Just Roll With It

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WKNC program director Adrian Lopez chats with Kam Steele about the Just Roll With It Smash tournament on July 16-17. They also talked about local Smash Brothers and grassroots events.

DJ Beepo 0:00
Hello, you are listening to WKNC 88.1 HD-1 Raleigh. I am DJ Beepo here with kind of pop up interview. Would you like to introduce yourself?

Kam Steele 0:16
Hey, my name is Kam Steele.

DJ Beepo 0:18
Hello, Kam. What do you do normally? What do you got coming up?

Kam Steele 0:24
So I run Smash Tournaments for the Smash Community in North Carolina and I'm working with WKNC today. We're doing a charity tournament tomorrow, and it's going to be awesome!

DJ Beepo 0:37
It will be awesome. I hear I hear the guy running the tournament is pretty cool, too. So I've heard.

Kam Steele 0:43
Yeah, he's pretty cool to be sitting right across from me.

DJ Beepo 0:47
Yeah, love. Yup. And so that's going to be a pre local tournament, kind of like a starter and hors d'oeuvre if you will, for your tournament. Just roll with it!

Kam Steele 0:59
Right, the main course, just roll with it.

DJ Beepo 1:01
Just roll with it. It'll be a two day tournament held in Talley Student Union, hundreds of hundreds of entrants. It'll be a lot of fun. So I just wanted to ask a couple questions regarding like organizing tournaments, the community itself, and sort of your experiences in the community because you've been here a while?

Kam Steele 1:24
Yeah, yeah, I have been in the community for about six years. It's been a long time.

DJ Beepo 1:31
And so I kind of wanted to start off, asking kind of, how did a tournament with so many entrants as Just Roll With It, how does that kind of stuff start off.

Kam Steele 1:44
So I gotta say, sometimes it just takes a little bit of luck being in the right place at the right time. Some other factors. But I started this tournament in 2016. And I was just, you know, just running a normal tournament, it was just going to be like a small local with my friends and some of their friends, but it's grown to what it is today over time, I've been improving every tournament just trying to make it as big and cool as it can be. And now, the biggest tournament in North Carolina, one of the biggest in the southeast.

DJ Beepo 2:20
I think this weekend, it's going to be the biggest tournament in the southeast.

Kam Steele 2:25
That is correct. Yeah, it's going to be the biggest tournament this weekend. It's also going to be streamed on one of the biggest Twitch platforms for Smash, "BTS Smash". Make sure you tune in!

DJ Beepo 2:39
Exactly, exactly. And I also wanted to ask like TO-ing kind of comes with its own tribulations. Like when it comes to getting setups when it comes to getting someone to stream finding a venue? What do you find to be like the most difficult part of tournament organizing?

Kam Steele 2:59
Oh, yeah. All that, all that takes so much time, I'd say I probably put in about 250 hours into each tournament. You think it would get easier and more streamlined every time but it really doesn't. I'd say the hardest part is probably just balancing everything. And keeping in contact with people. Sometimes. It can be hard to do that. Sometimes people are hard to reach. Sometimes they don't respond. Sometimes things take longer than you need. You have deadlines and they're hard to meet. That's probably the hardest part.

DJ Beepo 3:36
It especially doesn't help when those deadlines have to be met by other like young adults who are just kind of at their desk.

Kam Steele 3:44
Oh, for sure.

DJ Beepo 3:44
Playing some video games.

Kam Steele 3:46
Yeah, the people that I'm working with are also you know, teenagers, people in their 20s Still figuring out what they're doing. Yeah, not that adults are like, any more organized, but maybe just a little bit.

DJ Beepo 3:58
Yeah, exactly. And I also kind of was wondering, like, in running, just roll with it. There was actually there was an event a couple years ago when Smash Ultimate first dropped, where you had some issues with another very big tournament series that was kind of trampling on your style, so do you want to like kind of talk on that? How sort of scheduling your events can be pretty difficult?

