Editor’s note: Some responses have been slightly altered for clarity. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the interviewer and interviewee; they do not reflect Shoryuken as a whole.
When it comes to competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee, most players will pick Fox, Falco, Sheik, Marth, Jigglypuff and Peach to place high in tournaments. Sometimes, there is the occasional Captain Falcon, Samus or Ice Climbers player making a mark with decent to amazing results. Other than those “top tier” characters, you rarely see players climbing up the ranks with the rest of the cast unless, perhaps, your name is Axe or Abate.
However, there has been one player in the Melee community who has been competing since its beginnings as a competitive game with Link, who’s considered by many to be a mid to low tier character. The player I’m speaking of is of course none other than German “Germ” Roverso.
Roverso, 30, who hails from Concord, California, has been a big part of the Smash Bros. scene since March 2002. Besides beating down opponents with the Hero of Time for almost 15 years, he is one of the event organizers and producers for Genesis, one of the biggest Smash Bros. tournament series. He also has a passion for art and graduated from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA with a Bachelor of Arts in Illustration in 2011.
I got to meet German for the first time at the Folsom Street Foundry during one of their weekly tournaments, Get Smashed at the Foundry, after many years of following his competitive career as a high-level Link player. He comes every Tuesday to compete, mingle and have a few drinks with some of the casual and notable players in the Northern California Melee scene such as DaJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni.
German has a few interesting stories to tell about his time in the Smash Bros. communities. I recently sat down with him at DNA Pizza to talk about a variety of topics concerning his thoughts on the past, present and future of Melee and the rest of the Smash Bros. community.
Marcos Blanco: Why did you choose to play as Link who is considered by many players in the Melee community to be not a strong character in this game?
German Roverso: I picked up Link first in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 and it’s not because I liked The Legend of Zelda. I liked the way his bombs sounded when they hit something. His up+B got better in Melee, and I just stuck with him ever since. Also he was just untapped still. The fact that I could invent a character was very appealing to me.
MB: I remember you told me recently that you don’t like Link as a character and that you actually like Samus from the Metroid series. Do you play any other characters in Melee besides Link and Samus? I’ve also seen you play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U a couple of times at the Foundry with Mega Man. What are your thoughts on the game?
GR: I used to destroy SFAT with Samus! I have the record of beating Zac with the most characters. I also do play Falco. If someone destroys my Link, I pick him. Playing Link takes so much concentration. You have to out-think everyone with Link even if they suck. Sometimes I just want to autopilot (laughs). I played Smash 4 [competitively] for a few months and then stopped. I still enjoy playing it for fun. Technically, it gets to a point where you hit a ceiling.
MB: The differences between Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and, most recently, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U seems to have caused a huge divide in the Smash community at large over the last several years. Why do you think that is and do you feel animosity between the Melee and Brawl/Smash for Wii U communities has subsided or is there still some left over?
GR: It’s hard to say, really. It comes down to what each community is owed or entitled to. Especially as far as eSports goes as a whole. The [Melee] community thinks they’re owed because of time invested, longevity and that it’s the more competitive game. Smash 4 is like ‘We’re the new game. We’re the better-looking game that has corporate backing.’ The Smash 4 community is so different. I don’t think the level of camaraderie is there like it is with the Melee community.
MB: After 15 years, Melee and Super Smash Bros. in general has become more popular than ever and seems to have been accepted as a true competitive fighting game series in the FGC as well as getting more exposure in the eSports world. Where do you see the franchise heading in the future? Can it get bigger than it already is and how so?
GR: We need to make more noise. We’re trying to push the envelope as far as production goes. Once production comes, the corporate sponsors will come as well. We can eventually get to the level of DOTA 2 where you could win a million dollars. Also, if Nintendo makes Super Smash Bros. Melee HD, that would be it (laughs).
MB: Can the meta in competitive Melee evolve further than it already has? When I was at Genesis 3, the reactions from the spectators and competitors as Mango was tearing through the losers bracket in top eight, it looked like they were watching him for the first time playing as if he’s showing new things they’ve never seen before.
GR: Melee is the chess of fighting games. It’s a timeless game with an infinite ceiling. As long as you have that, I can’t see the game ever going away. When you watch insane, high-level Melee now, it’s like players say ‘Wow. How can I play that fast?’ It’s those little things that nobody thought of back then that collect to make one giant advantage that’s not super obvious to the casual player.