6th October 2015
This Sunday I attended an SSBM tournament in Leicester: Melee At The Exchange. This event was run by a TO from Team Heir called Bradley Stafford and was hosted at a cafe and bar named The Exchange. I entered both the singles tournament as well as doubles, teaming with proficient Peach player and good friend BloodBowler. My aspirations before attending were to win first place in doubles and to take a top 3 position in singles, seeing as though a lot of local talent would not be entering such as Hao, Willz and Jin.
The first event to run was doubles and I quickly used my first 20 minutes at the venue to play some friendlies to get warmed up. It had been a couple of weeks since I had last played the game and within this time my Falco went from an awful rusty mess to somewhat respectable. Unfortunately the tio file documenting the brackets had corrupted and I cannot recall all of the 12 teams that entered, however I can say that we were both confident for this event and that it was smooth sailing all the way up to winner’s finals where we were to play Frenzy and Calzum.
Frenzy and Calzum were also a Peach/Falco team, making this a doubles ditto. I found this matchup a little difficult to play, Frenzy and I were lasering above the heads of the Peach players in some sort of battle for air dominance whilst the constant threat of downsmash lurked on the ground. The strategy I eventually found comfort with in this set was to take the top platorm of the stage and bob downwards to snipe one of my opponents with an aerial. A back-air could easily finish off a high-percent Peach or push Falco into an edgeguard situation. The best case scenario would be if BloodBowler had one of them occupied and I was free to combo independantly in a singles-bracket mentality. We finished up winner’s finals taking it 3-1 and waited for the loser’s bracket to resolve to see who would be facing us in grand finals.
Low and behold Frenzy and Calzum re-emerged and once more it was Falco/Peach Vs. Falco/Peach. Our previous 3-1 win had me feeling confident but they seemed to step it up in grand finals, I was getting combo’d by Frenzy a lot more and falling into down-smashes. The games we had won before I felt that I was playing much more patiently and really milking each of my stocks for as much as I could but in grand finals I was perhaps trying to do a bit too much. My approaches against Frenzy were met by a shine out of shield and a crouch-cancelled down-smash with Calzum. We lost 3-2 and so with us coming from winner’s side the brackets had reset and a final best of five was to be played.
The final set played out very similarly to the previous one, I was being bullied off stage and then edgeguarded by Frenzy but when it was my turn to do the same I wasn’t finishing the job. By this point I had figured out Frenzy’s response to shield pressure and concluded that I could very easily get shine-grabs against him however in a doubles format this wasn’t a useful discovery, I couldn’t go for these grabs unless I wanted to get slapped by Peach or dash-attacked. My strategy of taking the top platform wasn’t working as well as before either, unlike before I wasn’t given full reign of the airspace and couldn’t get as many independant combos started. This set came all the way down to the last game and to a 1v1 situation between BloodBowler and Frenzy, it couldn’t have been more close. BloodBowler was at first dominating the stage, getting Frenzy to around 70% and was in an edgeguard situation but then at the last second found his head bonking beneath Battlefield’s ledge. We lost 3-2 once again and took 2nd place for doubles.
Time for singles now and and I’m feeling pretty good. I knew who I would struggle against here and who I would have an easier time with but felt that I had the potential to beat anyone if I played my absolute best and stayed within the game. I took a quick glance at my pool sheet to see who I was up against in order to qualify for the pro bracket and I didn’t recognise the names of any opponent on a personal level, so with that and having just placed 2nd in doubles I was very relaxed going into these games.
My first game was against Knocker, a Sheik main. The first stock of the first game was pretty even, I definitely slept on him a bit. He was Sheiking- following up on my rolls, abusing ftilt and dthrow, going for off-stage needles, all good stuff. I decided to mix up my approaches a bit more, faking my laser approaches by doing a short dash-dance before I pounced and sliding off platforms with an aerial to catch him out. I kept my Falco moving and Knocker seemed as though he didn’t have a plan to deal with a lot of my approaches, and my follow-up punishes were longer and harsher than what he was offering. Add laser control and uptilt anti-airs to this and I closed it 2-0. I’m looking forward to seeing how Knocker performs at future events.
Next was Jaysotee, a Marth player. Marth is a matchup that I quite enjoy and have a lot of experience with, I locked him down with lasers and kept just out of that sword range. Jaysotee seemed a bit overwhelmed by my Falco, throwing out some questionable forward-smashes and premature aerials that I was more than happy to punish. When a Marth is not utilising wavedash out of shield or dodging the lasers with the platforms, this matchup can become very one sided. Marth’s also pretty easy to combo with Falco once you know how, and Jaysotee’s sub-par combo DI allowed me to carry him across the stage. I took this set 2-0 and cannot stress enough the importance of wavedash out of shield and Marth’s grab in this matchup.
Final pool game now and it’s Cash£ and his Ganon. I smiled when I saw his character choice for a couple of reasons: It’s great to see people playing mid/high tier characters as they’re becoming rarer and rarer in the face of 20XX, and secondly I’m really confident in this matchup. The last Ganon I played was Eikelman so I was surprisingly prepared for the Ganon pick. My combos in this set were very long, he’s an easy character to beat on and his responses to laser spam are pretty poor. Cash£ made a few attempts to stomp me from above but with awareness I can dash-dance right out of the way and start the next combo. Cash£ did attempt the downthrow chaingrab a couple of times which was nice but wasn’t able to get much from them. There was also a distinct lack of jabs and waveland mobility too, I was given full control of this set and got the double four-stock 2-0.
