The next action sport

By CAMILLE DODERO  |  November 21, 2006

5) KoreanDJ. Our local hero, Daniel Jung.

The money at stake today? First place: $5000. Second: $3000. Third: $2000. Fourth: $1250. Fifth: $750.

Although he’s not in the line-up — such are the intricacies of tournament rules — Azen is ranked high in the Smash Power Ratings and won in Orlando, so he’s the guy everyone wants to beat. Especially KoreanDJ.

First, KoreanDJ has to tackle Mew2King. He dispenses with him handily. The victor takes three of five possible matches; Jung buries his opponent 3-1. Mew2King blames the defeat on his controller.

KoreanDJ runs into PC Chris, whose girlfriend Lilian is one of only five girls hanging around the Smash area. (There are no pro female Smashers.) Chris seems nervous. “I used to play football and baseball,” he explains later. “With football, before a game, I’d feel like I have to throw up every time; I’d be so nervous. Once the first play happened, it’d all go away. I feel the same way at the Smash tournament.”

It’s time for KoreanDJ to face off against Azen. Spic Tom and Marcus both huddle around KoreanDJ. “Remember what he did last time?” asks Marcus.
“Just relax or you’ll fuck up!” shouts Spic Tom.

Azen, meanwhile, comes over as if this were a business transaction. He’s wearing an oversize red shirt with a dragon, a courier bag strapped across his shoulder. He says nothing, sits down, and plugs in his controller. They choose characters and a stage, then they go.

By round five, they’re underneath the happy trees, in front of a baby elephant. KoreanDJ falls to Azen. By. One. Single. Successful. Attack.

KoreanDJ ends up finishing fourth at MLG NY. Rush Hour also finishes fourth. But a month later, in MLG’s national championships in Las Vegas, KoreanDJ comes in second and scores a $5000 prize. Finishing first is PC Chris, who wins $10,000 and beats Azen to become the new Smash singles champion.

Later, KoreanDJ ponders what things will be like next year when Smash goes online. “I will foresee two types of communities,” he types one afternoon over AOL Instant Messenger. “The old school and the new school the old school is more of the more ‘traveling and meeting people in person’ kind of thing while the new school depends highly on online play.”

KoreanDJ recognizes that he might not be able to play Smash forever. “I’m also going to try to pick up golf and play it competitive there,” he says via IM. “If I reach the age where video games may be out of [the question], I still have golf.”

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