If you want to know how I first got started into SSBM competitively leading up to the presentt you can read all about it under the spoiler tag. If you want to read about what I did to win the tournament you can simply skip right down to it.
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My friend Chris aka Zork aka professor protoss introduced me to Super Smash Bros Melee back when we were in high school before I was even any good at Brood War. I didn't have the game so I can only play at his house. I main marth because I look up the tier list for easiest character to play and saw Marth and Shiek at the top. I refused to main a girl character so I pick Marth. Marth is also good in a sense that it also counter my friend's character luigi. All I did the whole time when I played him in those days is to sit in the shield and then grab him. It was good enough for me to go 50:50 against my friend. I didn't pay attention much to the competitive scene all I knew was that Ken and Isai was good.
Around 2013 me and my friends helped start up a local scene for melee. Brood War was dead and so I needed a new game to play semi-competitively. Our scene had weekly money tournaments where up to 60 people would enter. I still don't own the game but I still go to these things when I can because I like any type of competition. Though my technical ability was definitely below-average I usually manage to find a way to finish at least in the top 8 for most of the tournaments, If I get hot or if i'm playing well then I can place in the top 3, but usually I place just outside the money,
When our scene was at its peak it was pretty good. We had Darrell in town for a while for his work. The man was probably the best Samus player in the world and he's a pretty cool dude. We had Bardol who infamously beat Mango in a set and took sets off players such as cactuar, westballz, etc. We also have Sheridan visiting us from time to time among other notable players. Our major big money tournaments had players such as sfat, shroomed, soft, mattdotzap attending. btw shoutout to the tournament organizers for the time, jesse, cat, alan, edwin all volunteered to run these tournaments just for the love of the game.
Our top players who live around our area was/is probably brandon and truedong. A fox and falco main. They regularly attend tournaments outside our area and they perform relatively well considering who they have to play against. Other good players we have are conair, ODS$20, Carsosa, the D.
Our local scene started dying around 2015-6 when great players stopped attending our tournament for whatever reasons. Not to mention we lost our main venue so we can't even host tournament there anymore The few people who shows up get raped by brandon and/or truedong. Then they both decided to stop showing up because there is no competition for them. So now nobody shows up to anything aside for the same 5 people. The scene is officially dead
Me still being a competitive person,I need to satisfy my competitive drive after retiring from starcraft. I tried LoL and CSGO but I couldn't get into it because 5v5 with random people is frustrating and I can't shoot my stupid teammates. Though LoL is a good game to train your patience. Regardless, I need a 1v1 skill-based game to grind like broodwar. So I started playing online melee on PC via smashladder just for the hell out it. It's somewhat laggy compared to offline but I don't really care because I can micro 12 dragoons perfectly on extra high latency. Over time the developers for online melee optimize the game to the point to where there's little lag.
Playing on here would accelerate my skill level, not because I was playing a lot but because I know how to train to get better due to my knowledge of sport psychology. I made some good friends on here and ran into famous players occasionally. I ask them about the games and what to do in some situations and they are more than happy to help.This is how you get ahead at anything including in life. Networking is very important and it's good to have people to bounce ideas off you. In BW for example, Kidcanada helped me with a lot with my PvZ.
On smashladder for melee, Pewpewu taught me how to shield, use aerials, juggling, and some matchup like marth vs shiek. Fiction taught me how to kill people at high % Lovage taught me how to be aggressive, etc. These are the knowledges that you don't get just from grinding. I remember playing shittons of brood war games back in the day trying to get good(before I was good). I was struck at the same level for a good 3 months even though I was putting in a lot of hours.
Improvement and Playstyle
Throughout my gaming career my playstyle has evolved over time. Before I learned about the psychology aspect of the game, I was a very aggressive player with high mechanic abilities. I had a lot of pre-teen anger built up and I channel that anger into my aggression. I was also very creative in coming up with tricks and new ways to attack. That aggressive style was flawed because when I wasn't playing at my best I would straight up lose the game like running into a wall over and over.
When I started playing poker for money my gaming play style changed into a calm calculated control style where I try to outthink my opponent and exploit their weaknesses. I use that to style as a foundation to build onto my starcraft style which was still the peak of my overall gaming ability. After retiring from starcraft and living life I no longer play games for money so my playstyle evolved again into an extremely fun all-out aggressive style combined with psychological warfare which I learned over time. Though my playstyle has changed over time I have no problem switching back to whatever style I need to beat my opponent. My mentality now is I do whatever it takes to win.
