April Thoughts – The Games I’m Playing

I haven’t registered for EVO yet. I have my passes for Sunday finals, but I haven’t actually followed through on registration. And that’s because I’m not sure what events I’m entering quite yet.

I will be entering Melee for sure. Melee has and will continue to be my primary focus when it comes to improving myself as a competitor and a threat. I’ve been a bit lazy about practice this past month, only entering a couple of tournaments and trolling around on Netplay, but I know what I need to do moving forward. The last few weeks of school are hectic for me so I just haven’t had the time. But as EVO approaches, I will be working on Melee.

Sm4sh is still a big question mark. Prior to Pound, I had decided to take a break from really trying in sm4sh and I’m still of that mindset. It pretty much boils down to what I like to do in a competitive fighting game… which, I have realized, is doing cool and hype things. So when I play sm4sh, I’m playing to win, but I have less fun unless I do crazy stuff. The exception is often Kirby, because I pretty much play-to-troll with Kirby as long as there is a crowd to appreciate it. I do like Corrin a lot in sm4sh. But all things considered, I don’t have enough competitive drive to put serious effort into the game right now.

Speaking of doing cool things in competitive fighting games, Rivals of Aether! Rivals of Aether is super fun for me right now, and so I plan to keep playing it. I slowly worked my way back in this past month, sometimes playing randoms online, and, in the past week, played with Ralph extensively. I’m definitely looking to reassert myself as the best Wrastor, who is a character that I feel fits perfectly in my hands (thank you Dan Fornace). I get so many opportunities to do cool things with Wrastor, given his variety of movement options with multiple jumps and slipstreams, and plethora of combo tools. To land kills, you have to be vicious and creative. These are all things I love in fighting games. I can sit and do Wrastor combos until my hands give out.

I am really hoping that there is a Rivals of Aether side event at EVO, and, honestly, this is going to play into my decision over what games to enter. In fact, I might make a thread on Reddit as soon as I publish this post asking about the plans for Rivals at EVO. In the meantime, if you play Rivals, hit me up on Steam, or find me on random online matches, and possibly look for me in online tournaments. Realistically, though, I won’t be entering any online tournaments for a few weeks due to the next few weeks being exceptionally busy.

Pokken! I talked so much about this game, got so hyped for it. And it’s really fun. I spent a good amount of time playing and streaming it, and I don’t plan on stopping that. But I haven’t played for a couple of weeks now and I don’t really miss it. Playing Pokken doesn’t give me quite the same rush as Melee or Rivals with their high-speed gameplay and freedom of combos. With Pokken, you play a great deal of Rock-Paper-Scissors and it feels like a lot of characters have set, optimal combos. Having looked into things such as reset counters and damage scaling, I know that the meta is going to evolve more deeply as people learn how to maximize a combo without resetting to field phase and time those combos with a counter reset (i.e. when one Pokemon goes into burst), and so on. But I’m not super motivated to figure that stuff out myself. But yeah, I do want to play more Pokken in the near future, because I do think the game is really cool overall.

I bought and started playing Street Fighter V yesterday, and I’m really bad. This is to be expected, given my limited gameplay experience with traditional fighters. That said, I am pretty excited to learn the game and get better at it. I love watching high-level traditional fighters and feeling the crowd get hyped when one player outsmarts the other in neutral/footsies and lands a sick combo. I want to be able to do that. It’s just going to require a LOT of work, and I have ambitions in games in which I already exceed like Melee and Rivals, so we’ll see how far I take this. I’ll probably play it casually, at least. Pretty much because I want to. I ordered a Hori Fighting Commander to use for it – yesterday I managed to get my Hori Pokken Pad working, but I don’t think that’s optimal because I have triggers set to heavies. It makes more sense for me to use the standard six-button layout, but I don’t really want to invest in a nice stick. In any case…

 

What should I enter at EVO?? I’m not sure. Last year my brother and I entered Melee and Sm4sh, as well as the P:M side event and Melee doubles side event. My brother got pulled back and forth between Sm4sh wave 2 pools and Melee wave 1 pools, and he got pulled between the P:M side event and the Melee doubles side event. That’s only 4 events, but the overlap and distance between events was highly stressful, and at times I had to run back and forth to talk with TOs to make sure he wasn’t DQ’d (that was kind of ridiculous, because Melee and Sm4sh were scheduled by EVO). I have a lot of games I’m interested in, but I don’t want to be stressed and spread thin all weekend.

