Swiss Smash in the COVID-Era #4: LionZ Karpador64

“Swiss Smash in the COVID-Era” is a series of interviews with some of the best players in Switzerland, figuring out how they are dealing with the “COVID-Era” (from March 2020 until the present days of 2021) and its absence of offline tournaments and how they are preparing for the return of offline events in the foreseeable future.

Karpador64 at Saint Smash

Karpador64 (@Karpador64) from Grossaffoltern (situated between Bern and Biel/Bienne) is known for his Luigi and is playing for LionZ. He was ranked 2nd on the 2019 Swiss Smash PR. Military service affected his 2020 performance where he usually ended around 5th place. He is known in the community for his crazy pop-offs after winning an intense set.

2020 was a pretty intense year for you. Aside from COVID you were also doing your military service. How did you handle everything?
Yeah, it was a rough year for me. I was doing military service for 10 months, from January to November. During that time a lot of things changed for me. My spare time for hobbies and other activities got drastically reduced, on top of the restrictions already in place due to the lockdowns. I had little time for Smash. I just went to tournaments whenever I was able to, trying not to fall asleep mid-set and still performing somewhat decently, even though there was no time for practicing during the week. That was… demanding. It went alright in the beginning; I was carried by my good mindset which allowed me to perform well. But in the second half of 2020 my mindset had also suffered. After around 6 to 8 months of military service you really just want to be done with it and so tournaments became more frustrating too. You don’t place as well anymore, you’re losing the fun you had and interacting with friends became more difficult because you’re in a bad mood. Everything sucked. So yeah, it was a rough time.

How was it after your service ended in November?
After my service, I took a break for the rest of the year. I took some time to reflect and rethink my goals and ambitions in life. Obviously COVID didn’t make it any easier, but this break was necessary for me to find back to myself and fix my mindset. I also wasn’t working but started looking for a job in 2021.

And you did find something, I saw it on Twitter.
Yeah, I started working for the SAKK (Schweizerische Arbeitsgemeinschaft für klinische Krebsforschung). Sounds a lot fancier than it actually is. I used to work in the hotel industry, but you can’t really find a job there at the moment due to COVID. It’s a temporary solution, I’m working in back-office and administration. Nothing super exciting, but I’m happy to have a job until I can find something in the hotel industry again in the future. I do consider myself lucky, I have a number of friends in the industry that weren’t able to find a new job to this day.

Your military service had a big impact on Smash for you. What about COVID?
Smash is an important part of my life, so having no tournaments or grinding sessions was a serious change in my life. It is my passion after all. But it was the same for everybody.

Were you able to play Smash during your military service or were you too tired for it?
On one hand I was definitely tired and couldn’t really be productive. On the other hand, while some others were drinking a beer, I was practicing versus level 9 CPUs for about 30 minutes, so I wouldn’t lose my muscle memory.

How was it after the military? As you mentioned earlier you weren’t working so I assume you had a decent amount of spare time.
Because COVID was pretty intense in the end of 2020 I was playing online for a bit to keep up with the game. Starting around the end of January 2021, I began meeting with other top players to grind offline for about 6 to 8 hours. Doing that once per week is the bare minimum for me.

And what about online?
Online is trash. I tried playing in an online tournament once, but yeah… online is trash. It can be ok once in a while, to practice some movement, so you don’t get rusty or maybe learn some of the basics in a matchup, but you can’t really go further than that. Some of it is definitely that I’m also living in a rural area and my internet is even worse than average. Whenever I was playing online with ItseMePG he was suffering a lot and cursing my connection (laughs). But you try to make the best of it and play an online session every now and then. On some occasions I also make use of the European All Stars Grinding Discord, where you can find somebody to play with basically all the time. If everything else fails, I’ll look for a session there. So, there are options and you just have to make the best of it.

Are you playing Quickplay/Elite Smash at all?
Elite Smash is a painful experience, but every now and then I play some. There’s a small chance you find a decent player even there and you can get some practice. It’s not all that bad, you just have to be conscious of what you should be expecting when you play Elite Smash. Then it’s ok.

Another thing that’s gained a lot of popularity is Yuzu*, did you try it?
*Yuzu is a PC-emulated version of the game that, together with Parsec allows you to play online with less of the known issues, like lag. You can learn more here.
I want to apologise to ItseMePG, he set it up for me, but my internet is so bad, I can’t even use Yuzu. It sucks. Luckily, I had my weekly offline grinds. I wouldn’t know what I would do without them. Thanks to those I can manage. You know, the upside to my internet being bad is that we actually have those offline sessions. I have my group of friends, my “gang gang”, and so I regularly have players like ItseMePG, Deepfreeze or Mistic over. Lesser-known players or ones outside of the “top player bubble” also come over to play, for example Joule or Jas1n, which is cool too.

Talking about offline, the Romandie has had a few events recently.
I think it’s really cool that they try to keep the game alive. What the Swiss Germans are missing right now is where the Romandie is excelling at. I love seeing them pushing the game offline.