Kam Steele 4:28
Yeah. So ultimate came out, and there was a huge boost in popularity for the scene and everybody wanted to run their own tournaments. Everybody wanted bigger, better tournaments in their region so one of the more established groups tried to run an event on the same weekend as ours in the state neighboring neighboring our South Carolina, and we got a lot of attendees from there. So it was definitely going to hurt our event. And so I went to them. I was like, "Yo can you not do this?" And the response wasn't great at first. But eventually we're able to work something out. And both of our events were able to happen. Ours was on Saturday and theirs was on Sunday and I think the events benefited from each other in the end, but that is not usually what happens.

DJ Beepo 5:18
Yeah, from from what I heard, they were just kind of like, whatever, some local guys trying to- try to step- over step on our stuff, we are established, they were like, they're like, whatever let's just give you some, some Japanese players will have them enter.

Kam Steele 5:35
Yeah, to an extent it did kind of feel like that and it kind of hurt for them to step on our toes because I had been to their tournaments before they hosted in California primarily so I never thought that they would do something like this. But they decided to run something in South Carolina. And it was it was just a weird situation. But I'm glad it turned out well.

DJ Beepo 5:53
Yeah, and that kind of that kind of brings me to, something I sort of wanted to discuss was that whenever whenever people think of like, a Smash Brothers, or a fighting game tournament, I feel like a lot of the general public will think of sort of a big stadium or like a big venue, a bunch of cameras, like a huge stream. Very, like high production quality, when in reality, the vast majority of these events are very, like grassroots, just people caring about the community.

Kam Steele 6:28
Oh, yeah, it's definitely community driven. Unfortunately, our game doesn't get any support from the developers so everybody, everybody who wants it to succeed has to do their best to make it work. No, there's not a lot of money in the community. So you really just got to take what you can get.

DJ Beepo 6:45
Yeah, it's really funny. I run as you know, I run a tournament on Mondays with our friend Hobbs called Smash Sands. And I was I was talking to them, because we were trying to put all of our like, profits into some sort of fun to get someone who used to be like a French foreign exchange student flown to like a big North American, like major tournament and so then once that player had told us that, like, they can't come and we just kind of have to use that money elsewhere. I was like, oh, what can we use to boost our budget? Like, what can we use to improve production? Like, how much money have we made in these like, five months? And they were like, "Oh, we made like, 100 bucks like total".

Kam Steele 7:30
Yeah, that's pretty common. Usually, I run these events, and I'll break even, lose money, or maybe have enough just to buy the entire staff dinner so it's really a it's really a passion project. If you're doing it, it's because you love it.

DJ Beepo 7:48
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think I think you really do see that in the community, not sure how other local communities for like Smash Brothers kind of are organized. Like I know, I know, their major or like communities, in like Georgia, Florida, basically, like any state in the southeast, northeast, in California, but North Carolina kind of seems to be one of those communities that are far closer and more intimate with one another than other communities would be.

Kam Steele 8:23
Yeah, for sure. If you go somewhere else, everybody calls each other by their tags. But in North Carolina, we're on a first name basis, which you wouldn't think is uncommon, but it actually is.

DJ Beepo 8:35
Yeah, it's crazy.

Kam Steele 8:37
It's definitely a really jarring experience to meet these people and they'll go, "Oh, yo, Gravity123, what's up?" Instead of just being like, "Oh, hey, Mark".

DJ Beepo 8:47
Yeah, exactly. We've like, we've had far more people going to like major events, like we went to one in Atlanta in May- like late May, and it was crazy seeing like, some North Carolina players be having to be like, "Hey, what's your name?" And they'll be like, "Oh, it's it's Master Mario", And we'll be like, "No, like your your name?" And they're like, "It's Master Mario, what else do you want?".

Kam Steele 9:12
Yeah, definitely have have had experiences like that going out of state. It's pretty funny. But the community in North Carolina is super tight knit, super inclusive, which is awesome, anybody's welcome here. Anytime we have players come from out of region, they just talk about how much they love it and how they want to come back. So we definitely have a good group of people here.

