On Rotations

by Noah “Theftz” Gordon

Introduction

japanese arcade

Winner stays on

This mantra is at the heart of every fighting game culture and is a practice that has become the standard for rotations in the smash community. You can trace its roots back to the arcade days, when slipping a quarter into a Super Turbo machine bought you the right to take on all challengers until you were dethroned. However, the CRT is a very different beast than the arcade machine, and it’s time for us as a community to put aside this tradition.

When you insert a quarter into an arcade machine, you are purchasing the right to play time with real capital. A smasher who walks up to a friendly station has made no such purchase. Unless he owns the set-up, he is no more entitled to play time than anyone else sitting at the station. Each player should have the right to equal amount of practice opportunity, regardless of skill.

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Trying to Make a Splash in a Big Ass Pond

By JJLinyard.

About the Author

JJLinyard has been playing been playing competitive melee for 5 years on (consider myself just above the ‘average’ smasher) and commentating for over a year now. You may have seen him on the Saltyplayground stream a few times.

Background

After my recent trip to the United States (shout outs to the players of NYC and everyone I met at Nebulous), I realized how much passion there is over in The States for smash. This passion is unique and is what has driven the game to where it currently is in the US. Through this article, I hope to share my passion for my local scene, the United Kingdom (UK) smash scene, a smaller community than the typical US sub-region’s community. Recently, in the UK smash scene, we have been running a smash equivalent to The Football League Championship (for you Americans reading, the minor leagues) and how this will lead into an upcoming major, ‘Heir to the Throne’ (HT3).

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Lemme Axe You a Question

by MIOM|Tafokints

Introduction

totem

Assessing where players are in the Melee totem pole has always been fraught with uncertainty. Unlike other e-sports, the top 25 players might only play each other in a tournament setting once or twice a year. Outside of the big 5, many of these players have very inconsistent placements at nationals, ranging from as high as 5th place to as low as 97th (e.g. s2j at Apex 2014). There are also several cases in recent history where a player’s stock has been elevated over-zealously after one extraordinary tournament performance, only for them to falter at the next major (e.g. aMSa, Leffen, Westballz, etc.).

So it seems we need to be more conservative with our reactions to tournaments, which leads us to ask the more general question: how do we know when one of these players truly deserves to be placed at a higher tier relative to the rest, perhaps a ‘demigod’ tier? As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t think we can elevate players after 1 to 2 solid performances, but, at the same time, how many performances should it take? How should a player perform against other players around the top 25? How consistent should a player be against lower-tier players? Even if we can’t answer these general questions with absolute certainty, perhaps we can see if someone’s performances stand out. Let’s take a look at where we’re at right now:

The “5 gods”

1. Mango
2. Armada
3-5. PPMD/M2K/Hbox

These 5 players rarely lose to players outside of their own tier and have been doing so for years now. Some have questioned whether Hungrybox belonged here, but his stellar Evo performance has quieted the naysayers (including me). Even before Evo, Hungrybox losing to anyone outside of the “big 5” would have been considered an upset, and the only one who could have challenged his spot, Leffen, didn’t do enough over the summer to justify his inclusion in the pantheon.

Beyond the “5 gods” lies a huge cluster-mess of about 30 players that could all arguably make the top 20 cut. As we’ve said, the general perception of players tends to be very fickle, varying dramatically based on the latest major tournament result. In one week, player X can be #6 and, in the following week, be #30 or “grossly overrated”. Simply put, for most of these players, the skill level is too close to definitively say that one person is better than another in the top 30.

In the past few months, players such as Hax and Leffen have made their stand over the rest of the rat race with great performances at nationals and upsets against the “5 gods”. However, the player that benefited the most from the “summer of smash” was definitely Axe.

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Weekly Wrap Up (8/18/2014)

Another Weekly Wrap Up! If you’d like your tournament to be featured, fill out this form in the future.!

