Hi, I'm here with DruggedFox, who recently got ninth at EVO 2015. Can you tell us about who you are, who you play, how long you've been playing, and where you're from?
All right. I'm Sami, aka DruggedFox. I've been playing almost eleven years now. I'm originally from Georgia, and within the last few months I've switched to maining Sheik.
So, many people had no idea who you were until... about yesterday. How often do you actually attend tournaments, and are you planning on attending more tournaments?
So, pretty much, I was super super busy with school, and also, I was in sort of a funk for Melee. I think the last tournament I played seriously was Apex 2012, actually, and just... losing was really frustrating and all that. But, the last six months, I decided to give it another shot, and I think switching characters also helped me.
So, the last PR period in Georgia I did attend, and now I'm ranked there, finally, for the first time in years. But yeah, I'm planning on going to a lot more tournaments, and I'm hoping I can just do better than I did here.
As your tag implies, you used to play Fox, and I think I remember seeing you at Tipped Off 9 playing Fox. What prompted you to switch to Sheik? (E/N: DruggedFox placed third at Tipped Off 9 after losing to Colbol in winners'; beating Wizzrobe, Soft and Chad in losers' bracket; beating Colbol in the losers' semis rematch; and losing to Hungrybox in losers' finals.)
Okay, so... when I started playing super seriously again—I actually also played Marvel for a couple years before coming back—I was super set on Fox, and I played Fox pretty much every day for like two or three months after not playing Melee seriously for a while, and it just destroyed my hands. So, I tried talking to the doctor about it, and they said it was probably arthritis-related, and it got to the point where I was like, I'd rather just play Sheik than try to find a hand solution for this. 'Cause I've also played Sheik since I started playing the game, so it wasn't foreign to me or anything. So I decided I'd rather just play Sheik than hurt my hands.
In the past you were known to kind of underperform in tournaments due to nerves and the like. But yesterday—maybe it was still an underperformance by your standards—you definitely did a lot better than you have at some of the previous tournaments you've attended. What do you think changed? What let you perform better in the tournament this time around?
Like I said, I think I was sort of in a funk for a while, just between school and being busy with stuff and not really having life stuff figured out. But, especially since I've come back to the game, I don't think I actually had any special problems after coming back; it was just a lack of experience at that point. So I think after getting out of my sort of personal funk, and then starting to enter more tournaments, it's just been a pretty natural progression. Like, all I needed was a few tournaments to get back into it.
I don't think I played amazing here, but I played well enough, like you said, to do pretty well. But yeah, that's pretty much it.
Cool. So, you and Plup are bringing Sheik, especially versus spacies, to a new level. What have other Sheiks been doing wrong in the matchup, and what can even you guys still be improving on?
Okay, so first things first: punish game, that's bottom line. I think the one thing keeping Sheik seriously competitive in that matchup is the fact that every hit is a potential kill, and if you're not optimizing that, you're not gonna beat spacies. That matchup's awful if you can't punish, and if you can, I mean, it's totally winnable.
I also think another thing Sheik players probably need to do more is... as I've said this a million times, the amount of unsafe things Sheik players do is ridiculous. When you're putting yourself in a matchup where you're not doing safe things, and you're taking big risks, and you're not hitting your punishes... I mean, the matchup's like unwinnable. Like, of course Sheik is gonna lose to spacies...
So I think that all the top Foxes play a super heavy ground game versus Sheik, which may or may not be the best way to play, but I've lately been experimenting with platforms. I think that's a good way to move. I actually got the idea from Plup's Samus, 'cause it's a really good way to deal with spacie ground game. It gives you a lot of good mixups, and like, if Fox is just lasering on the other side of the stage, I can take stage control by moving across platforms, and then still maintain safety with shield dropping and stuff like that. And needles are amazing to protect myself in the air as well. So, if anything, I think that's where Sheik needs to move a little more. Not platform camping, but using it to like, maneuver around and gain stage control.
Cool! So, you recently started writing a blog series, about... well, about Melee in general, but especially about Sheik and what Sheik players should be doing. Where do you see yourself going with that? Is that mainly meant to be a place to put your thoughts, or are you trying to advise other Sheiks on what they should be doing?
Okay, so I'd say it's pretty 50-50, depending on the situation. So for example, after CEO, I made a CEO post; that was all for my thoughts, and for anyone who cared about my thoughts. But it was more for me to get them out. But definitely... I think I have a lot of knowledge about the game, and I think there's a lot of stuff that people haven't figured out, and that gives me motivation to test it. For example, I made a post about shield pressure, and I was like, you know, I don't actually know the numbers on that. Sat down, tested it, wrote it down for everyone.
But, also... I think so many players in Melee, like especially compared to normal fighting games, haven't figured out the "correct" things to do in situations, mostly because it's so hard to figure out in Melee. So it's not that people don't want to do the good things, it's a lot of the time that they're not sure what the good things are. So I'm hoping just by getting people thinking about it differently, that I can help push the metagame forward, I guess.
What other characters do you plan on seriously using in tournaments? You used Marth against Leffen on FD. Were you initially planning on using Marth if he counterpicked FD? And do you think that maining multiple characters is a good idea in the long run?
Okay, so I guess I'll tackle it point by point. So first, as far as multiple characters go, I actually strongly prefer using only one character whenever possible. I think it has potential to counterpick, but it also has its flaws. And especially when I mained Fox, I was so comfortable playing Fox in every single situation.
As for Leffen, versus every spacie in a two-out-of-three, my plan is: ban Stadium. If they pick FD, go Marth. I'm comfortable with Marth, and it gives me a good stage advantage because I don't have to deal with Stadium. I think in a three-out-of-five without the ban I'm still comfortable playing Sheik on every stage, but there's no reason not to have this strategy.
