I Entered My First Gaming Tournament… and Got Obliterated

I’m no idiot, I knew what it was. “Nevertheless, he persisted.” T’was the last day of school (I teach) in NYC so my afternoon was filled with smiles and sunshine. Smiles and sunshine that soon turned to frustration and doom. Ya boy ran home to eat some grub, grab a couple Nintendo 64 controllers (which are highly recommended), took a swig of Jameson and hopped on the F train to Delancey-Essex. I entered the abyss that goes by the name of Nebulous Gaming on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and will never be the same again.

I rolled up to the spot pretty damn skeptical if I’m keepin’ it a hunnit. Whenever you have to walk through a long uninviting hallway to get to the meat and potatoes of a venue, you’re gonna be a lil’ weary. But just like that sketchy hallway I walked through to get to an insanely dope stadium style club in Cancun, I was rewarded when I got to the light at the end of this gaming tunnel. What emerged is best described as Boiler Room meets the South Park World of Warcraft episode. Just rows of awesomely old tv’s collected throughout decades of smashing, coupled with a Nintendo 64 sitting in front of most monitors.

There was also a trading card section for Magic the Gathering aficionados. Tons of people were chillin’ playing some friendlies to get ready for the tournament starting soon. I found the guy who showed love for the Smash Bros is the Greatest Fighting Game of All Time article I wrote and he put me on to the rules of this event. We chopped it up for a bit, talked a little smack, he pointed out some flaws in my article (fuckin’ purists) and gave me the run down on this Big Apple Smash Tournament about to go down. I made it fam!


The back corner held that raw shit. I’m not nerdy enough to tell you what the hell was going on back there, but I’m guessing their server was putting in that overtime work as they streamed select matches to their Twitch, just like my $50 challenge match against one of their regulars. They save each challenge match and make them available on YouTube. BNP hosted the live stream of this Big Apple Smash tourney, so if you’re interested in seeing me get destroyed you can peep the best 2 out of 3 battle below.

I had a decent first match. The little homie Kirby, the Pink Piranha held me down. I made a bold character selection in my 2nd match and took a Meek Mill level L. Hilarious commentary make this an ill interactive event I plan on returning to as much possible.

When it was all said and done, I went 2-9 on the night. I was eliminated from the tournament bracket off the rip, but that’s where you discover the dopeness of this place. There are plenty of hungry players who are also in the beginning stages of competitive smashing and they just want to get these kills off. I got to duke it out with this one player who went by the name of Majinn Bukkake and his name alooooone had me hyped the entire match! When you combine the freedom to play a not-so-friendly against whoever you set your Fox killing eyes on, with side pools, loser brackets, and small prize tournaments, the greatness of spots like Nebulous Gaming really begins to show.

It’s like the epic nostalgia of late 90s gaming with your homies…but you’re allowed you to cop a beer at the bodega and talk smack as loud and proud as your skills will let you. The atmosphere is perfectly conducive to relishing in Smash 64 glory, despite being a salmon battling upstream surrounded by 20 Grizzlies completely aware of how insignificant you are, in comparison.

Art by Nelson Johnson
Art by Nelson Johnson

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It was funny when the top players started getting word that the one talking smack with Max on Twitter all week was in the building. It went from a feeling of, “is this media guy nice enough to come up in here and fuck shit up?” to “I was in your place when I went to my first tournament too.” You know who wants to hear that shit!? Nobody! But real recognize real, I was a bottom feeder in this environment. Struggling to compete with the guys who get eaten alive by the top 10 competitors.

It makes sense though. Most people who ride for a game this heavy usually become the best player in their crew, their side of town, and destroy cats when their friends challenge other people for them. They develop this unbeatable complex because they literally haven’t been beaten in months to years. Sure, you may go to college and find some beasts that give you your first challenge since 10th grade. But you still might win and be the best player you know! So you get a big head after the years of triumph. Then you walk into a professional gaming tournament and damn near every player in the building mops the floor with your trash ass. But this is how legends are made.

I will be returning and I can’t wait to up my game and see how much I’ve improved by next summer. I had a blast reliving my N64 days where we would play for hours on end. Special shout out to Max aka The Dark Gentleman for the invite. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up article next year, who knows. Until then, keep smashing homies.


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  • Ja-Quan is a NYC teacher and artist holding a B.A. in Sociology and History from SUNY New Paltz. On his journey to become Hokage, the Lord of The Speed Force and Protector of the Recaps can be found North of The Wall, chopping it up on Twitter @OGquankinobi

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