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Published March 25, 2019

For yet another regional event, Zain dominated the competition at Full Bloom 3, dropping only one game in the whole tournament to SFAT in grand finals.

Michael, the seventh place finisher, notably stirred up controversy following his Odyssean battle for Top 16 with Kalamazhu, in which the Chicago Jigglypuff timed out the NorCal Peach via using rising Pound underneath the Dreamland stage for the last seven seconds of the match. Amid a few calls for Michael to be DQ’d or have his actions fall under an illegal stalling clause, The Full Bloom team responded, noting that his tactics did not fall within its threshold for bannable tactics.

In other news, Hax won CT GamerCon 3 over in New England on Saturday, and FatGoku won Monthly at Epic 4 in Oregon, winning his winner’s finals set against Cynthia in a triple four-stock.

1. Edwin Player Spotlight: Qerb

Last year, I mentioned that 2019 could be the year in which a low-tier could make Top 100. My pick for the low tier’s top contender was Twotran, and most of my column centered around Donkey Kong. As 2019 continues though, Qerb is slowly building a case. He’s been a Tristate hero for quite some time now, but his resume in 2019 warrants greater recognition.

Look beyond his 33rd placing at Full Bloom and you’ll realize that he’s actually making his path faster than you’d expect. At GIGA HOG: Era earlier in the year, he defeated Vortex (who played Fox) and 42nd. Following that, he defeated MoG, Ryobeat and Panos (along with myself, but let’s not talk about that set). Just last weekend, he beat Cob, a result that I, Ambisinister, and Pikachu942 half-jokingly predicted last week.

Not all of these players are currently Top 100, but the consistency at which the wins are coming make these wins feel less fluky and more cumulatively impressive. For his notable victories at Gang in particular; having those come against players who boast Top 100 victories themselves is still a really promising sign that Qerb is, at the very least, on their level as a borderline case who could make the list under the right circumstances.

Of course, the last part needs to be especially put into context: by virtue of his character, Qerb is pretty much done for if he runs into any respectable and regionally power ranked Sheik. But depending on how his upcoming Pound 2019 performance goes, he could still earn enough names on his resume to make the jump from local legend to Top 100 – an accomplishment that would not only change how his character is perceived, but also redefine how people view Melee.

2. Top 8 Reactions To Full Bloom 5

  • In a scene that hasn’t seen much of Leffen playing Melee for the whole year, or Hungrybox, Plup, Mew2King and Mango competing outside of Genesis, Zain’s utter dominance over the field is a promising sign for his development as a player. Granted; he was able to avoid S2J at Full Bloom, but even against someone like Swedish, who he went back and forth with for most of 2018, for him to dominate him three sets in a row shows tremendous growth.
  • Before Full Bloom 5, I asked fellow Melee Statsers which player they had unreasonable amounts of little to no “faith” in; and we all unanimously agreed that for whatever reason, we thought SFAT would end up on the receiving end. Instead, he beat S2J twice, dominated PewPewU and finished in second place. Granted, his winners finals set against Zain might be the most brutal of his consecutive double-digit losses, but he also three-stocked him in grand finals. SFAT’s keeping steady.
  • It shouldn’t change how you view S2J, but finishing in third place has to at least feel a little disappointing. I compiled statistics for the last five sets played between each member of FB5 Top 8; and S2J’s sole notably negative record was against Michael, who beat him in their only set in 2018. I low-key thought S2J was going to win the event.
  • How about KJH’s loser’s run to fourth place? In it, he overcame an early loss to Boyd to subsequently defeat shabo, Free Palestine, Reesch, Ginger, iBDW, Michael and Swedish Delight. My only disappointment is that we didn’t see him debut his updated anti-Marth edge guard against someone like Zain or PewPewU.
  • I swear; if Duck didn’t have to play Swedish or S2J, he would have won this tournament. He looked exceptional in even the sets that he lost. The Samus life is tough.
  • It’s easy to miss because he didn’t make top eight, but if you watched the tournament, it’s hard not to remember the performance of JakenShaken, who defeated Lucky and MikeHaze in consecutive sets. He’ll have to work on his matchup against Samus, as he lost to HugS and Duck, but a ninth place finish is still an encouraging sign for NEOH’s fastest rising star.
  • The “underperformances” of Rishi (seventh place) and HugS (13th) highlight difficulty in balancing competing in both games for a lot of top players, as well as potential rust. It’s not impossible to do it, as someone like Mew2King may have done in the past, but who knows? My prediction is that we’ll seen an even more extreme edition of this come the next supermajor; I think a returning “god” is going to straight up lose before Top 8 of an event.
  • Say what you want about Jigglypuff; you’re a damn liar if you didn’t find game four of Michael vs. Kalamazhu exciting.

