Smash History: The most controversial decisions of RetroSSBMRank (so far)

Hey, everyone! As you might have heard already, the RetroSSBMRank articles are taking a bit of a backseat at the moment, due to the amount of time it’s taking to get head to head results for 2005 tournaments. We could just analyze placings from majors back then, but because Michael (Catastrophe) and I want to be certain of our rankings and collect more specific data, we’ve decided to put the project on a short hiatus while we work on other content.

Today, we’ll be looking at some of our most controversial decisions that we’ve made in our RetroSSBMRank lists and viewing them through a more self-critical lens – or at least trying not to be too defensive. Here’s some of the picks that we noticed gained us a fair amount of discussion and criticism.

10. Cort at No. 3 in 2008

ANOKH:

At Shine 2016, I talked to Elen (A New England TO from back then) about our 2008 rankings. He told me that he enjoyed the Smash History articles, but heavily disagreed with placing Cort at No. 3 for the year, given the fragility of the scene and how tournament results back then were not always indicative of skill. Most people back then would frequently split winnings, collude in bracket, play secondaries and generally go to tournaments just to meet up with friends from other regions.

According to him, nobody in their right mind back then would have ranked Cort so highly, as he still lost to KoreanDJ whenever they played at locals. To this day, I’m not quite sure whether Cort was actually the world’s third best player, but based on the results, it seems pretty clear that what little data we have for the year seemed to back him up as No. 3. Whether this is a good method of judging skill or not is certainly a good topic to debate and admittedly not something I’m necessarily sure about.

MICHAEL:

When people look back on Melee history, most will think of the gods, Ken, Azen, PC Chris, KoreanDJ and Chu as the perennial top players of their eras. However, we shouldn’t forget that for a short period of time, Cort broke through into that upper echelon. Many people have viewed our list and asked how Cort could ever be third in the world if they had never heard of him before, some even calling us outright wrong.

However, if you look at the results, it’s tough to argue against him. With two sets on Mew2King in Falcon dittos (A Falcon that had beaten PC Chris’ Falco on Final Destination in the past), as well as positive records on PC Chris, Azen, an in-practice Vidjogamer and more, the New England Peach showed consistency in his victories over the course of 2008. A few losses to Lambchops, DoH, Darc and KoreanDJ might hurt his overall record, but compare that to PC’s losses to Z, Darkrain and Chinesahh, or Chu’s losses to Skler, XIF and Spam.

Azen would be another good choice for No. 3 in 2008, but his severe lack of attendance allowed him to avoid potential upsets, whereas Cort attended a lot and still shined in almost every tournament.

VERDICT: It depends on your criteria.

9. Kage not in the Top 10 for 2009

ANOKH:

You’d think Kage’s place in our Top 10 would be guaranteed, given his notable presence at majors, with a successful Revival of Melee and Revival of Melee 2 (with by far the biggest upset of the year over Mango twice). These tournaments helped bring Ganondorf to the front of mid-tier debates. But contrary to popular belief by most smashers, Kage wasn’t the best player in Canada.

In fact, the country as a whole was still relatively unknown (pun fully intended) and unproven in terms of talent. Kage was clearly the shining star, with his victories over Azen, KoreanDJ and Mango, but he also still lost a good amount of locals to other names like Vwins, RaynEX and Unknown522. I thought it was more fitting to put the country as an honorable mention in our list than to only include Kage over a player like Dr. PeePee. If you value national wins a lot though, you could justifiably put him higher.

MICHAEL:

Some people might have seen it, but in case you haven’t, on my preliminary 2009 list made on GameFAQs, I had Kage at No. 9, mainly on the back of his amazing RoM performances. However, upon review of Kage’s local results, it’s a little much to give him that Top 10 privilege I once did.

In addition, Kage had multiple losses even out of region, to the likes of Ali (AKA I’ve Jihad It), Cactuar, Diakanos, and Zelgadis, alongside many other losses. All of these lows offset his amazing peaks, and it makes it difficult to argue Kage being a Top 10 player in the world, even if he had a few magical moments.

VERDICT: Depends on your criteria.

8. Hungrybox over Mew2King for 2009

ANOKH:

When Michael first told me that Hungrybox should be ranked above Mew2King in 2009, I initially rejected the idea. Not only did nobody at the time think that Hungrybox was that good, he also had a losing record (11-13) against Colbol, who barely made our honorable mentions. Of course, part of our criteria for our ranking system is whether or not it was reasonable by the end of the selected year to place a player at their spot in a power ranking.

