Aug 29 , 2018


Jesse Gardner

Vigorpath at Shine 2018

The Super Smash Bros. Melee community has just had their craziest tournament of the year. Maybe the last 3 years. Maybe of all time.

Top 8 at Shine 2018 will be remembered for a while, that’s for sure.

But I don’t want to focus on that.

VigorPath made its debut in the melee scene with our very own JD placing 49th, then somehow ending up bouncing around during top 8 in a Jigglypuff balloon costume.

When people say "The puff, Legend" this is what they mean now


Full disclosure, I am JD. It’s me. I’m writing about myself. That’s the type of joint we run around here.

(Rocking the VigorPath logo on my shirt is just a sliver of my involvement here. I am currently employed full time as their Content Manager.)

So let’s go down this self-indulgent rabbit hole for a moment. How did I end up getting a respectable placement at a major tournament? What did I do to prepare, what did I learn, and how did I end up piss drunk cheering against HBox in a cosplay of his own character?

How does VigorPath play a role?

These are all great questions. To really come to a good answer, I want to take a look my experience at last year’s shine, and compare it to this one.

I’m a great case study.

I did well at this tournament. Last year, not so good. Even though I was arguably playing better melee around that time, I couldn’t bring it out where it really counted.


I'll clear things up.

Last Summer I went on a 26 day road trip down the east coast with my good friend Che$$. We played every day for at least 4 hours (sometimes 10!), entered 16 tournaments in 10 states, and took a combined 40 tournament sets off of Power Ranked players.

We got very good at the game. We both placed 129th.

This year, I entered 5 tournaments in the same time span, and practiced no more than half an hour a day on my off days. I placed 49th. (Che$$ couldn’t attend this year.)

Wait, what?

That’s right. I played in a third of the tournaments in the same amount of time, practiced way less, and performed much better.

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Last years road trip was hard. We were constantly traveling, filming, or playing smash. Our version of being healthy was eating plenty of Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches instead of fast food, but we still had too much fast food.

We included a multivitamin into our daily routine and we felt like savants of the nutrition world.

I got about 5-6 hours of sleep a night, at best. Many of those nights I enjoyed a beer or three with the new friends I made. I had an amazing experience, but it seriously took its toll.

This August was much more tame.

I routinely got 6.5-8 hours of sleep per night, in the same bed. I’ve been going to the gym 3 days a week consistently. I understand the value of macro and micronutrients and try to implement them into the diet.  (This is all thanks to my work with VigorPath.)

I’m sure you can see how this might be a better routine.

At Shine 2017, I ate Shake Shack 3 days in a row and ordered pizza/fries from the venue concession multiple times.

This year, although I partied hard and ate whatever I wanted after getting out of bracket, I made three very good and very specific healthy choices early on that made a huge difference. This undoubtedly improved my mood, energy, and gameplay.

There is no doubt in my mind that these choices affected my results.

If you’re still skeptical, I hope you enjoy making the same mistakes I did.

If you’re on board with VigorPath, then you’re in the right place. We’re happy to help.


This game is too hard, we need all the energy and focus we can get. With a little preparation, you can achieve what you want to as well.

I confirmed for the major about a month in advance. Over the next couple of days I considered the implications of this event.

A good placing means more attention, and attention is gold for an up and comer.

A large tournament means more of an opportunity to spread brand awareness for VigorPath, and awareness means traffic.

This was no doubt a big opportunity, and I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to prepare.

But what does that mean? It’s an ambiguous term in the world of Esports.

Other types of events and performances have more obvious and refined systems of preparation.

Swimmers, runners, and other athletes will work out hard for months, then taper off the week before a meet. Poker players will study opponents and scenarios. Key-note speakers or other vocal performers will go over their material and keep their minds and voices fresh.

For melee players, though, what should we do? Right now, it’s common knowledge that you should just play a ton before an event.

I believe that’s not enough.

In September, Vigorpath (I) will be releasing a comprehensive, 7 part “Smash Major Thrive Guide”.  In there, I talk about preparation in three distinct areas. Gameplay, Physical prep, and Mental prep, among other things.

I’ll cover the basics. Indulge me for a second:

Gameplay is the most important, no doubt. Ideally, you’d want between 4 and 12 years of tournament experience if you want to succeed at a major. If you don’t want to wait that long, you need to train.

