Falco Fridays #5

9th October 2015

Welcome to the 5th installment of Falco Fridays! Last week we looked over a game between Westballz and The Moon and this week I wanted to look at some Falco/Sheik action. It’s a recent game taken from The Big House 5 and is between Westballz yet again, and Swedish Delight. Those that have seen this set will know that Swedish Delight performs very well in this set and so I wanted to look at how he was able to compete toe to toe with a player such as Westballz, and how we Falcos can use this to better our play and understanding of the matchup.

Westballz loses his first stock via some reckless recovery choices. Being off stage or on the ledge against a Sheik is always going to be a rough spot to be in, but there are things we can do to try and increase our chances of survival. Given Sheiks original position here Westballz could have firebird stalled once or twice, or tried an invincible ledge dash. If by stalling we can get the Sheik to move out of position a bit then that’s something we can use to recover.

No birds allowed
No birds allowed

Personally, I prefer the air
Personally, I prefer the air
 Sheik is pretty great at controlling spaces  above her. Her back-air hits surprisingly high, her forward-air can clip through lower platforms and even her neutral-air is sort of high. Fighting Sheik could be compared to playing against a Marth in that perhaps it’s wiser to be beneath them. After all, Sheik’s available hitboxes beneath her are quite poor, her down-air certainly doesn’t threaten us given our up-tilt and back-air. It’s the grounded Sheiks that are scary, the airborne ones… not so much.
The more I play, watch and write about Falco the more I appreciate simply spacing back-airs. With Sheik on the ledge we can short-hop just out of forward-air range and as soon as she shows her face quickly hit her with Falco’s swift metallic leg.

All I do is bair bair bair no matter what~
All I do is bair bair bair no matter what~

Don't go over there!
Don’t go over there!
 Westballz chooses to do a side-B here that costs him his final stock. Again, being between Sheik and the ledge is very dangerous. She has all the tools she needs to kill a Falco from here, if the player is good enough you will die pretty much every time. Whilst Westballz could have perhaps survived by mixing up his recoveries slightly differently, the biggest thing to take from this is to just avoid the situation entirely. We may not always be able to prevent it but we can choose not to go there by choice.
Here is a great example of it being safe to chase a Sheik in the air. Westballz lands a triple up-air one after another whilst the Sheik doesn’t really have answers for it. She could throw out a down-air but it’s slow and easy to react to, and her other aerials do nothing in this situation. Should Sheik have been at a slightly lower percentage, full-hop down-airs work fine and lead to some relatively simple tech chases.

Up, up and away
Up, up and away

The triple scoop
The triple scoop
 So Sheik’s tilts are pretty good, and with improper DI this Falco could be you. Forward-tilt can be a difficult one to handle but DruggedFox’s blog suggests that Falco can shield the tilt and then punish it with a wavedash shine. I’ve not had chance to attempt this myself but I look forward to seeing it being implemented in pro-level play. If the Sheik pressures your shield with jabs, just shield-grab!

And that’s the set, Swedish Delight upsets Westballz 2-1 with some impressive modern Sheik play. Swedish Delight played amazingly well in the neutral, spacing lots of forward-airs which hit more often than not and covering as many options as he could at all times. Westballz’ approaches were handled excellently, whilst his punishes were good he wasn’t given the chance to set them up too often. Westballz did get a few ins by slowing the game down ever so slightly and spacing back-airs wisely as well as some laser approaches. Swedish Delight seemed to be a constant threat during this set, always covering something and when in control really pushed his lead, often taking a stock from one victory in neutral.

  If you have any suggestions for next week’s game then do link me in the comment section below or on Twitter @Lexi2Pro. If you think I missed something interesting or want to call me out on something I’ve been wrong on, just get in touch!

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MATE 5

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.https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfl1/v/t1.0-9/12002915_10207644017002992_3681085598163048113_n.jpg?oh=282d468504e3e1b227831142785b06a8&oe=569A738A

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.

