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Published May 28, 2018

This series is a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In it, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community. Consider this a mix of news and mild takes. Featured image from Westballz’s Twitter – will take down, if requested.

The Memorial Day weekend before Smash ‘N’ Splash 4 was one of a few small, but still significant regionals. Alongside the FGC national Combo Breaker came MomoCon 2018 in Georgia, among other tournaments. Also, in case you haven’t heard, I wrote a book about Melee.

1. Look out for KJH

The Michigan Fox has been on fire lately. A tech skill savant and metagame explorer (for lack of a better catchall term), KJH won Combo Breaker yesterday, clutching out two sets over Swedish Delight and beating AbsentPage. This adds to an already impressive list of names he’s beaten in the last few months: Crush, lloD, Slox, PewPewU, 2Saint, Rishi and Lucky, along with his fellow Michigan smashers, Duck and Ginger.

KJH has always been one of the most executionally solid Fox players, but he used to sometimes struggle with in-tourney tilt. From the eye test, it felt like this came especially in high variance matchups, like the Fox ditto or even against the Ice Climbers. Lately, however, his play looks as clean and focused as ever, especially in the ditto. I can’t say whether or not this is a matchup he’s actively refined, but he definitely has improved in it over the last year.

There’s also another possibility – that like he’s done with his own supporting cast, the mere presence of LeBron James as a basketball player has powered up KJH as of late.

2. The Beautiful, Boring Chaos of MomoCon 2018

A friend of mine once asked me, “what is the worst top eight of all-time?” The premise was ridiculous, but I remembered it after MomoCon, which might have answered his question.

The factors heading into top eight were particularly bizarre. For starters, the first day of pools for the tournament involved several DQs. On another note, I could go into detail why round robin formats are awful, but the long story short is that it essentially wastes time and resources into giving people as many “games” as possible in a tournament setting while not accounting for how much lower value a set is in RR, compared to bracket. Please let this format die.

Anyway, heading into top eight, we had four sets of matches: Hungrybox vs. La Luna, Mew2King vs. Colbol, Yort vs. n0ne and HT vs. Wizzrobe. These matches didn’t start until hours after they were supposed to begin (10:00 a.m.). The only way this tournament could run on time was if it sucked. And oh boy – did we get a stinker.

The matches in losers were stinkers, particularly uncompetitive 3-0’s, with Hungrybox also sweeping La Luna in winner’s semis. Colbol showed brief promise against Mew2King, even in the games he lost, but the end result was both gods in winner’s finals, as most expected. Nonetheless, loser’s bracket had potential for better sets. La Luna vs. Wizzrobe, the only Captain Falcon he hasn’t beaten yet, and Colbol vs. n0ne, two hyper-aggressive fast fallers facing off, could have been two classics.

They ended up being particularly boring sweeps, with Wizzrobe and Colbol advancing. Hungrybox then defeated Mew2King 3-1, much to my chagrin, while Wizzrobe overcame Colbol in loser’s to continue his trademark “Wizzy loses to a solid spacie in winner’s bracket and destroys everyone while coming through losers” run.

In what may be the single worst set of the year, Mew2King then went down 2-0 as Sheik before going Pichu in game three, losing in a four-stock to close out a 3-0 for Wizzrobe. The only way to follow this up: a Hungrybox 3-0 sweep over Wizzrobe in grand finals. It officially concluded the lamest top eight of the year, if not in recent memory.

3. Plans For The Book/Shameless Self Promotion

I’m not really sure how I should address this without coming off as a self-shill. That aside, I’m going to give a few thoughts on the response I’ve gotten from my announcement.

It’s really cool to see family members, friends and smashers support me in this endeavor. The words of encouragement I’ve received from those close to me and anonymous people online came pretty unexpectedly, due to smash writing being pretty unrewarding outside of intrinsic benefits (feeling good about myself, etc). Knowing that thousands of people are waiting on me both thrills and terrifies me, but I digress.

Just as a continuation of my whole project, I’ll be writing semi-frequent updates on progress regarding the book and what steps I’m taking to let you guys know where it’s at. Currently, I plan to publish through the Smashwords client, but once again, I’m not sure what my plan for pricing the book will be. I considered running a survey online, but it feels like an inaccurate way of measuring what people actually would pay for – after all, saying you’ll support someone and actually doing it are different actions.

The book also carries a strange amount of importance to it. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think there’s ever been a book dedicated to the history of a competitive video game, not the same way of a sport like the NBA or NFL (Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball” is a classic example). “Evo Moment 37” and Daigo Umehara’s “The Will To Keep Winning” have their place in gaming journalism as excellent pieces of work, but they aren’t quite tell-all stories of a game’s history.

