The full story behind the Okta Smash TournamentWritten on March 14th, 2021 by Jonathan Tsang
This probably one of my favourite memories ever. My team at Okta had just told me that they weren’t giving me a return offer on the Wednesday of my last week there. I remember my mentor asking me if I would still show up to work, like for some reason not getting a return offer would make me stop showing up to work. Of course I was upset at the time, but I signed a contract I would fulfill it for the last two work days.
On the Thursday most people didn’t show up to the office since it was a casual “no meeting, work from home” day. I remember one full time came up to me and said his goodbyes since he wasn’t showing up on the Friday and said “he hopes I get the return offer”. At that time, I knew my fate, but I said “I hope so too”.
The Friday rolls around and that was actually the day of the smash 4 doubles tournament grand finals. (Me and Eduardo vs. Chris L. and Ajay) This was the last day I was in the office. The tournament was structured in a way where we did round robin singles matches to determine seeding and then the top seed was paired with the lowest seed (to make teams fair). I had actually been the 2nd seed since I lost 0-2 in the round robin pools to Chris L. He was unquestionably better than me. I remember I beat Zhirui 2-0 and Chris M. 2-1 (I went random in 2 matches after taking game 1 convincingly).
The doubles tournament was a double elimination bracket (meaning you had a chance to win even if you lost a set). We cruised through every team. One set we actually only lost stocks from SDs. It was dominant. We played Chris L’s team in winner’s finals. I was EXTREMELY confident. We had crushed everyone else. Eduardo, my partner, was not bad and we were playing solid.
We got CRUSHED in winner’s finals. Chris L. was much better than his partner, Ajay, so his partner camped and stock tanked as I tried to 1v1 Chris and my partner tried to chase Chris’s partner around (playing kirby and just floating). It worked beautifully and we got cleaned up quickly with 0-2. I was mad, but I was also mad that I was playing smash 4.
We went to loser’s bracket and beat Antonio’s team 2-0. Grand finals was the Friday. My final day at Okta. We had to win 2 sets to win the tournament, they had to win only 1 set. It was still best of 3. If you had the betting odds they were VERY skewed towards Chris’s team. For one, I had NOT even taken a game from him in either singles OR doubles. The win in winner’s finals was so dominant even I had doubts we could win a game.
I walked in with the understanding that I was the underdog and I had little expectations. I did think about our games in between but not super-methodically and I didn’t actually practice either.
My team’s double cloud strat was able to steamroll every other noob team but since Chris’s team had a solid plan, we had to counter it. The previous games consisted of 3 clouds and a kirby (me, eduardo, chris all cloud, ajay kirby) I straight up knew I couldn’t win in the cloud ditto against him. I had to concede that. I contemplated bayonetta but I wasn’t technical enough. I chose bowser because a lot of the winner’s bracket games came down to me having 2-3 stocks, eduardo losing all of his, and then chris having 2 stocks. So it was like 1v1 against chris where I had 3 less stocks than him, which was near impossible. If I tried to chase down Ajay’s kirby I would get counter hit. I needed to find a way trade my stocks 1:1 with Chris OR equalize Ajay’s camping by hunting down Ajay. I decided on both with Bowser.
I told Eduardo, doubles partner, 10 minutes before the match our strategy was “You 1v1 Chris, I 1v1 Ajay and we just see who can body the inferior teammate first”. This was more of a 50-50 then me trying to 1v1 Chris (which I will admit I was losing because I played too aggressively and smash 4 rewards defense)
Game 1 I play BOWSER. Chris was expecting the cloud that I played for EVERY previous game in the double tournament. I don’t know if he just underestimated it but we won. It was close but we did it.
Game 2 I played DK. We lost but it was close.
Game 3 I went back to BOWSER and it was a bit lopsided match cause of bowser side-b. It was also a huge momentum shift. It’s cheesey because bowser side-b is a noob move. Noobs use it. But using it in a smart application is legit. I used Bowser side-b to take out Chris’s stock. It was a suicide, but you have to remember, against a superior player me trading a stock with Chris was actually good. (especially if I was at a higher percentage) Once Ajay lost all of his stocks, Eduardo and I did a 2v1 against Chris. I remember Chris, me, and Eduardo, all had one stock remaining and I did the side-b to Chris. It was a suicide, killing me and Chris, but Eduardo also had 1 stock left meaning my team won. It was smart, it was safe, it was dumb, it was ugly, but it worked. People spectating were commenting on how genius the idea was after we reset the bracket.
We reset the bracket and I know Chris was nervous. You’re a heavy favourite to win easily and then you drop a set. He had to go get some water and leave the room. I was honestly feeling energized. We weren’t even supposed to take a game, and we just reset the bracket. There are moments in my life where I love and thrive on the pressure to win. We took a set and now we wanted to win it all.
Chris’s play deteriorated in the second set. At one point Chris was about to land on a FULLY CHARGED bowser upsmash but shielded at the last moment and he had the tiniest shield left. If I had a shield I planned on doing a full charged f-smash and taking a screenshot in-game for bm, but it didn’t happen. I basically boxed him out with tilts and played much more defensively. You could tell he was extremely nervous because his patterns were all the same. He kept tech-rolling away and I would predict that and grab him every time. Which against a nervous opponent will tilt you more, and make you do it again since you get frustrated as opposed to actually doing a mixup next time.
He was getting antsy because Eduardo was able to outplay Ajay and I was able to keep it even with him (if not better). He switched characters and played roy, then played ryu. None of it worked. He lost by larger margins in that second set, than in the first set. It was funny because he couldn’t adapt in that moment to me throwing something weird like bowser side-b at him.
We won 2-0 in the second set and when I won I just felt nothing. It wasn’t exciting like a popoff or vindicating. It was just, well I’m done here. (quite literally) That’s how my internship ended. I described myself as going “tryhard mango”.
If you have no idea who the pro melee player Mango is, I would recommend watching this video about his insane comeback in a tournament.
Exploiting the habits that people have, that they’re conditioned to do because that’s what you’re supposed to do and that’s what used to work nine times out of ten until you fought him. And then he gets away with it because he knows you better than you know yourself.
If you read this and wondered if there is a lesson you can learn I guess:
- Skill and talent don’t always win. You have to also know how to perform and handle pressure.
- Thing of creative solutions to problems and be willing to try weird stuff
- Never count out the underdog, the pressure is not on the underdog, it’s on the favourite so play YOUR game
To this day I don’t think this is some super huge monumental achievement. I think it was nice in the moment since I didn’t even play Smash 4, Melee was my main game. But it showcased my ability to adapt, outplay my opponent regardless of the game, and ability to work under pressure against the odds.