Training must be specific and repetitive. Real improvement at this game requires focus and intention.

Simply playing the game for a month will do you no good, you need to set goals and work to achieve them. There are plenty of resources out there for you use.

Melee improvement has become so well-explored that I won’t even bother throwing my name in the ring.

Instead, let’s look outside the game.

Physical prep is criminally overlooked by the melee community. Undersleeping, eating junk food, drinking the night before bracket, sleeping with 8 people in one room; The list goes on and on with terrible and terribly common habits that affect smasher’s performance and gameplay.

We take a closer look at this in the guide. To truly set up for success, you must commit to a healthy lifestyle, far in advance, and start recognizing what your body needs. It’s all stuff you’ve heard before, drink water, snack healthy, eat enough protein, exercise. It’s less intimidating than you think.

Mental prep is a topic of which I have little expertise, along with being the hardest subject for which to offer solutions. Each of us have our own situation, our own strengths and our own baggage.

The good news is that by taking simply and positive steps in our physical health, we can begin to see improvements in our mental health. Regulating sleep schedules will do wonders for nearly everyone. Addressing deficiencies in magnesium or zinc can solve some underlying mental issues you didn’t even know you had.

Besides that, I find expressing yourself regularly and thoughtfully can keep you happy. In my experience, I play better melee when I have been writing more and producing content. There’s a real connection between self-care and smash success.

Read the Thrive Guide to hear me talk about all of this in more detail.

Positive Choices over the Weekend.

A lot can happen in 4 days. Depending on what you do, particularly what you eat and how much sleep you get, you can have a completely different Monday than the rest of the tourney-goers. It all comes down to a couple of smart decisions.

It takes a few mistakes to really internalize what it means to feel healthy. Many of us have adapted to our habits, so a weekend of fast food and alcohol isn’t anything a few lazy days won’t fix.

This is a losing mindset.

It’s unsustainable.

Easier said than done, of course. I am far from perfect. I just comes down to a few decisions.

I made three healthy choices in the first two days that paid dividends in the following two. Here they are.

While my carpool ate McDonalds on Thursday, I ate an RX bar and a pack of Sahale Snacks.

Friday afternoon, I walked a mile to a salad spot. I had some salads with two friends.

Saturday morning, before my singles bracket started, I got a protein packed kale smoothie.

Here’s the kicker: I didn’t enjoy making these decisions. At least at the time.

In Mcdonalds I was dying for some chicken nuggets. I was hungry 15 minutes after eating that salad because I smelt seafood. I had to choke down the smoothie in a few minutes, since I wasn’t allowed to bring it inside the venue.

Thankfully I’ve been spending the last few weeks writing the Thrive Guide and didn’t want to be a hypocrite, so I abstained from the easy ways out. I’m so happy I did.

These decisions suck at the moment, but if you remember why you just spent all that money and traveled all that way, it makes it that much easier.

Besides, I’m proof that it pays off.

I played pretty good on Saturday.

I got eliminated with zero regrets in my decisions and a fervor for some good beer and local dining. I felt like I had earned it, which made it that much more delicious. I saved money with all my snacks so I didn’t feel guilty about my $20 lobster mac and cheese.

Boston, I love ya.

Turns out 2 days of drinking is way less harsh than 4. Monday was rough, but as I write this, Tuesday, 8/28/18, I feel just fine. Can’t say the same about last year.

So… VigorPath?

I’ll be upfront for a second. I’m trying to sell you something.

Not the guide, the guide is free. The guide is drawn from my passion of the game, combined with a desperate attempt to combine that with my day job.

The Smash Major Thrive Guide will also be accompanied by our new product, the Smash Major Thrive Pack. This isn’t the sale, it’s just the primer. You have been warned. Check it out, though.

Writing the Thrive Guide really helped me make the right choices. With the snacks, supplements, and other goodies provided in the prototype Thrive Pack I brought to the tourney, I was able to fulfill my potential and have one of the best weekends of my life.

I’m committed to this cause. I don’t want healthy living to be out of reach for smashers.

I want everybody who’s looking to succeed in smash, and Esports in general, to get on a path to a better life.


Thanks for reading,

J.D Gardner

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