Leffen’s back. On September 22, Leffen uploaded a new video to his YouTube channel saying that his travel restrictions have now been lifted. Despite lacking competitive motivation for Melee, as well as having uncertainty surrounding his time frame for traveling, Leffen said that he will try to go to the United States in November.
On a related note, Hax finally put an end to the “evidence.zip” saga, deleting previous videos related to calling for a community ban on Leffen and apologizing to the scene – as well as Leffen – in a new video. Moving forward, and ironically with the original evidence.zip case establishing precedent for toxic online behavior, it’s likely that Hax will receive a one year ban from entering tournaments.
In other news, Frenzy won the Sunday Netplay regional Bagarre over Trif’s Marth, coming all the way from loser’s bracket after an early loss to also defeat Kins0, Pipsqueak, Jah Ridin’, Mahie, and Rikzz. On Saturday, Zamu won the Trail Invitational in Massachusetts, where he defeated fellow out-of-state talent like Jflex and Mekk to win the tournament.
Who is the Best Peach?
It’s no secret that fast fallers and Marth dominate the current Melee metagame. Whether looking at LAN national top eights, the biggest rollback events, or even just jumping onto unranked yourself, one thing you’ll notice is that floaties have clearly taken a step back. However, no floaty is in a more fascinating place than Peach.
Peach is in a strange spot. Her character’s best all-time representative retired three years ago – a time when the landscape of the scene was so different. Simultaneously, it seems like the Peach players underneath the very top level of play have all, at one point or another, had breakout performances.
On a similar note to my previous column on Jigglypuff players, I’m going to dive into the four Peach mains whom I believe are the character’s three best representatives right now. First, I will briefly talk about each player’s trajectory heading into 2021. Then, I will talk about their highs and lows in 2021. At the end of this piece, I will pick one of them as the best current Peach player.
The first successor to Armada’s Peach throne was the one right in Armada’s continent and the one who finished 2019 as the highest ranked Peach player (No. 16). In spite of having a couple personal demons in Setchi and Solobattle, if he entered a LAN national, Trif was practically a lock for Top 32. As far as rollback’s concerned though, Trif hasn’t always taken it seriously. He’s gone Falco and Marth at different tournaments on the SAME circuit.
I took a look at events where Trif was trying his hardest against the continent’s cream of the crop: Pipsqueak, Professor Pro, Frenzy, Ice, Nicki, MINT, and Solobattle. On one hand, the combined records in the last twelve months are overwhelmingly great at 23-4 (24-5 if you count Trif’s sets against Solobattle with Falco). For what it’s worth, three of these four losses were to Professor Pro, who Trif is currently negative against (1-3) this year.
— Smash World Tour (@SmashWorldTour) September 24, 2021
One thing I’ll note is that while it does seem like Trif’s gotten over his Solobattle problem, Setchi’s absence has undeniably helped him. I’d also add that Professor Pro’s up-and-down attendance has also played into Trif’s success. The long story short is that his dominance against Europe seems uniquely geared toward the state of the incrementally improving but still limited competitive field. Would another Peach dominate Europe as hard as him? Maybe not, but would Trif do just as well in a tough region of the United States? I’m going to say no.
If you know anything about Melee Stats, it’s that I’m a huge fan of lloD. In 2020, his pursuit of becoming a doctor got in the way of his ability to attend nationals. But as the scene transitioned to online, we saw more of lloD than we might have expected. Beating Hungrybox was stunning enough at the time – let alone doing it twice. Following the first win by taking down people like SFAT, Ben, Ginger, moky, Colbol, and Logan seemed to prove that lloD was the best he had ever been. When lloD won the New Year’s Eve edition of Xanadu Online, you could have argued that he was Top 10 in the world.
With that in mind, his 2021 is all over the place. lloD spent vast portions of the year experimenting with a new controller, and while it’s difficult to say what his future is with regards to that, it has made his results hard to evaluate. Here are some of his notable wins and losses (in parentheses) for the year.
- Galint Melee Open: Logan & Golden (SFAT & Hax$)
- Four Loko Fight Night: JSalt & MoG (Aklo & 2saint)
- MD/VA Summit: Zain’s Fox & MoG (Bones)
- Galint Melee Open Spring Edition: Reeve (iBDW & Ben)
- YourHouse: Dawson & bobby big ballz (Zain’s Fox & bobby big ballz)
- Allston Melee Bender: Panos (DrLobster & Mekk)
- Xanadu Online 400: Panko & Suezo (Pappi & Drephen)
- Xanadu Online 408: Ginger, NoFluxes & Neologism x2 (Neologism)
- East Coast Fridays 164: DrewNJ, Koobie, JKJ, Aklo (Aklo x2)
- The Grail: Rodney & Altan (Harry Pogger & Polish)
- Riptide: Slowking, Drephen & SFOP, (Wizzrobe & Gahtzu)
If I had to put my money somewhere, I’d guess that the lloD we saw at Riptide is more indicative of what we should expect from him at a big event than the one who barely squeaked into top eight at the Grail or “slumped” during the spring. I still expect lloD to still go positive against most Top 50 players at big events – but is that enough to protect his claim for being the best Peach?
