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Published February 8, 2021

After several stunning upsets at the Black Empowerment Melee Invitational, it was TheRealThing who came out on top, winning the weekend event over 2saint. In addition to beating the Tristate Jigglypuff in grands, TheRealThing split two previous sets with him, as well as defeated Shroomed, MoG, Justus and Alan.

The tournament also featured a solid showing from billybopeep, who beat Axe (fifth place) and Shroomed (fourth) – the two players most favored to win the event. Previously, billybopeep had finished in first place at the Velvitational 2 in December, where he beat FatGoku and 404cray.

On the opposite side of the Atlantic, Pipsqueak successfully defended his spot as the current top dog out of active European players, winning (yes; this is the name of the tournament). Along with beating Leffen (once again, playing on his new controller), Pipsqueak won grand finals over Frenzy, who eliminated Leffen in loser’s finals.

It’s worth noting that this weekend also had an exciting chess tournament, which had invited notable smashers coached by renowned chess players. HugS ended up winning it over VoiD. The tournament was a collaboration between Panda Global and – the first of hopefully many cross-community collaborations with the Smash scene.

In other tournament news, Grab won the latest iteration of East Coast Fridays over Golden, and in Gerudo Kings – a Ganon-only tournament 4 – n0ne defeated Epic Murloc to finish in first place.

  1. Rule Set Drama

Anyone who’s been following the Melee scene for a while knows that controversy seems to follow Leffen anywhere he goes, even when he’s not necessarily in the wrong. In the latest edition of Leffen Discourse, the Swedish Fox found himself at the center of a rule set controversy yet again, when Idsdar, his opponent, paused in the middle of his descent from an off-stage recovery, when he was already in the middle of losing the stock.

At this point, Leffen quit out of the game, assuming that this was Isdsar forfeiting his remaining stock. This led to complaints from Isdsar, who said he still had a stock remaining – since technically he had not lost his third stock yet. After a ton of arguing between the two, the TOs ended up siding with Leffen. As a result, we got a ton of Twitter drama.

I think most people would understand that this issue could be easily resolved in LAN events, where pause could just be immediately turned off. At least so far, this is not the case in online events, so this is not a relevant factor for this instance. Here are some instant thoughts from me:

  • This seems like a bit of a stickler move from Leffen. Unlike a previous controversy involving pauses and stock forfeits with Leffen, this was a free-to-enter Netplay event with a prize pot. I understand that the lines between established rules and “gamesmanship” are often grey and have a long history within our scene, so for the sake of this column, I won’t go into too much detail.
  • I’m not sure you can’t both advocate for strict adherence to the rules (pause = stock forfeit) but also appeal to some semblance of alternative gamesmanship when pointing to the rule book doesn’t work in your favor (“well, that stock was already lost in spirit,” more or less). It’s ironic that both Leffen and Idsdar found themselves using one tactic to get their way before quickly discarding it for the other.
  • If other fighting games have any applicable precedent to Melee, it may be worth including some kind of inevitability clause when it comes to pause rules, and not requiring a stock forfeit. In other words, creating an addendum to the current rule. Here’s my attempt, “any player who pauses the game must forfeit their current stock unless their character is in a state where they will lose their stock regardless of any input they do or their opponent does outside of the opponent deliberately returning the pauser’s character into a state where they have recovered or can recover back to the stage.” Wow, that’s a mouthful. Hat tip to CurlyW, a Melee Stats Patron and longtime FGC member, for this insight. I’m sure he could come up with something better.
  • Alternatively, as my good friend Ambisinister suggested, “pause equals game forfeiture if the opposing player decides to take it at the time of the pause.” While it sounds harsh, this would essentially minimize any grey areas that could arise and leave it entirely in the hands of the opposing player, like what some TOs do with the Freeze Glitch.
  • While Blur is intentionally being ridiculous above, I don’t think he’s entirely incorrect in the merits of his points. Leffen shouldn’t have quit out of the game entirely. If there was any doubt in his mind, he should have paused the game himself and contacted a TO for clarification on the rules and their decision. Just pausing the game could have let the TOs quickly make a decision before everyone involved can move on. It’s not perfect (especially in a live setting), but it seems like this was a much better option than just quitting out and forcing the TO’s hand.

