Last updated on June 22nd, 2022
Whew, what a damn wild ride that the past, what, week has been? Bassmage is in Summit. This is all thanks to a team of people behind the scenes that put together a well-executed strategy, while dodging around the factors that were out of our control. I had a few sleepless nights the past week, several rescheduled sessions that I should’ve done, and put major monetary support into Bassmage.
Let’s go back a bit though.
The Personal Background
Skip the next two sections if you want to get straight into the campaign story. Also be warned, I do go into depressing topics that may be potentially triggering to some individuals.
Many people who are familiar with watching me on Hungrybox’s stream are aware that I am a moderator for his channel, and have been since early 2020. I’ve provided a lot of support over the years in the form of gifted subscriptions, donations, planning, technical expertise and knowledge to both him and to a few other Smash Bros livestreamers.
It almost didn’t happen.
The background to this was my 2019 was actually pretty awful. I quit a job in early 2019 due to extreme stress and disability. I had been in a relationship that later had not been working out, but had a strong support network to back me up in the times where I had a crisis. I later ran into a situation where problems in a local, non-Smash-related community had put me at odds with somebody popular regionally in the area, which made me pull back from things because I had been in a similar spot. They were pretty manipulative. It was actually a situation I’d been in before actually — in Smash, in 2011-2012! — where because either I had made a mistake or stood up for myself, scapegoating happened and rumors started being spread.
I moved in with people whom were a support network up in the PNW, but things went south situationally as well, and it ended up with my mind just completely broken from how awful the year went. I loaded up my things in the car, and on a shoestring budget, drove cross-country in my little Kia Soul to the mid-Atlantic states where my aunt was located, and promised my aunt I’d find work. October turned into November.
Mental health is a struggle, and I’d been depressed, anxious and traumatized. Suicidal thoughts were something I’d dealt with for over half my life. Well, a couple of weeks and a couple of job rejections later, I tried to walk myself into the Susquehanna River and drown. Thankfully, I stopped myself before even getting close, but it just felt so bad. No home, no money, felt like I was a burden.
About a couple of weeks later, I’d finally received a welcome call of a job offer with a large tech company to do security testing for them, and signed it in a heartbeat.
So I had a plan in place: leave my aunt’s (and unfortunately for her heckin chonk cat Rufus, it meant a lot less pets), head to a good friend’s in SoCal for Xmas break, then to another good friend’s in NorCal to stay while I got my savings up before I would finally stay in the PNW. I’d go to various meetups around special interest groups and hobbies around the area, make new friends, feel welcome, and try and work up being valued again.
Around this time, I’d been evaluating playing Smash casually, to pass the time after work. I actually started watching Hungrybox around January 2020, but lurked and didn’t start doing anything of note until February 2020 when I finally talked and gifted a few subscriptions to help support him. And to a man who had been pretty great to both the Super Smash Bros. Brawl community in the late 2000’s/early 2010’s, had been respectful to production staff then, and worked his way up to #1 in Melee while streaming a lot of Ultimate? It was entertainment that helped pass the time, keeping in mind how badly the Melee elitists were shitting on the new kids who were enjoying Brawl back then and trying to get better at it. (Note that for Melee in particular, many of the tournament organizers, top players, and even casual competitors of Melee that went to IRL tournaments didn’t do this – it was just random online folks and very few Top 50 players.) So that joint bridge between the two, even if Hungrybox himself was hated for several years, was pretty welcomed overall.
Remember how I said I’d go to interest/hobby groups and make friends starting in early 2020? Well, Covid would like a word with that.
From then on I basically had fallen into being pretty lonely and had an outlet in interacting with the Hungrybox viewers, and ended up supporting enough to become modded. There was another “gifter” who came a month after me, by the tag of eganist, who was there under similar circumstances: his childhood friend CrimsonBlur was friends with Hbox. Imagine my surprise when eganist and I both realized we worked in the same field.
There was also another mental health incident that happened around April 2020, involving an unmasked someone being rude to me at a grocery store due to not following policies, and it set me off. I lost a fair few friends that I thought I could rely on, and whom ended up spreading rumors that I later had to respond to a few DMs clarifying what actually happened. It pit several friends against one another. It also surprisingly ended up in a couple of people of said support network visiting me to make sure I was alright, and genuinely stunned me that they cared, as I thought they hated my guts!
From then on, basically a lot of my year has been following either Smash Twitch or furry Twitch. Either or.
