Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Another practice session, more mixed feelings.

I honestly can't make heads or tails of my tech-skill difficulties.  I have to be honest with myself about some of my shortcomings and things that I need to work around in order to solve this problem: I have essential tremors, which basically means that my muscles are *always* jumping and twitching even when I'm really relaxed.  It's not major (unless I'm really nervous or hungry), and I don't really have a problem doing any day to day activities, but it makes fine muscle control really difficult.  It certainly doesn't help when I try to play piano in front of people, or Smash in competitive environments.

I also have to accept the fact that I'm horrendously ADD and that makes it hard to focus.  I'll be playing matches, even important tournament ones, and not even be thinking about them at all.  I can get a bit of a boost in concentration by drinking a crap-load of caffiene in the form of soda or an energy drink, or I can take Adderall, but unfortunately stimulants directly and negatively impact my tremors.

I've sorted out a lot of my mood issues, I think.  I get frustrated but I've found ways to shortcircuit both my angry and depressive spells.

The question is, where do I go from here?

Last night I played about 7 hours worth of friendlies with DoH, and as usual I was all over the place.  I would go one match nailing everything, feeling really good, and feel like I really understood how to interact with the game.  Then the next game I would miss my jump button, randomly double jump with my joystick a few times, wavedash straight up (which doesn't actually work in case you were wondering) or accidentally overshoot my B button while recovering and brush the c-stick instead.  Usually games were somewhere in between, but it's really hard to understand how I'm supposed to play when I can't actually interact with the game.

This is something I've struggled to explain to people many times.  I honestly have times, entire matches, where I just can't do *anything*.  I will try to dash and jump instead, I will screw up five wavedashes in a row by airdodging horizontally, I'll miss every L-cancel, I'll try to do a basic grab combo with ICs and just whiff my c-stick completely.  I will be the first to admit that I make some really DUMB decisions when I'm under pressure, but at the same time many things that appear to be bad decisions are the result of me being incapable of doing things I want with the controller.

My recorded friendlies at APEX with Armada, for instance, showcase him absolutely raping me.  And that outcome was not entirely unexpected, truth be told.  But when I walked away from the TV and projector frustrated and people tried to calm me down by telling me "dude, it's Peach vs ICs, and it's Armada, relax," I wanted to tell them that they probably don't know what it's like to try and full jump an aerial and roll, then want to bring up their shield and jump out of it because they're spazzing on the joystick, then get raped while a bunch of people are watching and have no idea what my hands are even doing.  At that point it barely matters who my opponent even is, I just don't know what the hell is going on.

Later Armada and I played more friendlies and they were significantly closer; I never actually won, but I was actually executing combos and moving more how I wanted to, and the end result is a bit more of what I expected/hoped for--him beating me 15/15 games, but me managing to bring him down to 1 and 2 stock in most of them.  Against such a smart and consistent player, who is so skilled with a character I've always struggled against, that was a huge achievement and it made me feel much better about the tournament.

The real kick in the pants though, was my set of friendlies with Chu Dat.  I went through a similar experience to my very personally memorable set with Axe, where I just wasn't screwing up tech stuff, I was thinking clearly, and I was relaxed but energized.  I think at that time during those IC dittos I may have played my absolute best Melee ever, period, from a mental and technical perspective.

What frustrates me about experiences like those is that, while they are truly amazing in themselves, they make all my other experiences damaging to my confidence.  Why is that maybe, once in an entire year, I can just zone in and play the way I really want to?  Where I'm thinking straight and having fun even in the games I'm losing, where my hands and I aren't at odds with one another, where the game just makes sense to me? And then every other time I sit down to play, it's an exercise in inconsistency and frustration?

For the longest time I've been of the opinion that if a feat or mindset can be achieved once, then it can be duplicated.  Back when I was a Fox player and I wanted really badly to learn how to SHDL, and I saw videos of Thunder from Japan just busting them out left and right across the level, I was convinced that I simply could not do it.  That I never would be able to.  Then randomly, while messing around, I did it (just with my thumb, without using two fingers to jump and fire, just my normal configuration).  I stared at the screen and started jumping up and down all excitedly, and then I just tried to do it again for an hour and couldn't even get one and got dejected again.

