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.
On Sunday, S2J won Don’t Park on The Grass 2018, the final big Melee event of the year. He defeated Zain, New Zealand’s Spud and held off a loser’s bracket effort from Swedish Delight, and S2J’s performance marks yet another strong victory for the SoCal Captain Falcon, who won the Roast of Hugo Gonzalez, Schism 2 and Poi Poundaz earlier this year.
For smaller Melee events, Colbol took first at Georgia’s Player’s Ball 2018, and Uncle Mojo successfully defended Texas from La Luna to bring home the gold at DIME 28.
1. Top Eight Takeaways from DPOTG 2018
- S2J vs. Axe for the final SSBMRank Top 10 spot is a conversation that panelists will need to have. Axe’s records across the field are overall better, but S2J has attended more and won bigger events. This isn’t to say that Axe wouldn’t have won DPOTG 2018 with the same bracket, but if you gave S2J Axe’s bracket at Esports Arizona 4, he likely does better, no?
- After Swedish Delight’s dreadful showing against Zain in winner’s bracket, I initially thought he was doomed in his next set against Hax. Instead, Swedish beat him, Captain Faceroll and Zain in the runback to eventually finish second, adding to an impressive tournament in which he also took down n0ne. It’s a good return to form after Swedish’s disappointing Smash Summit 7.
- Zain’s third place at an event where he’s the first seed isn’t too surprising, but it should quell the notion that he’s reached the same level of skill as someone like Mango or Mew2King. The fall and winter seasons have been relatively tough for Zain this year – let’s see how he responds in 2019.
- Since I last wrote about Captain Faceroll, here’s some notable tournament placings and the wins he took in each one: ninth at Runback 2018 (beating Syrox), 17th at Shine 2018 (Duck), seventh at GT-X 2018 (Ginger/AbsentPage), seventh at The Mango: Homecoming (Hax/Shroomed) and fourth at DPOTG (Squid/n0ne/Ka-Master/Spud). Here’s a fun thought experiment – will Captain Faceroll finish above Shroomed in 2018 SSBMRank?
- When it comes to Spud, nobody was a bigger believer than DPOTG TO Calvin, who put money on the line for Spud-SFAT. Props to him for being dead right, as well as Spud for being the damn hero of the event and Melee player who’s stock rose the most within two weeks. In that time span, he defeated n0ne, Moky, Professor Pro, Hax twice, SFAT and Kalamazhu.
- After a great start to 2018 in-region and then disappearing for the middle of the year, Hax has taken sets from players like Jerry, Gahtzu, Ryan Ford, Fiction, Westballz, Bladewise, Colbol, iBDW, AbsentPage, Michael and KJH. If he can keep attending events without out-of-game circumstances causing a drop off in results, Hax could continue to build his already impressive resume, but at the same time, this has been the same story for around three years.
- It might be too late for Ka-Master to make a case for Top 50; nonetheless, check out his sweet loser’s run. He beat Aura, Azel, Rocky and Fiction.
- BAN WOBBLING!
— practical sass (@mew2queen) December 16, 2018
2. The Beauty of DPOTG-type events
Alright; it’s time to address something that’s fairly obvious and worth writing into full detail: I like watching events like DPOTG more than I do supermajors. I think this is becoming a more common viewpoint across most of the player population.
Think about the variety of talent that could win the event. Zain was justifiably the top seed, but players like S2J and Swedish were conceivable threats to his success. Those two players also had people they wanted to avoid or could struggle with. Take for instance S2J’s recent losing streak against AbsentPage or his year-long struggle with SFAT (who had a brutal tournament himself). If you asked Swedish which players he would be most nervous playing against, he’d remain confident about his chances, but likely tell you that Ryan Ford and SFAT were two potential bracket-enders.
Put simply, greater competition brings forth, well, greater competition. It makes for thrilling matchups, a wealth of new storylines and ideas, all without the implicit fear that our favorite rising player will run into the Hungrybox wall of doom.
Large “non-god” events like DPOTG have a special place in our scene. Rather than necessarily viewing them as “non-majors,” we should embrace the implicit chaos and excitement that they bring. If you want the same excitement you feel watching Top 32 at a supermajor without the dread of expecting the same names in a supermajor Top 8, I can’t vouch enough for how refreshing tournaments like DPOTG are for the scene.
3. Monday Morning Mailbag
What do you think sfat needs to change to get out of this top 10 gatekeeper tier he’s in? After wombo combo it feels like he has the capacity to beat the stuffing out of anyone ranked beneath him (ppu doesn’t count, homie matchups are different) but he just can’t touch the top 6. – SubjectiveF
Take whatever I say with a grain of salt; I’m sure SFAT could answer this question a lot better than I can. That said, if I were to guess, I don’t think SFAT hits nearly as hard or is nearly as overwhelmingly fast as the players above him.