Since melee is a technical game and a very psychological one I choose to train myself to play a mechanical optimal control style. I theorize that I can be one level below someone mechanically in this game and still win using my knowledge of psychology so I figured that it would be best just to max my mechanical ability and then let my psychology skill do the rest of the work. This game you can do so many things you get inside someone's head, I can abuse psychology much more than I ever could in starcraft. I also perform better in pressure situations and most people tends to perform worse. When you play for team USA in front of 4000 people watching on twitch, it's hard to get nervous about anything related to gaming.
Revival of the Scene
I've been playing melee online for a bit. I know that my skill has improved but I have no idea how good I am compared to the people in my area. Nevertheless, Some new players decided to start hosting tournament again around my area in order to revive the scene. Since it's the first tournament in a longgggggggggg time everyone decided to show up just for nostalgia's sake. At the time, I didnt play smashladder for a month because starcraft remastered came out. Everyone needs to get back to your root and remember where you came from.
To my surprise a lot of people showed up, around 30. All in all I just wanted to test my skill level to see where I'm at. I went to to the tournament not expecting much If I get top 5 It was good enough for me. I remember feeling very fresh physically and mentally.
Truedong and Branchamp were the best players at the tournament and people expected one of them to win. Before the tournament started I play some friendly matches with some of the people I used to play with. Despite me being a little bit rusty everyone literally got destroyed by me every game. One guy asked me how I got so good and I told him jokingly "I dunno i've been playing broodwar for a month the koreans must've trained me well." He called me an idiot and said thats not how it work.
His comment woke me up and gave me a motivation. Essentially, the majority of the people are unaware of starcraft history and everyone think that i'm an idiot/troll because of my long political posts on facebook and because of my joking nature. Nobody will respect jester.
Whether it's true or not it doesn't matter, but it's what I told myself to believe. I gave myself the belief that all these people don't like me and they want to see my lose. Great athletes such as Michael Jordan,Tiger, Kobe always find things that people say against them and use it as fuel for motivation.
Instead of testing my skill, I set out my mind at the point to destroy everyone that I run into at this tournament. I told myself, fuck these brainless idiots, I'm the best gamer in this room, the smartest person in this room, best looking person in this room. I'm going to crush them all and make them respect my greatness against their will.
Since my seeding was so low, I had to play everyone good in the tournament. My first opponent was this shiek who I always kept running into every tournament back in the day. I always beat him but everytime I play him he get closer and closer to beating me. I remember the last time I faced him I had to pull a miracle comeback just to win the match. I played this guy expecting a close match, but instead it was a "rape" (he said it). I kept him in the corner the whole game and he couldn't do anything. I win easily 2-0. The win surprised me because That's not how Marth is supposed to play the matchup. I literally forced my way through with my aggression and won.
I play Truedong next round because my seeding was garbage. This was a true test because he's arguably the best player originally from this area since the beginning. I beat this guy once in tournament when he was rusty thats about it. Though I've been playing on smashladder I have no idea how good I am against good people offline.
I play against Truedong long enough to know almost all his tendencies. He's a very confident and aggressive player and he'll roll you over if you let him. He doesnt like to play defensive or play against defensive players because then the game become unfun and it's frustrating to him. From what I heard he was a high rank player in starcraft2 in the early years. This mean he is capable of strategizing or forming a game plan.
Personal reads are what I picked up when I was playing poker. You can call it sexism racism stereotype or whatever you want but reading people helped me immensely both in life, poker and in gaming. You know what they are going to do before they even know they are going to do it. Just talking to people about anything give me an insight into their personality and how they would play in the game. Sometimes people reveal their weaknesses to you indirectly. Someone would tell me "I don't like this stage because it's small" and in my head I would think, ok I'll take you to small stages because you don't like playing in it. Over the years I taught myself to analyze handwriting, read facial expressions, body language,etc. Did I do this just to fuck around and beat people at video games? Hell no, I did this shit just so I can compete with white people in real life in my field of study, which is psychology. Small little asian kid in a field of psychology? The only way to be successful is to be a god of psychology and knows every little thing about it or you won't get any job. My ability to read people correctly is why the more I play against someone the better I do against them, unless they have superior flowcharts or vastly superior mechanical ability. This psychology gift can be a curse because sometimes I pick up so much information that my brain get hurt and I get tired. This is why I don't like to face people when I talk to them not because I have low confident but because I don't want to overlord my brain with information I don't want.
