Everything all at once.

On this passed Monday local I felt I had performed lower than my expectations. I felt frantic and indecisive in my matches, which was most certainly displayed in the color changes of my character after each game of my sets. Switching from my usual red to my original white then to blue then back to red again. I think this behavior was also symbolic of what I was trying to learn to improve, which I realized was everything all at once. A pitfall I tell new players to avoid, a pitfall I found myself in. Only after talking to a friend of mine after the tourney (albeit very late after the tourney) did we both realize what I had been trying to do. Taking in everything all at once even in small situations.

I had been playing netplay every day of the week prior to this local, so I was under the impression my preparation was more than enough to perform well or at least learn through my performance to get me to a placement I’d be somewhat content with. Quality over Quantity won this one. I wasn’t benefiting nearly as much from these repeated sessions as I could have had I been focusing on “chunking” information about concepts I need to practice in order to place more consistently. It seemed ironic to me that on one hand I could be aware of the options me and my opponent have, but on the other hand feel very polarized because of that awareness that I’d either freeze up or act haphazardly in an attempt to cover maybe one of the lets say four options in some situation. Had I not had such a personally lackluster performance at this local I wouldn’t have reached out to this friend for help with concepts I’ve been seeking to not only understand but implement without thinking. Engaging on my own terms is the primary concept I’d like to be practicing, and being bogged down by analysis paralysis by what can happen with even just one simple dash forward is going to stop me in my tracks. A bajillion things can happen in a set of Melee, but starting with small chunks, maybe the smallest of chunks, could help sort through the fast paced chaos of a match.


“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” (Albert Einstein).


Habits (“No downtilt, no dashback, no shield”)

“No downtilt, no dashback, no shield”. I’ve begun to practice in a way where I limit myself to cutting those options out of my games. What it does is open up my eyes to situations where I may habitually or instinctively go for those specific options and forces me to think about other ways to handle those situations, or see that I really should be going for those options in the first place. It’s tricky though, because when the situations arise there’s a “stall” in my mind where the habit would normally take action and I stop and think “No, I have to do something else”. My brain then scrambles for an answer, I may roll, I may attack immediately, I may even go for the options I’m doing my best not to go for, which makes me think “Oh, ok. I have a habit to do those options here in this situation and I could be exposed for it”. The point is then to decrease the time this stall lasts and quicken my thinking and broaden the amount of options I’m aware of in the moment.

Genesis Five, Five days later.

The thing about majors, is that it feels like the city or hotel you’re staying in becomes this “Melee-City”. Where you walk down the street a couple of blocks late at night and run into some homies from a region not too far from your own. Conversation starters usually go “How was your pool?” “Did you make it out?” “How was playing *top player*?” It’s one of my favorite things about attending these events. You’re so far away from home, yet you feel like you’re at home. You feel you belong. I appreciate Smash so much for this. If you’ve never attended a major, go attend one, or two, or twelve. You will not regret it.

Genesis Five was the second Genesis I have attended, but it was the first one that I was able to compete in. I missed Genesis Four, and for Genesis Three I super-noobed and messed up my registration, only paying for venue fee and did not actually check “MELEE SINGLES” during sign up. I remember just being so sad that I couldn’t compete once I got to the venue on day one, seeing my name nowhere on any pool. I really love competing in Melee, and for that to have been taken away from me was the worst. Since Genesis Three, which feels like ages ago now, I’ve matured as a player, and this year I finally got to show what I can do on the big stage! It was actually a side-stage. Against Hugs. And during my set with Hugs I kept double jumping near the ledge and he would take my stocks for that every single time, leaving my head shaking at the end of the set and salty for a rematch in the future.

Day Zero of Genesis Five I flew into Oakland with my roommate, we packed all of our stuff into the Hotel room then headed out for lunch. We ate at this bomb-ass Katsu restaurant where after we finished our meals we both agreed that we would eat there every single day we were in Oakland, except the next day we found out that it was closed on weekends. The rest of the day we explored the many food choices around the hotel, grabbed groceries and alcohol at the Smart&Final, then I plopped myself in bed and played Breath of the Wild until it was time to pick up my badge.

