Wizzrobe, a veteran of the Smash community, wants to be remembered as one of the best players in any Smash title, not just one. We caught up with him about his quest to do just that.
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet of Team Envy has long been considered one of the best all-around Smash players, with top placements in Melee, 64, Ultimate, and Project M. While he’s been a top player, it’s been roadblocks all-around in Melee, where despite being ranked in the game’s top 20 for years, he’s had trouble winning events.
All of that changed in November when he won Mainstage 2021. He finally had a really solid win on his resume with several top players in attendance after something of a slump in 2020. It was a sign of the advancement of the Smash scene during the pandemic – the old guard was beginning to get worn down, and Wizzrobe, a member of that vaunted next generation, was rising up. He quickly followed up that win with a 4th place finish at Smash Summit 12 and a 2nd place finish at the Smash World Tour finals.
He’s currently ranked fifth in the world in Melee and #4 in Smash 64, with some notable finishes in Smash Ultimate as well.
We caught up with Wizzrobe to discuss his thoughts on finally winning a breakthrough event, what he wants to be remembered for in Smash, and his take on the Nintendo Smash Circuit.
Nintendo’s relationship with Smash
Dustin Steiner, Americas Editor Esports.gg: What are your thoughts on the Nintendo Smash Circuit that was announced by Panda and Nintendo?
nV Wizzrobe: I’m gonna be honest, I’m insanely excited. It’s kinda like a dream come true; I could be getting ahead of myself but just the fact that they’re doing this in the first place, even if it isn’t executed perfectly the first time or anything, I think this is just a huge step in the right direction to a point where I’m just ecstatic about it.
Steiner: There have been some concerns yesterday the Melee community had with Nintendo’s previous relationship with them, do you think any of those concerns had merit?
Wizzrobe: They definitely have merit, I think it’s perfectly fair for people to be skeptical and all that, but I felt like most people didn’t even think they were gonna get this far; even when they’ve shown support in the past, it was in very, very small ways, to a point where a lot of people could ignore it. I feel that the fact that they’ve even done something this drastic speaks some volumes, so while it’s very reasonable to be skeptical, it’s fair to also think that this could also be a good thing.
And the other thing that I think is important to note is the fact that Panda Global is involved with this, which is an esports team, and they’re very familiar with the Smash scene and Smash tournaments, so I feel like them being partnered with Nintendo is going to steer this thing in the right direction, and I have faith in the Panda Global people to steer us in the right direction.
Steiner: With Nintendo fully supporting a Melee circuit, do you want to see them revisit Melee at all with some sort of HD remake?
Wizzrobe: I’m not sure. I feel like either way it’ll be cool. If they don’t revisit it, it’s fine. If they do revisit it it could be cool, but at the same time, I feel that a lot of Melee players, including myself, are very picky about what hardware the game is run on, maybe the way the game plays, how the controller is, and how that could affect it if it was on the Switch.
It’s hard to say; it could be a good thing if they re-release it, but at the same time Melee players are very picky about the hardware and how it plays, so I wouldn’t be surprised even if they did release like a Melee HD, there might be some input delay and Melee players will want to go back. So even if they don’t re-release or revisit it, I think it’s fine.
The quest for #1 in three titles
Steiner: Very valid and good points, but switching gears, you recently won Mainstage 2021. What does that mean to you and your career now that you’ve had a breakthrough tournament?
Wizzrobe: I think it’s good because, obviously because I won, but it’s good because I’ve won another big tournament and then I won a sorta big online tournament, and the fact that I’ve won another big tournament now that offline’s come back, for the first time in a long time I think it’s just very good for my career and I think it shows that I’m on the right path, and for me, it’s just about making this a more consistent thing. I’ve shown that not only can I win a major now, but I can win multiple majors, so I want to reach a point where I make it a regular thing instead of a once in a while thing. It’s very important because it’s proven me moreso, and I’m glad about that.
Steiner: The PGR is back for 2022, do you have your eyes set on number 1 this coming year?
Wizzrobe: Yeah, definitely. I’m excited about that, I saw they were splitting it up into regions, with North America, Japan, and something else. I’m excited for it. I don’t think it’s necessarily gonna change my motivation much, because I wanted to be the best even before that, but it’s cool that they’re doing it again. Things are looking up everywhere in the Smash community.
Steiner: The past 2 years of esports, especially Smash and the FGC in general, have been described as sort of a time skip, almost like an anime time skip. Would you agree with that, and what do you think has been the biggest change in terms of what’s different for someone who was watching two years ago from someone watching now?
Wizzrobe: I definitely agree, I think some of the biggest changes, depending on the Smash game, like for Melee, it’s definitely been the fact that we have been able to play online with a really good connection with Slippi, with the netplay, and the netplay for Melee has just been a game-changer, it’s basically letting people from all over the country to practice with console-like delay, so it’s amazing, and it makes it so that you can get good practice from basically anywhere. On top of that, the tools for Melee have been improving, and this is just the best time to get good at the game regardless of where you are in the country.