Back to the tournament. My gameplan against Truedong was to download his attack patterns and then block all of it and then let him beat himself with his own frustration similar to what Obiwan did to Anakin at the end of Episode 3. If it get to last stock(lives are called stocks in melee)I will most likely win because as I said I do very well in pressured situation.
Before the match begins, I calmed myself down with some breathing exercise in order to switch from angry aggro style to a calm defensive control style.
First match on battlefield The first thing I noticed was that he doesn't combo me as hard like he used to but he's still playing well and with confident. The entire time he attacks me while I try to defend as best I could.
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He overwhelmed me with his attack and as a result he's ahead by 2 stocks. I made a mistake of not grabbing the ledge and die. After losing that second stock I took my time with my invulnerability you get after respawning in order to regroup myself and try to figure out his attack patterns so I can figure out when to interrupt it. He shot me in my invulnerable state instead of taking better stage position which shows that he's confident and that he doesn't really care about this match.
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Truedong had a 3 stocks to 1 lead at one point but I got myself back in the game with 2 quick kills. his first death he made a mistake recovering. for his second death I used my asian reflex to stop his recovery after a series of trades.
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By this point I'm at a high % which mean his move has higher chance to kill me due to higher knockback that my character will take due to having a lot of %. I had a chance to steal the game when I threw him off the ledge but I missed my attack to knock him off. He got back on the stage and took the game.
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I was basically on my backfoot the entire time but it was still close so I thought to myself that I just have to win the next game and anything can happens.
Game 2 I basically started with 3 lives because he immediately combo'd and dunked me off the face map At this point I thought to myself that I have to get a quick stock myself and cut this guy's momentum somehow.
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I did a cheese and caught him with it to get a quick stock.
Game was extremely even until he SD(self-death) to give me a free stock. This was the biggest turning point of the whole match.
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By this point I was up 2 to 1 stock but in my head I knew that the entire set was 95% over. His attacks pattern was becoming predictable. I was shaking off my rusts. Truedong also always play worse when something bad happens such as this SD. I finished off his last stock and we're on to the final game 3.
In between the match I remembered that truedong used to play starcraft 2. I thought to myself it was a disgrace for me to keep losing to this guy as a starcraft1 player because SC1 was a superior game. Just random shits to give me fuel to burn.
I started off strong with a long combo which eventually lead me into taking his first stock.
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My defensive game was on point this game and his offense can't do anything about it. I won with 3 stocks to spare. It can't be this easy can it? I just defeated the best player. My confident grew with this win.
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After the match people around the room were asking me about the match and how I won. This was a big upset. I fed them the false narrative that truedong SD(self-death) 4 times and I didn't do anything, I was just there to reap the win off his SDs. I told them it was a fluke even though deep down I know that it wasn't to stay under the radar. The last thing you want to do is make people think you're a threat. I learned this from playing poker. Make people think you're trash and then take all their money.
Next match I play this samus. He's been performing well in tournaments having wins over branchamp and truedong. He's very good against fox and falco but doesn't do too well against a character like marth. I do good against samus by default so I decided to autopliot to conserve my energy like a formula 1 driver conserving his tire. I won game 1 by controlling the game as he didn't do anything i cant handle, game 2 he switches to fox and thats when I knew that I won. I decided to conserve even more energy and take game 2. After the match I become convinced that I'm actually pretty good at this game.
Next round was winner's final and the set become best of 5 instead of best of 3. My opponent was Branchamp. I played league and counter strike with him so I know his tendencies and playstyle pretty well. It's been a while since I played melee with him but I know that he's a very fast mechanical player. He can get titled when things don't go his ways.
First match my brain can barely track his movement because he was so fast. His neutral game was very good but he was having trouble comboing me. He took game 1 fairly easily. Second game I took him to final destination, a stage that's very good for marth. He switched from fox to falco and I remember thinking to myself "I just beat truedong what the hell is this guy thinking?" I 4 stocked(similar to perfecting someine in street fighter) his falco and gained a massive psychological advantage.
