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Original Reporting


Logan “Logan” Dunn was as nervous and excited as any 10 year old would be entering into their first Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament. They walked into the conference room at UNC Chapel Hill and noticed a small group of people huddled in a corner in front of a monitor.

They walked over and found the group watching Dr. PeePee—an early name Smash god Kevin “PPMD” Nanney went by—playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. Logan watched for a bit before picking up the controller and taking the legendary Melee player on.

“It would have been funny if he just beat my ass,” Logan laughed. “He just showed me some stuff, it wasn’t a serious match.”

It’s been nearly a decade since that first tournament, but Logan is still on the path that it set them on. It’s led them all the way to Smash Summit 11, where they competed alongside other legends like Joseph “Mang0” Marquez and Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma. The invitational has helped them gain more traction in their Melee career than ever before. They had four metafly coaching sessions before our conversation in late July alone.

Logan Dunn Smash Summit 11
While Logan’s Marth lost to Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson’s Pikachu in the first round of the singles bracket, Logan has used the momentum to grow within the Melee scene. | Photo by Todd Gutierrez, Beyond the Summit

The path to Smash Summit 11

“I got hundreds of messages after the event,” they said. “Seeing my tweets going from 5 likes each to hundreds[…]people are suddenly paying attention to me.”

The path to get into a Smash Summit invitational is full of marketing tricks and social media campaigns, but Logan had a different plan than most other players. They had tried to make it into Summit before, but hadn’t been successful. They felt this shot was their best bet.

“I had tried before but I didn’t make it in, since then I had been thinking about it. The way people are doing it was super inefficient,” Logan said. “They need to raise money, but the VIP ticket system is more direct. If I get a VIP ticket, someone else is denied those 3000 vote. You get more of the votes that are left.”

Fans of Beyond the Summit can purchase a VIP ticket for $1000 that comes with a number of perks, including 3,000 votes they can give to their favorite competitor to help them land one of the few open spots. There are a limited amount of these tickets, so Logan had to outbid other players in order to bribe these ticket holders to vote for him. They declined to share how much they spent on those community bribes, but said that barely anything came out of their own pocket.

“My local community did a lot of fundraising, I went went from local business to local business,” they said.  “The Charleston, South Carolina scene is small. If we get double digits at a tournament that’s big, so this was a big deal. I think I spent less than $250.”

“I like the Smash Summit voting system a lot, it forced communities to rally,” they added

The Smash community has an ‘all bets are off’ mentality when it comes to voting players into Smash Summit. Players have tried all sorts of stunts and months-long campaigns in order to compete and play mafia alongside their idols. Few get to see that dream come true.

“I had it planned out in advance because I knew I would be at a disadvantage,” Logan said, citing that bigger names would get votes more easily. “I knew I had to take an alternative method.”

Smash Summit makes you feel like a celebrity

The farthest Logan had ever travelled was to Wisconsin for Smash ‘N’ Splash, but Smash Summit 11 would change that. It took them all the way to a mysterious warehouse-like building outside Los Angeles, California. They stayed at a nearby hotel and were shuttled over to the Beyond the Summit facility each morning.

“It’s a big studio facility, they are very secretive about it,” they said. “We couldn’t take photos with location services turned on.”

Logan was happily overwhelmed with everything at the event. They got to star in a sketch alongside Mang0 that aired on broadcast. Another sketch they worked on with Zain Naghmi was scrapped before the event.

“It was a reenactment of Midsommar,” Logan said of the 2019 film directed by Ari Aster. “It was supposed to be about Marth mains trying to summon something.”

Psychology and Melee go hand-in-hand

Logan treats Melee as a side hustle and passion. They’ve been going to school in order to become an organizational psychologist, a contracted professional that goes from company to company in order to “make people happier in the workforce.”

Luckily for Logan, there are plenty of ways that their skills can be used to help players throughout the Melee scene.

“I’m working to understand issues of competitive mentality,” they said. “I use psychological principles who may have trouble finding the motivation to practice, to help people who struggle with their mindset.”

Logan Dunn Smash Summit 11
Logan will need to train a lot in order to make waves at the next Smash Summit | Photo by Todd Gutierrez, Beyond the Summit

They’ve established a reward system. They have had players that would disqualify themselves at tournaments because they were too nervous to play, so Logan finds a reward that gives them a dopamine rush.

“Whenever they get to a tournament they get that rush,” they said. “A hike, a bubble bath, a new flavor a soda. It’s basically conditioning.”

Smash Summit 11 is just the beginning

Logan is hoping to take the Hungrybox route and work while building up a following. They don’t know if it’s possible yet, but they’d love to be a full-time streamer, player and caster. They’re already working on another plan to go to the next Smash Summit 12 in December.

Everything is about forward momentum for Logan now. They changed their tag from LSD—an acronym for their initials—to Logan because of the negative implications that come with sharing a name with a hallucinogenic drug. They’re ready to take their new tag to the next big tournament.

“The next time I’ve given an opportunity I’ll place unexpectedly well,” they said. “I’ve been preparing.”


Aron Garst looks at esports from a different point of view by tackling the ways games are molded and broken by players around the world. He covers Call of Duty, Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, and everything else for Upcomer. You can read his previous work at WIRED, Rolling Stone, ESPN and elsewhere. Rise up red sea.


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