SXC2k15 Interviews with top 3 Melee
Maribro: Okay first of all, big congratulations on winning a major Melee tournament! How did it feel?
SA Nick: Honestly it was just a huge relief to play well by my own standards. I'd been practicing pretty hard after hearing murmurs of a Genesis flight, and even though it didn't eventuate I'm happy the practice was worthwhile although to be honest I had a pretty fortuitous bracket, as my main practice partner Blackshadow was disqualified, and Billy (Splice) and Redact, while being amazing players in their own rights, definitely lack some experience in the Marth matchup
M: Well great work on practicing so hard and it all paying off! I was chatting to Kaiza before the event and he told me you'd had a big rise to success over the course of the year. Can you tell me a little about that?
SN: I think that new players in Australia are pretty well poised to catch up to the current top players because of the wealth of information available to us from the more developed American metagame. Obviously it does take a lot of dedication but I think the most important factor in my own success was just a stubborn belief that I would inevitably succeed, and a good understanding of the standard of melee that was possible having watched players like Mango and M2K for years. Funnily enough I entered my first interstate tournament, Shadowloo Showdown 5, with the tag "the meteoric rise" and Splice humiliated me pretty much only using Falco's forward tilt, so it was good to beat Splice at SXC finally and exorcise some demons
M: So would you say there's a small rivalry between you two?
SN: Splice is a pretty good friend of mine and I housed him for this tournament, and if you watch our set there's a lot of smiling, laughter and mutual respect. Having said that, I was pretty tired of Splice having the bragging rights for the last few sets, so I was definitely motivated to beat him
M: Obviously not all rivalries are hateful but it's good to see a lot of mateship in the Australian scene. Is there any player that you try and model yourself on and if so, why that player?
SN: I try to take a lot of my own ideas about the neutral game into melee, but the one player that really made me look at the game differently was PPMD, both through his play and also through his forum posts. I love PPMD's style of threatening predominantly through movement, and I feel that at its core movement is what makes melee great. M2K's Marth has also been a huge influence, and I learn new things every time I see him play. PPMD's movement heavy style is almost the polar opposite of M2K's tendency to run forwards and dash attack/fsmash/grab but somehow Melee manages to accommodate both.
M: It's amazing how there's two vastly different ways to approach the same character but it all works. You said you did a lot of practice for the event, can you tell me a little about what kind of practice you did?
SN: I spent a lot of time just perfecting the basics, doing frame perfect wavedashes, dash dancing across the stage, and generally trying to cut down on wasted frames in all of my movement options. I also spent some time practicing my punish game against Falco in particular since I knew the competition would primarily come from that character, and since I was unfortunately unable to practice against any Falco’s in the lead up to the tournament. Apart from that I just tried to organise friendlies with the better players in SA and really focus on playing a concise neutral game
M: What do you think of the overall strength of the Australian players?
SN: We're improving for sure, although we still have a long way to go to catch up to America/Europe. Tournaments like BAM7 with internationals go a long way towards closing the gap.
M: Of course which is why I'm sure a lot of us are extremely excited for BAM 8. Looking ahead, any goals for the coming year?
SN: I'm looking forward to winning some nationals with a more comprehensive selection of interstaters and really establishing myself as a top Australian player. I'm also strongly considering travelling overseas next year, potentially for Evo if Melee makes the cut again.
M: Sounds like you have some really clear goals set in mind! Any last words for anyone as the winner of SXC2k15 in melee?
SN: uhhh shoutouts to Kai for all his work in SA, I know SXC didn't run quite as smoothly as he'd have liked but it was still a super fun event and we all appreciate the work he's put in to streaming and Toing. And also a big congratulations to Ghost, it was a lot of fun watching him win Smash 4. Keep on rocking in the free world etc. etc.
M: Well I think we shall wrap things up there, thanks for your time!
SN: no worries, have a good night.
Maribro: Well first of all congratulations on 2nd place in Melee! Great placing, were you surprised at all with your showing?
