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 Wizzrobe’s Twitter – will take down, if requested.
I can’t front – when I initially saw last weekend’s ho-hum lineup of tournaments I thought to myself that there’d be no point in watching them. Saints Gaming Live 2018 went about as expected, with Mew2King dropping one game the whole event to first place, but boy was I wrong about Optic Arena.
Last night, Wizzrobe won the latter event over Hungrybox, defeating the slumping world No. 1 in two sets from loser’s bracket, 3-0, 3-2. Optic Arena also had two other cool performances of note: the Monday Morning Marth favorite himself, Bananas, slaying Gahtzu, n0ne and S2J en route to an impressive fourth, and another MMM darling, AbsentPage, destroying loser’s bracket, plowing through Gahtzu, Uncle Mojo, Swedish Delight and Bananas to third.
Let’s start with the obvious.
1. A Brief History of Wizzy v. Hungrybox
Wizzy beating Hungrybox on its own is not too surprising. Before his rise to being a top ten player in 2016, he had actually swept the longtime god at SWATO, a Florida regional, in mid-June 2015. Hungrybox continued to beat Wizzrobe from then on, before two sets happened: Wizzy sweeping Hungrybox at WTFox 2 and doing the same at Smash Conference LXIX just half of a year later.
Naturally, this made many wonder if he was the secret Jigglypuff-counter that everyone was looking for. Hungrybox’s broken finger at the latter tournament definitely played a role in Wizzy’s success, but it’d be unfair to take away credit from Wizzy, whose excellent top platform camping game, patience and, well, difficulty to hit seemed to put Jigglypuff in a bad position.
But Hungrybox adapted by being a little more selective about when he’d directly engage Wizzy. At Smash Rivalries last year, he won the event over Wizzy, 3-0, 2-3, 3-0. Though his trademark discipline seemed to put Hungrybox on tilt at times, the latter chose his spots far more carefully, even turning Wizzy’s conservative approach to the matchup on its head. For seven sets in row, Hungrybox continued to beat Wizzy, either beating him convincingly or clutching out game-five sets.
Of note, Wizzy struggled to take advantage of Falcon’s superior ground game against Jigglypuff. His initial strategy of camping platforms and not approaching was fine, but if Hungrybox got a lead, their games looked all but over. Moreover, his responses to Jigglypuff crouching were also overly simplistic – retreating and conceding position against a superior player can only work for so long.
At Optic Arena, we saw a lot of his play advance. Even in the first set in which he lost, Wizzy’s use of stomp as a mixup when Hungrybox was on the ground seemed to keep the latter a lot more honest. When the latter started shielding more, it gave Wizzy a chance to grab him.
Wizzy was basically one rest punish away from defeating Hungrybox in the first set. Yet in set two, he triple two-stocked him. Their last set went to game five and last-stock, but even the latter is misleading in how thoroughly ahead Wizzy looked through most of grand finals. Hungrybox’s wins typically came in last-stock from clutch rests or edgeguards, but many of Wizzy’s were lopsided, with two three-stocks happening in the second set.
None of this means that Wizzy should be favored against Hungrybox. When watching their sets, one thing for Hungrybox stood out to me: his uncharacteristic laziness. I’d have to take a look at the sets in more detail, but in one particular anecdote I have of a combo, Hungrybox DI’d in the entire time.
I guess now is a perfect time to ask another question, right?
2. Has Melee ever been so wide open at No. 1?
Last week, I did my best to make sense of the current Melee “Big Six.” Heading into this year’s CEO, I’m not sure what I believe. Hungrybox has won the most notable tourneys of the year, but the three losses outside the top six are remarkably high for someone who was previously untouchable, as well as losing at the three biggest supermajors of the year.
The last time I can recall a time when the top spot of Melee looked so unclear is probably late 2010 (or right before Pound V, early in the next year), ironically when the Apex 2010 champion Hungrybox was the closest person to No. 1. Back then, per community perception, Mango was the community’s most talented player, but he hadn’t been playing his mains since Pound 4. Dr. PeePee had just won Revival of Melee 3, but hadn’t been established as the former two, or even Armada and Mew2King, the latter of whom looked on his way out of Melee.
As far as individual tournaments go, Apex 2014 was another one that didn’t have a clear favorite. You could have possibly argued Mango, but he had also just become a father and wasn’t actively practicing. Armada was out of Melee singles, while Mew2King had been on a stretch of smaller regional dominance, also winning The Big House 3, but still hadn’t proven himself as being a supermajor contender like his other contemporaries. Dr. PeePee and Hungrybox were wild cards back then as well, with both of them having historically beaten Mew2King, but looked nowhere as dominant as they used to.
Either way, there’s no clear answer. Let me know your thoughts.
3. Characters at Arcadians
To no one’s shock, the Ice Climbers player Frostbyte won the MD/VA Arcadian. The results of the SoCal Arcadian came as a slightly bigger surprise, with Jigglypuff DD winning.
This got me thinking: is the idea of fast-fallers being inherently “disadvantaged” at an Arcadian-style event accurate? Is it true that floaties like the Ice Climbers, Peach and Jigglypuff tend to succeed more at Arcadians? Off the top of my head, it feels true, with Michael winning the National Arcadian and last weekend’s results fresh in my mind.
Nonetheless, I’d love for someone more qualified than me to take a look at character representation across regional Arcadian events and see if there’s anything worth looking at. Ambisinister! Jackzilla! I’m looking at you two!
What I like:
- Chaos in the top sphere of Melee
- The Smash Invitational
- Getting to release a chapter on PPMD very soon!
What I don’t like:
- The smash community’s obsession with Elo!
- The Smash Invitational