Don’t Park on the Grass

Part two of my “end-of-2018, beginning of 2019” review. Part one was my Summit write-up.

Don’t Park on the Grass 2018

I decided at the last minute to attend DPOTG. I was free that weekend and wanted to be at the first big Ultimate tourney. Another big draw for me was that SFAT agreed to team, and I’ve been wanting to enter a teams tournament with him for a while now. It’s usually hard given that we both have static teams partners, so this was an opportunity I had to seize. Also, I mentioned in a previous post that I was excited to get better at teaming with Fox as Marth, something I hadn’t done much before. But after placing top 5 at Big House 8 with Chillin, I was excited to try out the team with another top teams Fox.

I was up at 4am EST (1am PST…) the morning of DPOTG, and took a 7am flight out of JFK to Seattle. Luckily I was floated through Melee singles, so I only had to worry about making it out of Ultimate pools and then I could focus on Melee doubles, which was starting and finishing that day. I did manage to sleep a bit on the plane, but only as well as you can expect to sleep on a plane.

I only played Melee once in the week leading up to DPOTG, and that was just solo tech practice to make sure I was still clean. The rest of my time was dedicated to Ult. Then, in our teams pool, SFAT and I thought it would be a good idea to play on my portable Ult setup instead of warming up for Melee teams… which almost cost us. We were 1-1 against Okami’s team, and both SFAT and I died. I literally thought the set was over and that we lost, and then SFAT said, “You got this,” and I realized I had one more stock. So I took the shot and made the 1v2 comeback, keeping us in winners.

Once we were in final bracket, we actually suffered a loss to iBDW and Darkatma. We were up 2-0, and ended up getting reverse 3-0’d. We talked with Coach Bobby and realized that we got a bit too comfortable too early, and weren’t generating enough energy. We were missing a spark that PewPewU was usually able to bring to the PewFat team. The other major element we were missing was communication. We agreed that making an effort to communicate is a great way to not only make strategic calls, but to remain present and remind the teammate that you’re there.

The shift in our gameplay was drastic. We played much more confidently, and largely swept the losers bracket. We ended up redeeming our winner’s bracket loss and made it to Grand Finals against Zain and MilkMan. Historically Zain hasn’t been the strongest in teams, but in the past month he had teamed with both me and SFAT and had noticeably improved in teams. Plus, MilkMan is a notoriously strong teams player, a fact well-known to MDVA residents.

I think my mistake this set was overfocusing on the ditto against Zain. I fell victim to tunnel vision one too many times, and we weren’t able to win the set. But still, I learned a lot about teams and I was proud of how we corrected our path in losers.

I turned in early because I started to feel pretty sick… and unfortunately I didn’t get much better. I woke up on day 2 of DPOTG feeling absolutely awful, and my migraine/fever only got worse throughout the day.

I decided I would use it as an opportunity to observe how I performed in tournament in subpar circumstances. I didn’t want to take pain meds because I had the idea in my mind that it wouldn’t let me keep as clear a head as I wanted mid-set, and that adrenaline while competing would help me manage the pain.

For the most part, the actual sets were okay. I lost to ESAM in winners of Ultimate, and I lost to the first Ike I’d seen in losers. I ended up getting 17th, which wasn’t bad. And I used all Pichu.

Like i mentioned, I was floated to bracket in Melee, so I had to be ready right off the bat in Melee. Last time I was floated was Genesis 4, I think, and I remember being very nervous. The prospect of not warming up through pools was scary, and my first set at that tournament was a Marth ditto against Nightmare. But that nervousness comes from a place of insecurity, the feeling that you need to do X Y and Z in order to play well against good players. Now I have a better understanding that it’s still another game of Melee, and I’ll still be implementing my gameplans. I’ll warm up however I need to in order to make that happen, and it can certainly be done without fighting through pools. Just look at Summit – my first tournament match was against Plup.