Day One. At this point in time I tend to get the most nervous before my very first match. I practice avoiding using the word nervous to describe the feeling, usually opting to replace it with “excited”. Either way, I get the most “feeling” before my very first match in pools. You never know if you’re facing a sleeper, a hidden boss (Chillindude829 didn’t!) early in bracket. My round one was against a Sheik, a matchup I’ve been practicing a lot more lately so I felt ready. I reminded myself “tight dash-dancing, up throw punishes. Keep her in the air”. (A mental practice I’ve just started doing to help calm myself down before sets and get myself thinking about important in-game stuff). It worked well, I walked away from the set 2-0. I reported the score to the TO, put my headphones back in and absorbed the vibe from the crowd while I waited for my next match. The next match was against a Fox player. This time I thought to myself “Do anything it takes to win, up throw.” This match was a little trickier. The Fox player was spot-on with his ledge play and corner pressure, but not so much when it came to center-stage or platforms. He would get me up against the ledge and would make swift work of my stocks that way, but I edged it out by playing closer to the middle of the stage and juggling him, not giving him a chance to play his game. I won the first game, and was surprised that he took me to Pokemon Stadium game two, where it would take longer for him to get me to the ledge, and I had much more room to juggle him. I won the set 2-0.

I was soon told I had to play Hugs on the side-stream. I was able to warm up in the Secret Top Player Training Room behind some black curtains behind the main stage, where a few Secret Top Players were training! So exclusive! Hugs was there too, and he jokingly told me he didn’t want to play me in friendlies since we were about to play a tournament set. I think we had to wait about half an hour or so for other stream matches to finish before we could go on.

I’m honestly a little disappointed in how the set turned out. I think in neutral I did alright, but whenever he had me at the ledge I fell apart and haphazardly used my jumps way too often. My punishes were meh, but overall I have material to learn from and I’m definitely more ready and prepared for this matchup now that I know how it’s played at a high level.

After that set, I thought I was put into losers bracket so I spent the next 20 minutes frantically trying to find my TO so I could play my “next match”. I was eventually told that I was put into round two pools for day two, and that I was done for the day. I walked back to my hotel room and chilled for the later half of the evening before going downstairs and playing friendlies the night away and hanging with my roommates from San Diego.

Day Two. Day Two sucked and I lost to an Ice Climbers from Arizona my first round, the end. Just kidding, Day Two was pretty sweet. There was this awesome hipster coffee place right down the block from the venue called “Blue Bottle Coffee” which we went to every morning (Not closed on weekends!). I bought nine dollar avocado toast from them. Worth every penny. The hot coffee’s were delicious, and one even had flavour notes of Sweet Tomato. The cold brew and iced coffee’s were so smooth and roasty. Oakland had some pretty awesome food choices surprisingly and I’d definitely go back just to eat at some of the places we tried. My round two pools weren’t until four o’clock, so I was able to sleep in and chill and eat before an hour of practice with a friend from San Diego before my pool started. I arrived at my pool on time, put my headphones in and I watched Chudat’s set with a Samus player while I waited for my match.

It was an Ice Climbers player, and I got wrecked. I felt like I wasn’t good enough yet. I knew what to do in the matchup for the most part, but of course I didn’t know what to do to be able to secure a victory. I lost 0-2. I felt paralyzed during the match. It’s that sinking feeling in a match where you feel that it’s over before the match is actually over. I definitely felt that. I lost and then I was out of Genesis Five. I felt pretty bummed, so I walked over to the nearby marketplace across the street and ordered some Fish Tacos and ate my salt away. The rest of the evening was spent money matching and friendlies and alcohol in the hotel room.

I woke up the morning of Day Three with a soar throat and a cough. I didn’t want to get my roommates sick so I kept my distance from them and left all my water bottles by my suitcase. It’s strange, I felt sick but I had energy to play Melee. Picking up the controller and sitting down in front of the CRT gave me energy, but whenever I walked away from the setup I felt like collapsing. I somehow mustered up enough energy to take a trek to this far away cafe a roommate suggested, which was worth every single sneezing-step. This place was fucking delicious. I ordered the Salmon-Benedict and we shared a plate of nine-dollar donuts. (Which only came with three donuts). Worth every penny. Top 8 wasn’t until seven o’clock so we had lots of time to kill. And kill it we did, with friendlies and inside jokes and random conversations about who knows what. Overall I had an amazing time from start to finish, and I’m highly anticipating Genesis Six!

