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 The Big House’s Twitter, taken by TempusRob. Will take down if requested.
After a year of successful first place finishes at smaller majors, but disappointing showings at larger events, Hungrybox rose to the top at The Big House 8, fending off a loser’s bracket run from fellow Floridian Plup. Also, I went to The Big House, but more on that later.
1. Top 8 takeaways from Top 8 at The Big House 8
I am the back to back BIG HOUSE CHAMP!!!!
First Supermajor win of the year. Let’s goooooo pic.twitter.com/BAL5SfUoEf
— juan (@LiquidHbox) October 8, 2018
- Hungrybox dropped only one game all tournament, which is incredible, but at the same time, his winner’s side of bracket turned out to be a lot easier than what was projected. What do we make of his showing? That he’s still a contender for best player in the world? Sounds about right.
- Plup’s no stranger to losing early at The Big House, but after losing to a certain DFW Ice Climbers, he blitzed through Moky, n0ne, La Luna, Swedish Delight, Axe, Leffen, Zain and Mango, while being the only person to take a game off Hungrybox. I wonder where this will end up on an all-time loser’s run list.
- Poor Mango. He looked fantastic against Leffen, but Hungrybox and Plup snuffed him out. I have no idea what his character choice would or should look like in the future between either of the last two. I guess beating a contender for best in the world is an encouraging sign, but as time goes by, it feels less likely that Mango can put it all together for beating everyone in one tournament.
- Zain needs to learn how to edgeguard Captain Falcon. That was by far the biggest factor in his not-too-surprising, but still underwhelming loss to Gahtzu. Other than that, his loser’s run involved wins over the likes of Cal, KJH, HugS, Rishi, SFAT, AbsentPage and breakout star Bananas.
- Leffen’s constant tournament winners, failure to ledge dash properly and rage-fueled controller toss in top eight just about says everything. Not a good tournament for the Evo champion, but it happens. He’ll be back.
- Plup. HugS. Fiction. Edwin’s lost ten dollars from betting on Fiction against Bananas’ friend. What else is there to say about this guy? Props to Bananas for earning the hell out of his Summit spot.
- A seventh place finish isn’t too out of the ordinary from what’s normally predicted for Axe, but considering his relative slump as of late, Axe fans should take it as a reminder that he’s still capable of competing around the same level as before. He has a chance to make a splash at Smash Summit 7.
- In a tournament full of loser’s bracket runs, AbsentPage’s race to top eight is slept on. After losing to Axe in winner’s bracket, the Minnesotan defeated Iceman, Trif, S2J, ChuDat and Gahtzu, who not just beat Zain, but also obliterated Lucky. Sadly for AbsentPage, he ran into the Fox-slayer himself in Zain, following that up with a loss to Axe in a tiebreaker for the second Summit spot. Clearly the hour of beating up on my Marth backstage didn’t work – my bad, Minnesota.
2. Scattered thoughts on the rest of the event
- When we look back at The Big House 8, we’re going to see Westballz’s 2-0 loss to DaShizWiz and refuse to acknowledge that it happened at the same tournament that Westballz convincingly 3-1’d Wizzrobe and defeated PewPewU in. What a strange, but fitting 17th place performance from our resident SaveAsUntitled darling.
- Want to know one of the most surprising results of the tourney? La Luna over lloD, 3-1.
- Rishi has defeated PewPewU, lloD, Westballz, Bladewise, La Luna and, of course, Mew2King since August. His most recent set with Zain was dubbed “the greatest Marth ditto of all-time” by Chillin, and were it not for a clutch up-B from Zain, Rishi might have had that set in the bag. This has been a phenomenal last two months for Rishi and I will be extremely disappointed if he doesn’t make it to Smash Summit 7.
- Poor Fiction. He swept Wizzrobe, defeated Rishi and lost his best matchup coming up for a spot in winner’s side of top eight. Even against Axe, Fiction still took him to game five for their first notable set in years. Don’t let his heartbreaking losses fool you – hold your Fiction stock.
- There’s too many damn Ice Climbers.
out of the nine that made top 64 bracket (chu/bananas/army/quang(fox dual main?)/dizz/papa/sharkz/boyd/flipsy), as of now they've lost to:
or kels (boyd).
chu then eliminated kels in the next round
— Chrome but pretty spooky (@chroma_smash) October 7, 2018
3. Revisiting last week’s “Wild Predictions”
ChuDat will finish 49th or lower.
Bananas will finish in the Top 16.