3. Monday Morning Mailbag:

“Do you think the answer to top player burnout/lower attendance is an increase in regionals and a decrease in majors?” – coffee_sddl

I could talk about this for hours, but the long story short of top player burnout is that unless a tournament has a huge prize pot or enough community “prestige” behind its existence, the expected value of attending for a tournament for them is extremely low. They could use that time staying at home, streaming or seriously practicing (not on stream – off stream!) for another supermajor. TO answer another question on this topic, no; I don’t think that streaming using a major players’ twitch channel would entice that player to attend. No tournament organizer or production company worth their grain would ever want to actively establish this as a precedent for majors.

So, my answer is “no,” to the first part. But I also think that while top player burnout does affect attendance of other events to a certain extent, the answer wouldn’t be an increase in regionals and decrease in majors. What you’re describing is a symptom; a result of top players not attending as much as they did in the past.

The bigger issue with majors is that barring an extreme Melee Stats level devotion to watching Melee play across all levels or your own desire to compete and see progress in your time as a player, they’re just not very good investments for most smashers. It’s expensive to travel, book a hotel and spend money to compete in a bracket in which you may only play meaningful Melee matches for an hour. Forget top players; you need to give a good experience for the people who want to go to your majors first.

“On top of the recent lack of top player appearances, something that has been plaguing Melee for years is the lack of solid community content. Aside from streaming, highlights and combo videos, unique content is scarce and usually comes from standouts like Slime and Ludwig, SaveAsUntitled and yourself. What do you think could combat this and what types of content should be made?” – numbA8

Before mentioning anything else, the biggest thing to realize about ideas for content is that you have to have an understanding of how long Melee has been around for. This is an almost two-decades old game; in other words, ideas for scene “content” have been around since its release.

I can’t speak for all content creators, but there is a gold mine of unlimited potential that could be mined through via simple Smashboards searches. The basis for a lot of my earlier “history” content came from Juggleguy and AlphaZealot’s Year In Review series, and it also came from being a GameFAQS poster on the Melee board. There is more than a decade of Marth and Falco related discussion that could be distilled into educational videos for beginner players. Want high-quality and accessible content? Make a YouTube series based on concepts covered Kadano’s Marth masterclass thread from 2013 (and, of course, cite him). Some of this kind of content already exists on YouTube, but the potential is nowhere close to realized.

Content potential, of course, goes beyond its what’s already been written and proposed in the past. I would love to see good content creators explore greater world issues as examined through the Melee lens. Given my reputation, I know this is going to make a lot of people angry, if not straight up accuse me of inserting politics into gaming, but let me explain.

Alex Lee’s profile on Magi is probably among the best work he’s ever done. In it, he profiles a notable top player, details her accomplishments, doesn’t frame her like a stereotype, but still acknowledges real systemic or societal issues that impact her place in her communities at home and in her scene. I would love to see more Melee content creators, myself included, pursue this avenue.

One of my big regrets is that I never explored this perspective in a meaningful and proactive way. My upcoming book sadly understates the real biases and prejudices that have existed in our scene’s culture because I made an editorial choice not to talk about it, due to not feeling like it was an appropriate medium.

Maybe other content creators view this in a similar way, and I can’t really blame them. And come to think of it, knowing how smashers can tend to lean toward indifference when it comes to different social issues (anecdotally at least; I have no way of proving this, so take what I say here with a grain of salt), I am terrified of the idea of a content creator expressing a pretty heinous “take,” and then suddenly having the expectation of other content creators to openly discourse with them or, even worse, reduce discussing complex and moral issues to a compromised format.

Smash Twitter arguments are already beyond insufferable when it comes to both Smash and politics. Imagine watching two ideologically opposed streamers unproductively debate topics like the code of conduct, Crossfire-style, in a medium where they profit from it.

Anyway; that was a long-winded answer. Hope it gave insight.

“Who will be the next non-top 10 player to take a tournament set off Hbox?” – that_one-dude

This is basically like flipping a coin, right? I’ll pick AbsentPage. He typically destroys Michael when they play in-region and has done pretty well since the fall. Why not him?

“Can BBB break the Top 100 this year?” – Reyx7

He made my ballot at No. 100 last year, so I don’t see why not. Most of his performances this year have even pretty good, and between wins against players like Cactuar, AbsentPage, Captain Smuckers and more, he seems well on his way.

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