But then I thought, "if my hands are capable of moving quickly enough to do that ONE time, then there's no reason they aren't capable of doing it again."  So I practiced and just studied my hands and fingers while I did so, trying to figure out what I did that made it work, and then I got another one.  And another and another and another.  And soon I could do it over and over again, bolstered by that confidence that one time could equal a million times if I wanted.

Right now, I'm in that same state.  Where I will have a moment thinking that this game makes sense, that I am a good player and I can do what I need to do to win, that if I went to a major tournament right now and played like this I would shatter my pools and make top three easily, even with the unbelievably difficult competition facing me.  Then the next game I'll wonder how I've ever won any money at all, even at the smallest of tournaments.

When it comes to mindset and playing well, I've mostly achieved what I've wanted to achieve, and felt like I've wanted to feel.  It's happened a select few times over the course of my entire career.  So the question that I have been asking myself, over and over again, is why are those feelings so elusive?  And why is it, that no matter how much I seem to practice and study and think and meditate and work, the only thing remaining consistent is my overwhelming inconsistency?

I dunno.  That's what's on my mind right now.  I know most people read this thing for my thoughts on the game but I guess today I'm just kinda whining.  My apologies.



Oh, also, I think I won't be doing any more of the Vlogs.  Almost nobody's watching them and I'm kind of at a stage where I feel like my opinion on most stuff really isn't going to help people.  I guess in the future if I really just feel like doing one I will, but for now I'm just going to abandon the idea.  It was kind of fun though.


  1. How often do you play this game?

    How many hours have you put into it?

    Have you read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell?

    Do you listen to music while you play? I'm guessing no from that last video.

    just wondering for those questions.

    to the suggestions that you probably don't need portion of this message:
    I'm also assuming you don't have a mindset IN GAME that you can consistently call up from this blog. I think that the best players can play in their subconscious and in the game, so to speak the majority of the time, and you seem to be able to do that at times but get frustrated when you don't. That is when you need a calculated mind set, you need to be in your conscious state I guess.

    This is sort of like, the conscious break down of the game where you ask yourself questions inside and answer them and try to figure out a plan. It isn't quite as effective as already knowing that you can defeat ALL OF THEIR TACTICS RIGHT AWAY which is how I feel when I am in the zone, but it is a work in progress.

    also I repeat, have you tried other [fighting] games? Other games don't have such a focus on technicality that kills you when you mess up and when you don't mess up it's just a slide on the ground.

  2. I honestly feel like you just didn't publicize the vlogs anywhere near well enough.

    I didn't know about them until today, and they're excellent.

  3. It's surprisingly Zen. You have to hold two contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time. Giving everything you have to win and pushing towards perfection, yet being content with losing and making mistakes. To get what you want, you have to stop wanting it so badly in the first place. To avoid being angry so you can play well and win, you have to decide that playing well and winning isn't as important as remaining calm.

  4. I personally like the vlogs, only I wish they were more scheduled of updates. I've checked back everyone now and then and been disappointed with the lack of updates. I think you should stick with the vlogs, though I understand it can be annoying to pour so much of your heart out and recieve so little feedback from other people. But from what I've read you seem like a really anaylitical type of guy ,and I think that writing things out really can help you understand and analyze your gameplay without beating yourself up all the time by bottling these emotions. You pro man, no one doubts that. Just need more positive thinking and confidence imo.

  5. I love this blog. Thank you for being fucking amazing wobbles.

  6. I really liked your vlogs wobbles. I think you need to advertise them more. It was very interesting to hear your take on the best characters/ moves etc. I also liked that you were able to convey your thoughts well. A lot of interviews from top players use filler words over and over and simplify everything too much (I guess some would say its better too simplify things but really I love how you dissect everything). Your explanations and examples of things have been the most interesting to me out of all the players. You deeply explain things instead of saying something very vague and non specific/simple like many other players. I bet if you made vlogs and put them out there more anyone who takes melee serious or is interested in a very knowledgeable/ top players would watch them. Thanks for sharing all this information and putting the time you have in this.