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Cheese (former vVv)

This past weekend I headed out to California to attend Genesis, an international Smash tournament. Players traveled from all over the US, Canada, Japan, Europe, and even Australia to compete.

This was not a good tourney for me competitively, so I'm going to gloss over my actual matches.

Genesis, though, was about more than Smash. It was about having an amazing time with like minded individuals. Smashers rented out an entire hotel. Yes, every single room was occupied by Smashers. We partied, we hit the pool, we ate together, and most importantly, we bonded.

Let me just try and sum up my Genesis experience, and hopefully the amazing time I had can be conveyed.

I flew into SFO Thursday morning, and was picked up by a good friend of mine, falln. We'd never met in person before, but he drove miles out of his way and took me to the Smash hotel with him. That's the brotherhood that is Smash. We headed to In N Out, near the hotel, and while sitting there, Smashers continued to show up until the entire restaurant was almost entirely full of Smashers.

After eating, we headed to the hotel, where we met up with lots of other Smashers and got some solid practice in. We spent the rest of the day meeting lots of people and playing with people from all over the world. We headed to sleep relatively early and were excited for Singles Pools the next morning.

We showed up Friday morning at the venue, warmed up, and singles pools began. After a poor performance, I squeezed through to the second round of pools with a third seed. After some more friendlies, doubles pools began. Teaming with falln, we played very well, and took second seed to one of the top teams on the West Coast.

That wrapped up day 1 of Genesis. Some partying and practice later, it was bed time.

Waking up very early the next morning was rough from being up late, but a quick breakfast had me off to the venue by 8:45. When I arrived it was time for the second round of singles pools. I ended up getting fourth seed by just a one game difference. That knocked me out of the singles tourney, and i was disheartened.

Not long after the failure that was Singles, the venue closed for a bit for setup. Since there were hundreds of Smashers outside, a giant game of Sharks and Minnows broke out, with everyone playing. It was a great experience, both Brawl and Melee players coming together and just having fun.

The venue reopened after a while and crews began. Crews were a battle of the coasts, East v West. West Coast won Melee crews on the backs of their Ice Climbers players. Brawl crews came down to an incredibly close game between Atomsk and Gnes. Gnes edged out Atomsk by one stock, winning the crew battle for the West Coast.

Once again, it was back to the hotel for partying and practice. Exhausted from the day, it was another early night. Sunday morning brought doubles bracket first. Once again, I turned in a lackluster performance, and falln and I went 0-2.

Then the hype started: Singles bracket!

Falln v Rain was the first set for a Japanese player. Falln tried to keep up and made it a close set, but Rain's aggression proved too much to handle. Rain's MK is unbelievable to watch. It's aggressive and safe, which is in sharp contrast to the typical American playstyle which is far more defensive, and often relies on timing out opponents.

Rain's aggression continued to pay off as he 2-0'd mikeHAZE, one of the West Coast's best players and a "Meta Knight Slayer".

If you can't tell, I love Rain's playstyle!

Rain fell to Gnes and Krystedez, the latter likely because of his unfamiliarity with American stages and the Wario metagame.

Matches in Melee were extremely exciting. Armada v Hungrybox came to within just 1% of damage! Melee matches are always more exciting than Brawl when it devolves into timeouts. Mango v Taj was an absolute style fest, and Mango v Armada came to game 5 last hit and Armada barely edged him out. There was more hype in just those few matches than all the others through the weekend combined!

Genesis was about more than just competing. Watching great players compete is incredible. I loved every moment of being on the sidelines! Sometimes, not worrying about personal performance and just enjoying where you are and who you're with is the best thing you can do!

Cheese (former vVv)

Hey vVv,

I figured I'd start a blog series about my tourney performances. I'll give a match-by-match breakdown of each set I play. This is mostly for my personal improvement, but if people like it, that's cool. I'll try to keep the "Smash Talk" to a minimum, but basic knowledge of the game will probably be needed to understand some of the concepts. I'll include videos when I can, unfortunately for MLG Dallas, there are none because of the stream/recording issues. Sorry about that.

Due to my seeding, I had a bye Round 1.