However, if you take a look at Hungrybox’s losses at nationals, there really isn’t much to complain about. PC Chris, Chu Dat and Mango aren’t exactly bad names to lose to – and most of them came as a result of Hungrybox being comically underseeded at Revival of Melee and GENESIS: the year’s two biggest tournaments. Factor in his superior record against the rest of the top ten in comparison to Mew2King and I think Hungrybox certainly was the year’s third best player, with the main criticism of him coming from him playing “gay” and losing to Colbol.

MICHAEL:

I didn’t expect Hungrybox to be top three in the world in 2009. Many people immediately disagreed with it both before and after we published our list, such as Scar, Toph and Juggleguy. The negative response really made me re-think my conclusions.

However, upon looking back, I don’t see how anybody could NOT put Hungrybox above Mew2King for No. 3 in the world. His first half of the year was up and down, but starting with GENESIS, Hungrybox stepped it up. He outplaced Mew2King at every tourney they both attended from then on, held a positive record on him in the head to head (4-2), and even won one of the biggest majors of the year in Revival of Melee 2.

VERDICT: 100 percent justifiable.

7. Jman over Darkrain for No. 10 in 2008

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-13-00-pm

ANOKH:

Sorry, Juggleguy. I know Darkrain beat PC Chris earlier in the year and technically had been more established at this point, but Jman was far more active in the second half of the year. In addition to his activity, Jman was also the only person after Pound 3 to take a serious set off Mew2King for the rest of the year – and even more impressively as Fox!

It’s weird to understand now, given how much the meta has changed in Fox’s favor, but back in 2008, Mew2King was thought of as unbeatable if you played his Marth or Fox, particularly on Final Destination. Jman’s accomplishment in beating him in a set, along with breaking out in arguably the world’s most stacked region at the time (Tri-state), made him a force to watch heading into 2009, giving him the No. 10 spot from me.

MICHAEL:

I originally volleyed for either Vidjo or Darkrain at the No. 10 spot in 2008, but after further research, Vidjo was out of the running, placing comparatively awful for the few tourneys he entered after his fifth place at Pound 3. This left it down to Jman and Darkrain, which was actually a tough decision.

Darkrain was easily the best in the Midwest in 2008 after Pound 3, getting seventh at said tourney and living up to his hype with a third place at the biggest Midwest regional of the year, Event 52. Jman, on the other hand, had a horrendous first half of the year, traditionally losing to Eggm and Cactuar and not even making bracket at Pound 3.

However, Jman was able to drastically level up the second half of the year, to the point where he was practically a different person. Along with now beating local players he used to lose to, Jman defeated Darkrain twice at Event 52 to place second at the event, though the sets were insanely close. Add in the win over Mew2King and you could see why placing Jman as No. 10 by the end of 2008 was not too crazy.

VERDICT: It’s a tossup, but favorable to Jman.

6. Fly Amanita at No. 10 in 2010

ANOKH:

It might seem surprising that we view Fly so highly from 2010 onwards, but there’s good reason to. In addition to defeating our 2010 pick for No. 1 in the last major of the year, Fly also went back and forth with SoCal’s No. 2 at the time, Lucky, finishing with a 4-4 record. He also did extremely well against Lucien, who was at that point arguably NorCal’s best active player.

Think about whom Fly’s contemporaries were for the last spot in our Top 10. SilentSpectre, Zgetto and Wobbles were all great players at the time, but SilentSpectre, despite a win over Armada in January, also didn’t play as much in the second half of the year, while Zgetto didn’t offer us enough data. In hindsight, Wobbles was the only other person that could have been considered for the No. 10 spot, but Fly’s win over Hungrybox at Don’t Go Down There Jeff cemented his place on our list.

MICHAEL:

When both of us started this project, we thought to ourselves that we’d get a fonder appreciation for a few non-god players. For example, I expected to gain a whole new level of appreciation for Lovage, Jman and Cort. One player I was pleasantly surprised by was Fly Amanita.

Fly was a monster in SoCal, especially in 2010, touting strong results locally. While he rarely travelled in the year, top players played him at Don’t Go Down There Jeff, where Fly was able to defeat both Lucky and Hungrybox, two Top 10 level players, on his road to fifth place at his only national in the year. He would continue his success in 2011, proving it wasn’t a fluke, illustrating an amazing story that essentially added Fly to the conversation regarding the greatest ICs players of all time.

VERDICT: Hell yeah, we were right.

