Monday, June 22, 2015

The Summer of Smash Part 4: Smash n Splash

I'm a week behind on my blog posts already, so this post for Smash n' Splash may not be as detailed as the others, my apologies. Or maybe my posts are too long anyways and you'll actually be able to read this entire thing, who knows?

At any rate, Smash n' Splash was a little bit different than all the other big tournaments I had entered because custom moves were to be legal at this tournament. I had only ever entered a tournament with customs on once before, which was the weekend before at Galloping Ghost Arcade's Sunday Smash weekly tournament. At that tournament I just played default Diddy and played the game like I would without customs, and it led to great success and I won the tournament handily enough to create a combo video entirely of my matches from that tournament LOL. So despite not having too deep of knowledge on customs, I was fairly confident I could do well and just adapt on the fly by using my fundamentals.

Early into the week however, I started to not feel too well, and on the Friday before I really was about to John out of the tournament. I wanted to go to Bo's Back in the Game weekly to get some practice in, but I just couldn't with the way I was feeling. So instead of getting any practice that week I slept in early and went into the tournament still not feeling great and because of that my confidence level pretty much plummeted for this event. On top of that, I could feel my motivation was kind of waning before this tournament due to not feeling well among other reasons.

Day one was round one of pools and doubles. Doubles I teamed with Demitus, a top 10 ranked player from Chicago and Falcon main. In theory our team should work well: I can do a lot of damage but have trouble with kills, and Demitus is known for his great reads with his smashes to take many early stocks. We got placed into what appeared to be a decently winnable pool with our main competition being Georgia's team of ScAtt and Ojama, and Ohio's team of Day and Sai. I was pretty confident we would actually be able to take anyone in our pool, but round one was a real wake up call. We played against a squad from Missouri that included Gottoms, a player I do doubles with frequently. Right off the bat in game one I could tell our synergy just was not there, and me and Demitus killed each other during the first game. Eventually it came down to a 1v1 of me vs. Gottoms' parter, a Fox main, and I had the percent lead. Despite my small lead, he was able to take control of my banana and use it to hit an up smash to seal out game one. I still felt alright about our chacnes and assumed that the next games if we just don't hit each other like we had been that we'd be fine, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. In the third game of the set, Demitus SD'd at low percents which put us in a bad position, and we were unable to bring the game back into our favor and got sent to loser's bracket in our first match.

It was kind of demoralizing losing to a team that on paper we should be better than, but it really did just go to show how far good team work can take you. They were playing together as one unit, and despite the fact that me and Demitus were the stronger players individually, we didn't have that synergy and lost the set. We would have to fight our way through loser's bracket and try to build up that synergy as we went. At least our next few matches were somewhat easy so that we could get that boost of confidence, but eventually it came time to face one of the top teams in the pool: ScAtt and Ojama. They were running a Megaman/Sheik combo. As soon as game one started I knew this was going to be a problem. In our team, I usually let Demitus go in while I stayed back and  played a support role, but against this team that wasn't going to work out. With needles and all of Megaman's projectiles, they were able to wall out Demitus hard, and so I had to make aggressive moves myself to attempt to separate them and maintain stage control.  Once again though, their teamwork was far superior to ours, and they maintained control over the stage throughout the entire match and caused us to drown in pools 0-2.

We went out like total busters, but what can you do? It was a learning experience, and hopefully that means that next time I won't go full buster when I'm with a new partner LOL. Anyways, for the rest of Saturday I just had my singles pool, which became significantly easier when the second seeded player never showed up and so I was able to fairly easily take the first seed and secure my position in the next wave of pools. I left the tournament early to go home and sleep for a solid 9 hours to get ready for what would assuredly be a very difficult pool the next day.

In the morning when I woke up and looked at who was in my round two pool, I immediately thought that I wasn't going to make the bracket this time. I'd have to beat either Mister Eric, a very solid Rob player from Ohio, or Smasher1001, the same Mario I played from Michigan the weekend before. I have a winning record against both players, but my play just wasn't on point the day before, and combine that with not feeling well and I had pretty much given up already. I decided to just show up with absolutely zero expectations, and just play the matches and see what happens.

My second game of the pool (these were round robin, and not bracket pools) was against Mister Eric, and I hadn't had any warm-up prior to that. So with just two games under my belt I began my first match against a very tough opponent in my pool. I ended up playing the matchup very solidly, since I've played this same match against BoScotty many times before, I knew how to avoid all of Rob's set ups. Game one ended up being a solid victory, but game two I was far behind on my second stock after I lost my first stock to a spike while I was recovering. Somehow I managed to keep my cool and break through his wall and bring it back to a win when I had over 140% on my last stock. It was a super close match, but since it was a victory I was almost assuredly going to make it out of this round two pool of death.