Neither Florida nor SoCal will win crews.
SFAT will finish 17th or lower.
Colbol will make top eight.
If they play against each other, Duck will defeat Leffen.
Mango and Lucky will win Melee doubles.
Neither Hungrybox nor Leffen will win The Big House 8
- Chu ended up finishing a strong 13th, gathering wins on Kalamazhu, Kels, Android and ARMY in the process. Between this tourney and Shine, Chu now has two major events in which he’s performed well at, though it might be a little late in the year for Chu to climb back to his early 2017 heights.
- Nailed it, though not in the way I thought.
- NorCal could have had it against Florida. Why send PewPewU in against Hungrybox? Dizzkidboogie would have been a riskier, but potentially more high reward play. NorCal was entering grand finals as a heavy underdog, which is why introducing an Ice Climbers counterpick would have been the equivalent of going for it on fourth down. The crew could have been left with Dizzkidboogie with one or two stocks, Shroomed and PewPewU against Gahtzu, DrunkSloth and Plup. Still not exactly the greatest of odds though – and as shown by Gahtzu running a train on NorCal, it may not have mattered.
- SFAT ended up beating Axe and placing ninth, so nope here.
- I’m mad.
- I’m mad, again.
Edwin’s Hot Take Rate: 1/8: 12.5 percent.
You know what? Maybe I should leave the hot takes for someone else.
4. My Review of The Big House 8
First off, I want to congratulate Juggleguy and The Big House team. In an industry-meets-hobby where Smash majors regularly run out of money, fail to continue after original iterations and regularly lead tournament organizers to operating off a heavy loss, it’s incredible that The Big House seems immune to these problems.
I can’t speak for other people, but for myself, everything seemed fine when it came to my pools. Everything seemed to run on time, tournament volunteers were authoritative and professional, but not dickish, and the Cobo center was packed with a lot of fun activities to do outside of competing in bracket. Well, almost.
Heading into the event, I expected that there would be a large array of setups across the large venue, which is in line with what many previous attendees told me was a certainty at the long-established tournament. I can’t say if this was a naive expectation on my part, since this year’s event is the only iteration I’ve ever attended, but I felt quite disappointed with what was available, especially given the amount of space within the venue. Moreover, between everyone reading this and me, would you rather stay in a 24/7 venue that you have to sneak meals and drinks into or hang out in a friend’s hotel room, after buying a case of alcohol?
I also had mixed feelings on The Big House’s location. Downtown Detroit was much nicer than I thought, with quite a few social events and good restaurants, but there’s only so many places you can visit without wandering off somewhere dangerous. One smasher was the victim of a robbery, which understandably deters future attendees, especially with public safety being a common concern.
That said, Juggleguy knows he has built a Smash empire from the ground up. He has more than earned his spot as a premier tournament organizer and has expanded his event to not just fit the Smash niche, but the broader gaming base as a whole. It still blows my mind that I was accepted for a media pass and saw several other people at The Big House attending as reporters, proving that the event is one of few to have greater cultural significance to the world than just its competitors.
TBH8 Morning-After Takeaways
Hbox finally gets a big one this year
Rip Mango even-year TBH blessing
Dual PG losers runs from Plup & Zain
Bananas crazy run to 5th: beat iBDW, Plup(!!!), HugS, & Fiction(!), lost to Hbox/Zain
Bananas & Axe get Summit spots
Leffen spikes GCC
— Andrew Nestico 🐼🌎📊 (@PracticalTAS) October 8, 2018
Outside of maybe Genesis, there’s no Smash-specific major with as much history and wealth of narratives within its top level play. There’s something magical about watching Michael receive loud, obnoxious and hilarious cheers from his home crowd begging him not to take Bladewise’s last stock in an incoming 3-0 victory, just because they’d rather see him win via timeout.
Watching Twotran’s home state friends cheer him on and continue to root for him after a tight loss against HugS was also inspiring. Don’t even get me started on how wild the attending Texans were whenever Bananas grabbed an opponent.
It’s a feeling unlike any other – that you are a witness to something spectacular that transcends your place in the scene. When I saw Bananas’ leave the tournament at fifth place, I couldn’t help but think of Kels’ own underdog run at The Big House 4. Or Abate’s at The Big House 5. Or Ice randomly finishing third at The Big House 6 because he dodged Mew2King. The list goes on.
