Anti: "I’m not going to mourn Smash 4 at all, I’m ready to bury it."
Published on November 9th, 2018
Jason “Anti” Bates finished second at Canada Cup 2018 in Smash for Wii U. Before Anti played his Top 8 matches, Amanda Stevens caught up with him to talk about the end of Smash 4, finally overcoming Ally, and how he got into playing Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition. Anti, after making Top 8 at Canada Cup, how did it feel to make it in? I feel very good, because like, I beat Ally in Winner’s Quarters, and that was like the first time I’d ever beaten him in three years, so I’m actually shaking right now. That’s how ecstatic I am. It’s crazy. What’s it like when you’re playing against someone who you cannot overcome? Does it start to get into your head every time you see them? I kind of studied the people who beat them. I studied, “What do they do,” “Why do they beat them,” and “How come I struggle”. I’ve been studying Ally a lot now because I kind of admire him too. He was the player in Brawl, the old game, that motivated my playstyle, so I kind of have a certain respect for him. Today I just overcame it and all my hard work has come to an end so I’m very glad. When you have a moment like this where you got amped, you’ve overcome something and then you don’t play again until the next day, is it hard to get back in that right mindset to perform in the Top 8? No, because actually, I was playing Street Fighter this tournament, so I’ve been juggling games. I’m not really even 100% focused on Smash. I’m not like zoned in or locked in on Smash right now but I miss having fun. I feel like when I’m having fun and when I’m in a good mood, it’ll translate to my play so I have to make sure that I’m happy and well-slept, well-fed and that I’m ready to play tomorrow. You’re playing Street Fighter now. Where did that decision come from? I’ve actually always been a fan of Street Fighter since 2014. I respected Daigo and all the big names - Mago, Tokido - and so I actually entered here and did very, very well against Alex Myers, a top Street Fighter player. I took him to the last game and the last round, so that pretty much told me, “Oh, I’m capable of actually becoming great in Street Fighter.” Soon I’m going to be playing a lot. I went to Japan for TGS (Tokyo Game Show) and I was playing the whole week - training every single day - so I feel like soon I could make a big splash in Street Fighter. You’re going to be joining Leffen as the other Smash player playing another game that’s not a Smash title? Yeah, I feel like it’ll be cool because I want to bridge the communities. I want to bridge Street Fighter and Smash Bros because they have this beef where Street Fighter players don’t really respect Smash as much and Smash players, they don’t care about Street Fighter? They don’t watch it. So I want to show that fighting game fundamentals transfer over between every game. You could be great in Street Fighter, and you could also learn Smash as well. Obviously mechanics are different, and I know that mental game translates across anything. But do you think that there’s anything from Smash that has allowed you to pick up Street Fighter as well as you already are? I feel like that’s neutral in Smash. When I was playing against Ally for example, bringing it back to what I said earlier, we were dashing in and out of the zones, poking and taking small jabs to get positioning. That’s also in Street Fighter; just getting small jabs and walling them out. When you have them in the corner, keeping them in the corner and stuff like that, it translates over into every game so I definitely see that all fundamentals transfer over between Smash, Street Fighter, Dragonball... Who knows? You recently parted ways with Immortals and you’re sponsored for this event by Esports Ecosystem. You have the right idea of “I can’t just be this team player, I need to have my own brand.” Did anyone tell you that or did you just look at what was going on in the FGC and Smash community and say “I need to do better”? No, I actually was always a big Twitter user, even since 2012 before Smash was even relevant in the esports world. I always had an itch for tweeting and putting out content. I used to have an old Twitter which was very explicit and I would have memes all over it, and I had a lot of followers. I always had the right idea on how to be a good social media person and that chance was over between this because now every time at a tournament, people expect that content from me. They expect me to go downtown clubbing, to tweet my adventures, my Tinder stories, and all that stuff. People like that stuff. They want to see how their favourite players are living their regular life also, so I feel like that’s also a good thing to have. You have the ability to build your brand and to have your fans be loyal to you. If they’re loyal to you, it opens up a lot of doors; sponsors want to see that you have a loyal fanbase. What would you say is the Anti brand? If you were to distil it into 3 or 4 words, what is the Anti brand? Doing what the hell you want and going against the grain. That’s it. Aren’t you a little worried that might also put off sponsors? You've got a mouth on you sometimes! The sponsors that are put off tell me that they’re interested in me and ask if there’s a way that I can tone it down a bit and I say “If that’s what you want then I’ll consider it but I’m not really inclined to go towards you.” The ones who really want me and like what I do (because I don’t really go super overboard and I keep it in check a little bit), I’m willing to talk to and to work with them, you know? So, you play Smash 4. Ultimate is coming out soon. Are you ready to mourn the death of 4 or do you see it as a natural evolution? I’m not even going to mourn the death of 4 because I don’t like Smash 4 that much, to be honest. Everyone knows that. I feel like it’s a very inconsistent game compared to Melee and Brawl so I hope that Smash Ultimate brings back that consistency and those results, like, the better player will win 90% of the time. I want hard work to pay off and to not lose to rage mechanics and flunky mechanics in the game. Hopefully it’s like that and I have great success in the game. I’m not going to mourn Smash 4 at all, I’m ready to bury it. I already have my hatchet out. [laughter] The last thing I want to ask you about is, in all the FGC communities, we’ve been talking a lot about getting sponsored and having the resources to be able to grind out events. You obviously are someone who very quickly landed back on their feet. Do you have any advice to players who are good but aren’t sponsored on how they can make that next step? For now, connections are the main thing that you need. You need connections. You need to have people in the industry who can vouch for you, who can say good things, and motivate people to work with you. Other than that, you could just stream a lot because I got here to do my stream. I had received generous donations because I have loyal fans, so, they were like “I know you’re a free agent right now so here’s a donation. Have fun at the tournament and we’ll support you until you get back on your feet and get another team.” I’m very grateful for my fans and my agents and people who are in the industry and who talk to teams for me, and I talk to teams myself. Get contacts and build a resume, and make sure that it looks good and that it has your impressions, your outreach, and all that stuff. People want to sell a product, so you need to make sure that you’re a good package: good in-game, got a good mouth, and good at social media.