A Shout In the Dark: An examination of a crowd moment at Runback 2016

Melee has begun the transition towards becoming a spectator sport. That is, the audience behind the community has become less comprised of those who play Melee. With Melee’s popularity increase in general fighting game tournaments such as EVO, CEO, and Combo Breaker, it is clear that these fans are growing in number.

As such, a greater emphasis is being put on the interactions between crowds and players. Daniel “Tafokints” Lee wrote an overview of the topic on Redbull’s eSports site, which can be found here.

There is enough general discussion on the topic. Yet, further exploration needs to be done on where definitive lines can not be crossed by spectators. This line was placed under stress by an incident at Runback 2016 in Arizona. A Utah player by the tag “Logos” shouted during Loser’s Finals. Playing at the time was Kyle “Dizzkidboogie” Athayde and Johnny “S2J” Kim. The shouting was loud enough to be picked up by the broadcasting hardware. A cut version of the incident made its way onto Youtube. The video has reached over 11.000 views at the time of writing.


The incident was discussed on Reddit and a thread appeared on the Utah Smash Facebook group. Shortly afterwards, the Utah thread was removed. Logos has since not made any public statement about the incident. When asked to comment, he declined for unspecified reasons.

The motivation behind the outburst seems to lie with a deep dislike for Wobbling. An infinite combo only performed by the Ice Climbers character, Wobbling is controversial. No current bans are implemented at major tournaments, but calls for banning are common. Given the language used in the incident, the match it occurred, and tweets like this…


…there is little doubt on where Logos lays his grievance.

Stephen “Tyson” Shackelford, co-owner of SAK Gaming and Organizer of Runback 2016, was not a fan of the behavior. However, he applied a hands-off approach with the incident. He prefers to leave the crowd to their own devices, as long as there are no major complaints. Tyson wants spectators to feel comfortable during tournaments. If spectators approach him about the behavior of other crowd members, he steps in. What to do in each situation is judged at the time, as there is no formal ruling on most crowd behavior. Tyson prefers this fuzzy approach over strict lines. Each situation has many variables to consider. He finds it easier to take situations case-by-case.

The outburst by Logos did not have anybody approach Tyson with complaints. As it stood, he opted to let it ride out. No reports have been found on an escalation of the crowd, and most left the incident with minor grumbling, if even that. Overall, the decision to let Logos be seemed to have worked. When asked about inviting Logos back, Tyson made it clear that he holds no grudge against him. In fact, he was very enthusiastic about the possibility of Logos returning to an Arizona tournament.

As for Dizzkidboogie, the outburst was just another tournament set. His playstyle has been known for Wobbling. In response, some crowd members tend to call him out while playing. For him, it’s another part of being a high-level player. He found that it was easier to not worry about how the crowd perceived him. Instead, Dizzkidboogie keeps his focus on the match. He feels it’s a skill that all regular players learn to some capacity. The further up the ranks a player is, the more focus they get from the crowd. To Dizzkidboogie, this means it becomes more important to tune out the excess. It’s very zen-esque in nature. It could even be said to be a form of meditation.


As for this incident, Dizzkidboogie wasn’t even clear on what Logos had said. He heard the shout coming from behind him. However, he kept his focus on his opponent. In essence, the outburst was little more than background noise. He didn’t feel like it made any significant impact on his mentality or gameplay. When asked if it impacted his image of Logos, he made it clear that it wasn’t a big deal. Dizzkidboogie had a great time interacting with Logos throughout the tournament. He held no resentment, and the incident was more considered banter than anything else. To him, it was all in good fun.

The discussion on crowd interactions is growing, and analysis of concrete examples yield interesting viewpoints. While crowds grow, these incidents become more frequent. Post-mortem examinations are revealing the distinct lines crowds are not allowed to cross. They are also showing just how difficult it is to create universal rulesets on crowd behavior. Different tournament organizers take different approaches to the same issue. This is not likely to change anytime soon. As the Melee community mulls over the idea of a circuit system, the question of crowd control may be moving towards rigidity. The answer to crowds is still fuzzy, and it may be up to the community on how to change that, if at all.

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