The Four Horsemen of 20IceIce

We haven’t quite reached a wobbling apocalypse, but it’s becoming tougher to deny that the Ice Climbers are a force to reckon with. In 2016, their mains as a whole have enjoyed an unprecedented level of success.

The character’s rise hasn’t been limited to one player either – Wobbles, Nintendude, Chu Dat and even dizzkidboogie have have some of their best tournament runs in 2016. That’s not even counting a possible return for Fly Amanita, a top-eight finish at EGLX by Fork or Infinite Numbers’ ninth-place surprise at Pound 2016.

While the ICs still haven’t won a large-scale national tournament since Chu Dat won Pound 2, there still remains a question about the state of the meta: who is the best ICs main? Let’s start off with a comparison of how each player has done at nationals.

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Here’s what we’ve learned so far through the first half of the year.

4. Chu Dat

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The Case For Chu Dat:

If anyone told you heading into last year’s EVO that Chu Dat was going to not only finish 7th, but also beat a litany of Top 20-level players to get there, you would have had every right to tell them how crazy they are. Even after his EVO, it seemed unlikely that he could repeat such a run. A year later, Chu Dat has had only a couple of nationals to analyze from, but his years of experience definitely show on the big stage.

At this year’s Pound, Chu breezed through his first wave of pools before beating New England’s current No. 1 Slox and losing a close 2-1 set to Hax$. Not finished yet, Chu eked out a 2-1 victory over Kira and upset Axe 2-1 before losing 2-0 to Wizzrobe for a 17th-place finish. It’s not even like Chu only has success at nationals either: he’s defended Xanadu, MD/VA’s premier weekly series, by beating the likes of Westballz and HugS in bracket.

Meanwhile, at CEO 2016, Chu lost to Mew2King for his first round in Top 64, but went on a crazy loser’s bracket run. This involved beating Gahtzu and DruggedFox in losers, right after seven-stocking Alex19. Shroomed ended up eliminating Chu, albeit in a last stock tossup for seventh. It’d be silly to ignore that CEO is a huge part of why Melee It On Me’s Glicko Stats currently grade Chu as the best ICs player in the world.

The Case Against Chu Dat:

It sounds simple, but Chu Dat’s lack of appearances really hurt his ability to be considered best ICs in the world. He might not even be the best player in his own region. Redd, Llod, Milkman (who has beaten Chu twice) and Chillin are currently ranked higher on the MD/VA power rankings.You could argue that Chu’s relatively low rank isn’t indicative of his skill level and is moreso because he rarely shows up at Xanadu. But you’d also be giving Chu a ridiculously lopsided advantage against his peers.

Moreover, other than Mew2King, Chu hasn’t run into a Peach or vaunted ICs-killer at either his two attended nationals. It’s hard to imagine him still finishing Top 32 at another national if he runs into a player like Mafia, let alone Armada in winners’ bracket.

3. dizzkidboogie

The Case For dizzkidboogie: 

As seen from above, the dude wobbles better than anyone in the world and abuses a broken mechanic. Case closed.

Seriously though – it’s time fans stop dismissing dizz as a one-trick pony. In terms of results, he’s as good as anyone, partially due to how much better his solo climber play has been since his 33rd place at Genesis 3. In fact, if we’re taking recency into account, dizzkidboogie might have the most impressive CEO out of all the four ICs mains on this list. Although he finished only as the second-highest placer out of ICs that tournament, dizz arguably had the best victories, defeating both Lucky and S2J in a combined 5-0.

Dizz also gave me a list of his head to head records against other MIOM-ranked players.

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The Case Against dizzkidboogie: 

Despite dizz’s improvement in non-wobbling aspects of his game, he’s still self-admittedly a very wobbling-centric player. When this game plan doesn’t work out for dizz, he can suffer ugly losses, as he does here against Crush, getting eight-stocked in the first two games in under four minutes. Dizz also has a 2-0 loss  against Connecticut Falco and New England Twitch chat meme Lint.

Part of this comes from how dizz simply doesn’t have the same amount of experience as some of his fellow ICs players, having just started seriously competing in mid-late 2013, as well as his frequent traveling opening him up for more opportunities to lose. For example, at Pound 2016, dizz’s 65th-place came from his losses to MattDotZeb and Drephen – two solid players just outside MIOM’s Top 100 last year. These aren’t necessarily bad losses, but they’re relatively disappointing given the impressive nature for some of dizz’s victories.