As far as what characters I'll play in a tournament, it's kind of funny that now that I've quit Fox, it's opened my entire cast up. So, I plan on playing Sheik mainly, Falcon versus ICs, Marth on FD, and Falco in teams, actually. So, yeah, it's kinda cool that now that I don't play Fox—that might also be why I'm doing better—I'm having a lot more fun, because I love all the characters in the game, and not just sticking to one has made it more enjoyable.
That's cool. I remember you played Falco at I'm Not Yelling, is that true?
I played a little Falco at I'm Not Yelling, and I played Falco at CEO in teams.
I see. So, how do you practice? Do you use 20XX? (E/N: The 20XX Melee Training Hack Pack is a Melee mod which adds lots of features to help players practice.) Who are your main practice partners?
Okay, so, this is a little weird... Since I"ve been playing for eleven years, I don't actually practice anymore. I used to practice every single day for a couple hours, though, so it's a little skewed. Nowadays, I'll turn on 20XX once every couple weeks, maybe, just to make sure I can tech chase. Big thing I use it for, though, is if I want to practice a new situation. For example, a huge one with Sheik is practicing coverages on platforms. So like, down throw, you can full jump, instead of shorthop, autocancel fair and then grab all the tech rolls. Stuff like that's pretty useful.
Training partners is also weird. I usually play with Pengie and KPan—they're our local players—but they're both not in Georgia right now, so I've actually been playing with two players, Jazz and Thad, who've been playing for about a year now. And, that's actually my primary practice for the past like, one or two months now.
I see. So, related to that, I guess Georgia, and the Atlantic South region in general, are kind of slept on. People don't really know about many good players from there. Who are some good players to look out for?
Okay. Well, first, I want to say, I think South top ten is the best region, free. Just throwing that out there. As far as good players that are slept on, let's see... If I want to go through the South, start with Florida.
So everyone knows the big Florida players, but there are definitely a lot of good ones. The biggest one I think's gonna be coming up is Drunk Sloth. Jay is Ice Climbers. He's been playing like a year. He's beaten some good players in money matches and I think he'll be really good.
Within Georgia we have a lot of good players on the come up. The big ones I think people don't know about are, like I said, Pengie and KPan (E/N: fifth and seventh in Georgia, respectively). With them, I know Pengie's taken a game off Hungrybox, and KPan almost beat Zhu this tournament. So they're definitely players to look out for.
From North Carolina—I guess that's the biggest region left—dude, Twitch and $Mike. Hopefully people know about Twitch by now. I haven't heard people talk about $Mike anymore, but he's such a good Falcon. And I think, especially, those are probably the most slept on players, and players with the most potential, on the come up.
Cool. I'm originally from North Carolina. Well, I only played in North Carolina for a little bit. I played some friendlies with $Mike and they were very enjoyable. He wrecked me. (laughs)
What do you do outside of Smash?
What do you do outside of Smash?
Well, it's depended a lot, especially because I was busy with school up until the last six months. I graduated about six, seven months ago, which is why I've been playing so much Smash. But before that, it's honestly been mainly school. I was a CS major at Georgia Tech, and that was honestly really hard. Put most of my time into that. When I wasn't doing that, I played a lot of piano, and I had my stints with things like League of Legends that probably only made me worse at Smash.
I'm pretty sure, as a side note, MOBAs only make Melee players worse at Melee, because they don't play Melee, and they spend ten hours a day playing MOBAs. Don't do that if you wanna be good at Melee!
Yeah, I dunno, my words of advice. Then again, if I could play, then I probably would, so yeah.
So I guess, related to that, what other games do you actually play other than Melee?
I've actually played a good bit. I used to play competitive Pokemon. I was one of the best Gen 4 players, especially in Ubers.
Yeah, I watched you stream. (laughs)
Oh yeah, you watched me stream. Especially in Ubers, I was rank one for a while. I love competitive Pokemon, even though it makes me so, so mad. I tilt so hard, like, freaking luck.
I played Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for a while. I honestly think I was better at that than I am at Melee, but like, I dunno. Marvel's so fun. Absolutely one of my favorite games, but... I can't really play it 'cause they play on XBox and use a PS3 pad, which sucks.
But yeah, those are my main games honestly: Marvel, and then Melee. I've considered playing other fighting games before, but like, Marvel's the most Melee one, which is kinda cool. None of the other ones are really like Melee.
Oh, I play Melty I guess. Melty Blood. I'm okay at that, considering I don't really play it too much. Yeah, those are the other games I play.
Yeah, I've basically only ever heard of that game because Raph (North Carolina Kirby player) talks about it.
Oh yeah, Raph does talk about it. Melty is actually secretly the most Melee game. I guess I can talk about it for a second. The coolest thing is that it's the only fighting game where you have drifting, which is very similar to Melee. So, in that game, if you neutral jump, or neutral double jump—so it has double jumps just like Melee—you can actually drift left or right. And it also has super jumps, which... you can drift differently with that too.
So a lot of the neutral game is sort of like—it's hard to explain, but you know how everyone talks about Mang0's amazing drifting? And all the full jump stuff, like you'll jump one way, double jump the other way, and you'll drift all the way back, stuff like that; that's all in Melty. So it's actually kind of cool, if anyone's interested.
Any last shoutouts that you have?
Just, shoutouts to everyone I've either played with or talked to a lot about the game. There are so many people that I've talked to or used to talk to, like KirbyKaze and PP, or I talk to Plup about Sheik. All the Georgia people who help me practice, Pengie and KPan—oh, Articanus definitely. He's been my training partner... He was my training partner for like, my first six, seven years of playing. He's an amazing Marth player. Just all the people who helped me develop in the game. That means the most to me. And hopefully I can just keep pushing the game forward.
Cool, thank you very much!
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