And several questions messaged to me, with awkward answers, about why I donated $66.60 the night he dropped a pizza.
What is Summit?
If you don’t know what’s been going on and don’t follow eSports or Smash Bros competitively, there’s an event that happens 1-2 times a year called Smash Summit. There’s two variations of it:
- “Smash Summit”, which particularly covers Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube (2001) and has been going since 2015. As of this post, 12 iterations have happened.
- “Smash Ultimate Summit”, which covers Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch (2018). As of this post, the 4th iteration is the upcoming one on March 2022.
The key goal is that players rack up victories and placements in double elimination tournaments with many, many entrants, in what are called supermajors or majors, for the “major” amount of player talent and entrants there are. Players earn spots to attend Summit based on their performance to a non-invitational tournament called Mainstage, put on by the same company.
There are three phases to this:
- An “opt-in” phase, for 4 days, where people who have qualified based on eligibility from said tournaments.
- A “nomination” phase, for 3 days, where everyone that has opted in are listed on a page. Fans of players are encouraged to tweet out a specific tweet message saying they nominated a player. The number of tweets for a player are counted, and the top 20 most nominated players move on.
- The “voting” phase. This starts with 20 players.
The objective is that the voting phase is where Twitter posts no longer matter, and it is solely based on donations. However, every member gets free 10 votes, with more based upon certain criteria, e.g. whether you’re subscribed to Beyond the Summit Smash’s Twitch channel. There is a page where you can purchase votes, via either items in the shop, a VIP slot to attend in-person, or a straight-up direct donation to the event that will go to its prize pool, specific fun events, etc.
The math goes: 2 votes for every $1. +25 votes for every $50. +50 votes for every $100. Because this stacks on top of each other, every $100 will thus earn the equivalent of 300 votes, or a factor of 3.
The fun part about the voting phase? Only several people are chosen: 6-9 who have qualified from Mainstage, and only 6 can qualify from voting.
The voting schedule looks something like, and this is all at 12pm Pacific:
- [1st Round] Day 1: Shop Opens (to buy votes), Voting Phase Begins with 20
- Day 3: The 4 with the least amount of votes are eliminated. 16 left.
- [2nd Round] Day 4: The 4 with the least amount of votes are eliminated. 12 left.
- [3rd Round] Day 5: The top 2 with the most amount of votes qualify for Summit, and the bottom 2 with the least amount of votes are eliminated. 8 left.
- [4th Round] Day 7: Same as above. 4 left.
- [5th Round] Day 9: Same as above. 2 qualified, 2 eliminated.
Obviously, this becomes very high stakes, to the point of strategies forming. Many have taken to pooling their money, in the form of what’s called a “spirit bomb”, and dropping it as close to any and each of the deadlines as possible. This has a purpose, where the true vote totals aren’t realized until as close to a millisecond before the round deadline, and makes it so that each $100 will equal 300 votes, as say, 7 people donating $35 will only equal $245, which will fall short of the bonus votes that cause that multiplier to reach 3. It prevents people trying to predict the true number of votes. In the case of one player during Ultimate Summit 3, a top player by the name of Chag lost in the voting round by 1 vote.
The unfortunate downside, and something I realized early on, is that this can become a zero-sum game: because this relies on the most amount of money donated toward getting a player into Summit, this can be gamed. I’m a hacker, and well, I can’t help but nitpick loopholes Godel’s Loophole-style that I notice others using.
One of which can be: someone with very deep pockets will spend enough to get their candidate into Summit, so that a player who has been donated a total of $10,000 by 20 people, and another who has been donated a total of $9,500 by 520 people, will inevitably tip the winner toward the former. You could be a businessman, a highly paid doctor, a cryptocurrency trader, an oil prince, but with enough money, you can have a stake in getting your favored player into Summit as it’s free publicity for you, as the turn of attention (if public) will go towards you.
Another one, which might actually end up somewhere down the line with Summit: a big enough sponsor has nothing to lose on dropping a big chunk of change, to the tune of $50,000+, to get their player into Summit. Summit has large viewership numbers, ranging into 75,000+ viewers during the championship. This brings not only bonuses but for the amount of content the Summit team puts on, from the side-events, the skits, to the tournament itself, it has a huge return on investment. For a big enough organization, this can be cushion change. I can actually see this happening where Summit stops being grassroots-funded and a bidding war between sponsors, but I don’t think it’s likely to happen without a huge uproar.