Round 2: vs Fogo (King Dedede)

I didn't know who Fogo was going into this, so I sort of assumed this would be an easy match for me. Bad idea. Turns out he's a formerly amazing player who hasn't been playing much. Usually players like this are unfamilar with the Ice Climbers matchup, because there's not a lot us running around. Once again, wrong-o! His King Dedede was really good! Game 1 starts on Smashville and almost immediately, Nana is gone and I'm confused as hell. Fogo takes out SoPo pretty easily, and I'm starting to get nervous. I respawn and get the grab, but drop it after some good damage. I manage to finish off the stock without getting to kill percent, so I feel better. Next stock, Fogo gets a good grab early and takes out Nana. Now I'm sweating. I remind myself I'm a smart player and don't need grabs to win, so I manage to play safe and poke at Fogo and get off his entire stock as SoPo. I put in a bit more damage after he respawns with a few up-airs, but get Chain Grabbed and lose my stock. Almost immediately after respawning, I get a grab, but drop it early. After a bit more poking at each other, I get another grab and finish off the game. He counterpicks me to Battlefield and I get a great start with a lot of pokes, but once again, he separates Nana, but this time, I manage to get a great save, and a grab, taking his stock. Some pokes later, and he's at high %, I get a grab, and take his stock. Fogo is not discouraged though! He makes an awesome comeback and takes off two stocks without losing one. Unfortunately for him, I do get a grab, play safe, and hobble off his last stock for the game and set.

Round 3: vs Zaxx (Pit)

I'd never heard of Zaxx before, so I had no idea what to expect going into this set, except that he played Pit. Game 1 was on Battlefield, and I got 3 quick and easy grabs on him, for a 3-stock. He seemed to not know how to handle the matchup. He counterpicked Rainbow Cruise, I switched to my pocket Meta Knight, and 2 stocked him, advancing to Day 2, still in winners.

Round 4: vs UTDZac (Mr. Game and Watch)

Now this was the match I'd been waiting for. UTDZac is arguably the best Game and Watch player (up there with Vinnie, from my region). I felt very confident going into this match as I have tons of experience against Game and Watch. My confidence was majorly boosted during game 1 (on Battlefield) when I got a nice early grab, and a lead. I played cautiously and poked him away using blizzard to space and uair to punish, and get a solid percent lead before dying to a smash. After I respawned I got an early grab and got some damage in, but dropped the finisher, allowing him to put decent percent on me before his stock was knocked off. I respawned, took a bit of damage from well-spaced bairs, and finished his stock with a grab. After he respawns, I trip into one of his smashes, which kills Nana, and lose SoPo shortly after. After I respawn, I get a quick grab, and take game 1. For game 2, he counterpicks Rainbow Cruise. I get an early grab, but drop it, and he gets off the first stock using the moving portion of the stage. I manage to take off his first stock while I'm still on my second, and survive to the boat, which is where the Ice Climbers do best on Rainbow. I put UTDZac in a bad position on the right side of the boat, he trips, and I capitalize with a charged smash, killing him at a very low percent, and I feel great! He respawns and quickly seperates Nana, and in my attempts to save her, I lose my stock. We're about even when the climb on Cruise comes, which is the worst part of the stage for the Ice Climbers. Despite my attempts, he manages to gimp Nana, and then put me in a bad position where I could not safely recover. He racks damage and takes off my stock, and thus the game, with little effort. I counterpick Smashville, and get off to a terrible start. I get an early grab, but drop it quickly, and take tons of damage from his pokes. I attempt a dash grab read, but Nana trips into his downsmash, killing her at low percent. He takes out SoPo quickly, as well. I respawn, poke, and make an up-smash read, evening the match. I get an early grab, but drop it, again. He takes advantage of this, and kills Nana quickly, and then Popo. I respawn, get a grab, and even up the match. He plays very safe and pokes me to a high percent. I finally get a grab when he was at very low percent, but I choke the transition to a chain grab, and he uses his downair to punish, killing nana, and then taking out SoPo. This was a very frustrating loss. I was headed to the Loser's Bracket.

