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Published June 7, 2021

It took a little over a year, but the Melee community saw their first glimpse of North America’s two best players competing against each other on LAN. At Golden Guardian’s The Octagon 2, Zain came out on top of a Saturday first-to-five exhibition match for $2000 over Mango, 5-2. The respective winners of the other slated first-to-five sets were as follows below.

Over the weekend, Samox, the director behind “The Smash Brothers” and “Metagame” released a remastered edition of “Metagame,” featuring lengthy interviews with Mew2King, Mango, Armada and Hungrybox. He also published a long-awaited additional episode, “The Godslayer,” which details Leffen’s Melee career.

Unfortunately, this was slightly overshadowed during the weekend because of a humiliatingly notable development within the scene; the release of a 153-minute anti-Leffen manifesto by Hax titled “Evidence.zip 2.” This video gained hundreds of thousands of views and reached the front page of Reddit, so as much as I would like to ignore it within this column, I can’t really do so.

For more news from over the weekend, follow the Melee Stats Twitter account for daily coverage of all the results you need to know.

Brief Summary of Drama

I’ll be honest. I don’t want to spend a majority of this column recapping a personal feud between two people. It’s clear that one of the parties has taken it to an extreme, and it’s led to the other one reaching out to a lawyer.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m neutral. I watched the entire video, spoke about it with both supporters and those who agreed with my intuition that its packaging was beyond unhinged. For whatever it’s worth, I believe that my friend PracticalTAS has most fairly summarized the video below, as well as brought up the best faith contentions.

If you’re upset about this, I can assure you that I’m not paid by Leffen to promote propaganda for him. One chapter of Manufacturing Consent has infinitely more explanatory power to how media organizations and powerful individuals manipulate public opinion than the entirety of Hax’s video. Please do not give the culmination of a decade-long grudge a more favorable interpretation than it deserves.

How Good is PPMD?

Amid all the interpersonal drama that dominated the headlines of the scene, it’s easy to miss a pretty substantial development: PPMD played a top player. It went pretty well!

I’ll start with the “bad.” PPMD doesn’t shield drop, his ledge game sucks, his punish game is hit-or-miss, his defensive game is subpar, and his recoveries are awful. Some of the holes are reasonable; some of them are not.

Today, even completely new players have resources like Uncle Punch’s Training Pack to hone some of these techniques. PPMD is not a completely new player. He’s one of the greatest Melee players ever and has been streaming, playing and practicing Melee in front of hundreds to thousands of viewers over the last couple of years. I cannot claim to fully understand the mind of a surefire Top 6 Melee player of all-time, and I’m not going to act like I understand “improving” better than he does. But I also can’t see a reason for why anyone playing Melee seriously in 2021 shouldn’t be able to shield drop.

With all of that said, holy shit. PPMD is so goddamn good. He very likely still has the greatest dash dance game in the world. His “outplay” skill is still clearly good enough to make sure he doesn’t get run over against a Top 5 player known for hitting like a truck. Moreover, one of the biggest “concerns” I had with PPMD’s return was that I wasn’t sure how he’d fare in a more aggressive metagame. Seeing his Marth not keel over and die vs. the best North American Fox was a good reminder that PPMD was not too far behind, and that he could actually keep up in bursts of speed.

I know I sound like an insane believer. You would not be wrong. These are, after all friendlies, which have far lower stakes than tournament. To be fully transparent, I’ve been a longtime Twitch subscriber to PPMD, so it’s not like I can claim to be fully objective.

However, I remember the days of when PPMD was nervously playing his buddy Lord Karn on stream and being taken to last stock. I recall when he was unhappily playing delay-based Netplay against his subscribers, losing to a smurf called “UninterestedMan” and even dropping a game with his Falco against .mp3, a Ness player. He’s made a lot of progress in his own comfort playing Melee and his own skill.

Over the last year, I’ve seen PPMD play against people like iBDW, Grab, Chem, shabo, Bbatts, Chape (on 3f), Unsure, DarkGenex, Ahmad, and more I’m forgetting on his stream. He’s not perfect, but he looks pretty solid and rarely drops games. More importantly, it’s a step up from where he used to be. If I were to guess how good he is, I’d say somewhere around the same level as Albert (Top 25ish) in the most cautious estimate; maybe around KoDoRiN or Ginger (Top 15) in the most favorable interpretation right now. Until he plays in tournament, we won’t know for sure.

Does reading into friendlies say something about the state of being a PPMD fan? Sure, and maybe the fact that I literally dedicated an entire column to talking about them says a lot about myself. To be clear, PPMD still has a long way to go, and it’s not like the scene desperately needs him to return in order to “save” it. At the same time, just for now, it’s okay to quietly dream of a day when the “stack it up” chant returns to a major top eight. It feels likelier now than ever that it’ll eventually happen.

Next Week’s Column: Mega Mailbag

For next week’s column, I will be answering the best reader questions that I find. I haven’t done an official mailbag in a while and I figured that this would be a good chance to do one. See you guys next week.

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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