For years, the Nebulous organization has carried the torch for New York City’s Melee scene. The group, based in a Manhattan card shop, hosts two weeklies—one on Tuesdays, the other on Saturdays—and organizes many of the tri-state area’s larger events, including the Super Nebulous series of super-regionals and New York City’s arcadians.
However, simply running multiple weeklies is no longer a surefire way to be inclusive to the entire New York smash community. In this day and age, many players spend much of their time on netplay, facing off against faraway opponents through the wonder of the World Wide Web. A huge portion of the “Smash community” rarely, if ever, go to locals, and many high-level “hidden bosses” like Cody “iBDW” Schwab and Michael “Michael41000000000” Rollberg owe much of their success to netplay practice. With netplay clients like Faster Melee constantly making improvements in speed and quality, it’s only a matter of time until netplay and LAN play are nigh-indistinguishable.
With that in mind, the Nebulous team has recently made the brave decision to branch out into netplay tournaments, making Nebulous the first longstanding Melee local to open its doors to an online clientele. So far, there have been two “Nebs Online” events, one last December and another in the beginning of this month; both have been sponsored by New York City professional gaming organization Makeshift. While these events have featured top names that you’d expect to see at in-person events, such as iBDW, Alex “Captain Smuckers” Cottrell, and Rishi “Rishi” Malhotra, they’ve also boasted top netplay names such as Anees “Milhous” Assaf. Furthermore, Nebs Online’s netplay tournaments have allowed top players from other regions, such as Harriet “HT” Turner, to take shots at New York’s best.
As the population of netplayers grows, it’s important that the leaders of the Smash scene don’t ignore this valuable source of competitors. While locals and majors are truly the lifeblood of the Melee community, many netplay fiends would inevitably make the transition to LAN play if their interest in the game were nurtured, and events like Nebs Online are a great way to give netplayers a taste of what local competition is like. Other regions’ tournament organizers would do well to follow in Nebulous’ footsteps and host netplay tournaments of their own.