Carrollfest 5 (103 Singles Entrants) – 8/16/2014, Pittsburgh, PA

An incredible venue with an amazing turnout definitely puts Carrollfest 5, at one of the best one-day tournaments of the summer. Almost doubling the attendance from the previous installment, Pittsburgh ran yet another 100+ entrant event smoothly and efficiently. PGH Carroll, the host, had enough time to run Melee doubles, singles, an amateur bracket, AND set aside enough time for TWO separate crew battles. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Cloud 9’s very own Mango won both the pro bracket and doubles with fairly minimal back-breaking effort with Juggleguy. After an incredible upset in round 2 of Melee singles, KJH took the win over VaNz. I’m sure you can tell that didn’t sit well with him as VaNz made a losers run through Nakamaru, Moose, Juggleguy, Vist, KJH, and Duck to secure a top 2 position. As for the crew battles, PGH Carroll designated time before Melee pools for “The PGH Mean Foxes,” consisting of himself, Taki, S1 the God, and Machiavelli vs. “Team Ben,” coming strong with Wife, Husband, Silence, and Oro. Despite a valiant effort “Team Ben” was able to clutch out the victory and win the crew battle. Happening later in the day, and likely the highlight of the tournament for most was the PGH vs. Michigan crew battle. Fighting for bragging rights on their own turf were Taki, Green Ranger, TheLake, PGH Carroll, and Nakamaru. Michigan brought many good players such as KZhu, KJH, Moose, Beach, and Duck. This crew battle had everyone on the edge of their seat, and I’m sure it will put you there too, so check it out here.

Singles Results
1. C9 Mango
2. VaNz
3. Duck
4. KJH

Full Results here
Videos here

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Is the Year 20XX?

By OMD

Background

20xx

Hax prophesied it a year ago. A post-apocalyptic future where Fox is the only viable character. It started out as a joke, until Hax himself ushered in 20XX as the real deal.

He started it and turned the joke into a reality. Just last week, we watched him ride the Fox McCloud train all the way to the finals of Zenith 2014. Until Game 5 of Winner’s Finals. Hax had just lost his 2-0 lead against Mew2King. He had won the first of their many games on Final Destination, a stage where nearly every Fox player says that playing a Marth equals death. Hax had the momentum to that point and looked to down the only “Smash God” in attendance.

Then Mew2King ran it back at Final Destination. A two-stock win to slowly swing the momentum. Hax countered to Pokémon Stadium. M2K with another two-stock win to mash his foot on the throttle. Hax took M2K back to Final Destination, this time abandoning 20XX for just one game at Zenith (to my knowledge). Hax’s Falcon was back. The Falcon that every Falcon dreamed of becoming. The Falcon who had only been released this year during The Next Episode Round Robin.

And within four minutes, this happened:

He took one stock before Mew2King ended the set and sent him to losers. Whether it be that his Falcon was rusty or he was just outplayed during that game, he lost in a matchup that D1 said, “Hax still believes that Captain Falcon counters Marth on Final Destination” as Hax began Grand Finals. He abandoned the character he believed to be the best just for a split second, lost convincingly and went right back to Fox, where he beat Zhu in Loser’s Finals. He then reset the bracket in Grand Finals against Mew2King before he lost the second set, taking second at Zenith 2014.

The question now: Is 2014 the beginning of 20XX?

Scar and Toph recollect the story of 20xx

Once again, Hax is the model of why 20XX might be valid. He was no question the best Falcon at the time he dropped the character, but Fox better fit his mind set and playstyle. “For Jeff (Silent Specter), he just loves those hard reads and getting hella rewards from it. So Falcon’s a good character for him,” Scar had said at CEO 2014. “Hax has always wanted to find the optimal punish and execute it. That’s not Falcon. It’s not Falcon.”

Looking at it that way, it seemed as if Hax’s switch to Fox was inevitable.