My goal is to perform exceedingly well in Melee. I want to walk out on that top 8 stage and play for the fans. I want to show people things they’ve never seen or thought possible with Marth. If there is a Rivals of Aether side event, I want to win that event. I want to be known as the best Wrastor and the best Rivals player.

As for the other games, I don’t feel like I have concrete goals. I was motivated to become the best Gengar in Pokken, but that motivation has faded a bit. I enjoy playing the other games, there is no doubt about that, but for EVO, I think it comes down to competitive drive.

But then again, it could be fun, right?? If I enter Street Fighter V, chances are I’d get 0-2’d, but at least I could say I entered the main event at EVO 2016.

You can probably see I’m conflicted. My inclination as of now is to enter Melee and Pokken, and to not tempt myself with Sm4sh or SFV. I’m going to play more SFV in the next few weeks to see if I’m anything more than garbage, and then reconsider my decision. I probably won’t enter Sm4sh, because if I did, I think I would make it out of pools, and, frankly, I don’t want to. I can’t bring myself to not play at least decently in tournament, and if I made it to round 2 of Sm4sh,  I would be draining a lot of time. But who knows – maybe I’ll change my mind in the next month or so.

 

If you have any recommendations for me based on these ramblings and conflicted remarks, let me know! Oh, and since this post is titled “The Games I’m Playing,” and not “The Competitive Fighting Games I’m Playing,” I thought I should mention that I’ve been playing Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest. And I hate it. But I also love it. But it’s the hardest Fire Emblem game I’ve played and so nicely frustrating. The art is beautiful. Music is awesome. It has that weird Fire Emblem charm, and they have found very creative ways to make levels challenging.

But damn, is it difficult.

Next “April Thoughts” post will come out tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

April Thoughts – The Games I’m Playing

April Thoughts – Pound

I haven’t written a post since the night before Pound 2016, and a lot has happened. So in this post I’ll lay out my thoughts on a bunch of things. Fun!

***This started as one post, but I had a lot more to say than initially expected, so I’ll be making a series of posts for what happened in April.

Pound

Such a fun tournaments. It was well-run, as expected, given the all-star TO team. There were some complaints about early-morning pools, but sometimes that’s a circumstance that competitive players have to face – last year at EVO, my first pool was at 8am on Friday morning. Not super fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Pound was a 2-day tournament anyways, so it makes sense that both days were packed from morning til night.

I probably had a busier tournament than most, actually… On Saturday, I began with Melee singles pools at 10am, then Sm4sh singles at noon, then Melee doubles at 2pm, then Melee Mono-character crew battles at 4pm, then Sm4sh singles wave 2 at 7 or 8pm (the day started to get hazy around this time), then Melee doubles top 16 at like 9pm (was I still awake at this point). And then AFTER all of that, I had my exhibition with Hungrybox scheduled for 11pm, so I revved myself up to play him… and doubles kept going. And going. I ended up lying down in the lobby and had a number of people come up to me ask if something was wrong or if I was drunk, but really I just wanted to rest my eyes. Finally at 1:30am, after waiting for 2 and a half hours, doubles finished and Hungrybox was ready to play.

It was a busy tournament.

Saturday

I was a bit nervous about my Melee singles pool because the 2nd seed was Vro, a good Marth. I hadn’t heard of him in advance but people told me he was good, and Marth dittos can always go either way, and I really didn’t want to get sent to losers because of a jank Marth ditto. Unfortunately (but maybe lucky for me?) Vro thought his pool was at noon instead of 10am, so he didn’t show up and I got a free ride to round 2 singles.

This was my first time playing Sm4sh since Glitch, so I hadn’t tried the new patch, which had nerfed Corrin. I kinda just wanted to play to have fun rather than to really try and win. If you watch my sets with Kirby (e.g. vs Osiris), I think that attitude comes across very apparently. I made it into round 2 in losers and played fine overall.