5. Hungrybox over Mango in 2010

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-10-14-50-pm

ANOKH:

Okay, we get it. Mango had moments like the infamous jab rest punish at Pound 4, sandbagged the whole year, still beat most people and, in the same tournament I just mentioned, won without dropping a single set. But unlike 2008, where the game was basically dead, most people began to care again about tournaments in the post-GENESIS era. Sandbagging wasn’t as good of an excuse any more for losses, though Mango’s fans certainly excused all of his losses back then.

Plus, it’s not like Mango was totally unbeatable when he played his mains. Ask Cactuar, who beat his Falco at Apex 2010 or even Hungrybox, who eliminated his Fox at Don’t Go Down There Jeff, the year’s last major. Even if you wanted to argue that Mango wasn’t trying because he didn’t play Jigglypuff, keep in mind that Mango also didn’t think Jigglypuff was that good and at that point was better with both of his spacies.

MICHAEL:

Before I go into this: yes – Mango was likely the best player in the world in terms of skill, as the infamous money matches against Hungrybox after Apex 2010 showed. If this list was based entirely on perception, Mango would more than likely be our pick for No. 1 in 2010. However, for our list, we look at the results too, and in those results, Mango did not shine.

Deciding to sandbag or get drunk at most tourneys, Mango was barely able to rack up wins after his stellar Pound 4 victory. Negative records against Mew2King, Jman and KirbyKaze, even with secondaries, do not help his case. The fact that he sandbagged at several of the biggest tourneys of the year should be a detriment to his ranking, not an excuse. I could ignore this if he only did it at locals, or even just one major, but consistently going Mario, Marth, Link or Falcon at tourneys such as APEX 2010, Don’t Go Down There Jeff and Revival of Melee 3 is just impossible to ignore for a rankings list.

VERDICT: Mostly defensible, a little room for argument.

4. Lovage at No. 6 for 2011

ANOKH:

Lovage isn’t just a name for combo videos and flashy tech skill – he was an incredible player that had wins over two gods in 2011. Even if you wanted to discredit his win over Mango (who played a secondary), no one else in his region was able to beat him. The general consensus back then was that Lovage had godlike potential. He was also one of Smashboard’s most active posters on the Fox forums. Well, either him or his contemporary DruggedFox, whom he frequently argued with online.

He wasn’t perfect and still struggled against players like Shroomed (0-3) on the year, along with having several other local losses. But his wins over two top five players were enough to place him highly on our list, as no other non-god did that for the year except for Fly Amanita, who Lovage held a 4-2 record against.

MICHAEL:

The entire 6-8 spots (and 6-12) were extremely close and any one of them could’ve been this high with the right argument; so instead of trying to defend this choice as the “right” choice, I’d much rather explain how we came to this conclusion.

“Peak Lovage” was a mythical force during the time of 2011. The only other players to peak at multiple god wins were Zhu (Mew2King twice) and Fly Amanita (Mew2King and Dr. PeePee), the No. 7 and No. 8 players on our list – and all three still occasionally suffered an upset, with Fly having a winless record against MacD and additional losses to Hax, SFAT and Silent Wolf. Zhu was the closest to beating out Lovage, but in the end we couldn’t give it to him due to his losses to Eggm, Sherigami and a 2-3 record against Jman, as well as his relatively low activity.

VERDICT: Defensible, but can be easily argued.

3. Hax not in the Top 10 from 2009-2012

ANOKH:

Even though Hax’s national placings were extremely consistent and usually in the top eight, you still have to look at who he actually beat in this those tournaments. Other than one set over an extremely depressed Mew2King at SNES, Hax never beat a “god” in tournament. His best wins of each year were Kage at Revival of Melee 2, Amsah at Pound 4, Fly Amanita at Genesis 2, Shroomed at FC Legacy. If you wanted to boost his legacy further, you could tout his various local wins over Jman over the course of the four years (though he still ended with a losing record in the head to head).

At the same time though, Hax still lost to people worse than him and wasn’t as dominant as his reputation. During the first half of this four year period, he still lost to Eggm, Tope, Vwins and Cactuar at regional tournaments, while also dropping sets to Phil, GERM and Taj’s Mewtwo out of region. These aren’t terrible losses – and upsets are hardly exclusive to him, but they have to be considered when viewing his history.

MICHAEL:

I will be entirely honest, I think Hax’s legacy is extremely overrated. I’ve heard so many people say Hax was a definite No. 6 in the world for years as if it was fact, when in reality, it doesn’t look like he was even Top 10 for a majority of those years, let alone No. 6.

This is not to say Hax was a bad player, as seen by his placings and victories above, but they’re also clouded by losses to Eggm, Cactuar and Jman, in addition to even lower level players like HBK or TecZero. Hax actually has a multitude of other losses, but it would be redundant to list them as you probably get the point by now. In conclusion, even if he was a Top 15 player, I think we can safely say the Fox switch was the right choice.