DJ Beepo 9:34
Yeah, it is great. I I do like kind of hope that North Carolina Smash can kind of put their name out some more because I think that talking about like or playing Smash in a more competitive level is far more accessible than a lot of like casual players would would believe, you know?

Kam Steele 10:00
Oh, for sure. Yeah, the, the barrier to entry as far as cost is less than $30.

DJ Beepo 10:07
Yeah, absolutely, and even and even if you like, don't want to enter like, I, I barely enter tournaments, I just go in play against some people. They're always like super helpful, friendly. Like to kind of mess around if they want to play a little bit more serious. They don't mind doing that. I think that the game is like, pretty easy to pick up. So like a lot of people who are playing the game more casually, it's, it's, it's super within reach, I think.

Kam Steele 10:36
For sure, for sure. And that's why we encourage everybody to just come out and try it, see if they like it. Even if you aren't super good at the game, you'll find community and you'll have good times.

DJ Beepo 10:50
Yeah, and you meet some awesome people like we've we've got like a bunch of pretty talented individuals in the community right now. Like we've got Peeb Peyton. He's kind of become like, the Smash Bros photographer, which is awesome.

Kam Steele 11:08
Super cool. Everybody's profile pics LinkedIn. Everything has stepped up its game because of Peyton's photography.

DJ Beepo 11:16
Yeah, he's made us look far more professional. And we've also got Cactus who- or Cactulio, who's like a local artist. He's been doing like just about everything we commissioned him for, like rankings, stream layouts. We commissioned him to do prints for the Friday tournament Rock and Roll With It.

Kam Steele 11:39
Yeah, no, they look super awesome. I commissioned some stuff from him for just roll that as well, some merch, and I know he does great work. Yeah, a lot of very talented artists in North Carolina. It's awesome to work with them all.

DJ Beepo 11:54
Yeah, I kind of forgot. Are those gonna be like sold at the venue? Or did I have to buy them earlier?

Kam Steele 12:01
The store is still open, so you can still buy.

DJ Beepo 12:04
Thank God.

Kam Steele 12:04
They won't be at the venue unfortunately, they're printed as you buy them so.

DJ Beepo 12:08

Kam Steele 12:09

DJ Beepo 12:10
Made to order type stuff.

Kam Steele 12:11
But the shop will be open until July 20 so make sure you pick up your Just Roll with It merch now.

DJ Beepo 12:16
I'm too broke. I can't buy any of that stuff right now. So I was I was hoping I could snag some stuff before it all goes away. Good to know that it won't, though. At least when I'll- when I'll have money. And so that kind of brings me to another question I wanted to ask since there's a lot of like, very enthusiastic, talented individuals kind of stepping up into the Smash community. What do you think you see for like, the future of your organizing and like how other people are kind of matching that same enthusiasm?

Kam Steele 12:54
I think North Carolina is going in a great direction. I've got my thing and Hobbs also has stepped up and ran some very creative and innovative tournaments as well. I'd say North Carolina probably has the most unique events.

DJ Beepo 13:10

Kam Steele 13:11
Just based on what we're willing to try. We're super grassroots. We don't have any, any professionals or companies trying to step on us. So it lets us do whatever we want. We can be as creative and crazy as possible. And we're in a really good spot sandwiched between Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina, so we're still like a decently sized region, and we can get people to come out to these crazy events.

DJ Beepo 13:36
Yeah it's also pretty awesome. Because a lot of like organizers are either in NC State, or like former NC State students, so they're able to just kind of like reserve rooms at NC State for free. Whereas otherwise, you'd have to pay like crazy venue fees. You'd have to like, do stuff with the venue owner. At NC State, we're just kind of like, "Hey, can we have this room?", they'll be like, "Sure", and that's kind of awesome, because then you can host like, an escape room tournament like that, like was done earlier this year.

Kam Steele 14:07
Or a charity ball, where everybody dressed up in suits-

DJ Beepo 14:10
Oh my god!

Kam Steele 14:10
Which is the last thing you would see it at a Smash tournament.

