’s circumstances are.

In your opinion, what would bring higher level players back to locals? Are there changes that could be made to benefit them or is it down to other aspects? 

HugS: In Southern California at least, we’re having a lot more fun tournaments. Bar tournaments, side events, and different things like that where someone like me, if I don’t feel like putting my entire rank on the line, I could just still show up and hang out with people and still play friendlies. I feel like this is good enough for a lot of people. Aside from that, I think having them a little less frequently could help. Having an important monthly local with a higher prize pool maybe, that definitely incentivises some top players to show up to that.

For example, Fight for Socal here in Orange County does that. They have a higher prize pool and it happens monthly, right before a big tournament, so it makes top players want to attend in preparation for the next big event.

Do you find there is a difference between the attendance of the two communities? Do one communities’ high-level players show up more than the other?

HugS: For me personally, I’m mostly more inclined to show up to an Ultimate local than I am a Melee local because I’m not nearly as good at Ultimate as I am at Melee. I have more to gain from the Ultimate grind and the lower parts of the bracket by attending the locals. Whereas with Melee, I’m pretty much guaranteed to be in the top three or four at my locals; if not, winning it.

So the incentives for grinding those are a little less for me, or at least, different. That’s why I do that personally. In terms of how of how the two scenes are doing, I feel like Melee is not in a downswing but there is a stasis at a lower level because of the new game. There is a lot of excitement for Ultimate and it’s a good game. I don’t necessarily think it’s going to keep declining, I think it’ll eventually will climb back up, as it always does.

Do you think there are two different attitudes towards locals? Ultimate is a newer game so do you think they view locals as a fresher concept and have a perkier attitude to locals or do you think it’s a player to player basis?

HugS: I think the players that are grinding are looking at both locals in the same way. The way I feel about both communities is that the majority of people there are there to grind and get better. The top players of both communities are not prioritising the grind as much as they are other things as they’re more concerned with performing at majors. For instance, you’ll see Void and Larry Lurr show up maybe once a week or less, but you’ll see all the same grinders show up every single day and every week. People like me, who are not at top level of Ultimate yet, so you’ll see them grinding constantly. As you do with Melee. Top players like Westballz, S2J and myself won’t attend as regularly, but the grinders are still there everyday.

If you'd like to follow HugS ventures in Ultimate and Melee, you can follow him on Twitch or Twitter for more Smash content!