With the 80s era and eSports on trend, the 2015 Nintendo World Championships marked a nostalgic return of one of Nintendo’s cherished competitions. After Nintendo thanked everyone for watching and the cameras shut off, fans lingered by the stage to catch a glimpse of the newly crowned world champion, John “John Numbers” Goldberg, and congratulate Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma on his victory against Nintendo of America President and CEO Reggie Fils-Aimé. Like a flash mob, the crowd joyfully burst into singing the “Pokémon Theme.” Although the franchise was not part of the day’s grueling battles, it was fitting. Nintendo showed off a diverse repertoire of games throughout the championships that inspire many gamers “to be the very best, like no one ever was.” The moment caused me to pause and ponder, “Just what does it take to compete at that the world championship level? How does someone even think about preparing to participate in a pre-E3 event of this caliber?”
To answer those questions and more, Jovenshire (Joshua Ovenshire from Smosh Games) took a moment post-tournament to talk with me about what it’s like to take on the pinnacle Nintendo competitive event as one of the world’s top competitors.
This was the first Nintendo World Championships in 25 years. As a competitor, what went through your mind when you first found out that you were going to be competing in this thing?
“Now, this has been a huge event for Nintendo and because of that they’ve kept everything very close to the chest. So I didn’t know anything pretty much until I walked on stage. And when they first put out the announcement video of who was competing, I was watching it and I’m like, ‘Speed runner, speed runner, speed runner, speed runner, Jovenshire. All right, I can do this. I can do this.’ But, at the end of the day, it was just being able to say that I was a part of this moment in Nintendo’s history, which is just a phenomenal experience. It’s just a great thing just to be able to say.”
Absolutely. So, how did you prepare? Since you didn’t really get to know anything… [Laughs] did you prepare?
“So, without knowing what games that we were going to be playing, it was really just kind of like, ‘Alright, I work in the game industry. Think. What’s being announced? What’s good? What do you think they will wind up showing?’ Splatoon was new and a really big success for them, so it was like, “Alright, let’s play some Splatoon.” I put in a lot of practice time this last week and I think it showed. I may have lost, but I looked good doing it. And at the end of the day that’s what’s important – me looking good. [Laughs]”
It must be hard losing when you’re playing against other competitors that are at your same level and higher. The folks at home are probably like, “Oh, he lost.” But, you have to take that level into consideration, as well.
“That’s a really good point. From a viewer’s standpoint, yeah, it looks like I lost first round but look at who my competition was. One of these guys played Yoshi’s Island for three years straight and has the fastest completion time on that. Now, okay, yeah, that’s just one game. Is he good at every game? Well, maybe not necessarily, but he has devotion. He has a skill set that not every gamer has. And to try to compete against that in any game at any capacity is going to be very difficult to do. But, I think I held my own up there.”
Awesome. Did you like that element of surprise? Or, if Nintendo were to do this again, would you like to know what games might be up there to some degree?
“There’s two ways to answer that question. The producer in me or the perfectionist in me wants to have full control over what I’m doin’. I wanna practice. I wanna look as good as I can. But at the same time, it really did even the playing field. Not everyone knew what to practice. If the guys I played against today had practiced every game we were going to play, there’s no way I would have won. So, it really does even the playing field, which is good.”
And what was your favorite part of this entire experience?
“To be completely honest, my favorite part was during the Mario Maker event. It’s unfortunate that I wasn’t a part of it, but I kinda think it was a good thing because I would not have done nearly as good as those two guys did. Even when we were watching backstage and hearing the audience just roaring with how exciting it was — to have an entire crowd of people that invested in one moment is phenomenal. And to be a part of that was magic.”
Last question: For any aspiring Nintendo champions in the future what kind of advice do you have to give them?
“Stay well rounded. What we saw today was a person who qualified to be in this event go from the very start of it all the way to the very end. So, be well rounded. I think it’s really important. Nintendo puts out a lot of great, fantastic games — all of which are different. So, stay on top of all of it. Get your practice in.”
[Images courtesy Nintendo]