Thank you for reading 🙂


My 2017 Melee Year in Review


2017 has been a pretty crazy, wild, and fun ride for me in Melee. I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the game and myself, through all the losses and victories. There were many times where I felt bad and I thought maybe I should give up, but here I am today. I feel as if I have matured as both a competitor and a person and I’m very excited for a 2018 full of tournaments, travelling, and being with good friends.

One really cool lesson that I’ve learned, is to give credit where credit is due. Accept the small victories. Even if you’re not winning EVO or Genesis, you can win your own EVO’s at your local tournaments. It felt like I was winning an entire EVO just being able to overcome my own self-doubt and overcoming players who I had  lost to many times before. Enjoying any victory is an awesome feeling especially after working so hard to for it. The more you fall down, the greater the payoff will be once you finally succeed.

My favorite tournament match that I played this year has to be this one:

Almost beating Chillindude829 and beating Santiago in a Bo3 earlier this year was pretty sweet, but this match in particular felt so amazing to win. I had beaten Destroyah in Winners Semis in a super close tight match game five, so that felt incredible, and then I pretty much did the same thing at the end of this set, which felt even more incredible to have done it twice in a row in the same tournament. I made a come back game five, on a counterpick stage that he had won on pretty convincingly in our winners semis set. I definitely believe that the Marth vs Peach matchup is highly in Marth’s favor though, and this set definitely solidified that in me. There was also a moment in game three where I had thrown away my last stock and had to recollect myself mentally and find my focus again. Sometimes spectators might think that’s salt or something, but it’s definitely possible to reclaim your focus if you want to win bad enough. Playing Okami in grand finals at that same tournament was also awesome.

(My least favorite matches were all the ones I lost, luckily most of them were all off-stream :P)

I’ve learned a lot about stage positioning, intention with movement, combo-game, mentality and so much more. My goals for 2018 are to learn how to edge-guard spacies (A major goal…), how to handle defeat more constructively, and to just keep going and keep playing Melee.

Peace out!


Blinded by Goals and Improving the Quality of Practice.

I do not think I am alone in the goals I have. I am pretty sure I share very similar goals to a lot of people in the Melee community who want to improve. Goals like…

Rank #1 in the world. Rank #15 in the world. Rank #20 in the world. Ranked in San Diego. Place top 32 here, place top 32 there. Just win a local. Place Top 3 in a local. Get ranked in my region. Get ranked in my city. Win, win and win some more.

Okay, great. But how?


Only literally this week have I taken a look at the hows or whats of what it is I need to be doing to get to any of those goals, even the smaller ones like win a local, or even place top three in a local. And I’ve had those goals since mid 2015, but I have yet to achieve any. Kind of silly. I had never looked at the process that I was taking, or would tell myself I was taking, up until now. . I would kind of just turn on my Wii, play Melee by myself for an hour, watch a YouTube video of a set or two, and think that would be good enough. Sometimes I would do practice in a similar matter to what I want to be doing now, but not nearly enough or as focused as it will be in the future, which I will go into detail later on in this post.

Goals are great to have no doubt, and I do believe I am inspired by them, but I think I have been auto-piloting my improvement process or the process itself to get to the goals that I want to achieve. By just turning on the game and ‘playing’ it every now and then like I was doing for awhile, I’ll probably make no real progress toward any goal. I have been coming to a realization that I need to pay attention. Not that I need to get more serious and hard-core about the process itself and force myself to do one-thousand wave-dashes a day or analyze ten different sets in a week or stuff like that, but to actually realize what it is I need to work on to get me to where it is I want to be. The answers are basically right under my nose, and I am at the point where I can see my problems as clear as day, so what has been stopping me? Ironically, I think my big goals have.

I believe I’ve been so romantic about my goals, how cool it would be to be the best player in the world, or the best player in my city, always talking about it or day-dreaming about it that I have been too naive to actually take a look at what has been right under my nose this entire time: Specific aspects of my game that I need to practice and understand.

These are some goals related to what it is I believe I need to work on the most in my play:

  • Cut down on excess movement (My biggest most obvious problem).
  • Improve the quality of my practice.
  • Work on punish game.
  • Work on corner pressure.

(I realize that Melee is a big game and there are tons of things to work on and all that, I am just leaving it at those four things for the sake of this post).

