Translation to melee: 80% of performance improvement will come from 20% of play/practice time
As I have limited time to practice (I run a business, am married with 3 kids and homeschool my daughter) I need to find that 20% that will deliver me 80% of the results.
Otherwise I have no hope of becoming one of the best players in my region.
Learning 80/20 From Other Fields
Because there is no “80/20 Guide To Getting Good At Melee” out there (though this strategy comes close) I have had to look at other sports/activities and how people mastered them in a short period of time.
So far I’ve focused on chess, playing guitar and endurance sports.
There are a lot of takeaways I got from delving into the masters of these fields but the biggest takeaway of all was:
Rather than trying to learn everything at once, master the most important thing and then expand from there. For guitar, this means mastering 4 chords first as it turns out you can play a lot of songs with only 4 chords. Watch the video below to see what I’m talking about:
It makes sense right? If I only get 30 minutes a day (and not the hours some other people play) then I can’t possibly hope to get good at everything and master all the tech skill that’s out there.
No multishines for me.
So what’s the 4 chords of melee?
From what I can gather, the 4 chords of melee are actually just 2 things – punish game and edgeguarding. If I can get good at these two things then my game will improve dramatically.
My strategy is to practice 0-Deathing Lvl 1 CPU’s (mostly fox) on regular Melee (no 20XX).
I will be focusing mostly on combo strings that create guaranteed 0-Death combos. For example see the gif below
While this combo string requires 3 missed techs from fox and isn’t perfect it’s my first ever 0-Death combo that I created/discovered by constantly asking “How can I keep this combo going”.
I’ll be doing a mixture of creating my own combos based on common starting scenarios (eg. A downsmash, dash attack, dtilt etc) as well as watching Armada practice against a Lvl 1 CPU fox and incorporating parts of his punishes.
My theory is this: In any game, no matter how good your opponent is, you basically always get at least 1 hit. If you can convert each hit into an edgeguard situation or loss of stock then you’re chances of winning go up dramatically.
While I have limited practice time with a controller I do have a lot of idle time where I could be visualizing gameplay.
Visualization has been psychologically proven to improve results, so when I can’t practice with my hands I can practice with my hands.
For this to work my visualizations have to be clear and concise otherwise they won’t work as well. I feel like this is easier with sports where your body is immersed in the experience vs visualizing my character moving in a 2D world.
Combo strings create the perfect visualization scene. I can visualize each sequence of the combo and myself doing them perfectly.
I can also visualize alternative options (that’s how I got the uair after the downsmash in the above combo) as well as imagining different DI situations and what I would do.
While most of these 0-Death combo strings I practice won’t ever happen due to teching and DI my goal is that by practicing lots of different combo strings I can recognise and take advantages of situations as they present themselves.
To explain lets look again at my first 0-Death punish gif
Imagine instead that a fox approached me and I wavedashed back and got a downsmash with the fox missing the tech after the 2nd hit and landing in front on me like in the gif (not uncommon). Let’s also assume their percent at the time is similar to the above gif (around 50% after the downsmash).
Based on my practice I now know I can upair > dashattack > upair > nair > edgeguard
Not a 0-death, but a hit-death situation.
Alternatively a dash attack at around 63% can lead into uair > nair > edgeguard
See how you can break up the full combo into parts that are super useful in a variety of situations?
If I practice a variety of different 0-Death strings then I should be able to kill players based in a variety of situations.
What About Tech Skill?
Tech skill is still a big part of my practice, but my focus will be on practicing tech skill I can specifically apply to improve my punish game.
I’m also getting coaching from a top Australian peach player as well as attending smashfests and tournaments about once per week. So practicing punishes against CPU’s won’t be all I’m doing but it will form the lion’s share of my training.
What Do You Think?
Without fail everyone I have shared this strategy with (with the exception of my coach) thinks that it’s a flawed strategy.
Mostly touting random techs and DI’s in 20XX as being a vital part of practice. (I use that for chaingrab practice but that’s all at the moment).
Regardless, I’m still confident in the strategy and have already seen improvements in my punish game as a result (no big tournament upsets so far though).
Time will tell if this strategy is viable or if it’s even possible to 80/20 my way to being a top player in my region.
How about you? What do you think of this strategy? Leave your comments below as I’de love to hear your thoughts.