Pools over, bracket time! My first game was called out and it was against a Fox main named Geezaku. The last time I had played this Fox I was dominant, I went into this set confident but perhaps too much so. Game one was really close and ended up coming down to the last stock. It took me a long time to dissect his neutral game and figure him out, he was adamant on holding the platforms and playing keep-away. I’m a lot more comfortable playing the horizontal game rather than traversing upwards and was caught out a few times as I was trying to chase him. A few times my techs were read and I was hit by a short-hop up-air which impressed and surprised me, those lead to some scary situations. My saving grace in this game were my punishes and my edgeguarding. My combo game was decent and more often than not I finished my food. I missed several side-b edgeguards however as the TV was muted and didn’t have the audio cue but this is something I should have checked prior to the game. Game two was much less close, Pokemon Stadium was a good counterpick traditionally but I felt as though it contradicted his playstyle a little bit, without that top platform I found him much easier to control and ended the set 2-0. I’d very much like to play more games against Geezaku, whilst I’m confident against Fox he plays a style that I struggle more against, I’d appreciate more time to figure out the neutral against him on stages like Battlefield and FoD.
Advancing through winner’s I am to face Calzum, the Peach main I faced in doubles. I have a mixed win record against Calzum, sometimes winning and sometimes losing but since we last played I had put more time into the Peach matchup. Game one and I’m struggling, this matchup is so punishing on my side. If I make a slight tech mistake I could be punished heavily and having not been able to practise anything tech-skill for many months I was making exactly these mistakes. I was getting shield-grabbed a lot which should not happen and Calzum was able to convert his grabs accordingly. I was able to get a few combos going but couldn’t finish them, I let him live a bit longer than I would have liked and don’t think I got a down-air kill for the entirety of game one. I lost on Battlefield and with Yoshi’s being banned was forced to go back to Battlefield again. This game I had an attitude change, a second wind. I wanted to get those quick kills that I knew were possible and took his first two stocks whilst on my first, going for some more risky, confident plays and not over-respecting him. The aggression really paid off and I took game two just by not fearing the big punishes Peach can do. Calzum took me to Final Destination next and it was a bit of a bloodbath. I didn’t have platforms to run to and laser control wasn’t happening with Peach floating at an awkward height. My poor shield-pressure gave him shield-grabs which in turn led to me being chain-grabbed and disposed of. In retrospect I should have played with full hops more, I tried to take him head on and it just didn’t work. I was sent to loser’s here 2-1.
Moth, a Fox main was waiting for me in the loser’s bracket. I’d played him a few times in the past and had a strong win record against him. I played very aggressively and relied on getting big conversions from my initial pounces. This Fox was very different to Geezaku’s in that Moth did not abuse Fox’s speed as much and seemed a bit easier to combo, developing good DI/SDI against Falco makes it way harder for me to combo. My plan was just to overwhelm with pressure and then to punish as hard as I can and it worked, I got the 2-0 victory.
Brado was next, a Jiggs main. Jiggs is the matchup I fear most and is one of my least played matchups in SSBM. I wasn’t especially confident going into this one just because of the unfamiliarity. I’d watched some Jiggs matches recently and even wrote a Falco Fridays on the matchup but nothing can prepare me as much as actually playing against a Jiggs and experimenting and playing for myself. I tried to space some uptilts against Brado but he was playing far too passively for them to connect, I was just getting back-aired. I tried some lasers to make him approach and spaced some back-airs which were more effective, and down-air pressure seemed to work very well. Our games were close but I never seemed to have a solid sense of control or a lead, we were chipping away at each other and trading but it was all in his favour. I got a few low-percent kills with laser forward-smash but they weren’t often enough to make up for Brado’s gimps and an up-throw rest. Again I feel full-hops would have been a good idea given Jiggs’ slow jump speed compared to mine. I’d like to play more friendlies with Brado at some point or just against Jiggs in general, I don’t feel as though it’s a bad matchup for Falco, more that I’m poorly versed in it.
And so in Melee singles I finished 7th place, quite far from the top 3 spot I wanted. I don’t beat myself up about it though, my Peach and Jiggs matchups are poor and my tech skill this tournament was way off. Once I reclaim my Melee setup I can prepare for these events a lot more, I shouldn’t have gotten shield-grabbed as much as I did during this tournament at all. My movements were sloppy too during MATE 5, there’s a lot for me to work on and I know exactly what I need to do to improve. Jiggs, Peach and Sheik are all on my list of matchups to grind and my tech skill tools need an update: I have Westballz pressure to learn, reverse shine down-air edgeguards to re-learn and lots of movement techniques to get down. I also need to just play a bit more confidently, it’s good to respect an opponent’s options but I have to take a few risks sometimes, they can really pay off.
All donations go towards sending me to Smash tournaments!