Let’s look at another MD/VA associated Peach player. The 2019 No. 63 had been making waves even before his breakout run to making the final week of SCL this year. Forged in the fires of playing 40-minute grand finals against Michael for 20 bucks, the Pittsburgh No. 1 had his first rollback breakout at an Untitled that he won over the likes of Slowking, Ryobeat, Mot$, and Aklo. Before anyone could forget about him, Polish showed up three months later to punk Redd, Salt and Ben at an SCL edition of Rollback Rumble. By the way, this was in 2020.
Polish’s 2021 has been nothing short of a continuation of his rapid improvement. Beating Kalamazhu to qualify for the last week of SCL was great, but what about how he got there? Who can forget his LEVO where he beat Axe, KoDoRiN, Magi, n0ne, and Lucky en route to second place? Polish has proven that he can perform just fine on LAN also, as he won the Grail over lloD, Drephen, Zamu, and Free Palestine. Recently, he finished in 3rd place at Hold That L #6, where he beat Michael and TheSWOOPER.
Out of all the contending Peach players, Polish has been the most active and had the highest volume of results. I was curious to see what the weak points in his resume were, and wow – it’s rare to see Polish lose in an upset. The “worst” losses I could find for him were to Zamu, who won a European tournament over Trif two years ago, the notoriously random Panda, notable Peach destroyer and inactive top player Rishi, and Erik’s Falcon back in January. These are merely footnotes in an otherwise rock solid Top 25 year.
Before rollback, Kalamazhu was one of the most underrated players. From his ninth place finish at The Big House 4 to still making it deep in bracket in 2019, he was an annual Top 100 mainstay who nobody outside of the Midwest or NorCal ever talked about. Even his rollback breakout was delayed, as he had his first great showing at Frame Perfect Series Online 3, where he beat Ben and Westballz. Kalamazhu was the most quiet Top 25 player in the world.
By May 2021, that changed. Even if you wanted to ignore a sandbagged set by Mango, in the six months between FPS3 and his exit from SCL Season 2, Kalamazhu nabbed wins over iBDW, FatGoku (x2), Aklo (x2), Ben, DontTestMe, Aura, moky, and KoDoRiN. In the meantime, his “worst” loss was a set to Whiskers. Other than that, he only lost to comparable players to himself. After a short break from competing, Kalamazhu came back in July for a great showing at The Big One, where he overcame an early loss to Jflex to beat Gahtzu, Ben, Magi, and Zamu, before bowing out to 2saint for 5th place.
Presenting one of the top technical Peaches… @MW_Buster 🍑
Catch Kalamazhu playing in Singles Top 64 @ 2PM PDT!
— Rollback Rumble (@RollbackRumble) July 10, 2021
If you know how Kalamazhu trends, you’ll note that his shortcomings are typically in a lot of Peach’s traditionally favored matchups. Historically, this was the case against the Ice Climbers. In the last year and a half, he does have a loss to Eddy Mexico from eleven months ago. With that said, it doesn’t seem to be as prominent of a weakness today as it used to be, both because Kalamazhu has improved and because those characters are not as present in larger brackets.
I don’t think it’s fair to still call Trif the best Peach in the whole world. The only matchups where he may have a claim to being better than the other Peach players are Falco and Marth. We haven’t seen Trif tested by a Sheik player of Ben’s caliber in the last two years, he hasn’t shown anything for me to change how I view him against any of the top Falcon players, and although his Fox has convincingly beaten Solobattle, I’m halting the brakes on its long-term potential vs. Michael, 2saint, and Hungrybox.
When he’s playing on a GameCube controller and fully committed, lloD feels like the safest pick out of every Peach to perform well at any given major. But my main hesitation with him has to do with how stacked the resumes are for the other Peach players. Even if we see lloD finish in 13th at two more big events, will it be enough to catch up with the accomplishments of his contemporaries across a higher volume? I doubt it.
Polish really does seem like the most reliable Peach of 2021. He’s entered more than anyone else, has the most overall solid matchup spread, and he’s the player who’s entered the most LAN tournaments. The absolute worst showing he’s had this year in terms of placements was a deceptive 49th place at Four Loko Fight Night, where he lost to the best hidden boss in the United States (Jmook) and Panda. That’s not significantly worse than lloD getting knocked out of the Grail at 7th place (where Polish himself beat him alongside Harry Pogger).
At the same time though, there is something to be said about Kalamazhu’s skillset in a spacie-heavy metagame. Want to know something wild? Since last December, Kalamazhu faced iBDW, FatGoku twice, Aklo, Hax$, moky, Mango, Zamu, and Magi. His record in that time is 9-1. If Kalamazhu plays a Fox or Falco in bracket, he is more than likely going to win. I can’t say that as confidently for any other Peach player in the world.
It’s really close between Polish and Kalamazhu. Polish is the new kid on the block who has the best all-around results, showed the world how much better he got during a pandemic, and proved that he was for real on LAN. Kalamazhu is the longtime slept on top Peach who, in spite of not having recent LAN results, was a stock away from winners side of grand finals at a rollback major. I’m going to go with my gut here and pick Kalamazhu.