In any case, I fought a decent Falcon (sorry, I forget his tag! Check the bracket if you want to see). I was moving pretty well, and had a 0% to 100%+ lead on last stock of game 1… then I airdodged offstage. A tragic ending, but I brushed it off and dominated the next three games. I remember on game 4 I had an extended edgeguard that ended with a phantom tipper and him at 200%, but I didn’t let it phase me. I just kept moving to the next interaction and making it happen. Felt good to push through and win that set.

Now, back to my sickness that day… the most grueling part of competing was the wait between matches. I didn’t have anything in particular to focus on, talking to people was painful, and I just wanted to get my matches done. At some point I lay down under a table for 30 or more minutes with my hoodie wrapped around my head to block everything out. It was pretty bad. I was doing my best to stay hydrated and fed, too, but there was only so much I could do at this point. I sometimes get minor headaches, but a migraine like the one I had is pretty rare for me.

I knew I was projected to play Rocky, and I was looking forward to that match. I know he’s worked on the Marth matchup quite a bit since we last played a year prior, but unfortunately he was upset by an ICs (fauxhebro?). One of the reasons I felt not too bad going into this tournament was that I knew there was a very small chance I’d had to fight ICs or Puff, so I figured I would wing it for the most part… and here we were. I mentally reviewed my gameplan against ICs and buckled down. If you’re able to let go of overzealous habits, matchups like Marth ICs feel much more manageable. Just need to stay in the moment and remember your win (and loss) conditions.

My controller stopped working like 20 seconds into game 1 so we had to switch setups right off the bat, but then we got going on another setup. I won 3-0, making a pretty big comeback on one of the games. This set was also the only one in which I mixed up my Ult and Melee muscle memory – I tried doing a running Dtilt spaced on the back of ICs’ shield, and accidentally did a deep dash attack instead. I got shieldgrabbed from behind and wobbled for it, but at least I still won the game. That was one of maybe two times I got wobbled, if I remember correctly.

My next set was against Fiction. To be totally honest, there’s no way I was going to beat Fiction in that condition. Even if I were moving well, I need to be very mentally sharp to overcome a player like him, and it just wasn’t happening. He won that set pretty solidly.

I’m writing this on the bus with no WiFi so I honestly don’t remember if I played another set before I fought Michael, but he was my last opponent. There was a chance I’d fight Bananas, but Michael against ICs is a hill not even the Ice Climbers can overcome. And that is despite Bananas’ best effort to get both Michael and himself DQ’d by pressing absolutely no buttons for the duration of an 8-minute match (yeah, this happened). I’ve never seen a set like it. It almost made me forget how terrible I was feeling.

As it turns out, I jinxed myself thinking I wouldn’t have to fight Puff or ICs. The problem with Puff is that every time I lost to Puff in tournament in 2018, I felt very motivated to improve on the matchup. I would study it, practice, and feel so much stronger… but by the next time I fought a Puff, I’d be taken off guard because I didn’t think I’d fight one, and would have forgotten key elements of my preparation. It’s a lame excuse and totally on me. I actually had a really strong start against Michael too, but he cheesed me with a roll rest on my Fsmash! Never seen that before, it was crazy. I wasn’t able to maintain my flow, and started to overthink the interactions by the last game when I began remembering things I was supposed to be doing in the matchup that I hadn’t used yet. It was pretty sloppy in terms of gameplan, and Michael is a very consistent player.

Unfortunately that was the end of my tournament run, but luckily it also meant my experiment was over and I could take pain meds. I started feeling a lot better at the night went on, and got to play a good amount of Ult friendlies with Melee peeps like Kzhu and HugS. Thanks to my portable setup, we just sat on the ground during Melee top 8 and played while watching. There’s a couple pics of it on my Insta (@rishissb).

Now that I’ve had that experience, I think next time I’m feeling that bad I would either drop out or take pain meds. I’m glad it happened at DPOTG and not at a supermajor. This tournament was big enough to simulate what it would be like, but to me the results didn’t matter too much as it was end of the year, partly a vacation, and I had my eyes on Ultimate simultaneously.

With that, 2018 was a wrap. The next week I went on vacation with my family to Hawaii, and now we’re in 2019. My next post will talk about my thoughts on Ultimate, and what I’m thinking about for the upcoming year.

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rishi

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