Jason “ANTi” Bates breaks the mold of what you would expect from an Immortal. A bartender in Long Island, ANTi is a multifaceted man who embraces complexities. He’s a Smash player, but he works full-time as a bartender… and he’s looking at launching a clothing line. His Twitter feed is full of memes and jokes, but he’s constantly pushing himself to the limit. Sure, he focuses on Smash 4, but you can find him playing Melee or even Street Fighter on the side. He exudes confidence without tipping into arrogance, but he questions if he’ll ever make it to the top. ANTi is the very picture of authenticity, and he’s constantly driven to best his past self. Now he has a new main, a new lease on life, and he’s heading across the country to chase greatness.
Big homie pic.twitter.com/80JUfc1Xvj
— Jason (@Anti) April 28, 2017
You don’t just wake up as slick and stylish as ANTi; it’s something you gotta work at. He got into Smash at fifteen, after his mom bought him the game as a birthday gift. “I started playing… a lot. This game was super fun. I was playing my friends, and beating them easily, so I was like, you know what? It’s time to take this to the next level. I went online and looked up a competition called GameBattles where other competitive people could fight to get points, rank, stuff like that.”
His first season in online competition ended with him scoring $1500. After that, he held a brief conference with his mom, and she encouraged him to take things a step further. “That’s when my mom realized that wow, there’s actually money in video gaming and told me I should go to tournaments and compete.”
ANTi started hitting the New York tournament scene. “I wasn’t as good offline because I couldn’t deal with nerves, because I was a super young kid.” he admits. “Now I know how to deal with it, and I just kept taking it further and further. I kept going to tournaments… I went three times a week, when I was fifteen, just every day playing with friends or practicing or playing online if I couldn’t go offline.”
2017 LOOKS. YUNG ANTi STEINER, REACHED MY PERFECT FORM LIKE CELL, THANKS FOR TAKING THE PIC MOM. pic.twitter.com/bYRW1FbZBL
— Jason (@Anti) February 16, 2017
As ANTi pushed himself into his new passion, he realized that if he played his cards right, he could turn a hobby into his life.
“I realized that when I seen my friends, who were also top players, were getting picked up by big organizations, I realized that Smash was something you could do as a career, something you could take more seriously than just a side gig.” he says. “At that point, when ZeRo got sponsored by TSM, I realized a lot of big organizations are coming into Smash now, so I should perform so I get looked at too.”
After some crunch, ANTi was able to make that goal come true. After a short stint with Dream Team, he found himself among Immortals.
“Everything’s great here [with Immortals]. I never pictured myself being a pro player when I was fifteen. I thought I’d do it for two or three years, and then I’d have to get a full time job… but now I’m out here in Mexico, living life.” he laughs.
“Every week we have a Smash meeting on how are we doing, what tournaments we’re going to, if they’re going to send crew out to meet us, that kind of stuff.” he explains. “That kind of support helps us a lot because when you’re by yourself, traveling, on your own, out of your own pocket… It sucks! When you lose, the losses hurt harder. ‘Wow, that was my opportunity to put food on the table.’ But when you have an org that supports you… not just financially, but emotionally, it’s good, because whenever I’m out at a local tournament and they’re here it feels like I have my boys with me.”
"You gonna let them say you suck?"
Me : pic.twitter.com/ptodRRrUc5
— Jason (@Anti) February 27, 2017
Finding the fire
The biggest problem that ANTi faces is recapturing the consistency of his days in Brawl. “When I played Brawl, I always finished Top 8, Top 12 at worst. I was always in a higher cut of tournaments.”
In Smash 4, ANTi has been struggling to get that same standard of results. It’s a delicate balance to strike; he keeps his head up while still striving to do better. “Whenever I perform not as well as I wish to in tournaments, I look at it like, especially in Smash 4, a lot of stuff that happens to you in bracket can be janky and unpredictable, so you can’t really get too down on yourself. But for me, personally, I have a winning mentality. I’m not used to losing.”
Giving up never crosses his mind as an option: “Losing is something I’m not used to and can’t get used to. That’s not me.”
ANTi’s infamous for his Mario, but his solution is to shake things up. “Whenever I have a bad performance I review the footage on why I lost, and consider what character I should pick against certain opponents, stuff like that.”
This process has led to him leaving the plumber behind for a better pick: Sheik.
ANTi trying to get used to Sheik now, pulling on some old experience to master her. “I used to use her in the pre-patch days, but that was over a year ago.” He cites her reliability and consistency as the reasons for his change. “That character is very neutral based. If you’re playing your opponent, you have to get outplayed numerous times when you’re playing as Sheik. That character’s super good with me. With Mario, I don’t have proper control over the match. Now I’m grinding her out every day. When I bust her out in a tournament [in a couple of months], I’ll be ready and good to go.”
Me preparing to list 10 reasons why Mario sucks pic.twitter.com/AGv5ne1pm6
— Jason (@Anti) March 30, 2017
ANTi’s changing up more than his main; he’s heading to California to chase the dream. Travelling the world, meeting new people, perfecting his game… that trumps the bartending biz back in New York. It won’t be easy, but if anyone’s up to the task, it’s ANTi.
There’s one thing that’ll stay the same, no matter where ANTi heads: his presence on Twitter. “I was always a big Twitter user, even before I was sponsored in 2011 and 2012, so it came naturally to me.” says the man constantly cited as having the best Twitter in the esports game.
There are a few drawbacks, of course. “It kind of backfires, having a big fanbase, because the more fans you have, the more haters you have. I don’t really think too deeply about me having haters because the amount of fans who support me outnumber any kind of hate that I get. I thank my fans so much for all the love they give me, even when I’m not playing so well, they’re by my side. They give me good words. I see every tweet that I get, nobody’s words to me goes unacknowledged.”
So what’s next for ANTi? Preparing for a big move, practicing his Sheik (although he reminds us that we have to be patient), and planning his next tournaments. With Immortals in his corner, his game plan prepared, and his fans at his back, there’s no telling how much ANTi can achieve.