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Published April 3, 2018

This is part of a new series that I’m trying to do, as a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In this series, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community.

Last weekend was a bit of a retreat to normalcy after Full Bloom 4, so for the most part, this column will be short. I’ll also be discussing a few of my thoughts for some out-of-game topics pertinent to the smash scene.

1. AbsentPage is really good

Before AbsentPage overtook Slayer as Minnesota’s best player, the state was mostly known for hosting the world’s best Kirby main in Triple R. Older scene veterans would recognize Aarosmashguy for beating Scar at Event 52 in 2008.

Suddenly, AbsentPage has put his state on the map. Over the last ten months or so, AbsentPage has turned from a mega-talented, but obscure local-slayer into a dark horse threat against top 25-30 players.

He hasn’t made a major top eight yet, but the results show a player rapidly ascending the Melee ranks as one of its most promising players. Let’s take a look at how he’s done over his last ten months at notable tournaments, using both data compiled by Save above and at what’s happened since.

Smash ‘N’ Splash 3: 17th, beating Trulliam, Vro and Michael, losing to Plup and n0ne
Evo 2017: 25th, beating Lovage, lloD, KJH and Eddy Mexico, losing to Plup and aMSa
Shine 2017: 49th, losing to MikeHaze and SFAT
GT-X 2017: 33rd, losing to MacD and Crush

Super Rubicon 2: 4th, losing to n0ne and JustJoe
ASH@WIT #140: 3rd, beating Michael, losing to Kels X 2
House of Paign 15: 3rd, beating Michael, Reeve, losing to Prince Abu and lloD
The Winter Theater: 3rd, losing to Captain Faceroll and Zamu
Genesis 5: 49th, beating L, lost to SFAT and Laudandus
Full Bloom 4: 9th, beating Ryan Ford, Gahtzu, lloD and Rik, losing to Ginger and aMSa

House of Paign 17: 1st, beating Fiction X 2

Though he’s definitely struggled at times in smaller out-of-state regions, AbsentPage typically dominates Minnesota and has dark horse potential at nationals. If his last two weekends give any indication, we could see the multi-character playing prodigy’s No. 74 SSBMRank go up by the end of the year. Based on results for just this year, I’d say he should be on anyone’s top 50,

2. Is ChuDat…Back?

Let’s not mince words here. ChuDat has sucked over the last half of a year – and I think he’d agree. Whether it’s the inherent pressure to perform at a top level or more players becoming familiar at invalidating the Ice Climbers, his results against players not named Mew2King have been lackluster since his solid fifth at DreamHack Denver 2017.

However, Respawn #6 provided a brief glimmer of hope for the all-time great Ice Climbers player. Heading into it, Chu was certainly the favorite, but there was quietly a solid amount of talent that entered the event, between a competitively motivated Ice, hidden Marth talent Dart! and tons of strong European players.

ChuDat did drop a set to Ice in winners finals, but he also solidly 3-0’d Dart!, one of the most historically strong “hidden bosses” of the greater smash community, and unsurprisingly swept Overtriforce in losers finals. Following that, he then beat Ice in two sets.

Even if it’s a far cry from the days of beating Mango three times in a row, winning a tournament last weekend should help ChuDat regain some confidence. I’m not going to say that he’s anywhere close to Top 10, let alone Top 25 for this year so far, but for some of his fans who have been through tough times rooting for him, keep an eye out for how he does next major – or if he gets voted into Smash Summit 6.

3. lloD wins See Me On LAN

To end last year, lloD looked like one of the most promising players. At this point, many would consider him to be the second best Peach. But an underrated storyline for this year has been lloD taking a bit of a step back. He remains a strong player, arguably Top 25, but even he’s acknowledged his greater struggles lately, writing about this in more detail.

At SMOL, lloD enjoyed a return to form, defeating 2saint, Slox and KJH to win the tournament, while only dropping a set in grand finals to KJH. A fun fact about the second set with KJH: he actually went Fox in game three and won.

Could we be seeing more of lloD’s secondaries come out in bracket? I don’t expect it, but he’s brought out Fox and Sheik before at locals, so it’s not like lloD playing other characters would come as a huge surprise . It’d be pretty cool to see lloD pursue this strategy, though his Peach obviously looks like his best character.

4. Accountability in Melee

This isn’t a more prominent topic now than it was in the back, but sometimes I genuinely wonder if it’s possible to ever hold top figures and players accountable for their actions within the Melee scene. I’m bringing this up because of recent controversies surrounding Ninja, of the streaming/Fortnite community, and Sadokist, a commentator from CS:GO – though the hypothetical scenarios I’m worried about go beyond instances of immaturity.

For smash, we’ve seen issues of sexual assault or battery in a player’s history be a prominent topic of debate for tournament organizers. It feels gross that the community once was overwhelmingly fine with Leffen being banned for poor sportsmanship, but that when the above topics come into play in several player controversies last year, many of smash’s leaders remained quiet or reluctant to take action. Below, Tafokints sums up many of the dilemmas that face TOs in these situations.

How much power do organizations actually have to stand up and say “we will ban X player for Y action?” Looking into the details, it just feels like the onus still remains on the player to not actively harm their scene.

Let’s say a player gets accused of sexual assault, but by someone out of the community. Do tournament organizers have the right to instantly ban such a player? What due process, if there’s any, can the player expect outside of the law? Can a TO trying to protect their own player base be sued by someone for trying to ban them? How about if someone is assaulted by a TO in their region? Couldn’t anyone hold an entire scene hostage if they really wanted to?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. As controversies pile up in other gaming communities, I fear that one day Melee will have its own moment of reckoning – but we’ll be powerless to do anything about it.

What I Like:

  • Michael’s beautifully minimalist Smash Summit nomination page
  • This kickass series from Fiction
  • Heir 5 reaching a cap of 512 people in 12 hours

What I Don’t Like:

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