For cutting down on excess movement, this one is most exciting since it is my most obvious one. I have had a few different peers all of varying skill levels tell me that this is my biggest thing that I need to work on. This will also be tied into corner pressure since apparently they are both related (I keep seeing myself wave-dash a bunch of times in a row when I have someone cornered, and if I work to understand positions better I want to see myself not spazz out on movement and get the job more simply).

Improving the quality of my practice will be my second biggest thing. This pretty much ties all of the concepts together. I have been very inspired recently by this awesome video:

I have been turning off my phone, laptop, and keeping the temperature in my room quite cool while I practice, making sure all of my focus is to what it is I would like to work on, usually tech skill that I feel that I am not that great in that I can for sure use in tournament. Visualizing what my ideal play would look like. How I want to be playing the game, instead of flailing around on the stage for an hour not really knowing why I am doing the inputs I am doing.

Then there is punish game. This is basically something I can practice through watching videos, solo work and friendlies. I feel I don’t need to get big into this since there are tons of resources out there to learn how to improve that. Corner pressure will be tied into cutting down on excess movement and actually learning positions/situations/focusing in a match and all that.

What is exciting to me about these goals,  is that they are actually practical things I can work on and see measurable progress and get real feedback on. They relieve a sort of pressure that I felt I was carrying by trying to become the best player in a certain amount of time. It felt like I was failing to achieve a goal (Win a local) every single Monday when I got home from a Last Stock Local, which was incredibly un-fun for me. These are things I can literally practice and see either progress being made or a lack of progress being made and actually understand why! Which is way better for me than to go “oh my god it is almost the end of the year how am I not rank #1 in the universe yet I am so driven to improve why god why???”…

Moving forward, I know that I can put in the hours. I have the drive, no doubt. Anyone can put in the hours. Realizing that it is more about the quality of the time I spend practicing has been pretty big for me. These realizations will probably not immediately propel me to the top of the game, but rather give me more clarity and satisfaction that I can measure daily.


Thank you for reading, keep competing.




Too much preparation.

Hey guys! I want to share with you another experience I had at this years EVO. This is about how I thought I was doing my best to prepare myself for my morning pool matches, but it seemed that I was over prepping myself far beyond what would have allowed myself to play comfortably in the moment. This is definitely still an ongoing process for me, as I’m still learning with each and every tournament I attend. I’ve yet to come to a stern conclusion about what it is exactly that I should be doing at every single tournament to feel the most mentally sharp, yet relaxed. No matter which tournament I attend, the game is always the same. It is always going to be Melee, but yet at each tournament, competing always feels different, even though I know that the game is always going to be the same game that I practice back home.

I was standing behind my pools station at noon sharp, day one of Evo. On my walk from our room in the Luxor to the Mandalay Bay, I had been listening to the song that I decided I would listen to if I had to face Chillindude in bracket. I drank a medium cup of coffee during breakfast, and I was feeling pretty pumped up and ready to get into my matches. As I was standing behind my pool station, a friend of mine from San Diego, (I’ll call him K.K), came up to me and we spoke for a few minutes before my pool started. He pointed out that I did seem very frantic. This was a shock to me. Apparently, from the outside, I must have looked very nervous, or like I was on cocaine or something, otherwise most of these points that he made to me probably would never have come up in the first place. I don’t remember the exact specifics of the conversation but we came to the conclusion that I was definitely on the upper side of the nervous scale. What the heck? I thought I was doing everything I could do to turn the nervousness into excitement to compete! I thought it was a bit ironic that I had been reading much on sports psychology, human performance, meditations, etc, and yet here I was about to compete, experiencing the feelings that I had been reading up on how to combat, though as if I had forgotten everything I read about up until this point.