On its own, that’s a reductive conclusion, so let me state it this way: Melee’s the kind of game where being in the top percentile of a certain skill or trait can bring you really far. SFAT’s biggest strength as a player is probably his penchant for finding smart solutions that require, as Ambisinister once put it, the least amount of moving parts. What SFAT does in-game looks less intricate than what someone like KJH or Hax would attempt, and that’s by design. It gives him the widest window to succeed.
It’s a good trait to have, but it’s not as immediately high reward as something like Axe’s overwhelming speed or Wizzrobe’s unparalleled defensive game (which in my mind stands out as a differentiating strength even more than his tech chasing).
In terms of your writing style, what would you say are your biggest influences? What made you want to be a melee historian? – Catalepsy
Out of Smash-related influences, I’ve always admired Juggleguy’s Year in Review series. Both of us are big sports fans and I think our mutual approach to writing about Smash makes it obvious. We also share interests in history and tend to focus on editorial judgment above technical ability in our work.
For its many flaws aside, “The Smash Brothers” also shaped my understanding of the Smash scene and inspired me to write about Melee history. Say what you want about his first documentary’s inaccuracies; Samox knows how to sell a story better than anyone else in the community, and his interview with Isai from the series is among the finest ever in gaming journalism history. Prog’s Last Stock Legends series is another example of Melee content geared around the scene’s roots.
It’s too difficult to pin down who my biggest influences are outside of Smash – William Faulkner, Christopher Hitchens, Jawaharlal Nehru, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Paul Zimmerman, a Sports Illustrated columnist who passed away recently, are some names that sound strange, if not contradictory, when put together. My favorite book is Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” and some of favorite writers today include Bill Barnwell, Chase Stuart, Robert Mays, Wesley Morris, Rembert Browne and Kevin Clark.
Slightly different note, but to be frank, I don’t think there’s anyone who stands out as a world class writer within the Smash world – at least not when it comes to covering the community itself. This isn’t due to a lack of talent; it’s due to Smash still mostly existing in the “hobby” space, where it doesn’t incentivize committing heavy chunks of time into simultaneously knowing every nook and cranny about the scene, learning how to make the right editorial decisions and refining your writing.
In other words, there’s little to no reason for someone to balance Pikachu942’s encyclopedic knowledge of results with Tafokints’ experience and Alex Lee’s prose. Maybe that will change in the future.
For now, if you’re not a player, tournament organizer or commentator, your impact and status in the scene is likely limited.
Say we’re scheduling a 4 man crew battle between Central Florida and the rest of the world. How does it play out? – DavidL112
For the sake of argument, I won’t include Armada in this, so that leaves eight names: Hungrybox, Plup, Mew2King and Wizzrobe vs. Leffen, Mango, Zain and aMSa.
Plup goes in first with his Sheik and fights Mango’s Falco on Battlefield – two-stock. Leffen comes in immediately afterward and takes Plup’s next two, but loses a stock on Final Destination. Mew2King is asked to play Marth by Hungrybox as the counterpick, but he shakes his head furiously and tells Hungrybox that he has to play Sheik – after all, he’s not risking an aMSa counterpick against his Marth. Stubbornly, Hungrybox coerces Mew2King to play. He selects Sheik, picking Dreamland as his stage.
Big mistake. Leffen loses only a stock and cleans up Mew2King’s 2015-ass Sheik with deadpan focus. As Mew2King retreats to a Smash Ultimate setup nearby, Hungrybox finishes off Leffen on Dreamland, but the Swede takes two of Hungrybox’s stocks in a valiant effort. Hungrybox is now going up against aMSa on Yoshi’s Story.
He immediately rests aMSa to start the match. aMSa takes Hungrybox to high percent again, but he can’t finish him. A crucial mistake made by aMSa near ledge gives CFL yet another stock before aMSa takes one of Hungrybox’s. Eventually, with both at high percent, Hungrybox rests aMSa yet again and throws his controller into the sky before running out of the room. It’s a favorable trade and leaves aMSa with only a stock left against Wizzrobe on Final Destination. Note: Hungrybox doesn’t come back after popping off.
Wizzrobe finishes aMSa’s last stock with relative ease and faces off against Zain on Yoshi’s Story. The two have had so many nailbiters before, and this one is no different. It goes down to each of them trading strong hits with each other at high percent, sending both of them off stage before…
Ah, who am I kidding? CFL by three stocks.