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Published September 4, 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. Featured image from Blendtec’s Twitter – will take down, if requested. Happy late Labor Day!

Who said the Summer of Smash was over? Following Shine weekend came Fiction’s victory at the 19th installment of Show Me Your Moves, the Midwest classic and one of the longest running regional events in Smash history. In the Netherlands, Amsah won Spice #14, though not without a fight from returning Dutch Fox veteran Zgetto. Over in Texas, tatuwah, a Marth player, won the regional Arcadian, while NorCal Captain Falcon NMW won Battery Basement 10 in Colorado.

1. Fiction Shows His Moves

Fiction is a great Melee player and promising content creator. Earlier in the year, he finished No. 76 on Smash History’s all-time Top 100, and you could argue that he should have finished higher. Since his excellent 2014, in which he finished seventh at Apex 2014, he gradually began to attend fewer events due to hand problems, but those who knew of him knew his talent.

Across his career, the SoCal Fox boasts sets over Mew2King and Mango (with his Marth!), among others. During relatively inactive years like 2016 and 2017, Fiction would occasionally earn a big victory (like his victory over Crush last year), but not necessarily reach the same ceilings as before.

Melee Stats has had a running gag over this year: that Fiction is secretly the best player in SoCal. By the numbers, this honestly might not be a joke Until July, per the MPGR ranking’s official data spreadsheet, he was 5-3 against Westballz, 7-2 against ARMY, 1-1 with S2J and 2-0 against Squid. Just earlier this week, he won a small local tournament over Westballz, ARMY and MikeHaze. Fiction also has a win on Lucky for the year, though I’m not sure how their head-to-head record has been.

There have been two problems with Fiction all year: a lack of notable data at larger events and a drop in performance at the few he competed in (65th at Genesis 5, 17th at January’s Noods Noods Noods and 129th at Evo 2018, though his Evo showing was partially due to a DQ). Heading into SMYM 19, Fiction certainly didn’t look ready, as he lost to Zamu at a local, leading him to post a salty tweet.

It warrants mention that while I don’t have bad interactions with Fiction in-person, holy moly; his Twitter is a mess. From holier than thou remarks, condescending responses to other people (including my friends) and random outbursts of emotional vulnerability, there’s a lot you could detest his online presence for. In the middle of SMYM19, he suffered an early loss to Ginger, leading to yet another hilarious tweet from him, though this time a little more self-aware.

It was then, that Fiction took off. Tearing through loser’s bracket, he defeated PRZ, Boyd, KJH, Zamu and Drephen to make grand finals against AbsentPage. Here, he dismantled the Minnesota Fox 6-1 across two sets, also eviscerating a desperate Marth counterpick from the Minnesota prodigy.

So which Fiction is real: the one that routinely defeats the rest of SoCal, is fresh  off destroying the Midwest and boasts a history of taking top caliber competitors to the brink? Or the sore social media hound that doesn’t always perform up to par at bigger events?

By the end of the year, we’ll find out, but now is a good time to buy Fiction’s Melee stock.

2. Is 2018 the year of Drephen?

Eleven years ago, Drephen was the king of the Midwest. Along with a win over Azen in 2007, Drephen notoriously defeated Mew2King at Viva La Smashtaclysm, leading to to  Mew2King becoming extremely bitter about Sheik. A fun aside: following his loss, he temporarily challenged Drephen to a money match in the ditto, which never happened because Drephen refused to play without chaingrabs.

Today, Drephen is slowly building a case for himself at a shot for top 50. A quiet story over the last couple of years has been Drephen’s gradual improvement in the global ranks, from No. 75 in 2016 to No. 68 in 2017. Take a look at his resume for 2018; it’s impressive. Victories over the likes of Ginger, KJH, Junebug, Slox, Medz and Abate are nothing to scoff at in 2018. And at a West Virginia regional last year, he defeated Zain twice, in two of the best sets that almost no one noticed.

None of these necessarily cement Drephen as a player to look out for in Top 50 – his Super Smash Con 2018 and Full Bloom 4 showings are relatively poor, but keep an eye out for the wily Sheik veteran. I’m personally waiting for a Drephen vs. Chillin rematch, or at least a Drephen vs. HugS meetup at a major.

3. The Mafia Situation

Last year, national commentator and player Heck accused Mafia of sexual assault, with Mafia later admitting to his actions. Most of New England Melee leadership effectively banned him for a year. On September 1, his original ban ended, but responses from New England tournament organizers were mixed.

New England leader Gtown_Tom indefinitely continued the ban at his own events, stating that while he was in contact with Mafia and working with him on finding a path back to local attendance, he wasn’t ready to allow Mafia back at New Game Plus Ultra and Smashing Grounds. Conversely, both the Make Money Off Melee and Hall of Gaming series initially allowed Mafia back, but then reversed their decisions and said they were continuing the ban, with HoG setting a new endpoint in January. The list of New England locals is pretty long, but these three statements were the most notable.

