The Story of Isai

Joel Isai Alvarado, known as Isai— pronounced “Isaiah”— in the Smash Brothers community, is a competitive Smash Bros. player. When he was a kid, he would play Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 with his brother, and through his time playing he grew to really love and enjoy the game so much that he became a professional player of the game. He played it even when the next Smash game, Melee, came out.

His best friend, Ken Hoang, was a competitive Smash Bros. Melee player. He plays an important part in Isai’s life, so keep him in mind. One time, he and a few other Melee players asked Isai if he would play Melee. Isai wasn’t really interested in playing Melee, but he did play one game of it. He lost horribly, on purpose, many people suspect. After that, he went back to playing Smash 64.

However, his friend Ken was not as quick to leave Melee. Ken would play competitively by himself, but there were also team tournaments, where two people could play on a team against another two-man team. Ken persuaded Isai to join these team competitive Melee tournaments, and it was then, and only then that Isai’s true skill at Melee could be seen. Ken and Isai completely dominated the scene, playing off of each other with such incredible teamwork that it wouldn’t be too far fetched to say they had telepathic conversations. 

Isai cared not for single tournaments, but he tried his best when he was able to play on a team. Perhaps this is because he would play Smash 64 with his brother when he was a kid, and maybe could only get on the same wavelength as his brother or Ken. Either way, he did not play competitively in order to become the greatest, or to get famous, or to become rich. He played Melee because he did not want to let down his friend, and he still plays Smash 64 out of love for the game. 

Isai and Ken’s domination over team’s tournaments were short-lived, However. Unlike Isai, Ken’s purpose of playing Melee was to become the greatest, in order to prove everyone wrong that had ever doubted him. Ken left the team scene and switched to singles. He became Melee’s best player in the world. This left Isai behind with no teammate. However, Isai did not leave the Melee scene— he just found a new teammate. He partnered with a young woman in a few tournaments, whom he grew feelings for. 

Isai was not a self-confident person. He believed that this girl did not return his feelings. But that didn’t mean he was going to give up. During the days of January 15th and 16th of 2005, the Smash Melee tournament MOAST 3 was held in Dallas, Texas. Ken would be competing. The prize was a cape. Isai found out that the girl he had feelings for would be there, so he joined, playing Melee singles seriously for perhaps the first time. Isai and Ken beat out the 128 competitors at MOAST 3, which was the largest amount of competitors at a tournament at the time.

In the end, it was Isai versus his best friend, Ken, the world champion of Melee. The level of technical skills Ken had was most likely mind-boggling at the time. It was the first time Isai tried during a Melee single tournament. He and Ken had what the spectators could only call ‘a fight between two gods at the game,’ but Isai came out on top, beating out the best player in the world. 

That fight alone credits Isai as changing the way competitors approach the game from then on. People thought that Isai just really wanted that cape, but I believe he was playing for the woman’s feelings. However, he failed in that regard. He retired from the Melee scene soon after Ken retired, returning to Smash 64, which he still plays to this day. He said in an interview that “I’ll still be playing 64, until I’m the last one, then I guess I’ll retire.”