First Loser's Bracket Match: Steeler (Pokemon Trainer, Wario)

I'd never heard of Steeler before, and when I heard he used Pokemon Trainer (a low tier character), I was ecstatic. I needed a mental break from the frustration of losing to UTDZac just minutes before. And then the match started. First game was on Battlefield. His squirtle took out my entire first stock without batting an eye. I was stunned. I managed to refocus, and get two grabs, the second of which ended in a kill. Then came Ivysaur. Ivysaur is generally regarded as a joke. This Ivysaur? Not so much. He very nearly manages to remove my whole stock. I eventually got two grabs (one of which I dropped), and get rid of his Ivysaur. His Charizard comes out, and despite the fact that the Ice Climbers usually take care of Charizard with no problem, he gets my stock off with an up-smash and a well-timed rock smash. Kudos to him. I respawn and quickly dispatch the Charizard, but now that scary Squirtle is back. I get a grab, but can't finish it. He kills nana, but not before I get him to high percent. I manage to knock him offstage, nearly gimping him with SoPo, but he barely recovers and makes it to the ledge. I nervously charge a smash at the edge, and he uses his getup attack, trading with my smash, and he dies. This game was heart-pounding. He counterpicks Brinstar, forcing me to use my pocket Meta Knight. He switches to Wario, and deals with my first stock easily. I manage to pull a slight lead back, but he up-airs me early and I die. With the stocks even at one a piece, I try to play very safe and deliberately, doing little bits of damage when I can. I get a bit aggressive as the game progresses, and end up using my tornado too low, and am unable to recover, ending the game. I counterpick Smashville, and get a VERY early grab on his squirtle, taking off his whole stock within the first 45 seconds of the match. His Ivysaur comes out, and manages to get me offstage long enough to get his Charizard out. He takes off my stock with Charizard. I respawn, and get a chain grab that ends in a spike at the edge, bringing his Squirtle in for his final stock. His squirtle nearly takes off my whole stock without being touched, but I powershield one of his forward airs, and chain grab him nearly to death. I drop the grab at high percent, but manage to finish him off without losing my stock. Steeler really impressed me.

Second Loser's Round Match: Larry/DEHF (Falco)

The Ice Climbers are one of Falco's two very bad matchups (the other being Pikachu). That said, Larry is one of the best players in the world. I was confident, but not cocky. The game starts on Smashville, and I manage to grab him twice early, but drop both. He does some fantastic spacing with his aerials, separates Nana, and kills her. I'm shocked. Larry makes short work of Popo. I respawn, and get a platform cancel grab to end his first stock. He respawns, get some laser and illusion damage in, but I get another grab! Of course, I drop it. And the next 4 or so. He takes my second stock off. I get another grab after respawning, drop that one too, and finally, after taking more damage, get his stock off. The final stock is a blur. I grabbed him several times, but couldn't finish any of them, and he wins. I counterpick him back to Smashville, determined not to choke like I had game 1. That didn't happen. I dropped so many grabs I almost lost count. I worked myself to an early lead, but it was all for naught when I choked on a two stock lead, dropping tons of grabs. He defeated me 2-0, and my tournament was over.

I placed 25th.

And that concludes my MLG Dallas tournament. The tournament itself, of course, goes on to be one of the best in Smash history, with amazing upsets, Sonics going insane and placing top 8, and all sorts of nutty happenings. It was an amazing experience, but I am disappointed with my placing beyond words. Dropped grabs killed me more than ever. I'll need to practice extensively to improve my consistency.

If you guys have any comments or suggestions about this or potentially future blogs, I'd love to hear them! If you need clarification on anything, let me know.

Cheese (former vVv)

I'm going to be commentating on and sending some of my matches to the vVv youtube channel. I'll try to get at least one game from each tournament I attend (if I'm able to save replays!). I'm an Ice Climbers main, so a lot of the matches will obviously be my Climbers vs another character. However, if there's any specific matchup someone wants to see, I'll see what I can do for you. I appreciate comments, critiques, and the like. If you have any questions, please ask. I'd love to help you!

My first match is up. It's from KOTC, 7/17/10. Myself v Nairo, ICs v MetaKnight

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezsot8VHQlI

Cheese (former vVv)

Well, since I'm a smash player, this blog will obviously be focused mostly on smash and fighting games, but I'm sure a lot of it will apply to other gaming genres, as well.