Additional bonus: one loophole actually happened during the nomination phase, where Hungrybox himself opted into Ultimate Summit 3. In the last 2 hours of the nomination phase before voting started, someone used a Twitter botnet to nominate enough people to put him below the 20th place necessary to move on. It caused such a huge uproar as well, that Smashgg had to manually code in exceptions to that botnet. With the botnet’s influence removed, Hungrybox made it onto voting. (He would be eliminated due to not being able to campaign, due to an ill-timed request to film content for his sponsor for a week.)
That brings me to: Bassmage.
So Bassmage got on my radar around mid-2020 coaching Hungrybox, but I’d never heard of him before. Probably because my idea of a Bassmage is a bass player in a rock band who either plays D&D 3.5e every weekday (hell yeah) or has such an inspiration from fantasy works it works its way into their songs. Supposedly his name branches from a Xbox name generator, and as someone who writes fiction and has friends and family who do, you’d be surprised how often name generators are relied on.
He would help Hungrybox with matchups that he was struggling with. Gradually, Bassmage would become better and better at Ultimate, and in the couple of years after, started taking top player names. People who were anywhere from top 10 to top 50 in the game. In one case, almost taking down the #2 ranked worldwide player. The standard joke became, while Hungrybox was the best Jigglypuff player in Melee worldwide, Bassmage was the best Jigglypuff player in Ultimate worldwide. Thus, Bassmage was “Hbox’s son”, even down to the uncanny resemblances when both of them were of a similar age.
At the same time, he was trying to stream, and he was pretty humble and wholesome. He’d have these subscriber goals which were completely doable but non-serious and outright silly & humorous. “At 10 subs: take a walk.” “At 15 subs: drink water.” “At 20 subs: get Chipotle.” After awhile, he pretty much became a friend.
His Summit incentives for votes?
He wasn’t an asshole to anyone, and would talk to anyone in his stream no matter who you were, whether a regular or not. I started getting Hungrybox to send his viewers over to Bassmage, and gradually Bassmage’s streams grew from there, getting to the coveted Twitch Partner within several months. He was kind of a person where he wouldn’t even be salty, or insulting, or have it in him to put down others, so it felt pretty good to support this person’s dream of being one of the best.
People usually have this favoritism toward players who are pretty cocky and can back it up. You have several personalities that range in how they are, how they view competition, what they do on the side (even content creation), and much more. Many people can see someone like Tom Brady and either love him or hate him because he puts up results, to the chagrin of whomever he plays. Or, to reference someone who’s actually a Smash player, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals.
But you know who wasn’t an asshole to anyone, took down GOATs regularly, and was pretty wholesome?
That’s right. Joe fucking Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens.
This guy throws a football to the wide receiver, and it ends in a touchdown? He just clenches his fist. Just blurts out “that’s awesome!” There’s not much of a popoff, he doesn’t get in the face of others or put down players in front of the camera, he just *knows* it’s time to do something, and does it. Yes, motherfuckers, Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback. Fuck the Steelers, fuck the Bengals–
Wait, this is a Smash Bros-related entry. Let’s get back on track.
My main philosophy of being kind while using what I know to help others pretty much paid off: helping with technical support and designs for his stream, helping to get him on an alternative software, and much more. He would be winning local tournaments already, but noticed moreso compared to before. He’d be beating Glutonny, a top 10 Ultimate player, in a best 3 out of 5 set where he was down by 2 games, and managed to win the next 3. He’d be close to beating Tweek, the #2 player, by mere pixels.
Now, it came time for him to opt in for nomination at Smash Ultimate Summit 4. What would happen next is a whirlwind.
Bassmage would eventually get in on the voting phase. Many contenders for being voted in to Summit have various plans to campaign for votes: some have vote total goals, some have donation goal incentives, some outright do a “subathon”, a 24-hours-a-day stream until the goal of being in Summit is complete (or they are eliminated) that would include even sleeping while on stream. Bassmage couldn’t do that, as sleep apnea would prevent him from doing that. If he’s like me in that regard as well, it’s pretty hard to stay asleep while you have the glow from a monitor going!
Now, you would think… okay, Bassmage has helped out Hungrybox with coaching, with matchup support, his thoughts on which characters beat Jigglypuff most of the time, which ones Jigglypuff beat most of the time, or which ones are 50:50. Hungrybox and I had discussed this briefly at the start of the voting phase whether he’d lend his support as some players would to others, but the more I thought on it, the more I had come to a conclusion…
I’d be very supportive of Bassmage’s campaign, but I’d know that no matter how much he were to campaign, whatever happens basically happened. We were nearing the end of the first round. He thankfully made it, but had already amassed enough votes to be middle of the pack and avoid elimination.