Basically, the netplay is the biggest thing that’s happened for Melee because not only has it helped the already good players continue their skills and get even better, it’s helped new players get good faster and it’s created a bunch of rising stars, I’d say. For Ultimate, it was dead for a while, except for wi-fi tournaments, and a lot of people expected Ultimate to be the same when offline tournaments came back, but things have been shaken up a lot in Ultimate too, it seems with people like Sparg0 and a couple of others popping off.
Steiner: You’ve been playing Smash for years and years now, what do you want to be remembered for?
Wizzrobe: This is a cool question, because everyone is a bit different, and I feel like for most people I’ll say it’s either they wanna be one of the best, they want to be the best, or they want to be the greatest of all time.
For me, it would be cool to be the greatest of all time, but at the same time I’ve always enjoyed all the Smash games, so I think it would be potentially even cooler if you were not only the greatest of all time in a set game, like the greatest in Melee, or the greatest in Ultimate, I think it would be even cooler if you were just the greatest overall Smash player, of all the games, or just the series as a whole.
Basically, nobody’s really attempting that except someone like Mew2King, and obviously I’m a top 5, top 3 player in Melee right now, and in 64 I’ve been a top 5 player for years, and I’ve had some good runs, but I’m not quite there; I’ve had some good results in Brawl and Smash 4 so I think it would be cool to be considered the greatest overall Smash player of all time. To me, that would be greater than being the greatest at one game.
Multiversus and Nick ASB
Steiner: We’ve also seen a lot of new platform fighters come out, with Nick All-Stars Brawl and the announcement of Multiversus recently. What are your thoughts on each one of them and do you see them succeeding long-term?
Wizzrobe: Multiversus, it gives me similar vibes to Nickelodeon, where it has a bunch of big IPs, it’s gonna be a platform fighter, I think everyone’s gonna love it and I think it’s great, it’s definitely not a bad thing, it’s definitely a good thing, not only for those games to create their own scenes and their own communities but also to bring more attention to the platform fighter genre in general so I think it’s a great thing overall.
The Multiversus game definitely looks awesome, I’m definitely gonna give it a shot and try to figure out the game and figure out how I like it.
I actually like Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl a lot; at first, I wasn’t so sure, but the more I played it, the more I really liked it, like the fast pace, that’s my favorite thing. In terms of how long it’ll last, it’s hard to say. I want people to support all the games, I think it’s important to support them all, but it’s hard to say exactly what’s going to happen.
Steiner: Do you have any wish characters for Multiversus or features you might want to see?
Wizzrobe: I’m not sure because I’m definitely a lot more familiar with the Nickelodeon universe, compared to the universes of Multiversus, Batman’s cool, Bugs Bunny is cool, there’s some other Cartoon Network shows that it’s surprising to see the characters in there, but I don’t particularly have any wishes right now. I guess I would say I’m more of a Nickelodeon guy, like for Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl, I love playing Aang, and I’m a huge Avatar fan.
Steiner: Are there any features that these developers could bring to either Nick or Multiversus that would be nice to have for long-time veterans of the genre?
Wizzrobe: Definitely think that rollback is a very, very key thing. Very important to keep the game alive and keep people playing it. I think Nickelodeon has rollback, which is amazing. Multiversus, I think it’s very important for them to have rollback too, I don’t know what they’re gonna do. I’m assuming they’ll probably have rollback because Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl did, and a lot of fighting games are starting to hop on that train.
In terms of being able to better compete, I definitely think rollback is a necessity. On top of that, I’m not sure what else they could do.
One of the problems with Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl is it’s a really good game, but it feels like everything’s not fully finished, and I know people have complained about not having enough content outside of 1v1’s and multiplayer battles. So I think for Multiversus it’s important to release the game fully fleshed out.
Steiner: Melee’s been around for about 20 years now. Many of the game’s critics think that it’s been “figured out.” Do you think that’s a false statement?
Wizzrobe: Obviously, it’s not fully figured out, because things are changing every year. There’s always something surprising, maybe people didn’t expect a (Captain) Falcon to win a tournament again. The game is definitely figured out to a large degree, like a lot of things have been figured out, but it’s like the game will never 100% be figured out because the game is so deep and people are always pushing characters.
I feel like that’s the thing, a lot of top Melee players, especially character specialists, they’re always pushing their character to new heights. People are labbing things and always finding new things. Sure, plenty of things have been found and it’s hard to find new things, but every year new things are happening. aMSa helped push Yoshi to the spot he’s on the tier list now, I’ve been pushing (Captain) Falcon, Zain has basically been pushing Marth.
A lot of people think Fox was the best, and Marth was the contender for best, but I feel like if you were to ask people right now, most people might just say Marth is the best now. It’s definitely not fully figured out at all, there are always new things being found every year, and I think it’ll continue like that for a long time, honestly.