A year after coming just short at winning The Gang Hosts A Melee Tournament, Zain came back to Swarthmore College to take home the gold at its sequel: The Gang Steals The Script, a 204-entrant Melee regional that featured several of Northeast Melee’s best players and the presence of a redemption ladder in addition to the standard double elimination bracket.
Swedish Delight finished in second place, with AbsentPage trailing just behind him at third. However, for a Philadelphia-hosted event, it was the performance of most of MD/VA players that stood out, with Jerry (fourth), bobby big ballz (fifth), Cool Lime (seventh) and Bob-omb (seventh) all making top eight. The remaining member of top eight was Kalvar, who defeated Hax earlier at the event and finished fifth, improving upon his seventh place showing last year.
For non-top eight stories of the event, New Jersey Game & Watch legend Qerb overcame an early loss to Rasen to eventually finish in ninth place, beating Mystic Cat, IhaveSonar, Sporsinick, MoG, Ryobeat and Panos. Meanwhile, Dimension, a Boston/Philadelphia Marth player, overcame two early losses to make it back to Top 64 through redemption ladder, taking sets over ASL, Bones, Greasy afterward and finishing in 17th.
In other news, JD won the New York regional Super Smashed Out VII over vortex, and in NorCal, Umarth won Gator Games Monthly 9.
1. My One Criticism of The Gang
As some of you might know, I attend regionals and nationals a semi-frequent amount, usually giving a review about them afterward. The Gang Steals The Script is no different.
First off, the amount of scheduling mishaps before the event, be it the timing changes (from having pools be in the morning after initially planning for the afternoon) in the week of the event, pool swaps finished in the tournament, etc. is unacceptable. This isn’t just me complaining about having to wake up early – it wouldn’t be a problem if that was an expectation from the start.
If you think I’m lying, check out the ungodly amount of DQs through pools. Most people had a completely different assumption of when their matches were supposed to be played. Once the new schedule was finalized, it was too late for them to reschedule their travel plans. Thankfully, I was able to get a refund for busing to the event on Saturday morning, but I was forced to drive to Philadelphia from Boston immediately after work. Here’s how it went down.
2. Edwin Attends The Gang Steals The Script: Part 1
I manage to sneak out of work early at 4:00 p.m. I stop only once for gas. I get completely fucked over in Providence, the Bronx Expressway and the first five miles of the New Jersey Turnpike, only reaching my friend’s place near Philadelphia well after midnight. I know I have to play pools at 10:00 a.m. and my request for a wave swap hasn’t registered yet, so I wake up early at 7:30, get ready, wait for my fellow Melee Stats friends by 8:30 a.m and drive another 40 minutes to the venue, with none of us having enough time to pick up breakfast because we don’t want to miss bracket. I warm up for my projected matches, only to learn that now, less than an hour before the tournament starts, that my request to be moved to another wave of pools at 11:00 a.m. was accepted.
I proceed to play like absolute dog shit throughout bracket. The low point: losing an especially frustrating set to a Luigi player who was probably a bit better than me, but still really tilting to lose to in the manner that I lost in. In addition to blowing the end of game two with a late reaction on an otherwise guaranteed downair, I executed poorly and wasted our first game running at him like an idiot. By the way, Luigi down-B is secretly the best move in the game (okay; maybe it’s not, but still).
So now, I’m out of the tournament. I had practiced pretty hard for a little over a month, studying my own videos, analyzing others and trying to clean up my execution for 30-minute routines every day. This tournament meant more to me than Genesis 6. For me to finish a limp-dick 2-2 in pools made me seriously question whether I just wasted my time or not. At this point, I can’t even say that I want to go home because home is six to eight hours away.
I’m hungry, angry, salty and exhausted. Worse than driving itself is specifically the amount of heel pain I have from keeping my right foot in one of three positions on the gas pedal, with momentary breaks of moving it to the brake. I walk to grab lunch – the first bit of food I’ve had in about 18 hours – and am already dreading listening to another quarter or third of a day’s worth of depressing leftist podcasts or early-00s alternative metal that just makes me think of Melee; specifically how much I suck.
I’m raging about Luigi to my friends, who promptly tell me to shut up and quit whining about being bad. Did I mention that my feet hurt? Anyway, I’m eating two large slices of pesto pizza because I’m literal trash. By the time I get back to the venue, I’m still in a shit mood. I’m playing bad and I have no choice but to play redemption ladder against everyone else. Time to grind.
3. Edwin Attends The Gang Steals The Script: Part 2
For about two hours, I don’t play particularly well, but I learn a lot about the holes in my gameplay and begin to play better in spurts. I start adapting to my opponents and playing way more deliberately. I’m not anywhere near clean as I want to be, but it forces me to pick my spots better. Every set I play in ladder either goes to last-stock or is a cake walk. I even beat a regionally ranked player in a matchup I had studied a lot, but not particularly had much practice against.
It’s actually quite cathartic. Around near the end of my two hours and double-digit sets, I feet a lot better about myself and stop caring about the results. When I find out there’s a chance for making Top 64, I’m thrilled. When I barely make it, I’m giggling in disbelief. I did it!
Alas; I immediately lose my first set against Greasy, a Marth player who was just slightly better than me in every area. Following this set, I proceed to get absolutely blitzed, stumbling around the venue, talking to random people I knew and somehow wandering my way to dinner with a bunch of Philadelphia and New Jersey smashers friendly enough to let me join them for a meal before I head back to watch the rest of top eight. Good times.
