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Published November 26, 2018

This series is a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In it, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the Smash community. Consider this a mix of news and mild takes.

It’s the calm before the ranking season storm of 2018. Last weekend held no tournaments of great significance, though the impending release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate continues to dominate Smash community headlines.

As far as events go, Amsah won Spice 17 over in the Netherlands over the rest of the Dutch-heavy crowd. For other international events, Fox main and Bad Melee fan favoite DonB won CouchWarriors November in Australia while Aisengobay won Todo Dia Isso over Bobesco in Brazil. In America, Bladewise won Washington’s Evergreen Rising 4 over the visiting Tai, and not much else happened.

So, what’s there to talk about?

1. Is It Time for A 2018 Melee Tier List?

Before I inevitably receive a load of hate comments for this idea, just think about it for a moment. The last Melee tier list came out on December 10, 2015, with the full details behind the ranking process here.

You don’t have to be a Top 100 player to know that a lot has changed since 2015. Shield dropping is prevalent among not just the top level of play, but across any levels of competency. The metagame has advanced to a point where SDI, crouch canceling and other “defensive” tactics (for lack of a better catchall phrase) play a bigger role than ever before.

The pros and cons of tier lists are endless, and at least within this column, I’m not going to address any of the typical arguments for or against tier lists. What I will say, however, is that three years is a pretty long time. And with a new game coming out, doesn’t it make sense for the most visible community-driven resource for newer players (sans SSBMRank) to be updated?

I don’t know who I’d trust with a community tier list decision making process. In fact, I’m not sure how productive it’d be outside of jumpstarting activity within our scene during its offseason. Give me time; I’ll figure it out.

2. Vague Thoughts on Ranking Season

It’s that time of year again – when there’s a lack of majors, just one month before the end of the year and we want to find out where our favorite player finishes on the yearly rank. 42? 69? 100?

Honestly, the Smash community’s obsession with ranking players has always intrigued me. It probably sounds hypocritical coming from myself, given how I started my Smash writing career by literally ranking players in past years of Melee history, but I don’t really have a good explanation for why these kinds of discussions are always so addicting to have.

It scares me. Many community members don’t understand how much work is put into making sure a ranking process is as fair as possible. As a two-time panelist, I can attest that it typically involves scouring not just through spreadsheets of data, but also assorting them yourself.

Rankings also affect player’s chances at making Smash their livelihood. The difference between 51 and 50 may not sound substantial to you, but to a potential esports team, it’s the difference between “Top 50” and nothing else. The voters have to remember that people’s careers are on the line.

The last point is particularly why the romanticization of ranking players within our community deeply bothers me, even as an editor for a website that releases seasonal rankings. It’s complicated.

3. Monday Morning Mailbag

Armada’s retirement removed one of the biggest (if not the biggest) obstacles to the success of players on the second highest tier of play. Besides ice climbers players, who can you see succeeding disproportionately after the fall of the great wall of sweden? – SubjectiveF

Hungrybox, for sure. I also think a lot of the demigod players who typically run into the wall of Armada in bracket would have a much better shot at not insta-losing, and that would give the players beneath them a better shot too. For instance, without Armada, it’s probably more likely that someone like Zain or Wizzrobe makes it further, which ultimately gives players with favorable or threatening matchups with them a better shot.

The commentators touched on this a bit at Summit: if Hbox gave more insight into the Puff decision tree, maybe players wouldn’t discredit the character as “easy” or “gimmicky.” Would the perception of Puff and Hbox improve if he gave away some of his “secrets”? – Rbhth9

Maybe, but from watching Hungrybox play, I don’t think the disparity between him and the field comes from him having Puff “secrets” that he hides from anyone else. I think it has more to do with consistent practice against his habits and unparalleled positional recognition.

Take what I’m saying here with a grain of salt, but players like Leffen and Armada have theorycrafted to death about Puff. They’ve studied countless hours of Hungrybox tape, to where they point out obvious holes in his gameplay. I seriously doubt there’s something about Puff that the top echelon of players just don’t understand.

It’s more that consistent practice out-of-tournament against the character would help each of Hungrybox’s opponents grind out situations he executes better than them in. Although maybe Puff really is that good. So I guess to answer your question, I think the perception of Hbox might improve, but I doubt the perception of Puff would change much.

That is, unless we make a new tier list!

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