What the hell is psychological advantage? It's basically momentum, well, what is momentum? There are plays in every games and sports that massively shift momentum so much so that the players still feel it even after they stopped playing the game. It's extremely hard to recover yourself mentally if you are on a receiving end of such play. An example of one on a massive scale is Bill Buckner's mistake. He literally set the Red Sox back for years. For starcraft, think of Flash vs Jaedong power outage. July vs best when he drone drill. On a smaller scale dunking in basketball can have a similar impact. Coming back in anything is a good way to shift momentum. Same with crushing opponent totally or winning a close match. Styling on someone is another way to get mental advantage.
These smasher kids have never even taken a psychology class, don't watch any sports, grew up in a PC culture where they avoid confrontation, so they have no idea how to deal with such momentum shift mentally. In contrast, I trained myself to the point where I become completely immune to the effect of momentum. I also know how to exploit my opponent once I have psychological advantage. I mastered this aspect of the game to the point where if I ever get a psychological advantage on someone at any point during the game, I'm going to win the match 99% of the time unless you are significantly better than me at the game. There's no verb for this concept because it's something I come up with but when I talk to myself I call it "Mental Break." If I ever get a mental break on you you are essentially fucked. This is why I don't perform well in ladder against random opponents but became one of the best in the world in tournament settings for any games.
After the mental break in game 2 I knew that I won the tournament, however it's still not over yet. Before he could decide to pick a counterpick stage I asked him if he wanted to go to dreamland, you are supposed to go to dreamland in this matchup but me calling it out loud spooked him out and he picked another stage.
Game 3 my brain finally become used to his speed and I was beating him in neutral. He was playing a little bit worse making sloppy mistakes due to the mental break. I was happy and confident that I was going to win the tournament so I was playing the best I've ever played any video games. I was entering the state of flow and combined with me not playing the game for one month I was freestyling since i forgot my optimal options. I was doing things that would never be done again. I took the first stock. Then he uncharacteristically gave me the second stock for free. I dunked him to take his last stock to win by 3.
Game 4 he finally takes me to dreamland. I started the match off by pulling off the combo for the ages. Split seconds before I did the combo I thought to myself, "if I'm going to combo him here I have to climb these platform one by one."
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After the combo I knew that not only did I win this tournament but I probably already won the next one too. The crowd were rooting for Branchamp but they were silent. This was yet another act of mental break. He lost his next stock for free trying to grab the ledge and miss. By this point I was moving faster than he is.
He was making mistakes everywhere. I decided to beat him further by throwing out multiple fakes to further confuse his brain and stop it from refocusing. I did a fake fair into fake fake fair into fake wavedash dtilt into jab. I juggled him then hit him off the stage then predicted his illusion recovery option and then went down and dunk him to inflict maximum mental damage. I could've knock him normally down and then recover to save myself a stock but I was so far ahead that it doesn't matter.
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He was down to his one stock and at this point I can see the effect of my psychological warfare taking a toll on his gameplay. He makes even more mistakes in basic technical movement. and rolled 6 times in a row.
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I felt sorry for him because me and branchamp do play other games and we do talk from time to time about random shits so I decided to give him some free stocks before finishing him off as a way for him to reset his mentality in loser bracket.
I was expecting to play Truedong in grand final but he was having an off day and lost quite early in loser's bracket so instead I get to play branchamp again in the grand final. In the first game I noticed that he recovered his mindset to about 80% and made some good counter strategy against my playstyle. It was a close match that came down to the final stock and I took the game. Second game was on dreamland. He should've won this one but I made a comeback at the last possible second and won. Up 2-0 by this point it was basically over.
Game 3 was essentially the same as game 2, except i couldn't pull off the comeback. Game 4 I jumped out to an early lead but to my surprise branchamp brought it back to even. I had a few tricks up my sleeves and I decided to use those tricks to finish him off and win the tournament.
The first thought that came to mind after winning was that I finally saved the scene and that I should probably started playing this game again after one month break. The news of my victory generated interests from players around the area. When the same fuckers who always win lose it make things interesting in any sports or esports. I received congratulation messages from people which was nice. Everyone was surprise and nobody was quite sure how I did it so they assumed that i've been playing online a lot.
2nd tournament was announced and I planned to practice for it as better players will surely show up like they did in the past.
THE END OF PART 1
How many tournaments can I win in a row? Which big name players will show up to challenge me? Which psychology tricks will I use to beat someone next? Tune in in the near future for part 2.