Therefore, “The Book of Melee” transcends myself – I truly believe it could be a trailblazer for gaming journalism as an industry. Mistakes I make won’t just reflect upon me, it’ll cast a bad light on writing about video games as both a hobby and profession.

It’s in a good spot though. The content in the book is complete and pretty much only going through vigorous fact-checking, double checking with my primary sources, grammar fixes and editing, from myself and a few friends that are helping me. I’m yet to have a specific release date yet, but with any luck, it will be by the end of the summer.

I guess this is where now is a better time than ever to ask: what do you guys want to see leading up to the book? More excerpts? Cut chapters that I left out because they were too difficult to work in? More interviews? How does one plan a, uh, “smash book tour?”

One other thing people have asked me is what I meant by the book being my “final” project. To be honest, even I’m not sure what that entails of, but here’s my closest thing to a committal answer: I’m tired. I love Melee, but I don’t get time to play it any more between working on my book, being on a podcast, writing articles and balancing those with my “non-smash” life. After the book, maybe I’ll continue doing Monday Morning Marth and managing this website, but it’s really easy to question your own value added to the scene as a longform “content creator” (a term I truly hate), especially when that time spent could be used to actually get better at Melee. Certainly though, my smash history pieces are finished after the book comes out.

Sorry – that’s enough navel gazing. For now. Here’s a look at…smash history.

4. A Brief History of Smash ‘N’ Splash

June 13-14, 2015: SNS

1. Mew2King
2. Plup
3. Wizzrobe
4. Dart!
5. Darkrain/Kels
7. Junebug/Hanky Panky

256 Melee entrants went to Josh Weber’s newest addition to Midwest Melee, held in the Key Lime Cove Indoor Waterpark Resort. Mew2King won without dropping a set, but not without a few other cool narratives of the event. Plup’s stock was still growing at the time, particularly for his new Sheik. Dart! showed off his “Falcon slayer” Marth reputation to a national audience, with a 2-0 victory over Wizzrobe in winner’s quarters and a dominant 3-0 over Darkrain in losers.

June 11-12, 2016: SNS2

1. Hungrybox
2. Swedish Delight
3. Mew2King
4. Shroomed
5. Westballz/SFAT
7. n0ne/Wizzrobe

Now with 459 Melee entrants, the SNS series continued to thrive. The Tristate Sheik voted into the first Smash Summit kept improving, with wins over S2J and Westballz, as well as double eliminating the defending champion Mew2King. Swedish even took a game off Hungrybox as Luigi!

The results might seem pretty standard for mid-2016 Melee outside of Swedish beating Mew2King twice, but this was a secretly thrilling top eight. Hungrybox and SFAT had an absolutely killer set, while Mew2King vs. Wizzrobe and Shroomed vs. Westballz are other matches I’d highly recommend if you’re watching the tournament again. Poor Duck though – he lost 2-1 to two of the three attending Falcons, n0ne and Wizzrobe, for ninth.

June 2-4, 2017: SNS3

1. Hungrybox
2. Leffen
3. Armada
4. Shroomed
5. Mango/Plup
7. Axe/Wizzrobe

848 people playing Melee in tournament makes SNS3 one of the biggest Midwest Melee majors of all-time. Now held in the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, SNS3 unquestionably had graduated to become a supermajor.

From Zain upsetting Leffen in Top 64 to Leffen’s fantastic tear through losers (defeating n0ne in a now-forgotten set where the Nicaraguan almost swept him, Westballz, Axe, Mango, Shroomed, Armada and Hungrybox) en route to second, this was an exciting event. Shroomed had a big of a resurgence from it as well, with an impressive fourth-place, his highest ever at a supermajor, in which he double eliminated Plup, beat S2J and took both Swedes to game five.

In hindsight, even the ledge camping tactics used by Hungrybox against Armada and Leffen were amusing to watch, given that it spawned community wide discussion about the direction of the metagame. Remember when we had to take the idea of a ledge grab limit seriously? Good times.

If history’s shown anything, it’s that Smash ‘N’ Splash 4 will too have its own moments. Featuring Hungrybox, Armada, Mew2King, Mango and Leffen, the event will add to a long line of already memorable majors.

What I like:

What I don’t like:

  • Major top eights starting more than two hours late
  • Mew2King’s Sheik
  • Mew2King’s Pichu

One Comment

  1. If the book’s ready by Super Smash Con, you should totally do a book signing. Could be a great opportunity for its official release date, too.

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