Thanks for taking part in the interview! Please introduce yourself. What is your name, and how long have you been playing competitively?
Hi! My name is Dawson, otherwise known as Big D, and I have been playing Smash competitively for just over 4 years.
Congratulations on taking 1st place in VBR #2. It looks like you got your runback against Captain L, and managed to come out on top this time around. What adjustments did you make from the last time you played him in tournament?
Well for starters, Captain L is a very good player and one thing he does very well is recognizing when players start to doubt themselves. He uses controls his character to edge this on by playing evasive or presenting openings to the other player that are not really there continuously. This causes players to become impatient and give Landon the openings he needs in order to punish you very hard, causing a vicious cycle. If you aren’t in control of your emotions, he will make you beat yourself. The overall safeness in his play combined with his ability to make players crumble makes him a very formidable opponent. The first VBR I lost to him in 2 very close sets. I was playing not to lose, Landon was playing to win. He saw the doubt and took full advantage and I had to hold that until our next encounter. This time around something had to change, and what I did was prepare myself mentally. For example, this time around I didn’t go to practice the night before and opted for a good night’s sleep. On top of that I didn’t enter Melee so I could focus on Smash 4 and listened to music to help relax. I ended up in loser’s bracket early but I made my way to Grand Finals for the run back. This time around the roles were reversed. He was playing to maintain his champion status and I was playing to take it from him. While there were ups and downs in the games, I never lost faith in myself. I matches his evasive style of play with an aggressive offense that brimmed with confidence. I don’t believe he was ready for a confident Big D, especially after being sent to losers. The score of the set showed the difference a mentality can make, ending the tournament on a 6-1.
Tell us about your character choice as a player, and what it is about the character you like, and possibly dislike if you have any reasons to.
For me character choice is an interesting subject. At nationals/majors, I’ll play Dedede, a character who has brought me a lot of success. I started playing him because I thought he was such a cool character in the cartoon/games. He even fit the same nickname I had as ‘Big D’. I’ve played him a lot in previous iterations of the game and the fundamentals carry over. When faced with new challenges it is easiest for me to see a solution with Dedede rather than my other characters, so I’ll use him when playing new people. He has powerful throw combos and lives a long time, on top of that he has a lot of range. This means I have a lot of resources for trial and error to figure out where they are going to be and once I know that I can use his range to make use of my predictions. However, Dedede is not a very good character, so he’s limited a lot more than the better characters. He is very slow and a big target while being punished for his laggy moves. Dedede players often need to be patient, which is hard to do week after week. As time progresses, his weaknesses are exploited more and more, since I’m a competitor I need to be able to make up for his shortcomings. Besides Dedede, I play a lot of characters at a high level. It’s gotten to a point where I can pull out a character and even if it hasn’t been seen before it will immediately have respect because the other player knows I have confidence in it. For me, picking up characters in this game is not hard and I take full advantage of that. Sometimes I play a match and decide I need more control in the confrontations, so I pick Captain Falcon. Other times I feel I need more options when up close to my opponent, so I pick Mario. I get a feel for what I need in the set and I pick accordingly. For VBR, I went 4 different characters in my losers bracket run, getting important wins with all of them. Picking the right character in itself is a skill and one I fully plan to develop.
If you have to name a few characters that you dislike fighting, who would they be?
In Smash 4 there are characters that can be considered annoying to fight, for example getting past projectiles or dealing with stall tactics in friendlies can be tiresome. In tournament however, dealing with it is fine because it goes towards winning a tournament set, and that is a good feeling you don’t get in friendlies. In tournament though, the character I dislike playing against is Sheik, who is widely regarded as the best in the game by a good margin. I could go on and on about my gripes with the character but what it comes down to is Sheik having all the control. It creates a feeling of helplessness with all roads to an answer leading to Sheik. I’ve been vocal about my disdain for the character and I feel bad about venting because when I do, it can be taken as disdain for the player when it really isn’t. It doesn’t help that the majority of my tournament losses are to Sheik and the top players of surrounding regions all play the character. I’ve tried having the mentality of the problem being me and not Sheik and fixing myself but it’s hard. In the past I could say ‘If X player can do it then why can’t I!’ but now I find myself not too far below the top players and I see the players above me in the same struggle. In a positive light though, that means that there’s a good chance that there are answers I could figure out that other people haven’t yet. One thing I would really like is a top player who faces Sheik on a regular basis talk to me about their mentality when going up against the character. Until then, I will try my best to overcome the character because it’s not looking like she will be patched.
