Averaging 4 days a week at a tournament and having entered more events for Smash 4 (Super Smash Bros. Wii U), Benjamin "JJROCKETS" Rowe has been deservingly proclaimed the "tournament fiend". He has traveled enough to have racked up wins against many prolific players such as Ally, Hyuga, and MVD in 2016.
But, is more necessarily better? We got to speak to JJROCKETS about the current state of Smash 4, if there's such a thing as "too much practice", and the uprising of new blood in the scene.
How much do you train outside of tournaments? Anything else taking up your time? Briefly describe your average day in the life of JJROCKETS.
How often I train outside of tournaments can vary a lot depending on how often I’m traveling. I always make sure I at least go into the training room to practice movement and tech every day, and recently I’ve been aiming for playing on average 4 hours per day on top of going to as many tournaments as I can.
You had previously been #1 in Chicago but now are PR’d #3, who are some strong players to look out for in IL? What about the Midwest in general?
Me, Ned, and Tyroy are probably the most consistent players in the state and have the most big wins. Just below us in my opinion would be Big_Mak and Dan, both of which can win tournaments in IL on good days, but they are more prone to getting upset in bracket than me, Ned, and Tyroy.
The Midwest in general is going to be very strong this summer. ZeRo recently moved to the Chicago area, and the Leap of Faith crew including Tweek, False, and Hackoru are going to be moving to Ohio which already has Darkshad, Mister Eric, Colinies, and more. Add in Michigan’s top players like Ally, Zinoto, and Ryuga, and the Midwest will be a contender for the best region in the US soon I believe.
In other athletics, overtraining can result in diminishing returns and sometimes even a decrease in ability. Last year, you averaged over four days a week at tournaments. Do you feel you might have better results if you toned it back a bit?
Probably not. I very rarely felt like I was burned out from playing, and when I did I would skip a few locals until I was ready to get back on the grind. These small breaks usually didn’t last very long and I would soon be at every local again.
You’ve taken some victories over very high level players, but aren’t where you want to be for nationals, despite having perhaps the most tournament experience in the scene. Is mentality holding you back, or is it perhaps something else you think?
Right now I feel like I’m at a point where I usually beat pretty much anyone outside of the top 50 or so, but then I pretty much always lose to those people when I make it that far. I’m probably capable of beating almost anyone right now, but that’s if I’m playing at my absolute best. I need to just keep improving so that I can get those wins more consistently and get higher placings.
Having attended perhaps the most tournaments of any player, you are possibly most fit to answer this question: why do you think the variance in placements within the top 50 or so is so random? Do you think the top players in the scene are becoming complacent or ignorant to new talent? Might the “skill ceiling” of Sm4sh be approached? Discuss.
I think there [are] a lot of reasons for the variance of results at big tournaments. The most obvious reason is that there are so many characters in this game that it makes learning the ins and outs of every matchup very difficult. Smash 4 is pretty balanced in my opinion, and since even top tiers have multiple bad matchups, so bracket luck probably also plays a role. The last big factor I think is just the fact that there are so many good players.
“Getting good” is a lot more accessible nowadays than it used to be when Melee was new for example. Anyone can look up VODs of pros and have countless hours of footage to study, Wifi exists so people can get experience against all kinds of players without having to leave their home, and the scene now is a lot bigger now than they used to be.
All of that plays into more people reaching a higher level of play, so I wouldn’t say top players are complacent. It’s just that there are more good people than ever that are all fighting to reach that top level of play. I don’t think a skill ceiling will ever be reached; Smash is too complex for that to happen anytime soon.
How do you feel about the balance of Sm4sh? It seems as though many prolific people from the scene had been set on tier lists confidently in the past, but with every major, new, strange characters are going very far in bracket. Does this make skill a lot more important than character choice?
I think Smash 4 is actually really balanced. At Civil War, we saw how many different characters were able to make top 32 and that no single character is dominating the meta. To an extent, bracket RNG can play a big role in tournaments like that, though. Every character has losing matchups, and even some top tiers have losing matchups to low tiers. So even with a worse character with a not as good matchup spread, it’s still possible to go really far in brackets at majors if you can avoid running into problematic matchups.
You already travel a lot for different events to get a taste of different regions’ playstyles and skill levels, but do you think living (and training) primarily in the midwest might be holding you back from reaching your potential?
I don’t really think living in any particular region really holds anyone back anymore. There are so many big tournaments with top players getting flown out for pretty much all across the globe. Between that and having access to play anyone over wifi, I think even players in remote regions can become top players.
Do you have any important training techniques you use that you think could help other players who might be stuck, or might just want to improve? (Here you can describe things training mode exercises and whatnot, if you utilize those.)
My training at home is in two parts: First, I practice all difficult inputs and combos in training mode every day and do them over and over until I do them successfully without messing up 20 times in a row. This includes things like ledge trumping, B reverses, down tilt kill confirms, and edge-cancelling monkey flips.
After that, I try to find other opponents that are close to my skill level to play online. A lot of people tend to try to play top players in friendlies to improve by getting destroyed every game, but I think you can learn a lot more from close matches against people near your own skill level.
Thank you once again for the interview. Is there any shoutouts you want to make or any last words before we close this out?
Diddy beats Luigi.
Favorite Food: Mangos
Favorite Player: ZeRo
Most memorable Event: Civil War and Smash Con 2016
Biggest Fear: Centipedes
Worst Pet Peeve: In game: When commentators say factually incorrect things. // Out of game: Chewing loudly
Favorite side esport: League of Legends
Side hobby: Traveling and hiking
If you enjoyed this interview, follow the author on Twitter at @ESHDrexxin.
Also, make sure to follow the player at @JJROCKETS.