Shortly after I was up against my next tough opponent on stream, Smasher1001. His Mario played such close games with me the week before, but now he had the advantage of strong custom moves as well. Game one I was doing well and putting on more percent than I was taking, but because Mario has such good kill smashes, he was able to land one on me early and take the first stock. While he was still at high percents on his first stock, he hit me offstage and actually gimped me on my last life to take the first game when he was sitting at about 160% on his first life. It was an unfortunate game one loss, but I knew that I was outplaying him overall in the neutral and I'd have to just be more careful to not die and I could easily bring this one back. The second game on Smashville started off horrible for me. I was hit again by a gimp, this time I think a dash attack ledge spike when I tried getting back to the stage.  This put me down almost a full stock. However, despite this deficit I somehow managed to bring it back, and with classic banana trip to forward smash I took game two and forced a game three. The third game I knew he wanted to go to Duck Hunt since that's where he took me last week, and to be honest I was fine with that. This game I just did solid Diddy stuff and won to get first seed in my pool, something I had not expected at all going into Sunday.

Eventually the top 16 bracket began, and my first match was the first streamed match, against Junebug from MD/VA. He was Falcon in the first game, another matchup I was very familiar with. After getting a percent lead, I just stayed back and walled him out with peanuts since he has no projectile to answer back to that. I stuffed an approach with a banana to get the first kill, and from there I knew I just had to play safe and I would take the game, which I did. The second game he took me to Delfino which confused me at first, but it made sense when he swapped characters over to custom Donkey Kong, AKA Cyclone Kong. Had it not been from random labbing with Santo on wifi early in the week, I would have had no idea how to beat the Cyclone Kong, but thanks to Santo I knew how his jank moves worked. One random thing I learned that ended up coming in handy in a hilarious way is how I practiced the up air chain in this matchup. If you land a grab at 0% against DK, you can down throw to triple up air, and then if he air dodges afterwards, you can string another three up airs together into an up b. If you do this, your up air becomes so stale that if you can read how he lands you can do triple up air again. I got two more reads on his landings and got a 12 up air string, with the up b extra damage thrown in for good measure. This was such a change in momentum that at that point the game was essentially mine LOL.

Next set was against ScAtt, playing custom Megaman. I really don't have too much to say about this match because at the time of writing this I don't remember the match too clearly, I'd have to go find the video but Clash Tournaments is being slow on uploading it. All I remember is that I could not figure out how to get in on him, and he walled me out really hard and I felt helpless the entire game, especailly when you add in the custom moves that I hadn't seen before and didn't know what to do against. It was a frustrating loss, because to me there is nothing worse than losing and feeling helpless and not even knowing what you did wrong.

This frustration carried into my next match in loser's bracket against GGA.NiTe. Winner of this would make it to top 8. The weekend before at Galloping Ghost I was able to take him down very handily, even with his custom moves Rosalina. This time around was another story. I was partially on tilt from my previous match, and NiTe had been on a tear that day. He was in loser's bracket, but that loss to loser's was from a very close three game set against Ally, so NiTe was probably feeling very confident in his play. This confidence especially showed in the embarrassing game three, where I got bopped harder than I ever have on stream, even though I two stocked him game two LOL. That last game he was reading all of my movement, and my recovery was like a children's book to him. Easy reads netted him early kills on me while I was desperately trying to make it back to the stage, and NiTe moved on while I ended up with 9th place again.

I know that to many people, getting 9th place out of 177 entrants would be really good, but for me to get 9th at another Chicago tournament was a huge disappointment for me. I keep falling into 9th even though I know I'm a better player than that. Coming into this tourney the week before I had felt like I was finally coming out of a slump that I had been in, but then I had another tournament where I felt like I could have done better. It isn't fun to place lower than you expect, but when you have that feeling of disappointment on your rank after a tournament, to me that is just more motivation to do even better next time. My next tournament was scheduled to be another very tough tournament, E2C 15, which would feature Ally, Nakat, Zinoto, Ksev, Keitaro, and all of Chicago's best (minus Akiro). It was going to be difficult for sure, because not only are those great players showing up, I had another Diddy nerf to deal with. What happened then at E2C? Find out on sometime later when I get more time to keep writing these long posts!