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. Featured image from DaShizWiz’s Twitter. Will take down if requested.
It’s a little under a month until the next edition of Smash Summit, and in a stunning “spirit bomb” of around 20,000 votes, returning Falco legend DaShizWiz made it in via voting. Smash Summit 7 has only five spots left, with one of them being given away to the highest placing entrant at The Mango: Homecoming.
As far as tournaments go, last weekend came and went without much change. The visiting Spanish Peach main Trif took Long Island’s Super AON 2018, dropping his only two games of the tournament to the hometown hidden boss Foxy Grandpa, who defeated Overtriforce and ended up placing an impressive third. In Montreal, Jigglypuff player Legend held off Kage to win Fast Fall Automne 2018, while n0ne won his second weekend tournament in a row at Toronto’s Counterpick, coming out on top over Ryan Ford.
1. Bobby Big Ballz Summit Controversy
Let’s get something fairly obvious out of the way: if he makes it into Smash Summit 7, BBB will be the biggest underdog and worst competitor in Smash Summit history. I’m not saying that his attendance will be undeserved – as far as I can tell, he’s put in a lot of hard work and grinding into Melee, both as a content creator and as someone who casually drives double-digit hours to weeklies just to test himself. No one is entitled to a Summit spot, and if he made it, good for him.
But seriously, guys? BBB? This is someone with an absurdly negative record against Jerry in his own region, let alone a losing record to Polish. His best out-of-region wins across his career are AbsentPage at a local and a rusty Hax. Other than those, he’s won a tournament over Sharkz in North Carolina, finished a quietly impressive ninth at Low Tier City 6 and didn’t make it out of pools at Super Smash Sundays 64. Is this really who people want to see play at Summit?
To his credit, BBB has only improved as the year’s continued, but even the widely derided ESAM had victories on Westballz and Wobbles in his career. In comparison to literally every Summit invitee ever, BBB is at the rock bottom in terms of competitive accomplishments and it’s not close. Were he allowed to enter the commentator bracket, I’m not sure he would 100 percent win against any of the casters.
This is not even touching the 39 and a half foot pole that is his extended history with homophobia and questionable behavior at events. However, BBB did apologize for it, and based on my interactions with him in-person, I think he’s ultimately a good guy, though he’s sometimes a little clueless about how his words affect others or come across.
Then again, how much do you know someone from online comments, anecdotes and few personal interactions? You can only judge him by his actions; and whether or not you want to vote him into Summit or not is entirely up to you.
2. The Wobbling Debate In a Nutshell
Last Saturday, the Save Melee podcast team held the closest thing to an official platform on debating wobbling legality in Melee. You can watch below.
Between “prosecutor” Toph and “defender” Laudandus, I think Toph came out as slightly more reasonable, if only because Laudandus didn’t have a good response to his populist rhetoric and points brought up. However, Laudandus was also given an impossible task: defend the most universally loathed aspect of Melee.
That said, Toph came prepared, citing Hilde’s “Doom Combo” from Soul Calibur IV as a historical case for a similar technique that was banned. Most importantly, he mentioned the idea that a technique didn’t have to be overpowered for it to be banned.
Laudandus’ response was citing getting hit by Falcon combos or chaingrabs as a similarly frustrating experience and asking if those techniques should be banned also. His arguments in a nutshell were that wobbling’s ease of use and accessibility across all levels of play were not grounds to ban a technique, and neither was social pressure from low level competitors.
I’ve had a lot of time to think about this from both angles, and I’ve waffled for a while on a conclusion.
3. My Take on Wobbling
Melee has never had a consistent ruleset. Even in the years before debates over box controllers and UCF, we’ve had discussions on stage bans, modding stages, adding a dashback fix to Melee and finding obscure ways of stalling that were ultimately disallowed. I’m not even going into the discussion about items, which held the community back about two years before their eventual eradication from the metagame.
Moving on, numerous items, techniques and stages have been banned in Melee history but not because they were necessarily overpowered. They were banned because players straight up didn’t like their presence or think that they tested skills that had nothing to do with the community’s collective “ideal” metagame. In other words, the foundation for competitive Melee has always been player-driven, rather than inherent.
For any other fighting game, this might be considered scrubby. But remember that Melee has never had direct developer support via patching or re-releasing. The terms of the game itself have to be decided on by its competitive players and community leadership. Ergo, popular appeal is relevant as a metric for determining legality of a technique – especially in Melee’s case because it defines our community.