If you’re looking for a major like Shine in which you’re going to ruthlessly money match people, compete and play nonstop Melee, The Big House is probably not going to be it, barring you feeling okay with playing in a “dry” 24/7 venue. If you’re looking to get degenerate, you might not want to venture too far from the venue and the nearby hotels, making it inferior here to Evo.
But if you love history and watching some fun Melee? There’s nothing consistently as jam-packed with intrigue like The Big House. I’m absolutely down to return next year.
5. My Personal Recap
I haven’t been exactly secretive about this, but I’ve been emotionally struggling. Discussing my issues in-depth would be a waste of everyone’s time, so the quick version is that I bought an apartment a couple of months ago, am living alone and am still not used to it. Along with this, I’ve dealt with anxiety regarding my involvement in Smash and how others perceive me.
What exactly is my role anyway? I’m not sure, but by all means, I should have been excited heading into last weekend, as I was for Shine and Evo. Instead, I felt dread – as if I shouldn’t be there; that I don’t belong because the majority of my practice heading up to the event came from playing Jigglypuff on Netplay.
Well, it turns out that there’s nothing that tears away at your long-term doubts about Melee more than playing the damn game. Seeing many of my long-distance friends yet again was a blast, as was meeting many others who recognized me from the podcast, my weekly write-ups and my book.
My tournament experience finished about where I was expected to place. After sleepwalking through my round one against a Jigglypuff player, I managed to not want to bash my head through a wall and defeat a strong Luigi, the third seed in my pool. I know many people reading this are going to roll their eyes and point out that I play an even more frustrating character, Marth. Hold on – we’ll find a compromise we can all agree on.
Following my victory, I had to play Papa, an Ohio Ice Climbers. Quite frankly, I just got better playered, but had the right gameplan. I just need to be more attentive to the solo climber and only swing when it’s punishing commitments or at unpunishable ranges. Following this set, I lost in the classic Marth player situation: “a close 2-0” loss to a solid Sheik that I could not close stocks out against.
Honestly, I deserve a Nobel prize for resisting the temptation to not just Sheik ditto every Sheik or counterpick Ice Climbers on Final Destination. I don’t even mind fighting her that much because it’s pretty fun to combo her if you’re playing well, but edgeguarding her as Marth is such a chore.
Many of your options are basically gimmicks or have counterplay that leads you to having to engage in about three or more “mini-game” type situations. If you guess wrong on these or react too late, you might just die. I imagine this is what Falco players might feel like when they play us.
Even better; how they might feel when fighting Sheik! Guys, I’m cool with people hating on Marth as long as we come together and agree on the one consensus across the aisle: fuck Sheik.
6. Monday Morning Mailbag
Fiction was #17 in 2014 and started going inactive after that although he was ranked #38 in 2015. The news is that he has returned more than that he is a “rising scene-shaker” – thorSmiles
Very true, but it still doesn’t make him any less of a “scene-shaker,” right? The two don’t have to contradict each other, but I see your point.
Which player do you think has the best shot at breaking into the top 10 now? Assuming top 8 right now is Leffen Hbox Plup M2K mang0 Zain Wizzy aMSa. – Marcurial
Well, if you check out the latest edition of the Melee Stats Power Ranking, you’d know! Right now, S2J and Axe close out the current top ten, but outside of those two? It’s hard to say who has the absolute best chance. SFAT is probably the most consistent, but we haven’t seem him take a really big win in a while.
Swedish Delight has the Armada win and has great matchups (he has beaten S2J, Axe and Zain this year) within the bottom half of the current top ten, but quite frankly, I still worry about his ability to consistently clutch out tight sets against the top echelon of play. PewPewU is in the same boat as SFAT of being very consistent, but also still without a big top-level victory this year. ARMY is too inconsistent for me to pick him – and the same goes for Westballz and the tier beneath the top fifteen.
I’ll cautiously say SFAT, but they all still seem pretty far off.
Who’s your main and why? What’s your how did you learn about the melee scene? Have you had any tournament success? – BladeBattier
Marth, because he’s sick! His combos and endless array of mixups across characters of different weight classes is so awesome and he’s a guy that both has absurd range in his sword and amazing movement that makes him even more threatening.
I learned about Melee through years of fiending YouTube videos (starting off as a Jigglypuff player) and finding out about my collegiate scene in early 2013. As for tournament success, I’m probably about average, but I was my school’s third best player in an active club, so who knows? I guess I once finished 97th at Shine 2016, but in hindsight, that was pretty fraudulent.
Let’s play at a major and you can tell for yourself!
Awesome article! I was captivated throughout the whole read, I’ll be back again next week!