I was definitely high. Not on any drug, (well, besides Caffeine) but high on expectations. I knew my best performances and my worst performances, how I could either play to my highest potential or blow it completely. The conversation I had with K.K kind of brought me back to reality. It brought me back to Planet Earth in a way. I remember the phrase “You know how to play the game” and the word “Breathe” being mentioned somewhere in the conversation. This is the exact kind of pregame advice I believe is the most effective, at least for me. These words had a much more powerful effect to me to get my head-space at the right level to compete comfortably. It wasn’t too over-hype, nothing like “Dude you’re actually so amazing wow you’ve beaten so and so before dude oh my god!!!!!11!!1!” to get me even more frantic than I was. It was real, honest, and practical. (Plus I knew he knew what he was talking about since he used to compete himself :P). A point I made to him was that in competing, and in many things in life in general, finding the middle-ground of the scale is always the most difficult thing. You can be on the highest side of the scale, feel completely nervous or excited to compete, or completely unmotivated and demoralized by your upcoming matches (or previous matches) and be on the bottom side of the scale. This sort of thing is why I believe we have to practice with purpose, trust in the practice itself come tournament day, and expect curve-balls and adaptations you need to make that you’ve never faced before while under pressure.

They say experience is the best teacher after all, and there is quite a big difference between reading about something, and actually experiencing it yourself, in your own body and learning how you naturally respond to it for real. Every single experience is going to be different. There’s no “How to cope with tournament nerves right after you break up with your girlfriend” article anywhere, at least to my knowledge. Life is always there, and we will always be humans playing the game. We can work to understand the game on a deeper level, improve to the best that we can to better our chance of winning, but honing in your focus to what is most important when you’re at a major tournament and internal and external expectations could be on the line is a completely different game.

When we invest time into something to achieve an outcome we prefer, the game changes. Winning is always desired, but we have to find a way to accept losing as an outcome and put the excitement to compete far beyond the fear of an outcome we do not prefer. It is difficult. I believe it can be done, and it is something I would like to keep practicing for as long as I have a desire to play the game.


Thank you for reading, keep competing.



On my set with Chillindude829

Hey guys! I’d like to share with you a little bit of the overall experience of my set with Chillindude from Evo 2017, some context to my Smash history, and what I’d like to do moving forward.  The support I’ve gotten has been wild, and I’d like to share my experience as a hopes of it being encouragement to someone out there who is aiming to do great things with this game. This will not exactly be about the set itself so much, or how Chillin and I played (or how I went for wayyy too many fthrow -> fsmashes) or whatever, but rather how the whole experience felt.

This was my third Evo, and it was the one where I felt the most internal pressure because it was the first one that I had attended since I began to take training seriously, both in physical skills and mental focus. This Evo felt completely different than the previous two. During the first Evo I attended, Evo 2015, I was very nooby. People at that tournament would tell me how I have nice movement, but I would be doing really nooby things in game and I had such a weak understanding of the game itself during this time. Evo 2016 was a little different. Around this time I had a much more practiced mental-game but I still vastly lacked in-game skill and understanding. I was also having crazy trouble sleeping at night and was depressed around the time of this tournament, and there were many times where I felt like quitting during that year. The weeks going into Evo 2017 were spent working my job, training in-game solo and with partners, battling lapses of tournament-focus, and picking up a habit of meditating at home. Ultimately though, I had decided that I wanted to compete. Not just compete at Evo, but to just compete. I wanted to improve, and compete, and perform on the big stage. Making those decisions alone sort of smoothed out a path for everything to kind of just flow. For me to be at ease with the training and focus that is required to perform, and swallow the fact that outcomes that I do not prefer may sometimes just happen no matter how much I train.

I woke up the morning of day one, and started practicing with a local Vegas player we were rooming with. I was not exactly feeling ready to compete after the short practice session, nor was I happy with my play during practice at all. I knew I had to swallow it though, and focus on what was to come. They say friendlies do not really matter,  but when you’ve come all this way, and spend a lot of money going to a tournament with the hopes of performing well and have trained a lot for it, you kind of want any interaction you have with the game to be meaningful, right? It is “The big one” after all (Despite a drop in attendance this year).

I went downstairs, ate the soggiest oatmeal I had ever eaten, put my headphones in and began the trek to the Mandalay Bay from the Luxor. Eventually I got myself to where my pool was being held at noon. Right around when the pool matches were being called, someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around, and this group of about five or six friends from high-school were there as spectators of the event itself. This was huge for me! I tried to hold back tears, but to no avail. I had ran into a few of them at Evo 2016, but I completely forgot that they like going to this event so it was a huge surprise for me. I had not seen a few of them in about four years, which made mentally preparing for my matches even more difficult, since seeing all of them had begun to make me cry. I hugged all of them and did my best not to become more of an emotional wreck. I then remember just sitting on a chair in front of a free setup, completely unaware of the fact that I had a setup right in front of me to warm-up on and instead sat there trying to dry the tears from my face while talking to my friend Erin.

