Monday Morning Marth: 4/23

This series is a tribute to standard “Monday Morning Quarterback” columns in traditional sports. In it, I discuss my quick takeaways from the last week of the smash community. Consider this a mix of news and mild takes. Featured image from Vish’s Twitter – will take down, if requested.

Last weekend marked another chapter for Melee’s slow, but steady spring season. Leffen won Flatiron 3, but not without being taken to the brink by Axe, who took a set off the current world No. 3 in grand finals and nearly stole the tournament. Simultaneously, Plup traveled to Ohio and easily dispatched of the Midwest-heavy crowd, losing only a game in grand finals to Ryan Ford. Japanese Fox Sanne won Amaterasu in Japan, which you can learn more about in KayB’s recap, here.

Here are my personal takeaways.

1. PewPewU Makes A Splash

The longtime NorCal Marth legend has stayed a nationally relevant player since breaking into the spotlight, but it’s been relatively tough times for him in singles, with relatively ho-hum or worse showings at his last two majors attended. Yet at Flatiron 3, PewPewU looked excellent, playing far cleaner, with improved edgeguards and a renewed focus. It led to him finishing third, boasting wins over Zain, Captain Smuckers, Swedish Delight and Crush.

Moving forward, it’s hard to say what this means for PewPewU. He certainly looked a lot better against Fox, a matchup he said he had been working on, given his track record of losing to SFAT, previous losses to Crush, and a dropped set to KJH earlier in the year. Moreover, his victory against Swedish marked a second consecutive victory against him. This is notable because Swedish had beaten him three times in 2017 and 2016. Time will tell if PewPewU’s improved Fox can also help him reverse another historical trend of him losing to Shroomed.

PewPewU will also need to find an answer for mid-tier matchups, which goes beyond Axe being his personal kryptonite. For reference, he’s lost his last four sets against Duck, last two against HugS and was swept by aMSa at FB4. It wouldn’t be too surprising to see PewPewU try characters outside of his Marth and Fox against these players, but you could also argue that simply refining either of those two could be enough.

Either way, his Flatiron 3 performance was one of the biggest storylines of the weekend. If it’s indicative of anything, it’s a testament to PewPewU’s staying power and ability to remain strong in the current metagame.

2. Melee’s Most Underrated Rivalry

The title of this segment might be slight hyperbole, but I’d like to credit fellow Melee Stats member Brendan “Wheat” Malone for pointing this out to me: over 2018, Bananas and Mojo have shared one of the best regional rivalries in modern Melee. You can watch this every Monday night, but nearly no one outside of Texas talks about it.

Per the tafostats database maintained by tafokints, Wheat and Ovenn, Bananas is up 20-18 for 2018 sets. Fascinatingly enough, many of their sets are brutal sweeps in either players direction, with many of their games being just as lopsided, at least from a quick glance. If you’re ever bored on a Monday night, I suggest checking out Monday Night Melee, where you can watch them on a frequent basis.

3. Melee’s Most Underrated Rivalry Pt. 2

Surprise – there’s another underrated head-to-head I wanted to mention! Though they haven’t played nearly as many times as Mojo and Bananas, HugS and Ka-Master have had a few quietly impressive, but still noteworthy sets in their own history together. Here’s a quick recap, though I’m still uncertain on what sets are missing.

1. Ka defeats HugS at UCLA Monthly 5 in 2008, 2-1, making it to winners finals. This was part of Ka’s run to grand finals, in which he also beat Lucky and Zhu. 1-0, Ka.
2. Due to different rules surrounding grand finals sets back then, HugS played this as a continuation of the first set, starting off down 2-1. Eventually going down 4-2 in the set, HugS won three games in a row to carry SoCal on his back and defeat Ka at what was planned to be the West Coast’s final major before everyone would transition to Brawl. 1-1.
3. NINE YEARS LATER, Ka and HugS face off again at Bridgetown Blitz in losers semis. Ka defeats him 3-1. 2-1, Ka.
4. At The Big House 7, HugS sweeps Ka in a solid 2-0. 2-2.
5. HugS wins 2-1 at Poi Poundaz. 3-2, HugS.
6. HugS wins 2-1 at Flatiron 3. 4-2, HugS.

It’s not exactly Melee’s most consistent rivalry, with a large gap from 2008 to 2017, but it’s definitely one to watch in the future – or at least appreciate from afar as you pick something else to do for 15-20 minutes.

4. A Quick Recap of Patchless

When Crush, Slox and ZoSo went to compete at Flatiron 3 last weekend, New England hosted Patchless, a tournament that essentially served as an open invitation to battle for determining the region’s next best player, though it didn’t feature lint, Swiftbass or many others from Connecticut. Nonetheless, there were several noteworthy results in the Massachusetts and New Hampshire-dominated field.

New Hampshire No. 1 Kalvar won the event from losers, after being sent there early by Bank, a Massachusetts Marth player, in pools. In his losers run, Kalvar defeated a slew of opponents, including Mr. Lemon, Top Player Yasu, Project, Ses, th0rn, BigFoig and dudutsai. He went 20-2 in games leading to grand finals and then won 3-2, 3-0.

Finishing second under Kalvar was dudutsai, who had one of the most strangely clutch runs I can remember in New England regional history. In Top 24, dudutsai won winners quarters, semifinals and finals all in game five sets. Had he won the first set of grand finals, it would have been a fourth straight 3-2 victory.

What I Like:

What I Don’t Like:

  • Tournament organizer, EGTV COO and friend Calvin getting ruthlessly downvoted and flamed on Reddit for being honest.
  • A lack of a clear solution surrounding player bans, how to enforce them and what constitutes a ban.
  • No news on the Switch! Seriously, Nintendo – we need something to distract us before Smash Summit.

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