I had also been added to their channel (the-strat) where we were, of course, strategizing. Shaxxam and I had purchased a VIP pass for ourselves. I also bought a VIP pass for Blstar. Altogether, that would make 9000 votes between all of us. But it wouldn’t be necessary this first elimination.
And what’s funny is that all along, they had this really genius idea of having a fake-out spirit bomb that they’d purposefully not include Bassmage’s personal funds, e.g. from coaching players.
The next strategy was, since Hungrybox would be remaining neutral, I would claim the raid from him in order to forward viewers to Bassmage’s channel, and try and have that help raise funds for the campaign. He actually didn’t mind – since it was whatever goes, and he was still not planning to support Bassmage at this point.
I have a “widget” that I programmed, for use in OBS Studio (used for livestreaming), that would display the vote counter. You can see it in the screenshot below where it says “7th (19,766 votes)”. It would update every time votes were dropped, as it would connect to where Smash.gg would be fetching information from, and parsing it in such a way to be simplistic while creating a reason for more people to drop their votes. I gave it out toward not only Bassmage, but also Peanut, Riddles, Ned, Goblin, Maister, and Tilde. (I reached out to others but received no response.)
The day after, on the 13th? We had a strategy to drop a lot of our votes. Pretty much everyone, from Bassmage, to me, to Blstar, to Shaxxam, dropped nearly every single vote we had. Never used much, if any, of the funds from the spirit bomb. Bassmage made a last-second decision to drop more votes, and without it, he would not have survived past the second round.
The gas tank was empty.
We were all out of votes. We had a lack of funds in the spirit bomb to use for the next round, to even stay alive. What depressed me was that Peanut and Riddles, both of whom players that I loved watching, and had sacrificed a lot to put on a 24-hour-a-day marathon stream to raise funds, were eliminated. It was especially sad to me because Peanut was who I was hoping could also be invited – and I had also provided technical help to him as well, both during and before Summit.
The next morning, approaching the end of the third round with 2 more eliminations, we apparently received something that relieved us: VoiD was dropping out, and made the announcement 2 hours before the round ended.
VoiD is also a top 10 player in Smash Ultimate, and since he was in Ultimate Summit 3, it’d be speculated he’d have a massive amount of support to make it into 4. But it came as a genuine surprise to see this about a couple of hours before it actually happened.
This meant that we really only had to worry about 1 person eliminating us.
It also meant that I had some last-minute fixes I had to do to the OBS widget, with both Bassmage and Maister reaching out and saying it broke with a 502 Bad Gateway error. Right as I woke up. Oops.
We had to come up with a plan regardless to not get eliminated. We knew that we weren’t going to be the first 2 invited via vote-ins — that was left to Goblin and Fatality to take. (Surprisingly, Maister, who had been on top for most, if not all, of the voting phase – did not make it in first try.) Goblin had dropped 94,000 votes, Fatality with… 77,000? It left nearly everyone else in the dust.
This meant that I had to reach out to voice my concern: we might be short on votes still. We were the underdogs, we had a lack of support from any sponsors or number of individuals. No Hungrybox support. This meant that I ended up going a bit overboard, and offering a VIP slot to someone on the planning team. As I alluded to earlier, Blstar accepted, and mentioned that he would pay me back when he could, so that meant 3000 additional votes for him… on top of the 600 he had.
Between Blstar’s 3600, my 1520 votes, and Shaxxam’s 300, we could stay alive. VoiD was no longer a concern.
And then, the event that changed everything: A couple of French people had come into Bassmage’s stream, spamming “#Raflow4summit”. Raflow was a contender based in France who had Europe’s full support in trying to be invited into Summit.
We told them to fuck off, politely.
I assumed in the context, it was waving off my comment. I told them I did speak French. (Even though my French sucked. Though, Isatis is known for both the indigo dye and being the French word for Arctic Fox, so…)
I got to hand it to them, without doigdrip in particular, Bassmage wouldn’t actually be in Summit. The number of votes we had wouldn’t have been enough. Their cockiness was their undoing. My 1520 votes actually became 7520 votes. No, really. I wanted to keep Bassmage alive out of pure spite. I had a really bad morning already. And Bassmage never knew I had that many votes.
6000 additional votes were purchased.
Blstar’s 3060 votes & the rest of Shaxxam’s 1500 votes got dropped. 5th place. Nice.
