In a nail-biting final match, two of some of the best classic gamers in Canada went head to head to decide who had the better mastery of a game that came out 20 years ago.
Miles Foster, who goes by the gamer tag Soonsay, defeated Vancouver local Simon "Polo" F in the final championship round of the Super Smash Bros. Melee Singles division at the Champions of Vancouver gaming tournament last month. It wasn’t Foster’s only win that weekend though; he also took first place in the Melee Doubles division alongside another Vancouver local, Avi Ahluwalia a.k.a. “Unruly.”
Vancouver Is Awesome caught up with Foster to talk about the wins, the community’s fascination with a game released in 2001, and why it's still played on cathode ray tube TVs.
'These games were a staple of my childhood'
Foster, a Calgary native, says he has been playing games his whole life but only started taking melee seriously about four years ago.
“Hard to say what drove the passion early on… but it eventually was a matter of seeing how far I could go, how far I had to go, and the excitement that came with new challenges and progress,” Foster said. “At the end of the day, I love the game and these games were a staple of my childhood.”
Also staples of his childhood were the faint, high-pitched whine of a CRT screen and the shapely Gamecube controllers clacking away during the tournament. With the advancements in technology made over the past two decades, one would think the sport was due for an upgrade but Foster says there are good reasons for keeping the older tech around.
“We use the CRT because they provide the best latency/feedback for players,” Foster explains. “Monitors tend to have not-so-subtle input delay that tends to vary from setup to setup. Although CRTs are heavy - the setup and behaviour of it are consistent.”
Foster added that the controllers used by players are fairly decent still especially with people modifying controllers and breathing new life into the old hardware.
“The old TVs are Melee's version of the bible, for sure... very hard to move away from,” Foster said. “I don't mind it, but it sticks out like a sore thumb to those not familiar with it.”
Who do you main?
Foster mainly plays the character Fox, the main protagonist from 1993’s Star Fox game series.
“He's extremely flexible (playstyle-wise, can't speak to his hamstrings) and allows me to express myself - corny as it sounds,” he said. As for Foster’s wins, he was glad his performance earned him the top spot but said he still wasn't able to play as well as he would've liked
“But mentally I was extremely calm and focused. I think that's something that has come with experience and it's a relief to have it in a tournament setting,” he said.
Foster is ranked #98 in the world in terms of melee rankings and reaching the top 100 was one of his biggest goals and easily one of his favourite milestones.
“Being able to say I'm one of the top 100 players in the world is something special for sure! I've climbed a lot recently, but due to COVID no official rankings have come out,” he said.
As for future goals, Foster says he would like to move up to the top 20, and top 10 of melee, possibly even transitioning to full-time streaming sometime in the future. For now, he’s focused on competitive goals.
You can’t be considered pro without making some money from it, so just how much has playing a video game earned Foster? He says it's hard to say considering melee is such a grassroots sport and the amount of effort it takes to get to where he’s at.
“If I had to estimate a dollar figure, maybe somewhere between 5 to 10 thousand. After years of playing, stream included,” Foster said.