2. Monday Morning Mailbag

No mailbag yet, but I wanted to ask what you think the staying power of volleyball is? I think it’s fun, but I have reservations about the meta being interesting enough to last the year’s end. – SpadesSSBM

I’m going to sound like such a buzzkill here: I haven’t played volleyball at all and pretty much have no interest in trying it out. It’s not because I don’t think it’s cool or because I think people shouldn’t play at all. If anything, it’s incredibly impressive that a group of dedicated fans managed to put something together that was so creative.

I suspect that there’s a quiet group of Melee players who feel similarly as I do – as remote appreciators for the existence of a cool mod, but not people who want to be too active within it, just out of interest. Who knows though? I don’t have any thoughts on the meta, but given that I haven’t followed volleyball very much, I don’t think I’m the best person to accurately comment on this.

If you were to set up a fight card of international talent vs US players, who would you have play each other to get the most exciting matches? – MegaKreze

You know; it’s so funny that you ask this. I’ve thought about possible exhibition events between hidden bosses and established players – or even just hidden bosses against each other – for so long. For the few of you reading this column, I’ll let you in on an itty bitty secret: if Melee Stats had infinite resources, we would love to host this exact kind of event being talked about. I can’t speak for the other members of our group, but I’ll quickly go through some potentially interesting clashes that I’d want to see.

Frenzy vs. Magi

A long time ago, I was in a Smash Discord filled with players from the UK. I forget the exact reason I was there – it was probably related to yelling at them about why they should trust Melee Stats when it comes to European results – but I digress.

It was either in there, or through someone who DM’d me about this topic, but the long story short: someone asked me about my thoughts on Frenzy. If I’m not mistaken, I said something along the lines of him very likely finishing anywhere from the 60s to 80s but that I thought, eye-test wise, he was probably about as good or around the same level as Magi, with a different matchup spread.

I still think of both players quite highly and would love to see them face off in a Falco ditto. The two have both improved and I think the Falco ditto is one of their stronger matchups. If not Frenzy and Magi here, feel free to replace them with Kins0 and Albert.

Soonsay vs. MINT

DISCLAIMER: I know Soonsay is Canadian, but for the sake of this column, I am counting him as “functionally” US because he plays with American players and can compete within American tournaments. If you don’t like it, too bad. 

A long time ago, before Soonsay broke out to being a Top 20-30 player, there was a running gag among Melee Stats members: that Soonsay was “The Game Five Master.” MINT had a similar reputation among ourselves for a long time as the “European Game Five Master.” In case you’re wondering what this means, it’s basically that both players are always guaranteed to take top players to game five. The implication is that they usually lose in heart-breaking fashion, but at the very least they don’t get steamrolled, so it’s somewhat of a back-handed compliment.

In Soonsay’s case, he actually started winning those game fives and beating top players, so everybody knows who he is now. MINT hasn’t been nearly as active over the last couple years, but he won a tournament over Frenzy last month, and eye-test wise, he’s been one of the best hidden players in Europe for what feels like forever. I’m gonna take a wild guess here and say that a set between the two would not only be exciting – it would probably go to game five.

lloD vs. Setchi

I don’t know how good Setchi is right now because he isn’t active. However, considering how good he got against Peach and how well studied he is in the matchup, I’m going to wager that this is not something he has forgotten over time. I would love to see how lloD fares against one of the few active players in Europe who Trif would not want to ever see in his side of bracket.

Leffen vs. Zain

Do I even need to say anything? Watch this whole session of friendlies and tell me you don’t want to see more of this on LAN. Honestly, you could just say Leffen vs. anyone and I’d be up for it.

Some other brief exhibitions I would like to see:

  • Solobattle vs. Michael (because why not?)
  • Pipsqueak vs. bobby big ballz
  • RedBlaze vs. Polish
  • Jah Ridin’ vs. FatGoku
  • Makenshi vs. Ben
  • Isdsar vs. Android 0
  • Pricent vs. Captain Faceroll


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