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Falco Fridays #4

2nd October 2015

Welcome to the fourth edition of Falco Fridays! Last week we looked at a game from Zhu and Baxon as they played for pride in an intense Falco ditto but this week we turn our gaze once more to Westballz. This week’s game comes from CEO 2015 and Westballz is against The Moon in a loser’s top 8 game, both players on the verge of being eliminated fom the tournament.

A big combo to start off the game but notice that Westballz gets all of this from a shield-drop. Marths are usually very comfortable beneath those lower platforms, free to up-tilt or up-air as they please but if we can shield-drop reliably we can strip this character strength from them and actually punish. Shield-dropping is something I intend to invest time into myself, Westballz moreso than other Falco players really showcases how powerful of a technique it can be.

Surprise shield-drop
Surprise shield-drop

Killing me softly~
Killing me softly~
 Soft back-airs make for an elegant down-air setup. From centre-stage Westballz gets this by reading The Moon’s roll and chasing him with Falco’s generous full-hop. Marth’s weight makes him a great target for this but if we’re savvy enough with our percentages then the whole cast can be victim to back-air into down-air.
Back-air into back-air is fine too. I love this against Marth because it’s easy to get, after the first back-air has landed the Marth has very poor aerial options, all of them leaving him feeling vulnerable. Falco’s jumps are high and swift which makes this extremely hard to react to. We can implement this into other matchups as well, Peach having similar struggles against it and versus heavier opponents the second back-air is often a read against their use of double-jump.

Do people still say 'sex-kick'?
Do people still say ‘sex-kick’?

"Just roll so I can kill you"
“Just roll so I can kill you”
 Everybody knows Yoshi’s is great for Marth but why do so many Falco’s like it too? Because as Marth gets his easy tippers on those lower platforms, we get easy strong back-airs and even up-tilts with good spacing. As soon as The Moon hit that platform he was as good as dead, it’s effortless for a Falco in this position to punish any of Marth’s options.
Lasers lasers lasers! Here The Moon is a stock down and seems pretty intent on staying near the ledge, and as one of the most easily gimped characters in the game we should immediately be suspicious. Westballz uses the length of Dreamland to harass The Moon with lasers in order to draw him out of his comfort zone and hopefully commit to an unsafe approach.

Pew pew pew!
Pew pew pew!

BombSoldier we salute you
BombSoldier we salute you
 Final Destination, another stage favourable to both Marth and Falco. Marth of course has his chaingrab and Falco gets these long, Bombsoldier-esque pillar combos as demonstrated by Westballz here. Lots of down-airs, lots of full-hops with no pesky platforms to disrupt anything. Racking up percent with some old-school strategies Westballz finishes it with something more modern, the Mango. A fade-away down-air on The Moon’s shield baits out the shield-grab leaving him vulnerable to being blasted in the face with a forward-smash.
Laser-resets are even more satisfying to land than jab-resets, the punishes you can get from either of them are so exciting. The Moon doesn’t tech here and he ends up paying for it, and look at his percentage: he’s at 99%! A jab reset from the rest of the cast wouldn’t have been viable but Falco’s lasers are delicate enough to wake Marth up slowly, just in time to be forward-smashed.

Wakey wakey
Wakey wakey

A 3-2 victory for our Falco playing Westballz this week, progressing forwards through CEO 2015’s loser bracket. I found the neutral game from both of these players to be mesmerizing, when Westballz had control he didn’t let go or give The Moon room to breathe and similarly when The Moon had control he really did have it. With two strong neutral games the result was all about who got the biggest punishes and quickest kills and there’s no shame in losing to Westballz on that front. The final score of 3-2 really reflects how both players performed during this set, at points The Moon looked stronger and at other points Westballz seemed more dominant. A close set and a fun one to watch!

 If you have any suggestions for next week’s game then do link me in the comment section below! You can also follow me on Twitter @Lexi2Pro

Frame-perfect handshake into hug
Frame-perfect handshake into hug

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