Learning to Fight, Forgetting Reliance.

Recently I decided that I want to get better at Melee. It might take a rephrase to really nail home the point I am trying to get across here, so let me try again with some stylized font.

I want to get better… … …at Melee

Not so much getting better at Marth, but getting better at the game itself.

I started as a Marth main in August of 2013. I went through about a month or two long phase where I mained Sheik, but ended up going back to Marth afterward. I dabbled in very minor Falco practice here and there along the way as well. In the summer of this year, I have been exclusively practicing Marth, studying Marth videos, and working only on my Marth. In comparison to before dedicating my time with the game to only Marth, I have improved as a player of Marth. However, with that improvement has come some realizations of a lack of understanding of aspects of the game that I would like to understand. I came to these realizations a few nights ago while training with BW.

During our training session that night, I was not feeling great with my Marth, and was frustrated with how I could not meet my expectations of playing the character during this session. I decided to dedicate some of the time that night to practicing my Falco. It was during these games of my Falco vs his Fox and Marth, did I start to come all of these realizations.

I realized that I do not understand the fight. How to fight. How to fight back. How to play Melee. How to take my opponents “advantages” and hits and convert them into advantages and hits of my own.

To get really ranty, taking a break from playing Marth that night had helped me to see that I would like to learn…

How to not always rely on “classic” Marth (some would dare call a few of these things “PPMD-Esque”) play, like…

  • Looking to be “Whiff-Punishing” every move your opponent throws out…
  • Playing Marth because he “teaches fundamentals”…
  • Down-tilting in neutral all the time…
  • Dash-dancing all the time as “trickery”…
  • Using movement because Marth has great movement…
  • Dashing back (Way too Meme-y at this point but still extremely true…)

My reliance on many of these things is something that I was beginning to get frustrated with. About three months ago a training partner told me that he thought I was good at dashing underneath Fox in neutral. Back then, this was something I was clearly relying on very heavily in the matchup. It would work, but I have since craved how to understand so much more than just relying on something that I might be good at.  It feels completely awesome to have moments where you execute some of the techniques I listed above with grace and effectiveness and take stocks with them, instead of merely relying or falling back on them. To quote Bruce Lee, “…good technique includes quick changes, great variety and speed…”


To simplify, variety and adaptation are concepts that I crave to understand. To complicate, when I felt I was playing my best during this training session and recent training sessions, it felt as if I was not forcing variety in my play. I was just simply playing to the moment, and fighting back. Being sort of “All-of-the-above” in my play. Technique would happen in spontaneity, and when things would not go my way I could understand why with a greater amount of clarity than before. (I hope these do not come across as “z0mg I am s0 good in friendlies” statements, though deciding what you want in training is very important and is definitely something that can be measured once you decide what it is you want, something I go over in this post: Blinded by Goals and Improving the Quality of Practice. )

There are definitely other benefits to trying out other characters in practice, and one could write a ton about that subject entirely if they wanted to, but for me the biggest thing has been realizing that there is more to Melee than just swinging a sword and moving around all pretty all the time. A lack of understanding can sometimes be a blessing. It is with this lack of understanding that I have felt the most confident and motivated to practice lately.


Thank you for reading, keep competing.





Yogurt covered raisins were the snack of choice while writing this post.

These fantastic pieces of music were the soundtracks to the proof-read.

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