The Save Melee committee brought up Princess Peach’s Castle as an example of a stage where Fox’s ability to wallshine infinite his opponents made it competitively illegitimate. This is burying the lede; the stage has Banzai Bill render one half unplayable at certain times due to a massive explosion that does significant damage to anyone within its radius.
Princess Peach’s Castle also has platform switches and the layout of the stage makes for camping-heavy play singles matches. The inherent elements of chance and competitively unpleasant aspects of the stage design were bigger roles in getting the stage ban than just Fox’s advantage in a niche situation. You could say the same for a stage like Poke Floats or Rainbow Cruise, undeniably Fox-slanted stages that still had other loathsome competitive traits.
Take a look at Mute City and Brinstar, two popular floaty counterpick stages from the post-Brawl era. These were eventually banned because players did not want to deal with the seemingly arbitrary elements of those stages (the racing cars and lava). In Corneria’s case, the Arwings were a far bigger nuisance for working around than the low ceiling and arguably even the level layout.
Watch the below match between Bum and ChuDat. I dare you to tell me that Jungle Japes was banned because of character imbalance rather than its emphasis on circle camping and the presence of Klaptraps.
As far as implementing a ban goes, I don’t think nitpicking the specific wording of a wobbling ban is necessary, at least for now. Jackzilla acknowledges above that the ruleset in The Big House 3 doesn’t exactly use the most technical language, but it’s straight to the point: “Wobbling is banned.”
This is only one example – at Apex 2012, it said “Wobbling is prohibited.” For Cataclysm 3, the language used was ambiguous, but clear enough to communicate the same point across: “Glitches used to stop your opponent from controlling their character or indefinitely freezing them (Mewtwo’s Soul Stunner, the Ice Climber freeze glitch), or any glitch or trick that freezes the match or makes it in any way unfinishable are banned.”
As a community, we have years of precedent showing that it is possible to enforce a wobbling ban either through specific language or social codes that people pick up on without controversy. Moreover, the same argument used against a wobbling ban (it isn’t discrete enough) curiously doesn’t apply when it comes to the current 300 percent limit on wobbling, which was made as an anti-stalling rule.
Wobbling itself is degenerate, but not because of its nature as an infinite and guaranteed punish – it’s because it exists regardless of stage position, percent, character and stage, barring hazards. If you are grabbed by an Ice Climbers with the backup climber nearby, it does not matter whether you are Armada or Armada’s long-lost cousin.
You cannot DI, recover or hit your way out of the grab – your control over your character is completely gone. Any Melee newbie will be able to perform the technique if they’re able to complete “Slow Ride” in Guitar Hero III on Easy.
It is similar to the Freeze Glitch, except that its limited by the percent limit in which you can wobble or be wobbled to and that you cannot SDI it. Bringing up chaingrabs on other characters as a slippery slope argument is intellectually dishonest, as well as fearmongering. Even Rest, a one-hit KO in many circumstances, is not as guaranteed as a wobble, and at least it can be punished afterward.
The primary counterargument we discussed is that while we need to care about and research the impact of policy changes, ultimately if we decide wobbling would be bannable on any character, the effects on ICs tier list position is irrelevant.
— Jackzilla (@jackzillaUSA) October 22, 2018
A commonly brought up counterpoint to this position is that you can escape getting wobbled either via not getting grabbed or by mashing out of the grab, but the former is basically a “git gud” statement and the latter is only practical at early percents. These solutions put players through hoops they overwhelmingly hate having to figuratively jump through, the same way that smashers in the past hated having to deal with items.
Call this “scrub mentality” if you want, but that’s a reductive conclusion and ad hominem. It’s irrelevant as a point against a wobbling ban, at least if we’ve already agreed that the basis of restricting anything in Melee is ultimately a social construct.
On another note, the idea that Ice Climbers would be significantly hurt without wobbling stands out as a strange counterpoint. There’s little to no evidence for it outside of a decade’s worth of non-wobbling Ice Climbers (Fly Amanita, ChuDat in the MLG era, Nintendude and Wobbles) still seeing success. Even taking into account the shifting metagame, I’m not quite sure if a wobbling ban would drastically impact Ice Climbers’ overall results.
Either way, a wobbling ban stops wobbling, not Ice Climbers. If Bowser had wobbling, he’d remain an ungodly mess of a character, but it wouldn’t make the technique any less ridiculous to allow in a tournament.
In an era where it has become fashionable to not only support the use of UCF and arduino adapters, but a necessity among many top-echelon competitors at nationals, players today have more power than ever to control the terms of their game. When it comes to discussing the competitive merits of the most hated technique in Melee, the answer to me seems pretty clear.