Her and I talked for a bit, which was quite relaxing and got me a bit more at ease and focused. Thanks Erin! My match was finally called after I got a measly twenty seconds of warm-up time (Thanks, emotions). I had to play a Falco player for my round one, and the winner of this set had to play Chillindude in the next round. The set began, and the Falco player took the first stock off of me soon after the set started. Not a position I had never been in before though, and while it was quite awkward, I won the first game. During the second game I felt a little bit better, and ended up winning the set 2-0. Then a TO came up to me, and told me I had to play Chillindude on stream, on the big stage. I actually popped off and shouted “Fuck yeah!” when I had heard this. Not because I had just won, but because I was just told that I get to play Chillindude on the big stage. I began walking with the TO to the stage, and the TO handed me a piece of paper on which I had to write my name, my tag, what region I am from, a fun fact about me, and my favorite commentator. Besides the obvious answers, I wrote down Wife as my favorite commentator, and “I love playing on the big stage” as my fun fact. (Please go check out Wife’s Blog as it’s amazing!)

I sat down in front of the stage, and waited for the set Amsa was playing to finish. The amplified game sounds booming through the area gave me goosebumps. As I sat there and as I walked on stage, I felt no fear of under-performing, making mistakes, losing or letting anyone down. I just remember being very “there”. Being very present. Maybe I was a little bit afraid, I certainly was right after I had woken up, but once I got on stage, none of that stuff seemed to weigh on me as heavily. I felt I had to just perform. Giving it my all? Maybe. I do not remember feeling like I was over-exerting, or over-performing or pressing any button on my controller really hard or popping off when it felt unnatural. I was just focused on the game, and it was the most exhilarating time I have ever had while playing Melee, and an experience that has given training a much more clear definition.

The set finished with Chillindude winning. I turned to him, gave him a fist-bump, and stood up to unplug my controller. When I stood up, I did have the “Well, dang. I lost. That sucks.” feeling, but at the same time, I felt pretty awesome actually. I felt I had overcome a huge fear, a real fear of how many things could go wrong. A fear of losing focus or a fear of getting frustrated or choking. The support I was given from my friends and smashers after the set was just such an incredible thing for me.  Ka-Master walked up on stage and just as I was about to finish packing my controller, he hugged me and gave me some really awesome short words of encouragement to keep going. That was amazing and meant a tremendous amount to me. I walked down the stairs and all of my friends were there to tell me about the match. As I was walking back to my pool, this little kid came up to me and told me how I was so close, then his dad showed up and he told me the same thing. A little kid and his dad, whom I had never met before, were telling me about the set. Pretty crazy. Then sometime during the day, I can’t remember when exactly, two or three people I had never met before in my life came up to me to tell me about it too. This was so crazy to me. It has been such a crazy experience to have been playing this game competitively since August 2013, suck for two years, decide that I really want to improve around mid 2015, feel like giving up/go through depression while I wanted to improve through most of 2016/early 2017, and then have this set on the big stage at Evo, and have complete strangers tell me that they’re fans. Once you get momentum, it is hard to let go of it when you finally get to experience the outcome you have only dreamed of so many times in your head before, for years. It has changed how I perceive locals, and changed why I practice in the first place. Of course I would have liked to come out on the winning side, but to come out on the side of the bracket you’d prefer to come out on, you have to explore a side of yourself you never thought was there before.

I certainly was the underdog here, and moving forward, I would like to practice how to handle any fear of not living up to this performance (especially at locals), and any sort of new internal pressure I have not faced before that might come up after a performance like this, through meditation. I am human after all, and I want to better understand how I can accept the human part of the game and how to cope with the anxiety or burden not meeting internal and external expectations, both good ones and bad ones. Overall, I want to be satisfied, and make the most out of my opportunities with this awesome game.


If you made it this far, thank you for reading.


— Kopaka


I would also like to play my opponents when they are playing their best, that way if I win, it feels way more amazing. (I’m sure Chillindude can play much better than he did during our set and it would be very exciting to get to play him again when he does).

This is the song I was listening to during the set: