Making the move: gamers find new home states to up their game

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Being a professional gamer, or any high-level gamer, involves dedication to the game and making sacrifices along the way. For some players of Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers Melee, the price of admission to the highest leagues is moving across the country.

One Project M (a game similar to Melee) player, calling himself “Gho$ty,” has already made this transition. Moving from Columbia, Missouri to southern California, he has now rooted himself in an entirely new environment of competitive play. It didn’t come without a cost; he cited the long, boring drive and a long job hunt as two consequences of the move. However, “I’d say it was worth it,” Gho$ty stated in an online interview. “I’ve found out a lot about myself and don’t regret this decision.” He did not have any particular players in mind to play against when moving to California, but rather, wanted the high-level meta in general.

The Columbia, Mo., SSB Melee player Austin Kent, who goes by the name “Shinobi,” has plans in the works to eventually move to California as well to further his game. “He’s got to follow his dreams,” says Jacob Gerry, one of Shinobi’s fellow players. Shinobi, in his own words, is “the best” in his current Melee meta in Columbia, and possibly the entire state. Rival player “DarkAtma,” who was based in St. Louis, has since moved to California, leaving Shinobi without challenging competition in his home state. To advance his game, Shinobi looks forward to California’s more advanced player population.

“You better be very humble,” Shinobi explained about moving to a more advanced meta. A player in Shinobi’s position is starting over at the bottom tier of players, and that means he may face many defeats while improving and getting on par with the meta. A player will not improve if he or she takes defeat badly, Shinobi explained. Shinobi looks forward to facing players such as “Frizz,” “Vista,” “Liberate” and “DarkRain,” who are closest to Shinobi’s skill level as of this article.

California provides the best Melee meta, according to both Jacob Gerry, and Shinobi. Fifteen of SSB Melee‘s top 30 players in the world live in California. There are pro players in other states such as Florida and New York, but Jacob Gerry favors the idea of moving to California where the top players reside. “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” he said. In addition, Shinobi explained that though there are currently no girls in the top 500 Melee players, he is open to the idea. “Diversity is important and brings more to the table,” he said. He believes that including more girls in the game will advance the meta, and Gho$ty too would welcome girls to the high-ranking Melee scene.

Relocating to improve one’s game is often a one-time job, Shinobi explained, but even just once, it can provide challenges, mainly the cost of moving. Shinobi stressed the importance of saving money for this event, especially with how expensive it is to live in California. He also thinks that the move will be bittersweet, leaving behind friends and family. If it weren’t for those obstacles, Shinobi said, he would have made this move much sooner.

Overall, Shinobi believes that the move to California is an essential one for anyone and everyone who is serious about the game and wishes to reach the top 1% of players. “I’m not even close to the best at nationals,” Shinobi said. But with the future move to California, he plans to reach that stage of his career in time.


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