Historically, the Romandie as a whole has been weaker compared to the Swiss German region. So, you’re saying they’re catching up now?
I think so yes. It’s pretty interesting. If you’re looking at the last official PR from 2019 it’s basically all Swiss Germans, there was no Romand player that came close to the Top5. There were attempts, like Yannwatts, but they never made big waves. Personally, I think that the Romandie is currently catching up quickly, which I’m happy about, because the Swiss Germans were dominant, and maybe even got a bit cocky, so some might be slacking a bit. The Romandie is super promising at the moment, they got players that are extremely hungry for wins, like Neo, rohan doge, Yannwatts, C/B/F and Bigniouf. When everybody is meeting again at a big tournament, they all have a chance to make waves. But I have to say, as a cocky Swiss German myself (laughs), we still have a lot of strong players here, so we’re not going to make it easy for them. I know a lot of players have been grinding and are also improving, so I think it’s going to be super interesting when offline tournaments return.

COVID also had an impact on sponsoring. You parted ways with your old sponsor ScytheofSeraph, which came as a surprise to me. Is there anything you can say on that?
I don’t want to say too much, but it was a bit involuntarily from both sides. I would’ve liked to stay with them, and they would’ve also liked me to stay, it just came down to one specific thing, which led us to go separate ways. But I want to stress that we parted on good terms and I wish them the best!

You found a new sponsor, LionZ, during the lockdown period. How did that happen considering the circumstances?
First, I want to give a big shoutout to LionZ, they’re amazing people. As you mentioned, finding a new sponsor when you can’t even represent them is a bit unusual. Sponsoring relies a lot on mutual trust. They’re trusting me to do my best right now so when offline tournaments are coming back, I’ll be able to represent them as good as possible. And on my side, I’m trusting them to understand the situation Smash is in right now, with nothing really happening. Regarding how it happened: About a year ago the person recruiting me was working for another big Esports team in Switzerland and was showing interest in me. Now he’s working for LionZ and still had an interest in me. When I posted on Twitter that I was a free agent I got a few good offers, but their offer just outdid the others in what they would provide me with and also what they would like to give to the Swiss Smash scene in the future.

You tweeted earlier this year that with the return of offline events the skill gap in Switzerland is going to be big. Where do you see yourself in this?
It’s hard to judge for me right now. I’m currently in a transition period regarding my character which means I will go into the first few tournaments with relatively low expectations, they’re simply part of my learning process. But I’m regularly practicing with some of the best players in Switzerland, so I’m still decent at the game (laughs). Right now, I’m getting back into my old mindset, which was one of my strengths. Fortunately, I can finally go back to the gym, which has always been really important to me for balancing out video games and physical activity. I missed it dearly. My physical health has quite an impact on my mental health, so it can only go up from here. I’m looking positive towards the future.

Can you tell me which character you’re playing around with?
I tried a lot of different characters. I will continue to play Luigi at tournaments, it would be a waste to not play the character I’ve played since Smash4. But in the last 2 to 3 months, I focused mainly on Wario. Despite the nerfs I feel like this character still has tons of potential and is completely broken.

So you’re competing with Benji for the best Wario in Switzerland?
As if Benji was a threat to me (laughs). I’m obviously joking, but you know, you also need a bit of confidence.

If you had to give me 3 players you would look out for when offline returns, who would that be?
My first pick is DeepFreeze (@DeepFreezeIV). He dropped his bad character (Falco) and switched to Joker, who really suits him. If he’s a little less shaky when tournaments are coming back, then he’s going to be super dangerous to play against.
My second pick is the guy that always switches his tag, currently going as Mistic (@misticssb). He’s come to terms with Wolf and is practicing a lot. I like the way he approaches the game. I think what held him back the most was his mindset and I also felt that he was looking at the game in a wrong way. But now he’s accepting the game and some situations it puts you in for what they are. He’s also very analytical and has developed a keen eye for situations and the options available to you. If he’s able to bring the way he plays in sessions into tournaments, then I think he can go far.
For my last pick… I would like to mention a few players. One is Bigniouf (@Bigniouf). His Fox is really good, I recently played him offline for the first time and I was impressed. Then I also want to mention rohan doge (@RohanDoge), and Neo (@NeoSSB_), because I know that they practiced a lot. And finally, I want to mention ItseMePG (@ItseMePG), he’s a serious threat. He’s also in a transition phase, because I think he hasn’t been that fond of Snake for a while now. With Pyra&Mythra, and I think he also plays around with Sephiroth, he has found characters that really suit him and are also really strong. It could be similar to my situation, where he starts off slower, because he’s still getting used to the character, but I believe he can do big things.

If you want to see more of Karpador64, you can follow him on Twitter.
He’s also participating in Benooou’s “Swiss Series – Couch Edition” where he is projected to play against Espeo in the near future (give @BenooouSSB a follow to keep up to date with the schedule). The entire series will be streamed live on Twitch.

Updated at: 14.02.22 (16:46)
Created at: 31.05.21 (11:53)
Created by: Yomi