Without trivializing the situation or glossing over the specifics, it’s important to recognize that reintegrating someone who has committed a sexual offense has consequences, even assuming they are reformed. Whether or not the intent is to support Mafia, allowing him at a tournament will inherently restrict the attendance of Heck and anyone who feels threatened by his presence.  From the perspective of a tournament organizer, it’s valuing your own moral judgment over the comfort of your attendees at best; at worst, it’s prioritizing an offender over public safety.

However, it would also be foolish to act as if New England leadership is free from blame. Banning him was a good start, but it only came after heavy social pressure – and though Shine initially put out a statement about harassment at events last year, the tourney series never actively made a statement addressing Mafia himself, potentially due to legal liability.

Though local tournament organizers eventually moved on banning him, there was also never a public plan for what would happen with his potential reintegration into the community. While TOs may  have deliberated behind the scenes, it clearly wasn’t enough to get all of them on the same page until after the initial ban period ended.

There are a lot of difficult questions that I’m not sure national organizers have answers to, so I’m going to list them down in this column. To tournament organizers watching New England, and people in region, please think about the following.

  1. What reasons are there for tournament organizers to continue a ban indefinitely from its initial time period?
  2. Can these reasons be public and if not, what process is there for tournament organizers to explain extending a ban?
  3. Do local or national tournament organizers have a responsibility to provide a path for offenders, including sexual assailants, to reintegrate into the Smash scene?
  4. What process, if any, is there recommended for offenders to show that they are no longer a detriment to events?

Along with these four questions comes a fifth that should stand on its own: what do women or victims of sexual assault feel should happen for this specific case?

Now, more than ever, is the time to actually listen and figure out the answers.

4. Tuesday Morning Mailbag

Where would you rank n0ne for the year so far? – Bradyofthebest

During the Summer MPGR, n0ne finished No. 19, but I was a lot harsher than most of the panel. He ended up finishing No. 23 on my personal ballot. Let’s take a look at how he’s done at a few bigger events from Low Tier City to last weekend.

Wins: Wizzrobe, Squid, Rocky, Shroomed, Rishi, Lucky X 2, Android, Prince F. Abu
Losses: Zain, Shroomed, Darkatma, Boyd, Michael, Wizzrobe, ARMY

His ninth place at SMYM is pretty poor, but his LTC, Evo and Shine runs are solid enough to where I think he could probably go up a little bit. At the same time though, none of these results particularly strike me as out of the norm for n0ne’s current skill ceiling or floor. Without looking at everyone else, I want to say he’s probably closer to No. 19 than he was to my personal ballot before the summer.

This isn’t that related (and maybe it’ll come up on the podcast), but where does Zain rank all time now? He’s obviously made a huge jump. Is he top 50 right now? Top 35? – YoUDee

Pikachu942 and I talked about this last week – funny you asked. Given that winning a major is something only 14 other people have accomplished in their Melee careers, you’d have to admit that Top 25 at a bare minimum, right? Judging by the early 2018 Smash History list, this puts him in a group with the following (just how they were at the time of the list): Armada, Mango, Ken, Hungrybox, Mew2King, PPMD, Azen, Leffen, ChuDat, PC Chris, Isai, Plup, KoreanDJ, CaptainJack, Axe, Wobbles, Shroomed, Jman, Chillin, SFAT, Westballz, Hax, KirbyKaze and Fly Amanita.

Of course, where Zain ultimately lands will depend on your criteria. In terms of results, you’d be foolish to have him any lower, but at the same time, does winning one major and having a year and a half or so of top 10-15ish results give him the edge over players with greater longevity? How do we measure Zain’s metagame impact when he’s still relatively new?

Personally, I would have Zain around the same tier as Jman, due to strange circumstances around both of their victories (Plup playing only Samus and Fox at Shine, Mango playing Marth until loser’s bracket for Don’t Go Down There Jeff, which practically hovers on the border of “major” and “regional”). However, Zain’s victory  at Shine and current trajectory should cement him slightly above Jman’s longevity and victory at DGDTJ. Another major victory or two could catapult the MD/VA Marth above Shroomed, Wobbles and potentially Axe.

One Comment

  1. S Elliot S Elliot

    Is JMan’s win at DGDTJ really comparable to Zain’s Shine 2018 win? Three points:

    1) Plup’s Samus and Fox are legit and not sandbagging characters. He lost in Losers’ to Hbox, against whom he normally uses Fox anyway.
    2) Even if you discount Plup; Mango and Hbox were not sandbagging which means Zain won over two non-sandbagging Gods as opposed to Jman only winning over one.
    3) DGDTJ only had 108 entrees as opposed to Shine’s 1,399.

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