Melee doubles… was rough. I’ve always taken pride in my teams play with lloD, since we have been teaming for so long, but I think that spending most of the year so far apart (we go to different colleges) disrupted the harmony of our playstyles. We argued a lot about how to play teams, who should be doing what in which scenarios, and so forth. We played a lot of friendlies trying to find our groove, and we sort of did in round 1 pools, but definitely lost it by top 16. Oh, and by the way, we had Mang0 and S2J in our pool, but they got DQ’d. Lucky for us, but… I did really want to play them. In any case, we lost to Milkman and Cyrain in winners top 16, against whom we have a positive record (last time we played, lloD and I won pretty convincingly at SuperSmashCon). To be fair, though, Milkman has leveled up recently. Part of the success that lloD and I have is due to the fact that I rarely lose Fox dittos in teams (for some reason), but that was definitely not the cas vs Milkman and Cyrain this time around. We lost to Grab’n’Go in losers, largely in part to me being bodied by DJ in Fox dittos. Definitely looking to work on that matchup.

Exhibitions were fine. I know for a fact that many complained about my position on the Marth team, but I like to think I defended that position. We lost round 1 to the Samus team. I went 1-1 stocks with ESAM, and went 2-3 stocks with Duck. We had a strategy to save Yoshi’s against a 4-stock Samus, but somehow we straight-up forgot that strategy and decided to put me in against ESAM’s 1 stock. A lot of foolish play. PewPewU losing the first game was a big detriment early on, too. But it was fun so it doesn’t really matter, and as I’ll mention later, it turns out I’m the real Samus slayer anyways.

My match vs Hungrybox was fun and the “trash-talk” video is hilarious and cringe-worthy. I think I played like straight garbage, though. I hate hate hate johns, so I try to not lay claim to any… On the other hand, if you watch our set, you can see that I mindlessly run in over and over and over again, swinging with little to no thought. I don’t think that set was representative of how I usually play, but it was just an exhibition so doesn’t really matter in the long-run. At least I was the only person besides Mang0 to take a set off of Hungrybox all weekend, even if it was against his Ness (we take those!).

Sunday

The only thing I had to worry about for Sunday was Melee wave 2 and onward. My first round was against HugS. This was a matchup both of us had been anticipating – after he lost to The Moon at Xanadu a few days prior, he sent me a tweet suggesting I analyze the set. This was a reference to his ~secret technique~ of Multi-Tournament Conditioning. I have a philosophy about studying players: most of the time, don’t do it. Except in cases of studying mindgames and learning what tricks are available. I think it is far more useful to keep track of what my character can do to other characters, and vice-versa. Essentially, know the matchup. From there, player habits and so forth will come through in the match.

In the past, when I have attempted to study players before playing them, it hasn’t worked out. The only information available is how they played on date X Y or Z. You don’t know what work they have put in and what changes they have implemented since then. If you prepare to fight against a certain playstyle, you may actually walk into the set disadvantaged. And that is why I didn’t really bother learning HugS’s habits or studying his set with The Moon too closely. Rather, I did a lot of work in figuring out what Marth can do to Samus and what Samus can do to Marth. I actually have a lot of notes on it.

I remember trying to find a Samus player to practice against before my set with HugS. I saw Professor Pro and Duck practicing and I asked if I could join in the rotation. They said no – Prof wanted to practice against Samus for when he would play HugS… That turned out well, eh? In any case, I ended up practicing against QERB which was really fun. He’s a super nice guy and the best GW you’ll ever see.

HugS and I were on deck for stream, but there was a line and HugS didn’t want his warm-up to wear off so he requested we play off-stream and I was fine with it. We played off-stream and I beat him 2-0. He almost came back in game 2, but I cranked it back up, recognizing that the longer I delayed the set, the harder it would be for me to maintain patience in the match.

I played Professor Pro on stream, and winner would make it into top 32. He beat me 2-0, pretty convincingly. I played significantly better game 2, but it still wasn’t enough. Marth vs. Fox has been frustrating me recently, and I have been trying to rework my gameplan. It’s still a work in progress. I think I just need to keep playing with good Foxes and play a little less defensively in neutral. The fewer approaches I make, the more opportunities I provide Fox to win Rock-Paper-Scissors and land a hard punish.