I start the video at about 2:11 here, but if you have time on your hands and want to re-live 8 minutes of history, I really advise you to. (Also – nice little sync with the music.) The end of the third round happens at 5:07. Oh by the way, that melodrama I put in Bassmage’s chat? I had 3 hours of sleep. So, uh, the filter was off. The rational thinking was also turned off.
And then Raflow was eliminated. Nobody, including me, expected this. For one 10 minute period, I felt pure excitement and adrenaline, because if those Frenchies hadn’t come into the Bassmage channel to campaign for Raflow, I wouldn’t have dropped it.
I kind of felt guilt starting about a half hour later, and still do. I get pissed off by people being cocky and putting down the underdog, so I end up using things in my power to shut people up, and that’s something I’m still maturing out of. However, I had expected Raflow to stay alive barely, due to the overwhelming number of nominations he got in the nomination phase (1st!) but… Raflow was eliminated.
Later that afternoon, I had a really bad panic attack due to how much money I’d spent, but the next day, I felt like things would be better.
Okay. We had 48 hours to gather things up. At this point though, with how much I’d spent keeping Bassmage alive by way of $2.5k on top of the VIP slot, I felt like I was already in the hole. If I had not helped Bassmage, it would feel like I would’ve wasted money, and also broke someone’s hopes and dreams at the same time. That was some additional guilt on me.
I decided to basically say, okay, after getting Bassmage into Summit? I’m done putting any kind of money into Smash. Forever. This far extended past my budget for things.
It also made me reflect on some unfortunate misgivings that happened in the early 2010s — friendships that got ruined due to rumors, feeling like I was only used for what I knew instead of who I was, and so on. Spending so much on someone, even though he didn’t ask for it, kind of felt like I was attaining notoriety on myself for spending a lot of money. I’d begun feeling this in 2021 but.. it made me feel really bad this time.
Knee deep though, it was time to get to work.
So, I decided to talk with a few Hbox donators and gifters. One of whom is, as mentioned earlier, eganist. We had talked for awhile, but he was unsure of how much he was going to donate, if at all. He had also asked how much money it’d take to get Bassmage a guaranteed spot into Summit, but with so many variables and an unknown amount of people with an unknown amount of funds, who knew?
I directly connected eganist to Bassmage, and both of them started to work out a plan. In the meantime, I had to make sure I had enough funds to make sure Bassmage would get into the next round while saving. It felt like there was so much stress increasing on my side, but I’d at least have a fruitful sleep.
We had a plan.
Now, we had assumed that Tilde wouldn’t be a threat anymore, since he used his own spirit bomb to survive elimination in the prior round, and was down to $200 total on his own stream.
I couldn’t sleep, again, on the night before elimination happened. I had done finances again, and figured out that I could safely pull out 7500 more votes.
My usual ritual of watching others’ streams to keep tabs on how others are doing using multistream, how their spirit bombs are doing, pretty much went to what I expected to happen. Honestly, I started changing my mind when I realized Lavish had not used much of the spirit bomb they amassed… but Tilde? I thought Tilde was a goner.
Not so, says last minute regrets.
Watching Tilde’s stream, he amassed donations from $200 to $7800 all in about 45 minutes. There was one person in his chat, who was matching every $1000 donations with $1000 of his own. (I later learned this was on purpose – Tilde’s region of NJ/NY had $4,000 ready to go already. They put on a ruse to be broke to garner more donations, and had a secret spirit bomb themselves.)
So us in “the-strat” Discord room… we started running the numbers. Given how much Lavish and Tilde were raising, we were in danger of being eliminated. I didn’t want to spend this much money just to feel like I wasted it, and I felt so confident about getting a Puff in Summit as kind of my last hurrah. I decided to put off moving for a few months, which I was already debating on doing anyway, and help put up funds from the sign-on bonus from the job I recently started, towards Bassmage.
Split between two cards…
All in total, I think that was 12,100 votes to keep in mind the gap between Tilde and Bassmage, plus the spirit bomb Tilde had amassed.
Nakat let loose his bomb. Nakat had actually both been raising funds, as well as getting folks to vote for him, by way of appearing on Ultimate content creator Nairo’s stream, so unbeknownst to literally everyone else, Nakat’s far eclipsed everyone else’s.
And then Lavish dropped his lion’s share. A lot of his.
And thus, Bassmage was saved. Tilde and Larry Lurr were out. But I was spent.