In any situation, in any game, one only has so many options. There is a limit on how many different inputs one can enter at any given time. Becoming aware of, and applying this can greatly improve one's gameplay. The amount of different inputs varies from game to game, but we'll focus on smash here. If both players are grounded at neutral position, each of them can do any of the following:

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

Gee, that seems like a ton of options! How could you possibly KNOW or CONTROL them all?

So you can get a visual representation of this as we go, I'll consider Marth's moveset at neutral position, and cross out options as we reduce them.

You can usually knock off about half of the options on the list from neutral immediately. But you must KNOW which options can be ignored. For most characters, doing most of those moves from neutral position is a terrible idea. No competent Marth will throw out a counter (down special) from neutral, and any good Falco main will save his Up Special for another time. These are just two examples, no need to get overly specific here! So you can get a visual representation of this as we go, I'll consider Marth's moveset at neutral position, and cross out options as we reduce them.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

Some characters have blatantly BAD moves that should never be used (or only in VERY specific situations). Some examples of this are King Dedede's jab, Jigglypuff's Up Special, and Mario's Down Tilt. So, if you're playing against a character with a blatantly bad move, you can knock that off the list.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

So, now that we KNOW some facts, we've cut some options off that list.

Next, we can use some advanced KNOWledge to remove some more options off that list! Does a character have a move that serves the same or similar purpose as another? Well, most likely, your opponent will use the better option! Is Marth going to jab me when he can jump -> Forward Air or Forward Tilt or Over Special me instead? Probably not.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

Laggy moves are the next topic of discussion. You're not going to throw out a move with 20 frame of lag when your opponent is sitting right there ready to punish. So anything with huge lag is generally not going to be used out of neutral! Look at how much we KNOW now!

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

Evasive moves are GENERALLY a bad idea from neutral position. They have lag, and move you predictably (or give you lag in place, in the case of a spot-dodge), so generally no good player will use an evasive movement from complete neutral.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

We're already down to 10 options from 18! And this is just because we KNOW some basic information!

Now, some Smash specific information: Grabbing is a terrible idea at neutral position. Walk up grab, dash up grab, and standing pivot grab, while great mixups, are not (for most characters) a usual option. We won't eliminate grab just yet though, because grabs in Smash are very powerful. Dashing limits your options severely in Smash, creating another, much simpler, one of these scenarios. As such, I won't discuss dashing in-depth in this blog, maybe some other time. The more you KNOW! Jumping, too, obviously creates an entire (nearly equally complex) new scenario. I'll get to aerial options at some point, though maybe not in this blog.

Now, 10 options is obviously a tremendous amount (and this is just for ONE character from neutral grounded!). I'm a pretty good player, and I can't handle 10 options at once. Good thing we don't have to! For simplicity, we'll pretend we're in a Marth ditto on Final Destination, so the opponent's options are identical to yours, and the stage is perfectly flat. Remember, I'm generally using "the best option" for my examples, and in a game, using a worse option is a good idea sometimes, because it can confuse your opponent (this is referred to as a mixup, for those of you that don't have fighting game experience).

If our opponent walks up to us, and ftilts, you can easily shield or powershield on reaction, meaning you don't need to THINK he'll do it, if you see him do it, you can easily stop him. On powershield, you can hit with nearly any attack, and on regular shield, depending on ISSDI (don't worry about this for now!) and spacing, you can punish with different attacks, generally jump -> Forward Air, Over Special, or Down Tilt.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

We still haven't done anything, and look how much smaller his list of options is now! Marth's Down Smash is generally used out of grab release on certain characters, or to punish a predicted roll. I have never, in all my Smash experience, seen a decent Marth walk up to anyone and Down Smash. The nature of the move has Marth swing in front of, and then behind him. As such, if the front swing whiffs, you can punish it heavily.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

Marth's Up Tilt has a narrow hitbox is generally used to hit opponent's behind or above him. We're neither here, so let's get rid of that!

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

Marth's Neutral Special is used to assist in recovering, and if he predicts a shield that has any damage on it, Neutral Special with shatter the shield. However, it's laggy, and has a long, obvious startup. In most cases, nobody will throw this move out in neutral, unless trying to set up a special spacing situation or bait something. For the purposes of this blog, though, we'll ignore advanced uses of moves. So that's another move out!