In order to make it into top 32, I had to beat Doll, who had upset Frootloop (which not a lot of people have talked about, but I think that’s a pretty big deal). Doll and I attend the same University and pretty much play every week. He is a Peach player who inspired my brother to play Peach several years ago (have you noticed the Doll == lloD??). I am very comfortable in Marth vs Peach and so I won 2-0 and made it to top 32. I played Slox’s Sheik in round 1 of losers. He beat me 2-0, but it was pretty close. There was a big crowd cheering for him, but I did a pretty decent job of tuning everything out. I think my loss came down to my 2 or 3 SDs. Consistency can always be practiced, and I will keep practicing it to ensure that doesn’t happen. Obviously Sheik vs Marth is considered to be tough, but I have been putting a great deal of work into that matchup and am very close to being the Marth vs Sheik master.

There were so many upsets at Pound. Probably the most upsets at any tournament in recent history. My brother beat MacD. People have been john-ing for MacD, but all I can say is… don’t sleep on lloD. Let’s not forget that he beat Duck (2-0?) at SmashCon last August, and is #2 in MD/VA. He is probably our most consistent player.

Pardon the lack of transition, but two of the best moments at Pound were 1) when the crowd alternated chants for Pink Fresh and Mr. R, a bit of friendly rivalry, and 2) when Hax received a standing ovation after placing 3rd. Hax was an absolute pleasure to watch, and I sincerely hope he is able to recover quickly.

Those are most of the notable things I wanted to cover about Pound 2016, and my class is about to start so… that’s all for now! Hoping to crank out another post about my thoughts in April ASAP. Thanks for reading!

April Thoughts – Pound

Pound

You know that feeling of butterflies in your stomach? I used to get that before every tournament I entered. In 2005, I was still 11 years old and could only go to a few tournaments every year, so each one was a big deal. In the last few years, however, I found myself going to multiple tournaments a month, and so that feeling mostly faded.

I’m feeling it again for Pound.

Pound will always be a special tournament for me. I never traveled out of region until EVO 2015, and so the only access I had to national-scale tournament was Pound. I was at Pound 2, 3, 4, and 5 (though I didn’t enter 5), so the last Pound I entered was over six years ago. Insane. Pound 4 was one of my favorite tournament experiences.

I’m excited for Pound 2016 for all the same reasons, and more. I want this to be my break-out performance. I’ve been working extremely hard over the past year – innovating, practicing execution, studying matchups, developing my mental game, and so forth. I want to solidify myself as a top-level threat and remind people that you can’t sleep on MD/VA’s players. The goal is 1st place, because there’s no point in aiming for anything less.

So yeah, that’s a big part of it. I’m entering Melee singles, doubles, and Sm4sh singles. I also am part of the Marth crew for the mono-character crew battle (along with Pewpewu, The Moon, and Druggedfox), and will be playing in an exhibition against Hungrybox.

Let me briefly touch on sm4sh, first. After Glitch, I decided to take a competitive break from sm4sh, because I don’t have a competitive drive for that game. I like playing it in front of crowds and making upsets and doing cool stuff with Kirby… but I can do that stuff without practicing. So I haven’t touched the game since Glitch, and lloD and I decided to drop sm4sh doubles at Pound. I will not be going HAM in pools tomorrow; I will be playing to have fun, and I’ll see where that goes. I apologize to anyone that might disappoint… but my passion for Melee is strong right now, so I’ve been putting all my time into that (and Pokken… heheh).

I want to meet as many smashers as I can (so if you’re reading this and we haven’t met, please introduce yourself to me!), and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone that I probably haven’t seen since EVO last year. For those of you who have never been to a national before, I highly recommend you take advantage of this. There are very few opportunities to collect people from so many different cultures and backgrounds in one place, united by a single passion (especially when that passion is a 15-year old Nintendo game that somehow shines in the eSports spotlight).

I know this event is going to be awesome because three of my good friends – Scott (TheTantalus), Mike (Nintendude), and Jon (Plank) – are organizing it, and because it’s freakin’ *POUND*! Anyways. Yeah. I’m pumped. I want to play and perform my very best this weekend, and I want to soak in the atmosphere, and I want to see everybody, because the smash community is awesome.

Also I want to play with as many people as I can! I’ll play friendlies or money matches or whatever… But I’ve been having some exhaustion issues with my left hand so I will probably be taking breaks here and there. But I still want to meet you.

Anyways, I’ll be at the venue later tonight, and I’ll be there bright and early tomorrow!

 

*pound*

Pound