Somehow gimmicked my way to 49th at Gang despite playing like literal dog doo for 75% of the day. Bless ladder for covering my ass
As happy as I can reasonably be; time to get drunk
— Edwin (@edwin_budding) March 9, 2019
4. Vague Thoughts on Ladder and My Gang Conclusion
To be honest, I still don’t think my spot in Top 64 was particularly earned. Despite having benefited from the ladder system, I’m slightly hesitant on its competitive merits, as well as its potential for collusion, bracket manipulation and the likes.
People who are still in tournament should not be allowed to play ladder – making it that far in bracket and being able to play far more meaningful sets is inherently receiving more of their money’s worth from the event as a player. There’s no guarantee that someone who made Top 64 won’t destroy everyone in ladder, only to sandbag against a desperate friend on the verge of “redemption.”
However, ladder is an amazing deal for most tournament attendees. For the “potfillers,” it brings them more sets without the pressure of having to awkwardly walk around the venue for friendly setups. For players like me or decently above my skill range, it gives us a chance at, well, redemption. When it comes to implementing this at more regionals and majors in the future, there has to be more tweaking of its competitive loopholes, but in general, it’s a great way to make sure players get what they paid for.
So what’s my conclusion on this year’s Gang? I still think it’s an event that every player in the Northeast should attend. Despite the schedule fuckery before the event, as well as some of the unfortunate regional conflicts I noticed in its bracket, Gang 2 was run on time, boasted plenty of setups for ladder/friendlies and was in a great location, with available restaurants and surprisingly pleasant weather. Here’s to Gang 3!
5. Smashboards Style Post-Event Shoutouts
For this segment, I will abandon all pretense of self-importance and type like a Smashboards poster.
- Wheat: thanks for housing me man it was super fun seeing you. wish we got to play, but I was too busy tryharding ladder and honestly after watching you Yoshi ditto Save, I figured nothing good could come out of any games between us. can’t wait for our next tourney or regional.
- Pika: thanks for cheering me up after pools; hopefully you didn’t get grounded upon going home LOL. change your tag on smash.gg btw you’re not Catastrophe
- Bitts: you’re a journalist who loves Melee! that’s so sick! hope we see each other soon and that I’m not so drunk next time. shoutout to PATRONS like you
- Ambi: I didn’t chase you down at an event this time! in fact, I barely saw you! see you soon + I hope to catch up later IRL
- Save: was great getting to catch up with you. very happy with the games of Save vs. the Edwin Unholy Trinity of characters
- Dead: honestly, upon meeting you, I had good reason to guess you were the legendary Rohit, from Philadelphia, but I didn’t want to be self-racist. turns out I was right. big fan of your combo video and look forward to your future endeavors
- Qerb: you’re a beast
- Shoko, Mankow, Dawson, IHaveSonar, Swoosh, Supa, SSK, TEHHAH, Nights Fire, Beto, Giraffe and Bean: ggz
- Mystic Cat: sorry for being super salty after our set and for not checking in for our ladder runback on time. you’re a nice guy and I hope to play you again soon
- Greasy: you’re super good! looking forward to playing you again in bracket for the rematch; will have a better showing!
- Panos: super fun talking about Melee with you and talking about random Philly/NJ lore. let’s play together at our next event
- epengu and FendrickLamar: didn’t get to hang out much, but always a pleasure seeing both of you!
- Stoc: shoutout to being a Patron, as well as driving our asses all the way to Philly just to go get DUNKIIIIIIEEEESSSSS
- Rest of the NJ/Philly crew I was too drunk to remember: my b
- Connecticut: see you guys at a GIGA HOG! thanks to lintgod for the picture of Melee Stats
- GWM420: ggz in our MM! you’re super sick + motivated me to improve a ton. good shit on you overcoming the Puff gauntlet and doing well at this event
- Gang TOs: ty y’all did gr8 (except for the scheduling changes before the event) do this again
6. The Northeast: The New Midwest?
Before I close out the column, I really want to call out what I think is one of the most fascinating developments in Melee: the unification of the Northeast. Look at somewhere like the Midwest, in which players from Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio are all strangely present at the same events together. If you’re a Melee stream fiend like me, chances are that you’ve lazily tuned into an event that features at least three of the following numerous times: AbsentPage, Rik, Zamu, Michael and Reeve. If you’re lucky, you’ll probably see KJH or Ginger.
Sure; these are definitively separate regions – and that’s not going into subregional or city differences – but the model for a lot of Midwest Melee, either intentionally or unintentionally, involves semi-big one-day events or so that people attend each weekend. Between the rising prominence of GIGA HOG as Connecticut’s premier monthly, the decade-long consistency of the Mass Madness series in Massachusetts, Super Smashed Out’s success in New York, the Gang in Philadelphia, Maryland’s The Script and more, I’m beginning to see it.
This wasn’t something that only I noticed. Frankly, I didn’t think of it at all until Stoc brought it up to me. If Super Nebulous ever comes back, it would be the icing on the cake. And with Pound coming up in April, it looks like Northeast Melee is in a pretty great spot. It’s just missing one last piece of the puzzle…
Just played the most disrespectful fox dittos ever with crush
— HLCG | KJH (@spotdodge_shine) March 9, 2019