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Published May 13, 2019

On May 8, I published The Book of Melee: a pay-what-you-want chronological narrative about the competitive Melee scene and its greatest players. The reception has been overwhelmingly positive, and to date, it has over 1,000 downloads.

In other Melee news over the weekend, the NorCal Marth Lego won the sixth edition of the NorCal Arcadian. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Kalvar won the latest of the Mass Madness series, clutching the tournament out in three sets against Slox in winner’s and grand finals.

1. Thank You!

When I began working on the book, I had extreme ambitions. My goals, in a nutshell, were the following:

  • bring “documentary era” publicity to the scene.
  • show my family that I could manage a full-time career while being a best-selling author on the side.
  • carve a place for longform journalism in Melee.
  • convince casual Melee “fans” that Melee should be their favorite – not their fifth favorite – hobby.

Back then, I was still grieving over my dying grandfather, confused about my future, and lonely because my girlfriend was about to travel to Hong Kong for half of a year. Life seemed as uncertain as ever, and this book was my sole way of retaining some agency. More than that, it allowed me to stay involved in the one hobby I love more than anything – Melee.

Three years later, I’ve become a remarkably different person and my life priorities have shifted. I’m engaged, far happier with my job, have career desires outside of Melee and want to pursue other hobbies too. I doubt I’ll accomplish all of the goals I listed above, but would I want to? In their place, I found warmth and meaning through being a niche “content creator” in the scene. I’m grateful for the small support I received and wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

That said, it’s hard to look at my current ebook and see anything less than an unfinished passion project. In some way, it frankly is, even if its mistakes are ultimately insignificant blunders. Between embarrassing editorial oversights (listing “Super Mario 64” as an NES title, etc) that I had to correct and reupload, the scope of what I tried to do required a professional’s time, not 20 hours a week from an above average writer. Objectively, I tried my absolute best – and despite bumps in the road, the end result easily crossed the threshold for competence. But I can’t help but feel devastated.

I’m not sure how to explain it. The best way I can think of is a hybrid of three common feelings: a cross between post-supermajor nostalgia, breaking up with your first love and college graduation. I can’t help but feel like a part of me is gone and will never come back, even if I know it’s an illogical way of framing a unique accomplishment.

The current next steps: complete the audiobook with Scar and tweak the ebook versions just a tiny bit for the paperback and hard cover editions coming up in the summer.

2. Monday Morning Mailbag

Since you ask about Arcadians in this piece, it’s worth mentioning that at least in Philly, the arcadian is consistently one of the most attended events in any given year – and the winner makes more money from that single event as a result than any PR player makes from locals unless they’re really going undefeated. Really strong players who’ve never been quite PR’d because of relative inactivity are extra incentivized to go to them and in some cases disincentivized from entering their typical locals. I really doubt this is any sort of major contributor to some locals suffering in attendance, but it has a nonzero impact. Also I just fundamentally hate the idea of separating Melee events by skill level – SubjectiveF

Well stated. I’m not quite sure how true the “incentive” argument holds up in practice, so I’m always cautious of mentioning it when it comes to my hesitation around Arcadian style events. But on principle I think you’re on the right track. And yes – if you’ve found this to be true in your region, then it actually is that much better as a point.

Will Westballz, the fallen demigod, ever be relevant again? – SubjectiveFoxy

He could play Mango this weekend, right? I don’t think we’ve seen that matchup in years – and though it’s probably Mango-favored, Mango is actually pretty weak against Falco, at least relative to his other matchups.

This isn’t just a “he lost a Falco ditto to Magi” reaction either; one best-of-three set in an explosive matchup like the Falco ditto or Fox-Falco doesn’t mean much in the long run. I don’t think Mango’s natural strengths shine in the Falco ditto, where his opponent has access to the same tools. In fact, Westballz has beaten Mango in that matchup enough times to where I wouldn’t bat an eyelash if he did it again.

I haven’t seen Mango’s Fox play that matchup at the top level in quite some time either. Given how strong his Pound 2019 perfomance was, Mango’s stock is pretty high, but Westballz would be a tough draw. It’s not that Westballz is some Falco ditto master – his set against DaShizWiz last year is one of the ugliest sets of 2018 – or a Fox slayer any more, but relative to the field, Mango is someone he actually stands a pretty good chance against.

Normally, the mailbag marks the end of my column. But today, I’m going to do something a little different.

3. I’m taking a break.

Since releasing the book, I’ve been overcome by waves of mania, depression, anxiety, euphoria, etc. The biggest contributor by far is the culmination of three years of nonstop writing. I need to take a break.

I’ve spoken with my friends and family – inside and outside of the community – and their response has been unanimous. The creative burnout I’ve been dealing with has been an ongoing struggle for the last few months, and the turning point was last week, in which I had a panic attack in my office lounge room, randomly started crying on a train ride home, and had a series of grim personal circumstances involving a terminally ill family member amplify my already heightened emotional state.

Though I’m still pursuing the book’s remaining tasks, as of now, I’m withdrawing myself from writing this column. I love my readers, but it began to feel like an obligation instead of a cathartic hobby. I never want my passion projects to make feel like that.

Don’t worry – the column itself isn’t going anywhere. In my place, my good friend and former Smash History partner Pikachu942 will be taking the Monday Morning Mantle (sorry; I had to). Pika is an extremely different writer than me, but I can vouch for his world class set recall ability and his knowledge about the scene. There is no one in Melee that deserves a platform for talking about Melee results and news more than him.

Thank you all for your amazing support for the last three years. I don’t know what the future has for me, or when I’m coming back to this column, but I’m thrilled to find out.

– Anokh

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