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

We're already looking at only 7 options, and it's all because of what we KNOW. Doing nothing doesn't hurt us, and keeps the situation neutral, so we'll knock that out, because I'm trying to keep it simple.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

So, we basically know our opponent will try to Down Tilt us, Grab us, Over Special us, hold his Shield, Jump, or Dash.

Even 6 options is too many for my taste, and we know all we can about the neutral position. I guess we'll have to stop some of them. Time to CONTROL our opponent's options. Let's throw up our shield as our opponent's draws closer. We don't need to consider our opponent shielding as well, because that causes a reset to neutral, and leaves us right back where we were. One more option out. One special attribute Marth possesses is the ability to throw out an Up Special Out of Shield that is invulnerable. This means if our opponent touches our shield within range of the Up Special, they take damage. This means that doing anything laggy or without long range on our shield is a terrible idea. Good players know this, and will avoid it. So that means Over Special and imperfectly spaced Down Tilt (a perfectly spaced down tilt allows Marth to get his own shield up in time to avoid the Up Special Out of Shield). You'll have to take my word for the purposes of this blog, that dashing gives Marth no new option on your shield, and is useless in the context of this discussion.

Jab

Forward Tilt

Down Tilt

Up Tilt

Forward Smash

Down Smash

Up Smash

Grab

Neutral Special

Over Special

Up Special

Down Special

Shield

Roll

Spot-dodge

Jump

Dash

Do Nothing

3 Options, one of which must be done PERFECTLY? We can deal with that! Now instead of trying to guess between nearly 20 different option, we only need to guess if he'll try to grab, tilt (which we're ready to punish!), or jump! By studying your opponent and conditioning him (another blog topic, maybe) you can guess right well over 50% of the time, which means you win. If you are successful more than your opponent, it's inevitable that you get the win.

This was just a "basic" introduction to options. I hope it helps you with the concepts of how to be successful. Just always remember, just because it's not "smart" to use an option, it doesn't mean you shouldn't! This has actually already gone longer than I initially intended, but I want to give a real-life scenario where option knowledge and control directly won me a tournament set.

I'm an Ice Climbers player, which, for those who don't follow Smash, means if I land a grab, in most situations, I can take off an entire stock through usage of an infinite. I'm facing a Snake player (who is considered to have a slight advantage over the Ice Climbers because of his excellent range and zoning to keep the Ice Climbers out of grab range where they are weak, as well as explosives that can sometimes break up the infinite). It's game 3, the set count is 1-1, so this is the final game of the set. We've both ended up on our last stock. I'm at very high percent, and Snake is at approximately 40% (Snake can live as long as the mid-200s%). I get snake up in the air, so he has to land. I steal his second jump with a smart tilt, so he uses his Up Special to place himself high above the stage. If any of Snake's attacks hit me, I lose the set. As he falls to the ground, he can aerial me in any direction, and if it connects, I die. He also has the ability to reverse his momentum with an advanced technique. So if he's flying down and to the right, he can suddenly be flying down and to the left. Any of his other options are irrelevant. If I predict his landing spot, I can grab him, and end his stock. We're both high-level players, so we are both fully aware of the situation. I follow Snake into the air to try to bait him to do something silly, and he reverses, getting away from me. I run towards him, and he sees his chance to end the game with his fastest aerial. However, I knew this would happen, take two steps back, let him land, and grab the lag from the aerial, ending the stock, game, and set, with an infinite, despite being one hit from death. How could I have known THAT would be the moment he would attack? Well, I forced him to reverse with an aerial. This limited his options to reverse again, land in place, or throw an aerial. By running towards him, I covered the space through which he could reverse. This leaves only aerial and landing. He knew if he landed, I would likely grab him, because I have a reputation for punishing landings. This left a comparatively low-risk, high-reward (win the set) aerial. By stepping back, I won the game. He knew it as soon as he saw me step back, set his controller down, and let me finish my infinite. By knowing my opponent's options, and by controlling those that were reasonable, I was able to make the prediction I needed to. Had he done something off the wall, like allowing his Neutral Special to damage him and get him out of the situation, I have no doubt I would have lost. But creativity is often lost in the heat of the moment, I banked on this, and was rewarded.

I hope this blog, however convoluted it may have turned out, was helpful for those who wonder how games with so many options can be won.

If this turns out decently, I'll write some followups.