2. Wobbles

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The Case For Wobbles:

Let’s start with the qualitative answer: Wobbles is by far the most beloved and looked-up to guru for wannabe ICs players. He has practically unmatched creativity when it comes to the character and has the most developed fundamentals due to his belief of wobbling as a crutch to avoid relying on.

Quantitatively, Wobbles also has the highest highs. In addition to triple three-stocking Mew2King at Battle of the Five Gods, Wobbles also beat Shroomed (after beating him at PAX Arena), Lucky, Silent Wolf and Plup, while thoroughly dismantling PPMD (albeit not at 100 percent due to health reasons) en route to a fourth-place finish. When it comes to beating the best, history also clearly shows that Wobbles has the highest ceiling. He is also is by far the best within his region (Texas): something none of his ICs contemporaries can brag about.

The Case Against Wobbles:.

If his most fervent fanboys point to Battle of the Five Gods as proof of Wobbles’ easily provable dominance, Wobbles’ biggest critics can mention Genesis 3. Although losing to Milkman and DJ Nintendo isn’t totally unexpected for ICs players, the tournament marks the lowest placing a MIOM-ranked ICs player has had this year at a national. Like with any other player, you have to acknowledge the highs with the lows.

Per tafokints’ online database, Wobbles is actually 1-6 against last year’s top 30 players in the second quarter of 2016. This might be partially due to bad bracket luck, with Mew2King, S2J, Mango, SFAT, Westballz and MacD being excusable losses. But that doesn’t explain losing to the likes of ESAM and A Rookie, who while excellent players in their own right, were relatively big underdogs facing off against Wobbles.

Along with dealing with his own internal demons, some of Wobbles’ relative struggles might come from his emphasis on non-wobbling aspects of his character. For example, in a set against Axe at DreamHack Austin, Wobbles refused to wobble, even down 2-1 in a set determining who would make top-eight. Is it fair to other ICs players that they get held to the same standard of intentionally crippling their own punish game in tournament?

1. Nintendude

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The Case For Nintendude:

At Genesis 3, Nintendude defeated Shroomed, Westballz and Mew2King en route to seventh-place. He’s also taken sets off other high-ranked players like Zhu, Plup, S2J, Duck and noted ICs-slayer Kage the Warrior. He had the best start to 2016 out of all ICs players and could have a great summer to start off the year’s second half.

In terms of regional performances, Nintendude is also currently the No. 2 in Northern California ahead of PewPewU, Shroomed and Laudandus. It’s the first time anyone outside of SFAT/Shroomed/PewPewU has taken a top three spot in NorCal since June 2013, when Zhu was ranked third, ahead of SFAT.

Take a look at Nintendude’s losses as well. Outside of losses to the top six players of Melee, Nintendude’s only lost to Hax, Laudandus, Wizzrobe, S2J, Swedish Delight and MikeHaze at national tournaments in 2016. A combined four of his bracket losses have been to Hungrybox and Mew2King, illustrating that Nintendude has actually played through tough brackets. In 2016, Nintendude’s biggest upset loss at a national is probably Laudandus – which could prove both the “up-and-comer” meme and highlight Nintendude’s consistency.

The Case Against Nintendude:

Since Genesis 3, Nintendude hasn’t really had a stretch of great victories at national tournaments. In fact, his last big upset was against Plup at Pound 2016.

It’s unfair to hold this as something against Nintendude, but it also goes to show that he may not be the clear-cut best ICs player in the world. Particularly in comparison to Wobbles’ stellar showing at Battle of the Five Gods, Nintendude’s failure to take a set stands out as a sour note, though Nintendude didn’t wobble against S2J and reportedly was feeling unwell.

Before moving to NorCal, you could also argue Nintendude wasn’t untouchable in his own region (MD/VA). In addition to losses to Milkman, he also lost to traveling players at Xanadus, like n0ne and HugS (EDIT: A previous edition of the article accidentally grouped in HugS with the above and categorized Milkman as out-of region). He’s also lost to MacD, though the inherent imbalance of Peach-ICs and disparity in character experience between Nintendude and MacD is certainly understandable.

Conclusion

1. Milkman is pretty damn good against ICs (and that Sharkz taking a set from him is low-key one of the biggest upsets of 2016).
2. Beating Mew2King is practically a rite of passage for top ICs players.
3. Nintendude is probably a good pick for best ICs, but Wobbles has the best peak play, dizzkidboogie has the most high variance results and Chu Dat is an enigma.

Let’s see where the summer takes us. Tweet who you think is the best ICs player to @ssbmjecht!

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