DJ Beepo 14:13
A bunch of, a bunch of like Smash players and gamers in like super formal attire, playing their video games and like a suit and tie that looks like the it looks like a like a formal and exactly what you'd expect a formal to be. Except they were just playing Smash Bros. It was awesome.

Kam Steele 14:32
Yeah. So for future projects. You didn't see this but yesterday- have you played Among Us?

DJ Beepo 14:38
I have played Among Us.

Kam Steele 14:40
All right, you know what Summit is right?

DJ Beepo 14:41
I do know that Summit is.

Kam Steele 14:42
So November-

DJ Beepo 14:44
Why don't you Why don't you before before you explain why don't you explain to the like people listening what Summit is?

Kam Steele 14:51
Oh yeah, Summit is a bi annual event where top players are invited to the to The Summit, basically the peak of Smash to duke it out in an invitational style event 16 players just the best of the best. There's some people that are invited some people that qualify, and some people that are voted in. So it's a really, really cool event. And me Hobbs and Scrappy are putting together a North Carolina Smash Ultimate Summit, aka the NC SUS. Okay, which will be an Among Us themed summit events in North Carolina.

DJ Beepo 15:30
Wow. So this is the first time we're hearing of that. Okay, I know, I know, Scrapy has been trying to do a summit style event for a long time now. And a big issue with that is, as we've talked about, is like getting the funds getting a venue getting a time getting like a bunch of people who have their own schedules that you'd want to invite, see, like, if they'd be able to come. And you just said that, it'll be an Among Us themed Summit.

Kam Steele 15:59
That is correct.

DJ Beepo 16:01
Oh, my God.

Kam Steele 16:02
More to come.

DJ Beepo 16:03
More to come see.

Kam Steele 16:04
But when it comes, it's gonna be an awesome event. I'm really looking forward. I have also been wanting to do a summit style event for years. But again, just just the funds made it seem out of reach. But I finally figured a way around that just by, you know, knowing people and having more experience, so we're finally going to make it happen.

DJ Beepo 16:25
And I mean, it's awesome seeing like, production value for these grassroots events go up. Because before it used to be I remembered in like 2015 2014 where it would just be like a bunch of people huddled into a green room in the back of like, a video game like resale store.

Kam Steele 16:46
Yeah, I mean, that's still pretty common, but Smash has definitely upped its game mostly just because there's more people so there's more people to contribute. And some other like sponsors have tried to hop in still no Nintendo but still no Nintendo. It's at least a little bit of money, which is, which is nice. It is good.

DJ Beepo 17:06
I do find it funny, though since we are so grassroots still, like we we've got we've got some more production going on. But it is still just people trying to host something for a thing that they love for like, no reward at all. I mean, at all. I think it's kind of funny. When we we've run into a lot of issues like hosting these tournaments, right, like, we had one at UNC Charlotte, where we we all got like, kicked out because the tournament was going on too long. Were you there? Do you remember that?

Kam Steele 17:45
I was not there. But I do remember it.

DJ Beepo 17:47

Kam Steele 17:47
Everybody filed into the parking deck. It was-

DJ Beepo 17:51
It was like December, it was December.

Kam Steele 17:53
Yeah it was in the winter. So the parking deck was probably 30 degrees, and best and we finished the event, not we, they finished the event in the back of a car.

DJ Beepo 18:04
In the back of a car...Imagine having to play for like hundreds of dollars in 30 degree weather. That was fun. In the escape room tournament we talked about before, there was a bit of an issue with a frat. A Fraternity

Kam Steele 18:19
So there was some scheduling overlap, this was our fault we kind of went over on our time. And they kicked us out of the room that we were using so we had to very hurriedly scramble out of that room and find another room to-

DJ Beepo 18:35
Which was just across the hall.

Kam Steele 18:37
It was just across the hall so, they could have just done their thing in that room but.

DJ Beepo 18:42
No that's what's that's what's crazy, the entire the entire hallway was just like empty. It was just us and them.

Kam Steele 18:50
There was one classroom being used and we're both assigned to it and every other classroom was empty, so.

