Hungrybox Quits His Job to Take on Smash Full-Time
Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma announced via Twitch that he has quit his day job to take on competitive Super Smash Bros.
The news came Wednesday night when the player explained that he has been struggling with balancing his job as an engineer in Alabama, as well as being a pro player under the Team Liquid banner. He recalled pulling training sessions and practice that ran well into the early hours of morning on top of working a full –time job and assisting with a little league soccer league, while living in a part of the country that left him feeling isolated from everything and everyone he loves.
“It was all becoming pretty evident … that I was counting the days to these tournaments to happen, you know? The one thing I was looking forward to when I woke up in the day … The one thing that kept me going was ‘Okay, I have Big House coming up. I can compete again. I can be someone.”
Hungrybox is ranked second on the 2015 SSBMRank and is widely revered as the best Jigglypuff main in the world. Additionally, his skills have earned him the respect from the FGC community as a whole, and is regarded as one of the top six Smashers. He consistently places in top four at events, regularly taking first and second at several premier-level events. Hungrybox made waves in the scene when he took first place at EVO 2016 after an intense grand final against Adam “Armada” Lindgren, when he was then heralded as a world champion in Melee.
Unfortunately, Hungrybox expressed concerns over his ability to attend events while maintaining a stable job. He revealed that he had exhausted all of his vacation time, which meant that he would only be able to attend events that were one or two days long. This also implied that Hungrybox would be forced to travel immediately after getting off of work to make it to a tournament on time, and would have to return home as soon as the tournament came to a close, which would further increase the stress involved with attending a competitive event in between shifts at work. Complications regarding the issue only continued to present themselves with this method, however, as Hungrybox explained that traveling outside of his small town was difficult due to its location.
Eventually, he decided that he needed to make a decision: Hungrybox could have a stable job, or he could achieve his dreams as being one of the greatest Smash players the scene has produced.
“There comes a point where you have to choose what makes you happy. I was very lucky to, you know, have a job and do all these tournaments over the summer but, you know, when I’m older … What do I want to look back one and say, and tell my kids about, what do I want to have as an experience? Do I want to have maybe a little more money, because of working at a full time job, and save up that money? Or do I want to have experienced everything that I truly want to experience?”
Without the support of its creator, Nintendo, the Super Smash Bros. scene is notorious for low prize pools. While League of Legends players are able to live in team houses and receive a consistent salary around their prize winnings, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players consistently see high-paying tournaments, Smashers are almost always forced to take on jobs outside of professional gaming to support themselves. The largest prize pools Smash pros see come from events that can only manage to accrue up to $10k in total. In 2016, for taking first place in Melee, The Big House 6 awarded approximately $6,200, DreamHack Austin offered $4,700, and CEO provided $4,000. Even EVO, the largest fighting game event in the country, could only provide $14,200 for claiming first place. The prize payouts for Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, or Smash 4, are almost always in the same range. This does not take into consideration for the prize awarded to those who don’t place first, but rather second through eighth, which is usually considerably lower.
As a result Smashers, including Hungrybox and Stephen “Omni” Silver have spoken about juggling full-time jobs, Smash and their personal streams and YouTube channels, which causes players an immense amount of stress and oftentimes leaves them with sleep deprivation and concerns of mental health problems.
There were several factors to take into consideration, but Hungrybox says that he is confident in his decision regardless of the outcome.
“This is the biggest risk I have ever taken in my life. My parents brought me to this country when I was three, to have a better future for me, and I promised them that I would do everything I could to make sure that my future was bright here. And God gave me Melee.”
Hungrybox continued to confirm that he will be taking more of an active role in Smash 4, with Jigglypuff of course, now that he will have more time to practice.
Image Source: Robert Paul
A certified weeb that passionately live-Tweets his reactions from esports events, Sian is one of those people that hasn’t seen the sun in weeks. You can find him on Twitter @FriendlySenpai