As reported here at Luckbox two days ago, Team Envy have entered the world of professional Smash, with the signing of Justin ‘Wizzrobe’ Hallett. The Florida Melee Falcon and Smash all-rounder finally has a sponsor to replace his last, Fry’s Electronics, after months of top performances and record-breaking wins, but the battle has just begun to prove he is a viable pickup.
The problem for Wizzy is highlighted in a recent video by Cloud 9’s Smash legend Joseph ‘Mango’ Marquez, where he explains that orgs don’t want to sign Smash players purely on results. Social media presence, Twitch popularity and other factors that are more traditionally related to ‘influencer’ life than professional esports are a massive part of parlaying success in a niche scene into a living, and at this point in time Wizzy is lagging behind the likes of Leffen, HBox, and Mango himself.
"Teams don't want Smash players"
Speculation that he may have been turning down sponsors would be just that, but far from unjustified, as many players with less impressive resumes have scuppered their pro careers by aiming too high with their sponsor demands. Smash Bros Melee is one of the oldest esports still around, but monetisation of the scene is tough, and getting tougher as the game loses some of its biggest platforms.
Fighting game tournament Evo has already announced the cutting of Melee in favour of Smash Ultimate, where previously they had space for two iterations, showing one of the real challenges for the community. Unlike CSGO, Dota and League, smaller games can be vulnerable to developer and sponsor pressure even if they have carried events in the past, and tournaments like Evo are not well-funded enough to pick their line-up purely based on the games that will provide the best show.
For now, the challenge for Wizzy just got a bit harder, as he has to maintain the incredible levels of performance that secured this deal as well as growing his personal brand to benefit Envy in a way that benefits the org too. If not, he’ll join the long list of players in Melee who briefly had a top sponsor, only to fail to make the deal worthwhile for their employee, and likely put the org off Melee.
Picture: Team Envy / Twitter