What are your goals in Smash?
Some people have the goal of being the best. I might have had that goal when I was younger, but over time you change your goals. To me being the best is someone who wins more than the rest. That’s cool and all, but it doesn’t really align with what I want. To me, the ultimate goal that I strive for is to become a ‘champion’. For now that’s what I’m going to call it, another word that might fit the idea is ‘ace’. To me, champions are people who can motivate themselves as well as others, they can get sent to losers and come back with a fire, as opposed to someone gets down on themselves while being the best. A champion is someone who encounters problems and finds solutions instead of getting bogged down by it. A champion is someone who respects the community he leads and in turn is respected by it, they are someone you aspire to be and are willing to follow as their will becomes the will of those around them. Importantly they can handle losses and come back from it. When you are put in a position where you are at the top of a scene, like it or not people are going to look to you. I had to learn that early on with Brawl. If I’m going to send a message I’d rather it be a positive one. I’m not claiming to be a champion, I have my own obstacles that I must overcome in order to get there. It’s an ideal that reminds me of what’s important whenever I lose or need motivation. If someone sees someone overcome a personal struggle, it inspires them to overcome their own. I want everyone in BC to be proud of their region and proud to be a part of it. The scene here is great, everyone is friendly and welcoming and it’s very easy to join. Everyone involved is striving to get better and you need to respect them for that. We have many up and coming players challenging the veterans and our tournaments are so much better for that. When you are at the top what you say carries weight, so it’s vital to keep that in mind. Everyone is important and their own person, the one thing I dislike is people discouraging others with insults over placings. Some people feel that’s the motivation people need but I think the tournament fees and elimination pools do enough of a job of that. A champion looks ahead to move forward, not back to keep the rest behind them. Although our region is pretty good about it, I still encourage everyone to hold back on that kind of stuff.
What other events did you enter at VBR #2
I decided to enter Smash 4 doubles as well as Project M. Project M used to be a much bigger game that I played on the regular having it’s own rivalries and matchups. It has died down quite a bit but it’s cool to see players from back in the day enter once again. I even got to play my old rival in that game, Blunted Object, which hasn’t happened in years. The rust showed but he still had a good showing. Overall, I won taking out Meta in the finals.
Smash 4 doubles is probably one of my favourite things period. It feels much more enjoyable to win with somebody else than to win all alone. I feel like me and Firefly have developed our teamwork to be a national level threat. Part of the reason for that is we understand doubles and when faced with a problem we immediately know how to handle it. We beat teams that on paper we shouldn’t beat but we do because we are more than the sum of our parts. We think the same and it shows. I used to team with another player, FoCus, but we weren’t consistent and I felt it was very hard on my end to keep things together. I’ve also tried teaming with Captain L before but the same problem occurred. They have their own ideas how to play doubles and they don’t coincide with mine, it’s like we’re both trying to do it alone. Me and Firefly don’t have this problem, we cover each other well it never feels like we’re alone. It’s a great feeling. In my opinion, the problem other teams run into is they develop the wrong stuff in doubles. They neglect the fundamentals in doubles and decide to focus on team combos that might not even have a chance of happening. There are some really devastating team strategies that are difficult such as the Lucario/Villager pockets that could instant KO, but that has been patched, leaving me and Jake in a good place. Right now, the double strategy to beat is overcoming Cloud’s finishing touch that leads to kills insanely early. Overall, we won VBR #2 without dropping a game .
Any final shoutouts?
Shoutouts to VSB which continues to run amazing tournaments for us. That includes Kenny for organizing, as well as Long and Clinton for running these tournaments for us and providing food, bracket running, great streams with uploads, as well as general favours. They really are amazing.
Shoutouts to my mother who watches my matches, it’s helpful to know that while a room full of people may be rooting for an upset, you have at least one person supporting you. My biggest fan for sure.
And shout outs to CACAW because Viviff is great.