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Published March 8, 2021

After a wild two days in which many of its top seeds DQ’d, lost early or opted to play secondaries, Four Loko Fight Night ended in the most normal way possible: a Zain victory on Sunday. The all-but-in-name world No. 1 won through losers bracket, beating Wizzrobe, moky, Kalamazhu and S2J, the player who beat him earlier.

Practically a major itself, Four Loko had no bigger beneficiary of its strange circumstances than Kalamazhu, its third place finisher. However, Kalamazhu’s showing was anything but a fluke.

In reality, this tournament continues to reflect an upward trend for the NorCal Peach, who finished in top eight at his last two majors and ninth at the last one. During this time, he picked up wins over iBDW, DontTestMe, Aklo, FatGoku and Ben. With an additional victory against FatGoku, an asterisked win vs. Mango and a set over moky, Kalamazhu has a claim for being the best Peach main right now.

Another big story from Four Loko was the fifth place breakout of Jmook, a Sheik main and former hidden boss from New York. After slowly ingraining himself at Netplay events over the last few months, Jmook took Four Loko by storm. He beat Polish and n0ne, double eliminated Ginger and handed Aklo his first ever notable loss to a Sheik in a dominant 3-0.

In a Netplay metagame that currently lacks Plup, Captain Faceroll, Swedish Delight and Spark as active competitors, Jmook’s showing is a return to glory for Sheik as a character. Similar to Kalamazhu’s claim for top Peach, Jmook just might be the best active Sheik main in the world.

Over in South America, Chilean Marth main Mave took home first place over Chape at Smash Blunt – what may have been the most stacked South American tournament of all-time. Fittingly for the event’s significance, it featured many notable upsets of its own, including Dark coming back to beat Raikin, BIRA’s upset of HP and Mewtwo player Guasausky defeating caiocy.

If you have no idea what I just said in the last paragraph, I strongly recommend you tune into this region each weekend to learn more. This region is filthy good at Melee.

For other tournament-related news over the weekend, please follow our Twitter account.

  1. The West Coast is…Underrated?

If you had told me five years ago that I, an East Coast Melee player, would be calling the West Coast underrated, I would have called you an idiot. But I would have also said the same thing about Hungrybox being taken to last-stock by a Roy. Let’s dive in.

“North America East” is the region that everyone thinks of when they think about rollback Melee. To an extent, it’s for good reasons. In addition to featuring the best player in the world, it has people who seem like practical locks for Top 32 at any major they compete in: iBDW, Wizzrobe, n0ne, Ginger, and so many more. It would be stunning if any of these four missed an invitational spot.

On an episode of the Mango and the 6-4 Podcast, the three main hosts joked about how much more stacked the East Coast was than the West Coast. It was specifically within the context of Mango having a guaranteed spot for his regional finals for the Smash World Tour, while Zain had to worry about contending with a stacked East Coast.

Ironically, Four Loko would tell a very different story. Mango would lose to Kalamazhu and Zain would blow by every East Coast player and end up only dropping a set to S2J, the No. 2 on the West Coast, in winner’s bracket. Speaking of which – it cannot be forgotten that Kalamazhu was a stock away from being in winners’ side of grand finals at a major. Holy shit; I can’t believe that happened. But more to the point, he had to do it against S2J, another West Coast player in winners finals.

Okay, but it’s one event. Additionally, East Coast finished out the rest of top eight and Zain won the tournament. It’s still clearly the better region, right? Well, hold on.

Hungrybox’s spot in top eight came as a byproduct of Mango sandbagging because he felt sick (as well as Magi’s DQ). Similarly, Aklo’s spot came because Axe chose to play Young Link. This isn’t to say that they absolutely wouldn’t have made top eight were it not for these circumstances. But at the same time, their performances have to be fully contextualized.

You could say that iBDW DQ’ing out the event should then equally factor into how moky and Kalamazhu didn’t have to play a top seed at the event. I would argue that this not a comparable instance of unusual bracket circumstances inflating a player’s performance. Not only did Kalamazhu still have to beat Mango’s Falco in a game, he had to take down moky himself, and he had actually beaten iBDW in their last set. Had iBDW played, beating him again would not be without precedent.

