Hey Jack! Many people will know you as Yackabean from your exploits in SMASH but where did it all start with you playing games in general?
It started when I was a child. I grew up playing mostly Nintendo with my family with fond memories of playing SNES. I was fascinated by the worlds I could explore and play and experimenting with what I could do inside of these worlds. Smash Bros. Was something that came into my life during my teenage years which also just so happened to bring all of my favorite Nintnedo characters into one game!
So heavily set into the Nitendo side of gaming for practically your whole life, how and when did the step from casually playing to competing occur?
There were moments of indulging in other consoles. I was a huge fan kf Crash Bandicoot for example!
The transition from being a casual player to a competitive player was brought around when I was first actually introduced to Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. I saw clips of my favorite character on YouTube being played and was amazed at just what you could do in the game with him! Sadly, there wasn’t much of a competitive scene in Scotland back in the day as Brawl did not succeed as a competitive game to many.
Back in Brawl, was that the birth of Yackabean, or was this a gamertag that had been with you?
Surprising to some people but I actually messed with a few tags in the beginning of my Brawl era and shortly when I first entered the Smash Scotland scene. It wasn’t until I started playing Project M and when Smash 4 was announced did I choose the tag Yackabean. Originally, I went by SMG which really had no meaning. So I decided to change to something that fitted myself and had a little history to it even if did sound sort of silly. But it represents me now and It stuck ever since!
With your identity now set, and as you alluded to, you didn’t fully land until Smash 4 when competition picked up, how did you break through? Not only proving yourself as one of the best domestically, but also today have that following that showed you so much twitter support recently?
When Smash 4 was announced. I was already in preparation to become the best. I found out about some smaller tournaments that started happening in Glasgow that hosted Melee and Project M. In the short time I played, I was already considered a top player for Project M. I also realised at the time that transitioning from Brawl to Smash 4 was going to be easier as they played somewhat similar. The scene developed and we grew to having bigger events as Smash 4 was released. There was already small talk generally going around that I’d be a threat due to me having such a high knowledge on previous instalments in the Smash series. In the beginning of the games lifespan, I was already considered one of the best Toon Link players globally thanks to my dominance in Scotland and social media picking me up from time to time featuring my play.
You also mentioned you watched videos early on. With that in mind and your clear rise as a top Toon Link talent, did you ever think that people would later be watching your videos and streams with the same desire to learn from one of the best?
I was overwhelmed from the positive feedback I received back then. The UK at the time was usually overlooked and disregarded for having top talent at all. Old sets contained so much support from fans and other Toon Link players. I really did not expect it at the time, I was purely focused on bettering myself and tried to not complicate the idea of playing for fame. I became a known figure however and it was a great feeling and I thank everyone who’s always been supporting me! Not only was I learning by myself anymore, I could help others and learn from other people as well now.
It’s fantastic to see the support came quite naturally and quickly from those within the game, but what about from outside the game. How did friends and family see your pursuits back then?
I was quite young and naive to begin with. So explaining the possibilities of the career I could make from playing Smash Bros. to my Mother was an interesting discussion! My family were generally quite aware how skilled I was at playing video games so it came to almost no surprise to them that I was shaking up an entire country at a fighting game and alas bringing trophies, medals and cash home. My family are definitely aware of it and they have always been supportive of what I do and I couldn’t be more thankful.
You’re well travelled now and have had your fair share of competition and awards as you mentioned. We know you are eager to try and hit up a big International event outside of the UK this year too, but what has been the highlight of your gaming career to date?
My own highlight would definitely be my time in London competing at Albion 2. It was one of the largest and stacked EU tournaments and to see how far I’ve progressed from the beginning until now was a real eye-opener. I put myself on the map which I had planned to accomplish for a while. It’s such a pleasure meeting new people from all over the continent and interacting with these people. I’ve met some of my greatest friends during these past 4 years and I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved with this game and myself!
We have no doubt moving forward you’ll be able to one up each and every achievement you have, but its fair to say last year you had a bit of down time. Do you think that’s affected your standing within the scene, or that the opposition may take you lightly in upcoming events?
After Celtic Throwdown 2, I needed a little time to myself. I’d been working a lot and couldn’t find time to really attend events. It did halt my progression but after returning I do feel like I am back on track with a refreshed mind. I don’t believe however it has affected my standings within the scene, I plan to keep it that way until Smash 5 releases this year. But additionally, it doesn’t go to say that the Scottish scene and the UK in general improved a ton in 2017. The opposition has its doubts occasionally. More than often though, I prove them wrong.
No doubt we’ll be seeing more of you this year but as you’ve stated there has been some exciting news from Nintendo recently. With Smash 5 being released later this year, what are your thoughts about the game and the future of the competitive scene?
Not much has been announced so far. A lot of it all is speculation for now. So far we know that Inkling will be a newcomer from the Splatoon series and potentially a new playable version of Link from Breath of the Wild. I’m very excited, for both the game and the scene. Smash 4 was booming at the beginning of its life span. Now that we’ll have a Smash game on a more accessible and highly popular console, we can expect a huge growth within Scotland, the UK and around the world. I’m especially looking forward to what players will be returning and newcomers to the scene who think they’ll have a shot to take me down. Of course, I’ll also be aiming for higher heights myself! It’s a very exciting time for everyone and surely will cause a lot of interesting results early on!
Well thanks very much for your time Jack, we’ll let you get back to doing your thing. For the benefit of the readers where will we see you next and do you have any final thoughts?
You’re welcome! It’s been a pleasure, as for my next big event there won’t be much in Scotland for another month or so. There should be a BIG around the corner soon! If not then I’ll likely head to London for DBZ!
Thanks to everyone who’s stuck around and supported the scene! I hope to see you all in Smash 5!