Tourney Statistics

Let’s look at the major tournaments of this year to decide, including Apex 2014, RoM 7, SKTAR 3, Super SWEET, MLG Anaheim, CEO 2014, Kings of Cali 4, EVO 2014 and Zenith 2014. From there, let’s take the Top 16 of each tourney and display the number of that character. We’ll compare those numbers to the numbers of six of the major tournaments from a year ago.
For the record, the way I recorded the graph goes as follows: if a player plays/played multiple characters, each character will be counted. I only displayed the characters that finished in the Top 16 at least 5 times in the six tournaments I picked from.

2013 Stats
Character Apex 2013 BEAST 3 Zenith 2013 Evo 2013 RoM6 Big House 3 Total
Fox 4 3 1 4 4 3 19
Falco 3 6 6 2 2 2 19
Sheik 3 4 3 3 3 2 17
Marth 3 0 3 2 3 2 13
Puff 1 1 1 1 2 3 9
Captain Falcon 1 2 1 2 1 2 9
Peach 2 1 1 1 0 0 5

 2013 Top 16 Stats

 2014 Stats
 Character Apex 2014 RoM 7 SKATAR 3 MLG Anaheim KoC4 Evo 2014 Total
Fox 6 8 5 7 7 6 39
Falco 2 3 5 3 2 3 18
Marth 3 2 3 3 2 3 16
Sheik 2 2 3 1 2 1 11
Puff 2 2 1 1 1 1 9
Peach 1 0 1 1 3 2 8
Captain Falcon 0 2 1 1 2 1 7
Samus 1 1 0 1 1 1 6

 2013 Top 16 Stats

So it’s obvious that the number of Foxes that have placed Top 16 has skyrocketed from last year to now. But that’s not to say that players are switching to Fox.
Let’s also look at the six players who placed in the Top 16 at Evo 2014: Mango, Silent Wolf, Chillin, Leffen, Hax and Fiction. Of those six players all have been longtime Fox mains, the only player switching to him being Hax.

Conclusions

Smash-Bros.-Melee

Thus question remains: Is the year 20XX? To be honest, I don’t think 20XX will ever fully be here. We’ve see two of the other “Smash Gods” take a dip in the Fox pool. Armada openly admits to playing Fox and we’ve seen him dabble with him when facing another Fox. Yet during the Summer of Smash, in every time he has faced Mango, he has opted to go with Peach.

We also saw Hungrybox, who has struggled against Armada’s Young Link counterpick, stay with Fox for two sets at CEO 2014. That brought an end to Hungryfox (Thank you /r/smashbros).We’ve seen two of the five best players give Fox a run and back off for their main. We also have players like S2J, Plup and Fly Amanita stay true to their mains, even if they aren’t a Star Fox character.
The closest thing I can think of comparing this to is the NFL. As of right now, the National Football League is a pass heavy league. The days of pounding the ball up the middle aren’t as prevalent anymore. Yet, we’ve seen in recent years teams still find success in running the ball (2011 Broncos and last year’s Seahawks and Chiefs).

Fox is Melee’s best character and it’s his world. That’s pretty undisputed. But we’ll never see a day when he’s the only viable character. 20XX isn’t a time period to wipe out other characters. It’s just a statement that Fox is good.

The Rise of New England Collegiate Smash

By Matthew “MattDotZeb” Zaborowski

August 24th, 2013

Everyone was abuzz at Mass Madness: Championship Edition, the final event of the New England Smash Summer Circuit. (NESS Circuit) With 70 entrants this was the largest event New England had seen in a long time. With Pro and Amateur brackets following the round-robin pools, everyone had an opportunity to show their stuff. Players from NYC, Long Island, even up-state New York came out to show their stuff to the best players in New England. After a long summer of events leading up to it, MMCE didn’t disappoint.

Thursday September 12th, 2013

Eric “Nuro” Lima posts about Game Over in the New England Melee group. This was a weekly gaming night in Harvard Square, previously unheard of except to maybe a select few. Utilizing facebook and r/smashbros to advertise, players came out the following Tuesday with three or four setups into the bottom floor of Tommy Doyles Irish Pub & Restaurant’s defunct Harvard Square location and had a fun smashfest with some drinks. Boston had never had an event in a bar, so this was quite the treat.
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