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Published December 9, 2019

On Sunday, Mango held off Hungrybox to take home the gold at the self-titled Mango’s Birthday Bash. The victory concludes a neat last quarter of the year for Mango, in which he also won The Big House 9.

In other news from the weekend, Minnesota Marth main 100 Grand won Wisconsin’s Invincible 5, beating Zamu twice. At New Jersey’s Fireside Open 2019, TheSWOOPER finished in first, and over in Massachusetts, local Jigglypuff player Hysteric won the seventh New England Arcadian.

1. Quick Takeaways from Mango’s Birthday Bash

There is no one playing better Melee on the planet right now (not for the year!) than Mango. If The Big House 9 showcased a veteran miraculously willing his way over formidable opposition, Mango’s Birthday Bash showed promise of the former world No. 1 blowing by the field. His set against Zain showcased awesome Falco-Marth play – especially his edgeguards.

It’s impossible to talk about this tournament without acknowledging Hax’s crazy run to third, between his victory over Lucky earlier in the event and beating Hungrybox in winner’s quarters. But I’ve noticed an all-too common occurrence pop up a lot from a vocal minority: the idea that any result like this should be taken with a grain of salt because, you guessed it, “the opponent played bad.”

We have to stop reacting to exciting results like this, folks. That’s Melee. Sure, maybe Hax doesn’t deserve credit for Hungrybox failing to execute in otherwise winning situations, but you can’t hold that against him. Most people accounting for the possibility of Hungrybox playing “bad” still would have had him beating Hax before the set. And given what prior information they had about the two, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable.

For Hax to make this upset and nearly achieve it again speaks volumes about his potential and how much he has improved – even if the sets don’t necessarily lead to him being favored over Hungrybox if they play again for a third time. As far as I can tell, I don’t see many people overreacting to an individual result as if Hax has somehow invalidated Jigglypuff as a character. Don’t be a party pooper.

Here are some other gut reactions:

  • I don’t think my heart can handle any more Zain vs. Hungrybox sets. It’s so depressing, and even worse, leads to discussions among my friends that go from ironic “HGOD toys with opponents to make sets exciting for viewers” takes to genuine frustration, usually along the lines of “Hungrybox deliberately holds back from using his most effective strategies unless he’s forced to.”
  • While most of Top 8 was exciting – and by all accounts the event seemed to be a blast for attendees – it’s not a good look for the event when one of its Top 8 competitors (Swedish Delight) cannot play because of the tournament running late and real life commitments. We only don’t hold it against this tournament’s competitive legitimacy because this happened to someone who, while amazing, still isn’t considered by most people to be a supermajor contender. Can you imagine the furor if this happened to Leffen?
  • With Plup losing to Swedish Delight in winners and, by all accounts, being relatively inactive and trending downwards, it’s fairly inarguable that Plup will likely take a huge step back in his global rank by the end of the year. Here’s a scary question though: will Plup still retain his automatic invitation status for the next Smash Summit?

2. Shoutout of the Week: New England Arcadian Champ Hysteric

I briefly acknowledged this earlier, but Hysteric won what might be one of the most wild regional Arcadian brackets I have seen in a long time. Part of it came from dodging two of the event’s top three seeds (Kikoho and Dimension), but let’s briefly recap Hysteric’s run:

For his first notable opponent, he had to play Rasen, the inactive former No. 2 in New Hampshire and one of the strongest Sheik players in New England. Following beating him 3-1, Hysteric defeated Mr. Heat, the No. 10 in Massachusetts and a Falco/Sheik dual main. Hysteric then blew by Artelind, a Rhode Island Samus player who upset Kikoho, before beating Jnaut (my pick for winning this event and a Sheik/Fox player) twice.

Hysteric deserves props for winning this event and, more importantly, becoming the nightmare of Sheik players. For the latter, he gets my shoutout of the week.

3. Should locals count for SSBMRank?

This topic has come up among enough smashers to where I think it warrants being fully addressed. Plus I get a chance in this column to talk about whatever I want, so here goes nothing.

The question of “should locals count” has become a meaningless buzzword-laden “hot take” topic in the Smash subculture. It is our scene’s current equivalent of the “should free speech be allowed in college campuses” debate, which rotted the brains of liberal journalists in the early 2010s and led to hysteria over functionally non-existent or totally irrelevant problems.

Thankfully, I have had a lot of time to really think about this question and have answered it alongside my Melee Stats colleagues numerous times. Here are some conclusions that all of us agree on.

  • Locals are useful for finding predictive trends over a large set of data – not for punishing or rewarding players for a singular set.
  • Players who benefit from locals counting are those who have a large set of positive trends that shows how they do against different levels of play (with lesser stakes). For example, KoDoRiN gets boosted from locals counting.
  • Between two players, a local trend will reflect more positively on the winning one in their head-to-head than it will necessarily harm the losing player.
  • The beauty of having an informed panel is that each member has a different set of values that determine how they balance impressive local head-to-heads with national results. As a result, the conclusion from a panel is an imperfect, but collective and somewhat accurate representation of how informed members of the scene evaluate players.
  • If locals are not counted at all, the data set that voters have for contextualizing a player’s performance and their skill level becomes extremely limited.
  • Contrary to Axe’s fear that a local loss to Medz will significantly affect his national rank, not every set carries the same predictive weight. Panelists have to (and often) do their due diligence in researching and knowing context behind any given set.
  • At the same time, a “legit” loss or two to null is not going to hold greater predictive value for Lucky’s international rank than Lucky’s major performances (whether good or bad).

The question of “should locals count” implicitly creates a false binary between choosing to count all local sets as equal to major sets or to entirely to dismiss local results. When we talked about it, webs (a Melee Stats Patron!) told me the real question is “should you ever consider local results?”

Put this way, the answer is clearly “yes.”


One Comment

  1. ATM ATM

    100 Grand confirmed top 100 :eyes:

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