Redact: Kinda yes and kinda no. I deliberately didn't practice in order to help my performance; I wasn't sure if it would work in any way. As soon as I worked off the tech rust on the Friday and Saturday, I was playing as well as I hoped I would. So it was a bit surprising in the way that no practice allowed me to beat people I lost too recently, but it was what I hoped for.
M: Great to hear you achieved your goal and your preparation worked out alright. What gave you the idea to not practice to win?
R: When I want to learn new tech, I practice alone a lot, which makes my neutral suffer. Once I’ve learnt new tech, the best way for me to fix my neutral is to stop playing and just watch instead. It makes me drop all bad habits and the muscle memory for the tech comes back after just one session from a long break.
M: That's a really interesting idea and one I haven't thought of before; I might have to steal that! Obviously Australia has a really competitive Melee scene at the moment. Could you tell me a little bit about that in terms of players?
R: Well there’s two sorts of players right now, ones who try heaps and go hard, and ones who want to do so but don't for one reason or another. You got guys like me, s.d, atticus etc who have been around for longer but we practice less and then guys like nick, splice, miles who play lots and put the time in. And of course all the newer ones are the ones who practice so they're catching up/taking over real fast. Players like them are keeping things rolling because before they came around, most events had the same top 3-4 players for a while. I think most of them deserve to win since they put the time in; they just need to keep going.
M: It must be a really exciting time to be a member of the Australian melee scene then!
R: It's pretty good; especially since Dreadtech runs things in Vic well enough I'm able to get away with just being a player at events nowadays lol.
M: It's obviously coming to the end of the year now, how would you rate your year of smash?
R: Good and bad haha, I've done pretty well in terms of most events I've been in. Had some pretty lol losses but I'm pretty sure I've taken sets off of like everyone at this stage in Vic as well as lots of Out of State people. Managed to place well at bam despite it being super hard TOing at the same time.
M: Yeah TOing and playing can be really tiring. I find it hard sometimes doing it in locals let alone the biggest international major to ever be held in Australia. Looking ahead to 2016, any goals or aspirations?
R: Beat more people, forever second, maybe win for once, I dunno hey. I don't plan my own play or have aspirations that far ahead in terms of my results, more to just about growing the scene and the community.
M: Could you tell me a little bit more about any goals for growing the scene? I'm sure a lot of people would like to hear about growing the Aussie scene.
R: Well I just try to shove smash in every doorway possible when it comes to eSports. Next year when ACL rolls around again I plan to try get smash in there, it any other international events come up I'll try to stick Aus events in there, other events too like making sure smash has presence at all and every convention. Just really just put it out there whenever possible to grow it as much as I can.
M: Alright well that should be everything. Thanks for your time man and once again congrats on the placing!
Maribro: Okay well first of all congratulations on your top 3 placing at SXC! How'd it feel to place so highly at a major?
Splice: It was pretty enjoyable. I've placed well at majors before, and beaten the people I lost to in previous tournaments. So I take more satisfaction in whether my game-play has developed, which it has, despite the losses.
M: So you said your gameplay has developed, was there something in particular that clicked for you during the tournament that hadn't before?
S: It was not so much that I had an epiphany, as it was that I got some closure on my thought process. I realized a few things to work on, and my consistency in some techniques improved. With Melee, and any difficult and diverse game, there's always a lot of stuff to work on so it isn't hard to find at least something you could improve on. But it's good when you get closure on seeing things work in practice, especially when they are your own ideas. I am confident now that it would be worthwhile to hit the lab hard to grind some of these things now, like adding a lot more shield pressure timing mix-ups to my game and working on particular fresh edge-cancel setups for Falco. Working on these things in tournament can see results suffer, but I think it's a good mentality to, generally, prioritize improvement.
M: You said something about "your own ideas" what kind of things did you come up with for your Falco?