DJ Beepo 18:56
And they were they were insistent that we got out.

Kam Steele 18:59
Yeah, they had to do their uh-

DJ Beepo 18:59
Which was pretty funny.

Kam Steele 19:00
Elections. Very important.

DJ Beepo 19:02
Very, very important elections, which was like funny because it seemed like a majority of the people from the frat were just like watching us and they were like, this stuff's awesome.

Kam Steele 19:12
Yeah. Most most of them were okay with it. And they were just like, dude, calm down because they had this one guy. I don't know if it was the president or what but he was, he was being very mean.

DJ Beepo 19:23
Laying down the law.

Kam Steele 19:25
Yes, he laying down the law, but in a very cruel way.

DJ Beepo 19:30
Yeah. And see, that's, that's about all I wanted to ask. It's good kind of talking about how, like, intimate our scene is. How we really just do it for like the passion of it. And funny to hear about the best of the best in North Carolina Smash going to an Among Us themed tournament.

Kam Steele 19:57
Oh, yeah, that's gonna be exciting. There's also some Some other secret projects that I'm working on that I cannot talk about or announced just yet, but see, you know, just stay tuned for those as well.

DJ Beepo 20:10
Yeah, we've also got a couple monthlies that Hobbs and I are kind of discussing in like early planning stages. So, there's a lot to look forward to, if you want to, like, play some competitive Smash, meet new people, find people with similar interests, it doesn't have to always be like, doing the best of the best and like, trying to win at all, like at all costs, it could really just be like, playing a game at like a more competitive level. Like you would just like playing online, honestly. Except here, you just get to meet some awesome people. Like like you can you want to, you want to say what you do, again, say what's coming up.

Kam Steele 20:54
So just to recap I'm Kame Steele. I run the Just Roll With It series and help with some other series such as The Peep It series. And a few other projects. Just roll with it as this weekend, July 16 and 17th. Make sure to tune in on BTS Smash on Twitch and Recursion GG as well.

DJ Beepo 21:16
Yeah, we hope to see you. There's also Rock and Roll With It the charity pre local on Friday, I'll be running that. It'll be far less professionally done. It's just being held in like-

Kam Steele 21:28
Oh, but it'll be very cool.

DJ Beepo 21:29
Yeah, it'll be awesome.

Kam Steele 21:30
A lot of people have been messaging me. Oh, what's the pre local? Where's the pre local? So I've been, I've been sending a lot of players to that. So hopefully it gets pretty big pre locals are hyped because they're a more casual version of the main event and you get to see a lot of top players interacting with the local players.

DJ Beepo 21:46
Yeah that's awesome. I think we're we're at about like 50 to 60 entrants right now, which is really great.

Kam Steele 21:53
Oh, yeah, totally great.

DJ Beepo 21:54
It's capped out at 120.

Kam Steele 21:55
Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if it got close to that cap, like 80, 90, 100.

DJ Beepo 22:00

Kam Steele 22:00
A lot of people like to wait to register. We actually, I would say about two weeks ago, we had 150 people signed up for just roll with it. And now we have 320. So they really liked that's even with, like discounts for registering early. Like, they just don't even care about that they just like to keep TOs on their toes.

DJ Beepo 22:24
I'm definitely one of those people I like didn't register until like recently. And then I was like, "Oh, well, now it's $45, I guess I'm just commentating".

Kam Steele 22:33

DJ Beepo 22:34
I'm one. I'm part of the problem.

Kam Steele 22:36
Yeah, this is a very common issue.

DJ Beepo 22:39
So yeah, once again, you're listening to WKNC 88.1 HD-1, Raleigh. This was an interview with Kam Steele. Talking about, Just Roll With It the upcoming tournament, kind of the little North Carolina Smash scene that we've cultivated. So yeah, hope you enjoy it. Hope we get to see some new faces if this has interested you. Yeah, it was great talking to you, Kam.

Kam Steele 23:11
Yeah it was great talking with you, too. Thanks for having me on!

DJ Beepo 23:14
All right.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Just Roll With It
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