Are You Sure? Andrew’s Retiring

by Evan “Larfen” Himes

One of Chicago’s most successful tournament organizers is retiring from the job this week. However, Andrew “Unsure” Bisciglia didn’t join the scene looking for that to be his main calling. We started competing in Melee at around the same time, and I remember him, from the very beginning, stating that his goal in Melee is to be a top 100 player.

“I don’t see the point in playing otherwise” was his reasoning. 

We had an early rivalry that he eventually outstripped me in, landing on the Chicago power rankings more frequently and higher than I ever did. We debuted on the same ranking, myself at #20 and him at #19. He’s appeared on every ranking since. He managed to do this while in school, then with a job, and above all, while organizing many of the very events he competed in.

Much of Unsure’s history as a TO can be found in his retirement Twitlonger, but here’s a brief summary. 

Unsure began organizing tournaments after being dissatisfied with the tournament landscape in 2017. The biggest issues he identified at the time were a poor new player experience, a lack of cohesive community, and inefficient scheduling. Addressing these issues would be his guiding principle as he organized tournaments over the next 5 years.

The first Unsure event I ever attended was at his house in Bucktown, which he shared with several roommates, including former CLM statistician Penicillin Krillin. The Labyrinth tournament series that began in 2017 was his first foray into tournament organizing and was named after the bizarre layout of the apartment. It was ultimately small but successful, usually attracting entrants in the high single or low double digits. I remember going to a sparsely attended Labyrinth which in the end just consisted of Andrew and myself getting farmed by Kels for 2 hours on a winner stays friendlies rotation. It had that distinct vibe of a house tournament, with shoes taken off at the door and TV’s set on counters, coffee tables, foldable tables, anywhere they could fit. Unsure took advantage of this to make a welcoming environment, and implemented a program where free set reviews were given out to selected players. It was short-lived, but established Unsure as a TO in the region.

Also in 2017, Andrew secured the venue for what ended up as the longtime premier local in the City of Chicago, Near Mint Games. He knew the owner as a result of his time there in the competitive Yu-Gi-Oh scene. When the then-main TO Vro left the city in 2018, Unsure inherited not only NMG, but Chicago’s Arcadian and Regionals as well.

Andrew used this position to try and create as welcoming a scene as possible. NMG ran ladder pools, which was uncommon at the time for a local, and this allowed newer players to get more tournament matches every week. This small change helped increase retention at locals, as fellow TO Kadence has pointed out before. Kadence’s first tournament was NMG, and they went on to become friends and eventually roommates with Unsure, using much of his guidance to create the unequivocal success that is OnlyNoobs.

Unsure also experimented with regional tournament formats. His second Arcadian had an extremely unorthodox pools system based on Duelist Kingdom from the Yu-Gi-Oh anime, though it of course ended in a straightforward double elimination bracket. 

Andrew also tried to create community by implementing the shocking strategy of actually listening to community members. Some TO’s have a particular vision that they want to pursue, and while he has one as well, Unsure believes that attendees can have valuable input as to what makes a good event. Unsure went out of his way to speak to everyone that he could at his events to not only get feedback on how to improve the tournament experience, but to also make everyone feel like they are a valued community member. 

Unsure believes he’s achieved greater inclusivity than ever before in CLM as a result of these practices. The most recent Hold That L had more than 40 OnlyNoobs players in attendance.  Midlane’s short-lived “gauntlet” format was the result of addressing complaints of top placers facing exhaustion from round robin pools, while the round robin pools themselves were a result of addressing the longstanding issue of the classical tournament experience being bad for the 0-2’ers. Unsure regularly ran surveys to gauge how players were feeling about his locals and what he could do to make them better for everyone.

Moving from running locals to regionals to nationals all felt like natural steps for Unsure. He ran his first regional, Send Noobs, only 6 months after taking over NMG in March 2018. The first Hold That L was in January 2019 and boasted 182 entrants, not even a year after Unsure had run his first local outside of his home. He helped seed Chicago players at Smash ‘N’ Splash, and moved to a position as Melee TO for that series after the spot was vacated. His final TO’ing job will be for Smash ‘N’ Splash’s spiritual successor, Riptide 2022.

Unsure prides himself on running a tight schedule at his tournaments. Every Hold That L saw an improvement in time it took to run pools, often by margins of more than 30 minutes. He chalks this up to simply not being complacent ⎼ “even if you have a whole day to run an event, that doesn’t mean you need to use it all”. Some ways he would do this was to do some math and calculate the maximum length of time a pool could take (assuming 8 minute games, 3 game sets). and also seed events to avoid slow matchups in some cases. Unsure’s dedication to improvement led to Hold That L becoming one of if not the largest midwest regional series ever.

However, running tournaments was always just Unsure’s way of getting to play himself. When Vro left Chicago, Unsure saw that if he wanted accessible locals to continue, it would have to be him who made that happen. Unsure has been planning his retirement for a while, as his goal of making top 100 is still THE goal. He feels confident that the local scene is in good hands with the new TO’ing duo of Tenacity and Oval, and that the tradition of larger scale Chicago events is sure to live on.

Recently, Chicago’s #1 ranked player Skerzo drove to Tennessee to compete in Nashville regional Lift Off before driving home to Chicago to compete in the Midlane Invitational the very next day. Unsure looks to Skerzo as inspiration on how he plans to pursue his dream of making top 100. Skerzo has spent this year traveling all over the country, attending an out of state tournament almost every weekend. This is something Unsure, with his TOing responsibilities, simply hasn’t been able to do until now.

Andrew stresses that making top 100 is “not a question of if, but when”. He may return to TO’ing afterwards, saying that a potential plan is to give Chicago the major that it’s always deserved. There are by no means any plans to make that happen right now, but who knows what the future will bring. He’s still Unsure, but he’ll certainly be around for a long time. 

If you want to pay your last respects, his final Midlane Melee as TO will be tomorrow, June 29.

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