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Published February 22, 2021

On Sunday, the Smash World Tour announced its 2021 relaunch, with this year’s version featuring an international online and offline Smash tournament circuit with a $75,000 prize pool for Melee and Ultimate.

The circuit managers said that much of the tournament infrastructure is dependent on the future of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine rollouts. However, for now, the Melee circuit will not feature any online qualifiers.

Instead, a voter panel of Melee Stats members – including myself – will choose players from the regions picked by Smash World Tour to compete in their respective offline regional finals. The 32 best performing players from those events will then travel to a planned in-person Melee championship finals at the end of the year to close the circuit.

I’ve written enough for this part of the column, so I’ll quickly jot down some tournament results over the weekend:

  • Westballz won SoB Sundays over Chem.
  • Zain’s Roy won the second MDVA Summit qualifier over Milkman, with Nurok and Reese qualifying for the invitational.
  • New England (and San Diego) Falco player Younger won the first edition of Kalvar Cup over GWM420.
  • Ginger won 4 Star Clash over bobby big ballz and won East Coast Fridays over Zain’s Fox.
  • Louisiana Sheik player Jsalt won Southeast Saturdays 20 over John Llawless, also beating Pappi and MOM!.
  • S2J won Rollback Rumble NA West IV over KoDoRiN.
  • Longtime Fox player Aisengobay – you read that right; the player who had that incredible set against Fiction – won Icy Melee over Kodo.
  • Chilean Sheik player Raikin won Experiencia Bongazo over Caioicy.

  1. Don’t Panic About The Panel

A lot of people are really worried about the lack of online qualifiers for Melee events, and to an extent, I understand the public skepticism. So let me clear up a few things:

None of us are getting paid for the panel. As far as the Smash World Tour goes, we are volunteers who already keep track of Netplay results and have some sort of subject matter competence (Melee results) that can be useful for the circuit managers. I’ve written about my hesitations behind creating official rollback rankings, so consider Melee Stats’ involvement in this a replacement for MPGR.

If you’re worried about inherent biases in the Melee Stats panel, I can assure you that even if I wanted to write in “Stango” for each of my choices for the NA East region finals, it would not happen. The panel has a Discord set up with us panelists, tafokints, GimR, Aposl, and about 12 regional TOs. Just the other day, I got into an argument with a bunch of lovely European TOs – a classic Melee Stats tradition – about players we predict will make the cut.

In hindsight, it was dumb of me to debate people who literally run events for their region. However, that’s me being an idiot and learning from it, not a problem with the structure of how players will be chosen. The point is: regional leaders will be in our ear, nonstop. As much as you’d think I’d love to be a wise, all-knowing, all-powerful evaluator of Melee results, I am not one, nor would I want to be one. These people will remind us where our knowledge of regions may fall short in evaluating someone’s performance, often in ways that fit the interests of their region’s best players. We will have to run any of our selections by people who are even more in tune with their results than we are.

If you’re really concerned about the process being unfair, your region being slept on, or you haven’t put two and two together for why Melee doesn’t have online qualifying events, do come yell at us in our public server (you will be asked to link your socials as a precautionary step) although we might ask you to be a little nicer (or I may yell at you back). You’ll find that we have a nice little community of local TOs, stream monsters, competitive grinders and people brought together over a shared love of tournament results. We’re really not so bad.

However, there is one other thing I want to mention in this column.

2. Should The Smash World Tour use an algorithm?


3. Monday Morning Mailbag

Why wasn’t the Melee community able to comfortably fit into the FGC the way other adjacent scenes did like Catherine? Why is there still a divide despite years of being in the same ballrooms? – X10shun

The long story short on this is Melee players don’t play the game as intended. Our competitive rule set is a social construct that entails what we as a community have chosen as the ideal set of skills that we want to test in our players.

For this reason, Melee has never fit comfortably into the FGC. It was never meant to be competitive, and as a result, the Melee community is a black sheep among other fight game communities. Sirlin-esque ideas of competitive integrity and gamesmanship don’t quite apply to a scene where the competitive structure of it is admittedly more arbitrary and less discrete than traditional fighting games.

Are there any stats out there representing the fastest rising players of all time, and if so, can they help us identify any players with the most promising current trajectories? – Cogh

There’s none that I can envision off the top of my head. That said, I would say that a good rule of thumb for knowing if a player is improving is to see how they do against players around their same perceived level.

For example, in the 2019 summer, I remember Wheat and I discussing Kevin Maples on an episode of Deep Dives. One of the things that confounded us about Kevin Maples was that he kept overwhelmingly beating regionally mid-ranked players at every national and regional he attended, but we hadn’t actually seen much of him against players in the Top 100.

We were pretty sure that Kevin Maples was a Top 100 talent, but we didn’t have proof of it until he suddenly beat SFAT. To a lesser extent, Wheat and I also felt quite similarly about Panda – a Washington/Florida Fox player who everyone knows now. When he started beating Bladewise every now and then in addition to his overwhelmingly positive record against someone like Krudo, we thought he had insane potential that was way behind his 90s placement in the 2019 MPGR. A month later, he had a win over Axe at Genesis 7.

TL;DR: If you want to find players with promising current trajectories, follow the money – er, the results. It does require an active prior – in other words, actually watching tournaments and following the scene – but I’ve introduced a monthly player spotlight to this column to highlight some of these players.

For next week’s column, I’m going to award my February Player of the Month award, so be sure to tune in.

To support weekly Melee content like Monday Morning Marth, as well as Melee Stats films, subscribe to the Melee Stats Patreon.


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