Apex 2015, the annual Smash Bros. community gathering, almost ended before it began last weekend after a series of ill-timed disasters left organisers shaken and without a venue.
However the intervention of Twitch and Red Bull ensured the show went on to hand Kevin “PPMD” Nanney the coveted Melee singles crown and Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios the first major title on Smash Bros for Wii U.
Trouble began early on Friday morning for the tournament, as one of the 1,500 smashers in the venue caused a fire alarm, possibly as part of an 8:50am wake-up prank. Fire marshals saw no laughing matter, however, as their routine inspection of the Empire Meadowlands Clarion Hotel, in Secaucus, NJ, discovered some structural damage suffered by the venue’s multi-storey car park as a result of the storms that have battered America’s East coast for the past week.
The damage, along with subsequent parking code infractions and the sheer number of players in the venue, caused marshals to cite the venue for fire code violations. Secaucus Mayor, and volunteer firefighter, Mike Gonnelli, told NJ.com that multiple vehicles were parked in the fire lanes in front of the hotel and that they had failed to apply for a permit for more than 500 players to attend.
All of this fell heavily on the shoulders of Apex organisers, who only a week prior had to dismiss founder Alex Strife over allegations of behavioural misconduct from members of the community. Luckily, sponsors and streaming partners Twitch and Red Bull, along with Smashboards owner Chris “AlphaZealot” Brown, stepped in to sort out the venue change and transport, moving all equipment and matches 40 miles to the Garden State Convention Centre in Somerset, NJ.
The success of Apex 2015 was made all the more imperative as this is the first year Nintendo agreed to lend their sponsorship to an eSports event, a gesture already put at risk by actions of the tournament’s now-estranged founder. That they were able to move the largest Smash Bros tournament of all time to another venue with the requisite permits only 40miles away, in the space of 24 hours, is commendable and a sign of the strength of a community wracked by controversy in the competition’s lead-up.
Disclosure: eSports Pro editor, Chris Higgins, also provides editorial content to Red Bull Media House on a freelance basis.
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