25-year old J.Miller is regarded as one of the best Super Smash Bros for Wii U players in Britain. In this Q&A interview he opens up about his time in the Smash Bros scene and explains what his role entails…
How did you get into gaming?
My relatives owned a NES, SNES and a Mega Drive… so it all began from an early age and never stopped. I would gladly just spectate my elders playing and eventually started playing with them or by myself.
Fortunately, the collection of games to choose from was broad – and it gave me so much room to determine what I enjoyed about gaming as a hobby.
Some of my favourite games in the earlier years included Super Mario Bros. 3/ World, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Final Fantasy VII and VIII and Crash Bandicoot: Warped.
Please tell us about your background in esports specifically and how you went from amateur to pro.
Personally I would not say that I have an expansive history with esports yet, my major experience was with the eGames in 2016 – my name was put forward as a suggestion by our main figureheads of UK’s Smash 4 tournament organisers (DAT Team).
I was given an unmissable opportunity to go up against some of the world’s best in Rio De Janeiro, and it was truly a memorable experience, bringing together players from all over the world and presenting opportunities for others who don’t always have a chance to showcase their abilities.
It’s hard for me to suggest whether I am still an amateur or pro gamer, especially as I could still say I am either a hybrid or leaning towards amateur. I’m acknowledged for having potential and being a fairly strong player, though there is more to achieve in my eyes – and the requirements to call yourself a pro in this day and age are far greater.
What is a typical day like in your role? Talk us through what you do.
My schedule for hours spent varies. Many hours can be spent just watching tournaments, keeping up to date with new discoveries and techniques, and reviewing and analysing my own gameplay. I do this daily to keep myself aware of what can happen. If I had to put a number on it, I would say I could end up doing a mixture of these things 3-4 hours daily.
I usually spend longer than that playing. Whether I am streaming and playing viewers, having a local session or attending tournaments, I’m learning something or grinding match-up knowledge to help myself and others playing with or against me.
I can comfortably say that time sometimes escapes me when playing, so it’s usually at least 5-8 hour sessions. It can be dependent on whether there is a tournament coming up, or if I feel like there is something I must understand more than I currently do.
What advice would you give to aspiring pro players?
For anyone who does want to become a ‘pro gamer’, I would suggest the following:
Be assertive and persistent with what you’d like to achieve, it doesn’t even have to be about results in tournaments, but you have to know what you want and strive for it.
Research and understand the game you want to take to the next level. My description of this is having the time and interest to practice, analyse, learn from previous mistakes – and improve at a pace that suits you.
What is the Smash Bros scene like?
The Smash Bros for Wii U scene is growing and has been improving in ways that surprise veteran players – and in all honesty everyone is grateful for this fact.
Player and skill levels are looking a little more balanced between each other overall. There are still favourites, but in terms of who will win each match, it’s not as guaranteed as it may have previously been.
Awareness is given to everyone – not just the stronger players – and it means more for everyone involved. I only see this direction we’ve headed in as a positive thing.
I’ve been playing Smash as a franchise for eight years now, though I don’t regret any of my time at all. The last two years have been so different from the previous six. The scene was smaller, the previous Smash game was not as well received by the masses, and it was even harder for European players than it is now to showcase their abilities on a grand scale.
So I’m sincerely thankful for where we are at now and the only way is up.
What would you say to the parents and teachers of aspiring pro gamers, and those who perhaps aren’t convinced that pro gaming can offer a viable career path?
To anyone sceptical of their children or students wanting to become ‘pro gamers’, all I can tell you is to be ready and willing to be open-minded and studious of what it actually means.
We live in a time where the idea of this is realistic but not easy; I would NOT encourage anyone to only bank on gaming. Although with good marketing, skill, diligence and the correct choice of game to like and invest time in, the money earned could be enormous.