S: I'm sure this isn't the first time these ideas have existed in the world, but some of them are tailored towards my common opponents - such as Nick, the winner of the SXC Melee event - and dealing with their neutral game preferences. I feel that my decisions of when to go in against Marth have really improved, and that I was let down by some poor laser spacing and flubbing some tech regarding shield pressure, and these things are really easy to fix moving forwards, since I'm confident that my actual decision making is in a good place. The other thing I like to get creative with is edge cancels. I think everyone knows I like edge cancels, which is a technique that allows you to cancel all the endlag of a move that is started in the air by sliding off the edge of a platform as you land. From friendlies and tournament, I realized many opportunities to use particular edge cancels, which would actually be practical towards enhancing my combo game.
M: Edge cancels are really fun to watch in my opinion; is there any top player that uses them that you modelled this play off of or is this just your trademark style?
S: I started to use edge cancels more when I dabbled with low tiers at the start of the year because the low tier characters have a lot of moves with high endlag, so edge cancelling can actually make their moves decent for spacing safely sometimes. When going back to playing Falco and trying to apply this, there were a lot of edge cancels with Falco's side-B and aerials are common knowledge so I started with those of course. As for inspiration from specific top players, I only noticed recently how often Mango uses edge cancels and how consistently they are effective. He is not predictable with them but is ready to use them pretty often, so I've been appreciating that a lot recently. My use of edge cancels is not that efficient compared to top tier American space animal players, but hopefully they'll get there. I'm just glad to use them in a way that makes my Falco pretty identifiable within Australia.
M: Pretty cool that we have someone who uses a popular character so uniquely in our scene. So low tier characters, I've heard about your Game and Watch, do you still play him and if so when would you pull him out?
S: I used to really like using Game and Watch for a few matchups, especially against Sheik since she cannot chaingrab him in PAL but you can chaingrab her. But due to a lack of practice my Game and Watch isn't that great any more. My Bowser is much better :P. As far as tournament play goes, Falco is really always the best choice for me, although I do have a pocket Jigglypuff that seems to be successful if I'm really feeling confident with the character on the day. My Jigglypuff is always in practice since I use her in doubles, so the option is always there.
M: How do you think your year has been in terms of smash? Any highlights?
S: Since I started playing Jigglypuff with Atticus in doubles, we haven't lost a set, so that's a highlight. We won doubles at SXC, and Atticus' attendance is a large reason that I wanted to actually go to SXC. It was a little unfortunate that the doubles event was quite small and underwhelming but hey we still won I guess. The real highlight of this year though is how many up-and-comers have blossomed into fierce competitors in Melee this year. That's how our scene can really begin to improve in skill level; a stagnant pool of players is not ideal. Players like Nick and DonB are a couple among many who have stepped it up this year, Spud's arrival on the Australian scene was also really good. I want everyone to improve and someday be relevant compared to America, and these guys have all been a part of everyone's improvement, not just their own. The best individual moment for myself though would be Mojo Monkeys attendance of a Victorian monthly not too long ago. The opportunity to vs. a Jigglypuff player who actually has a really good Jigglypuff doesn't seem to exist in Australia. In fact many of our top players don't seem to have ever taken time to learn the matchup, which is a shame. Being able to play friendlies and tournament sets with Mojo Monkey was the most fun I had this year and also made me a lot better at the game. Also the Donkey Kong challenge (3v1 on FoD) that I was a part of with him was one of the greatest nights.
M: And finally any goals, aspirations or anything In particular you're looking forward to next year?
S: I hope to have more opportunities to play top interstate Australian players, and to continue steady and healthy improvement. I doubt that I'll be travelling to America next year, but I plan to make a splash overseas once I feel wholesomely competent at Melee. I also want to produce some Melee content, whether it be streaming friendlies, combo videos or educational videos. I was supposed to start this already but I haven't quite been ready. I also want to give Jeremy Jervis a big hug in 2016.
M: Sounds like some clear-cut goals you have there. Thanks for your time Splice!
S: No worries man!
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