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.
Happy New Year! ARMY started 2019 with a bang at Smash Camp 2019, winning the stacked Arizona regional with relative ease. Over in Denmark, Trif halted a breakout run from Irish Jigglypuff maXy to win Valhalla II. On Saturday, Hungrybox won the modest Florida regional Smash Conference, while the traveling 2saint won the first Mass Madness of the year in New England.
Because it’s still pretty early in the new Smash season, I’m not sure there’s too many takeaways I have. Once again, the majority of this column will be centered around rankings. This time, rather than “New Years Resolutions” for Top 50 players, I’ll focus on four particularly fascinating non-Top 50 nominees, recap their years and reveal where I ranked them on my ballot.
1. 42nd: Long Island’s hidden treasure
When you think Tristate Puffs, usually the first name to come to mind is 2saint. Behind him is someone who I frankly think has better records against the field but just doesn’t attend as much: 42nd. If you were to take the Ginger approach and discount all locals, 42nd still comes out favorably at majors.
His first major breakout was at Super Smash Con 2018, where he beat SFAT and ChuDat. Losing to Flipsy and Darktooth there wasn’t great in comparison, but 42nd followed up his SSC showing with another strong performance, defeating AbsentPage at Shine 2018. Not all of his majors were particularly notable – take a look at his unlucky bracket at Genesis 5, tough losses to Axe and Westballz at The Big House, or some of his ho-hum results in the first half of the year – but his local trends are also promising.
I doubt it’s entirely complete, but from what’s within the Tafostats database, 42nd is positive or competitive versus everyone he has a significant amount of sets with in his own region. You could reasonably roll your eyes at 1-1 records against both Slox and iBDW as inconclusive (or a stray win on Hax) – 4-3 on Darktooth (a borderline Top 50 player), 6-1 versus Kaeon and 2-1 against Vortex is a little more telling. Cumulatively, 42nd’s results against top caliber opponents in a tough region make him someone to look out for in bracket, not just a win here and there.
Heading into evaluating him for my ballot, I thought there would be a stark difference between 42nd at the beginning of the year, where he lost to non-Top 100 players, and near the end when he had greater results in-region and at majors. That was mostly true, and a big reason why I didn’t end up ranking him within my Top 50.
Part of evaluating a whole year of results isn’t just based on how “good” someone is right now – it’s part-report card. As far from the norm as it might be to his current status, 42nd’s mediocre showing at January’s Scorpius, where he lost to Beerman and BonkCushy, can’t be entirely discounted though it’s not a big of a deal in the long run.
Honestly though, 42nd, save for the occasional loss to someone like Fluid or Flipsy, is pretty reliable. I ranked him No. 60.
2. Kalvar: The Tournament Fiend
It didn’t matter which tournament you were watching in 2018. Chances are, you’re going to see a gruff, bearded and water jug-chugging guy playing Marth on stream. If you’re lucky enough, you might get to witness him down and forward throw tech chase mid-tiers: an art he has developed from years of playing against them in his own region.
Jokes aside, Kalvar had a padded resume that comes by virtue of attending an ungodly amount of regionals, majors and locals throughout the year. The consistency at which he performs is nonetheless striking. His “worst loss” at a non-local is probably to Tristate Captain Falcon JoJo at Shine, where Kalvar responded by defeating Bladewise in loser’s bracket.
The other “bad” losses Kalvar had on the year were to hard-to-evaluate players like CDK and Rudolph (who early in the year was still considered among Japan’s elite players) – the latter which came at Genesis: the same tournament Kalvar beat both DaShizWiz and Nintendude. Among other out-of-region names he has taken throughout the year include KJH, Captain Smuckers, Boyd, Stango and Vortex.
Speaking of which, Kalvar has a very frustrating problem for a Marth, similar to the one I mentioned last week with Rishi: Fox. It isn’t like Kalvar can’t win – and he typically dominates a few of the other power ranked Fox players in his region – but he’d acknowledge that it’s given him more trouble than what you might expect. This isn’t just an eye test note from watching him struggle to chaingrab Fox on Final Destination.
Within New England, and per the tafostats database, he is 2-7 against Joyboy, 10-10 against Tiramisu. They’re both respectable regional Fox mains, but they shouldn’t be consistent thorns in the side of a Top 100 Marth player who wants to reach the next level. Kalvar has wins against Slox (1-6) and Crush (1-18), but as his head-to-heads against them show, they come rarely. Some of his losses at larger events tell the same tale – Ryan Ford, Darktooth, iBDW and MikeHaze. You’d think these would be names that a Marth main like Kalvar would beat when given enough chances.
That said, it didn’t stop him from being ranked Top 100. Kalvar didn’t attend The Big House 8, but it’s hard to find someone that went to so many tournaments on the East Coast and performed so well. Give him a year and we’ll see him at Summit. He’s my No. 76.