If you look at the last quarter of Melee results, you’ll find that the West Coast has as many “surefire lock” to “would need a devastating fall from grace” players as the East Coast. Someone in the Melee Stats Podcast server made a preliminary list of these players, and looking at them, I’m surprised at how relatively slept on they are.

Let me quickly write them out: Mango, S2J, SFAT, Axe, Kalamazhu, KoDoRiN, Soonsay, bobby big ballz, Lucky, Shroomed, FatGoku, and Rocky. These are people who in the past year have outright won notable cross-region events or have trended positive in stretches against players perceived above their skill level.

Does the claim that the East Coast is so much more stacked than the West Coast carry any kind of weight? I’ll write down my “way too early ballot” for each region here and compare them, bolding the player for their respect spot who I believe has performed better over the last quarter to half of a year. Disclaimer: this is totally based on gut feel and not an actual cemented ballot.

  • Zain vs. Mango
  • iBDW vs. S2J
  • Wizzrobe vs. SFAT
  • n0ne vs. Axe
  • Ginger vs. Kalamazhu
  • Hungrybox vs. Soonsay
  • moky vs. Lucky
  • Jmook vs. Albert
  • Hax vs. bobby big ballz
  • Aklo vs. KoDoRiN
  • lloD vs. Shroomed
  • Gahtzu vs. Rocky
  • Colbol vs. FatGoku
  • LSD vs. Westballz
  • Magi vs. Medz
  • Drephen vs. Aura

Looking at this side-by-side and not going too much deeper, it appears the East Coast does seem to have an advantage, so I actually just wasted a ton of time to writing out names. I guess some truths don’t need to be interrogated.

Come to think of it, a large portion of the talent gap comes with the disparity in notable inactives for both coasts, particularly the West Coast. The East Coast might miss former heavy hitters like Plup, Mew2King, and Swedish Delight, but, in my opinion, the West Coast is uniquely hurt by talent inactivity.

If they were active, I have no doubt that Fiction, Captain Faceroll, Spark (who moved to Pakistan), PewPewU and Azel (at least playing either of his spacies) would have been incredible players for this circuit. Maybe this is why the West Coast feels less overpowering.

So, is the West Coast underrated? In my opinion, still yes, because at any given Netplay event, there is a small chance that we’ll see their rising stars go deep in bracket. Last weekend was a good reminder of that. But I suppose we’ll have to wait and see after a few more majors if they can keep it up. Otherwise, the East Coast should be seen as the better coast.

2. Monday Morning Mailbag

Jon Bois Recommendations, please (especially if he’s done anything related to marathon running)! – X10shun

I loved Fighting in the Age of Loneliness quite a bit – it had the best elements of his visual direction style and I like Felix Biederman’s writing style so much. You can’t go wrong with the Pretty Good series either.

If I had to pick a favorite of his Pretty Good films, I’d choose the one on Larry Walters. It’s rare to find a story that can quite hit the same emotional resonance as one of an old man who is trying to fly above everyone else.

On a similar note, if I can just change the topic for a second, I’ve been re-watching a ton of my favorite YouTube channels from my youth. It sounds like a joke, but I can honestly say that, in hindsight, James Rolfe (the Angry Video Game Nerd) was one of my biggest writing influences. There’s a surprisingly low amount of dated pop culture references or cringe-worthy internet humor from these videos. As a result, they have a timeless quality to them.

The way he builds a little “universe” around his videos and communicates the “80s/90s video game nerd” experience to younger audiences is so unparalleled. In the ‘YouTube critic” genre, AVGN will always reign supreme – at least until I unveil my “Angry Melee Nerd” persona. Or is this column my version of that? Whatever. Thanks for reading.

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One Comment

  1. Nelson Ruiz Pestana Nelson Ruiz Pestana

    Really good content, love it.

    Greetings from Chile

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