VERDICT: Close, but no cigar.

2. HugS not in the Top 10 for 2006

ANOKH:

HugS and I have discussed this ranking, as he poked fun at our series on Twitter, causing a brief exchange of humorous messages between us, as well as a hilarious stream where he criticized our “snub” of him and called our list wack. Most of his arguments were centered around how he finished in the top ten for MLG points at the time, showing that he had the necessary tournament attendance and strong placings, with wins over guys like PC Chris, Dope and Chillin – the latter two that we ranked over him.

Despite having to resist the defensive urge to call HugS triggered, an old man, etc, I have to admit that he brought up really good points. By placing Vidjo, Dope and Chillin above him we were unfairly giving them the benefit of the doubt for their shorter sample sizes, since they had less opportunities to be upset at nationals and at locals. His advantage in the head to head over them, along with his consistent showing at nationals certainly convinced me of at least putting him over Chillin.

MICHAEL:

Perception and hindsight might tell us that HugS was unquestionably top ten, but if you look at his wins and losses in comparison to Chillin or Dope, it’s really hard to justify putting him over those two. HugS attended far more events than those two, which aided him in his acceptance to MLG Vegas, but if you look at his actual resume, it’s equal to, if not below those of his contemporaries.

Hugo’s record against the Top 5 was 1-8, the exact same record as Chillin, while his record against the Top 10 was 4-16. This can be seen as slightly better than Chillin’s 2-12 and worse than Dope’s 4-6. Looks good enough right now, but then look HugS’ losses outside of the Top 10 of the year. He was 0-4 with DieSuperFly locally, in addition to losing against Forward, Bob$, Rob$, Vidjo, Caveman and Trevyn. That’s not even going into his loss against JBlaze: a Roy player. For comparison, Chillin’s worst losses were to guys like NEO, FASTLIKETREE and KM, while Dope’s were to KishPrime, Jiano and Trail. Personally, I don’t buy HugS for Top 10, though I’d probably rank him at No. 11 in 2006 and maybe switch Dope and Chillin instead.

VERDICT: Mixed feelings, debatable.

1. Mew2King over Mango for 2008

ANOKH:

Out of all our decisions, I still think this one is probably the most interesting debate: both for the time and in retrospect. Who was better by the end of 2008, Mango or Mew2King?

When tafokints and the Crimson Blur discussed this during Commentator’s Curse, they mentioned that Pound 3 solidified Mango’s superiority, adding that in an era where most people didn’t take tournament seriously (as talked about above with Cort), Pound 3 had extra importance to it. By their standards, Mango losing in locals while playing secondaries or even dropping sets in pools didn’t really matter – he basically won the only tournament that mattered on the year.

MICHAEL:

That’s a lot of crap.

ANOKH:

Well, hold on for a moment. I agree that people didn’t take tournaments seriously back then, but you also have to consider that this would mean placing the majority of your stock in one tournament that happened in the year’s second month. The circumstances behind his win are also comical, with several 2-1 victories in bracket, including a Green Greens Fox ditto between him and Azen, where bomb block shenanigans killed Azen ridiculously early in the set.

The losses to Vist, Plank and Sensei, as Puff too, also don’t just magically disappear in a database – you still have to take them into consideration if you’re going to tout Mango’s victories, as well as Mew2King’s longer standing as a veteran player at the time. It’s hard to say though, given what we know now about their legacies, as well as their futures.

MICHAEL:

In addition to all of what you said, Mango also lost to DEHF at a local in January as Falco and to DEHF and HugS as Falcon at UCLA V, one of the biggest West Coast tourneys of the year. Mew2King on the other hand only lost a set to Azen, two sets to Cort as Falcon, a set to Jman and two sets to Mango for the whole year.

By the end of the year, Mew2King had won nine tournaments in a row, had lost only three sets since Pound 3 (with only one serious set), with well over 30 victories in tournament. If we include the whole year, Mew2King’s overall record stood with only six set losses and over 50 victories, with only Pound 3 as the tournament he lost all year.

It’s extremely close, but given these factors, it was more than believable at the time to have Mew2King as the better player by the end of the year, though Mango clearly took the throne at Revival of Melee. Don’t believe us? Here’s what Mango had to say himself.

screen-shot-2016-09-29-at-9-46-21-pm

VERDICT: Mixed feelings.

Anything more you think we missed or should discuss more? Ideas for future articles? Follow us on Twitter, our tags being @ssbmjecht and @GCH_Catastrophe.

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