3. Smashdaddy: SoCal’s Local Hero
I’m going to be honest – for the longest time, I thought Smashdaddy was just a random SoCal Fox that occasionally beat sandbagging or not-serious SoCal elite players. After looking through his results and watching him play, I don’t think I could have been any more wrong.
It’s true that Smashdaddy has Westballz (1-5) and Lucky (1-2) wins that come in the context of losing records against them. However, per Tafostats, he is also 3-2 against Captain Faceroll and 3-3 against Squid. I’m not foolish enough to point to those records as definitive (given many of the Melee Stats data trackers have struggled to find a lot of brackets) or proof that he’s a Top 50 player, but it shows that he can compete with at least two players likely to finish in the upper-middle or middle of the list.
For other wins on Top 100 or nominee players, Smashdaddy has victories against the likes of Azel, Zamu, JakenShaken, Kevbot and Spark. Without spoiling too much, most of Smashdaddy’s losses at notable tounaments have been to players I ranked above him or to another Top 100 nominee (Luigikid and Dacky being the exceptions). It doesn’t sound that impressive, but if you’re a Top 100, rarely losing outside your perceived skill tier goes a long way in distinguishing yourself.
As it turns out though, you can’t just win in California and not perform as much out of state. You also can’t boast about his two competitive trends against Faceroll and Squid, and then ignore a 3-4 record vs. SoCal Sheik NUT, which stands in strange juxtaposition with his aforementioned local records.
Look, I get it. It’s annoying to have people from a stacked region stan for someone who gets big wins against top level players and remains mostly negative against them – just ask anyone who had to sift through SSBMRank ballots from Tristate in 2013. But I don’t think Smashdaddy is one of those players. It’s admittedly speculative on my part, but that’s an inevitable part of ranking a player. My faith in him to have a strong 2019 (assuming he continues to play) is reflected by his No. 83 rank.
4. bobby big ballz: Does he make Top 100?
A little over two months ago, BBB made national Smash headlines with his stunning, if not surreal Smash Summit 7 campaign. To this day, I’m not sure if the entire ordeal was a dream or another reality-bending moment of the Trump era. I digress.
I alluded to this before with Kalvar, and I’ll say it again with BBB: attendance goes a long way in helping your resume. Say what you want about the consistency at which BBB brings forth top level wins; that they still exist is a testament of his potential. Beating people like AbsentPage, Hax, Boyd, JakenShaken, Sharkz, Milkman, Cob and Colbol shouldn’t be discounted.
However, it leads into a ugly issue for BBB, which is his actual tourney results. This isn’t just a locals issue (though he consistently struggled for a lot of the year against Jerry, Polish and Bob-omb, along with a ton of truly mystifying losses to other MD/VA players) – it’s reflected in his frankly poor major performances before DreamHack Atlanta 2018, which isn’t a large tournament in the same level as Shine, The Big House, etc.
PRZ. Qerb. Kage. Papa. Those are four losses at majors that I just listed off the top of my head to players that didn’t make my Top 100. Basic Stitch. Bonfire10. TheSWOOPER. Spencer69. Just Jason. These aren’t bad competitors by any means, but the wealth at which these losses come makes me question BBB’s baseline skill. If any of the other Top 100 nominees attended as much as BBB, I have zero doubt that they’d have so many marks against them.
That’s also assuming that people actually attend those tournaments. Let’s review the criteria:
“Based on quality and quantity of results in 2018, rate each player on a scale of 1 to 10. A tournament is held every weekend during the ranking period, and all players on the list are able to attend every event. Over the course of the season, who performs the best? You may give the benefit of the doubt to players who attended more events during the ranking period if you so choose.”
Call me crazy, but I’m taking the second and last sentence into extreme consideration. The fact of the matter is that many players are able to attend every event, and they just don’t. Maybe it’s unfair of me – no one has an obligation to attend a Melee tournament every weekend. But showing up means a lot when it comes to players who are borderline cases for Top 100.
BBB is willingly going to events, not giving a shit about if he loses his 50th set against Jerry (I made this number up, but it’s close to the truth: per tafostats, he was 8-42 in 2018 against Jerry), if Frostbyte wobbles him out of top eight or if he loses his 11th set in a row against Kalvar. Even including some of his more troublesome head-to-heads in his region, he’s still mostly positive against a lot of his peers and a consistent presence at Xanadu grand finals each week. BBB is also driving double-digit hours to random regional events, mostly performing well despite his occasional stinkers.
Put simply, BBB is one of the few players whom I think actually, if given the chance, would literally attend a local every single weekend. His ceiling is high enough to where I don’t care if the skeptic part of me wonders if another high/mid-level local PR player would collect the same results with so many events. BBB barely makes the cut at No. 100.