Currently ranked as the third best Super Smash Bros. Wii U player in Australia — and having been signed by Kanga Esports in March — it’s evident that 2018’s already been a good year so far for Joshua “Ghost” Francis. With BAM10 set to kick off today, he’s setting his sights on challenging for the top placements as we edge closer to the eventual release of Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch.
Ghost’s journey into the competitive was one that started fairly early on, dating back to the days of Melee.
“I used to play Melee on the GameCube when I was really young, but that was basically by myself or with friends — it was never really a competitive thing,” he said. “Brawl came out I believe in 2008, but I didn’t really get into the competitive side of that until 2011. I ended up going to a convention, had a casual Brawl tournament and then met a couple of people that introduced me [to the scene].
“Back in the day, Smashboards was the main site people used to organise tournaments,” he continued. “So I went on there and found the Australian team, and then found the South Australian side of things from that.
“Brawl kind of died off a bit, basically in the last year before Smash Wii U came out. But then the scene picked right back up when the new game released, so I’ve been into the competitive scene since around 2011, with a couple of little breaks in between.”
The Kanga man ended up running with the tag ‘Ghost’ after deciding to cut down on his original tag, Ghostbone, which was formed through his interest in Pokémon.
In March, Kanga Esports announced they’d signed both Ghost and Jonathan “Jdizzle” Douglas to represent the organisation.
“It was really nice,” Ghost said, in regards to how it felt having signed for an esports organisation.
“I was signed a while ago back in 2016, so it wasn’t the first time I’ve been signed by a team but it’s been a while. It’s especially nice considering it seems like a lot of esports teams — especially in the U.S. — are biding their time for the new Smash game to come before picking up players.
“So it was great to see some interest in the Smash Wii U scene, and it felt really good to be contacted by Kanga and sign for them. It’s also nice to have the support of a team to cheer you on and to also help with all the promotions and stuff, as it’s just another avenue to raise awareness for the Smash scene and what you’re up to.”
Ghost believes that Kanga getting ahead and signing players prior to Smash Bros. for Switch launching was a smart move, too.
“It’s nice to see confidence in the Smash team, and it’s kind of a bit of a turning point between the end of Smash Wii U and the release of Smash 5 — I think the top players in the scene are definitely going to be the top contenders in the new game, as well,” he said. “It’s kind of just how fighting games work, so I think it’s a good decision to pick up players even near the end of the game’s lifecycle because the players you pick up are going to continue to be at the top for the next game anyway.”
While Ghost’s been sitting at #3 on the Australian rankings for a while now, he’s hoping consistency will help him really challenge for the top placings.
“I think consistency is key, and I think I have the required level of play to be at the top and challenge players in Australia like Extra,” he said. “It comes down to who has the most consistent game, but also who’s not going to make silly mistakes under pressure. Who’s going to be confident in their own play at all times — to take into consideration what can happen when you’re feeling under pressure and what you can do when you’re behind in a game. I think just being confident and staying consistent is the most important thing for now.”
With all eyes on BAM10 this weekend, Ghost’s feeling confident at making a good run at first place.
“My goal is always to get first, but that’s kind of too simple. I just want to play my best, and as long as I know that I’m not playing at a level below what I expect of myself, then I’m going to be happy,” he said. “It’s not only about winning in the short-term, as even though it’s going to be one of the last major tournaments for Smash Wii U, it’s always good, for me, to learn and just improve as I’m playing as well.
“That said, I really want to get at least around top 4 or so, but first would be the optimum result. Extra’s obviously a very good player, but I could list ten or so names that are definitely a threat to me in the bracket. I’m just going to give it my best and see what happens.”
Further, checking out International players’ VODs and refining technique in-game has been something Ghost has put a lot of time into working on as BAM crept up.
“On top of just rehearsing my movement and training, I just want to make sure that I have good control of my character. It comes down to how to jump around, fast fall, landing aerials, spacing properly, and such, but I also watch a lot of VODs from U.S. players just to see how they’re pushing the meta game and see if I can learn from that.
“There’s also training sessions with our South Australian players — just grinding the game for a few hours. And those help as well, just so you can then also apply things you’ve seen and test things out. Basically seeing what works for you and what doesn’t, kind of thing.”
Like most Smashers attending BAM, Ghost is really looking forward to seeing everyone in the competitive scene again as well, which is something he doesn’t get to do too much throughout the year.
“A big part of the Smash community isn’t just like the tournament, it’s always the post-tournament hangouts. Whether that’s the after-party or something like that, it’s always a lot of fun.”
With an esports organisation to represent and personal goals at stake, Ghost will be looking at putting on a positive performance at BAM10 this weekend. Of course, given that this tournament is one of the final major events for Smash Bros. on Wii U, he’ll likely want to finish the game’s lifecycle on top of the leaderboards. As such, a big result at BAM10 will go a big way in achieving that.