At Shine, a Falcon player I had never heard of came up to me and asked to money match. We struck to Yoshi’s. This immediately makes me happy, as it indicates that they want to fight instead of camp and fish for DD grabs. The guy’s tag was Rachman, and he played a crazy style, slightly reminiscent of n0ne. It made me want to go crazy as well, and he managed to win the match, albeit with half a dozen SDs from me trying to go too hard. We played two more money matches, and by the third one, I destroyed him with relative ease and without dropping a game. Less than an hour after our third match, another player asked me to money match. I don’t remember this fellow’s tag, but I do remember that I was excited to play him because he played Falcon and I had a high from how fun my games against Rachman were. Let’s refer to this second Falcon as Jimmy for convenience. Playing Jimmy was the complete opposite experience. He had clearly based his game on 20GX tutorials and had nothing novel or interesting to bring to the table. At first he did ok, but by the last game, I destroyed him badly.
At this point, you might wonder why I bothered telling this anecdote. The reason is to illustrate the point that you aren’t likely to beat someone better than you by doing things they’ve already seen countless times. If Jimmy and Rachman were in a bracket and faced a third Falcon player closer to their skill levels, I think it’s likely Jimmy could do just as well against him as Rachman, possibly better. But put in a situation where Jimmy was playing against someone who significantly outclassed him… he had no chance. He was decent at dash dance grabbing. He was also pretty decent at tech chasing. I try not to base my Falcon ditto game around this, as it can still be a very fun matchup if people don’t play lame, but if the other person plays the neutral in a way that compels me to, I am also pretty good at dash dancing and tech chasing. When it came down to it, I was just better than him at everything he based his gameplan around, so there was virtually no way for him to beat me doing something that he’s just worse than me at. Rachman, on the other hand, created many situations that made me uncomfortable, and that I was not as well equipped to handle.
There are many aspiring Falcon mains and few of them are inspiring. 20GX has made a laudable attempt to show the viability of our character, but now most “decent” Falcon mains play like a pirated Chinese knockoff of Wizzrobe. Being able to DD grab well is an extremely great thing for an aspiring Falcon, maybe the best possible tool for them to be good at. But styles predicated on waiting for the other players to make mistakes are awful for upsetting better players. If your style has been crafted around watching tutorials and emulating top players, you should look long and hard at your own style and think about whether you have anything fresh to bring to the table. You’ll never be the best by copying the rest. Even players like Borp, w33dl0rd, Drephen, Iceman, Widlar, and many others, who sometimes look “dumb” when they play, have significant chances to upset players who are notably better than them because they’ve created their own flavor of how to play the game which makes their opponents play by different rules. It’s no surprise that n0ne was the first Falcon to beat M2K, and that he did it twice before other Falcons were able to. Even though Wizzy might be overall better than n0ne, there’s no way to practice for playing n0ne. He’s crazy and no one will ever play quite like him. Playing against Lord might help, but that finding a session to practice with that guy is borderline impossible.
Hopefully this all motivates some of you to get in the lab and come up with stuff people haven’t seen before. At the very least, practice some things that will lead to significant mental damage and get you momentum in sets. If you play ANY high tier, there’s tons of things you can do in your punish game to put the fear in your opponent and to feel yourself. Don’t be content to always settle for ending things early to set up a ledge guard situation. Melee players have a strange obsession with “what’s optimal” when in reality, what’s “optimal” is whatever is going to win you the set. That will be the topic of my next article.
On a final note, I heard that Rachman 4 stocked Zeo in a crew battle at Shine. It doesn’t seem to have been recorded, so I wasn’t able to see exactly what happened, but this further exemplifies my point. Zeo would actually probably come out ahead if these guys played several sets. But in the heat of the moment and playing one game against someone with a style he’s never faced, Rachman destroyed him. Cultivate your own style and try to make your opponents play on your terms!