“Your mind gives up too easily.”

This is about a very simple but oh so powerful piece of advice that I was given to by my main practice partner and dear friend. I’ve heard and seen so much advice given to myself and other players like.. Oh, just space better. Watch x player play the matchup. Do this, do that. I’ve heard it all, from everyone I’ve talked to. I’be given advice like that. But a moment like what I experienced is rare. It was powerful. It might even sound completely absurd for someone who plays a competitve video game. OkamiBW is an extremely nice guy, so is Captain Faceroll, so is Armada, so are a lot of extremely good players of our game who can give really great advice on melee or life to just about anyone in our community.  but I had to be the one that heard “Your mind gives up too easily..” during a practice session. It struck a chord, man. Do you think I remember the dozens of times I heard “space this grab that don’t Bair over there, run up and shield”? Nope, it’s all noise. Something that penetrates the noise and funk of what everyone says to you to improve really sticks with you, and I got just that on that night. Real raw shit, it actually blew my mind up, even though it really just meant “when you get combod you still have some control over your character”. But my mind gives up too easily? I live for these moments. The’s profound penetrations of my perception of what’s really going on in front of me and how I play the game. I love it. I hate the basic. It was simple, but powerful. I understood what he meant because I felt exactly what was going on. It was obvious.

I don’t think I personally would have gotten the message harder had it been worded differently, and since I’m crazy, I instantly made connections to his phrase to my own life. WHEN SHIT HITS THE FAN, DON’T LET YOUR MIND GIVE UP TOO EASILY WHEN LIFE COMBO’S YOU, is how I’d say it to a smasher. It makes sense to me now though, I knew what it meant when he said it, but the impact it had on me was big, and I’m extremely glad I heard it that way, because a great mentor knows, just like how he knows the game, how and when and why saying “Just DI up”, would ever be different from telling someone “don’t let your mind give up”.

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Reflection on The Inner Game of Tennis!

Recently I made a vlog on some of my favorite books ever. I want to go more in depth on how I feel about some of them here soooo:

Inner Game of Tennis: As I’m opening up random pages, (page 113 to be exact) and re-reading the material, it’s such a…strange feeling I’m getting, I’m not quite sure how to describe what it is. I basically began reading this book somewhere around 2015, around the time I was hired at my very first job, when I didn’t have a car, and I had to either Uber or walk to work. I was basically fresh out of high school too, and in this period of my life, there was a lot of muck in my mind about what I wanted to do with Melee, and what I wanted to do with my life. Despite all the muck and feelings of complete emptiness and directionless in my mind at the time, I was a complete sponge to this sort of material, and I have no idea why. I just felt like I had to read it, so I did. I guess I was just born with natural EQ to material like this. 

Despite the directionless feelings, despite the confusion, despite feeling that a lot of my competition being ahead of me in skill, I read the book. It wasn’t that I even just read the damn thing, I tried to live the book. It took practice to understand and internalize the book, and make the most important parts, a part of me. I’m extremely glad that 2015-Kopaka read and re-read this book as many times as he did, because it’s been well worth it right now. Months and months after reading the book however, (and even very recently) I would still get very upset over tiny little things within the game. The book couldn’t completely change my entire view of the world, that I had to learn much later. On my part, it took a ton of real effort, real forced effort, to practice the material. Now I look at it just as I look at physical practice. It’s mental muscle memory. You practice something until you can do it with tons of certainty! Thats the way I see it now, it just took me in particular a lot of time to practice it, since it didn’t really come natural to me, unlike playing video games, which always has. I think that’s super important so I’ll say it again. Playing video games has always come natural to me, but winning the mental, human battle we have with ourselves, never did. Actually, now after reading some other books that I’ll mention soon, I dont even look at it as a battle! You dont want to fight two battles at once, right!? It’s hard enough to play to your opponent! Don’t make it a 2v1 if you don’t have to! And if you don’t know how to do that, check the book out! It may help you get started.

I’ve thrown my controller, cried, yelled, slammed my fist on tables, slammed doors, thrown my car keys at full force onto the ground having it shatter to pieces, cried, broken down and cried, walked out of a venue and shouted into the air, “what’s wrong with me?” after losing. Despite all of that making me feel helpless, depressed, directionless all distraught, I wanted to learn how I could really play the game that I wanted to play.

I had to put a tremendous amount of more work into that sort of thing than anything else. People would tell me advice, like, really great simple advice, I had people giving me really great help honestly. I’ll never forget the night that Oats said to me, at one of the early San Diego Melee Donut Panic bi-weekly locals, “Don’t be so hard on yourself!” after I had thrown my controller for the very first time. Why was I being so hard on myself in the first place? Probably because I was trying to be Armada in a week, probably because I wanted to prove, more than I wanted to learn. Oh, I wanted to learn alright, but even the mere action or thought of learning means so much more to me now than it did back then.  

The process of working at that whole thing never really stopped, it eventually just faded away into my subconscious. To me, a lot of people discuss the book, but few seem to be practitioners from my experiences. You can read about how a wave dash works one-thousand times, see it that many times, but you’ll never understand it yourself without trying it one-thousand times.

It isn’t all that special.

So the last three tournaments I attended all happened last weekend, but I wanted to write about them anyway so here I am. I beat people and lost to people at all three of them, 2 San Diego locals and one SSS #59. One thing I noticed at all three events, is that in bracket, whenever I started literally thinking about “I’m winning/losing” , I started playing sloppily. The crazy thing to me and basically the whole point of me writing this, is that these “problems” or whatever you want to call them, can happen and has happened to anyone ever in any sort of competition period, probably just in different ways for different people. What I’m realizing is that I’m no longer alone in these sorts of things as I compete and learn more about clarity of the task at hand. Like, no matter how engaged you are, and I was really engaged in some of these tournament sets, like REALLY engaged, i dont think you can ever stop thinking, its impossible, you just have to refocus your mind on the task however you can or something about motivation, I have no idea it’s different for everyone lol.

Something else that’s really blowing my mind right now, is as I’m reading through the “ask ppmd about the tiara guy” thread on smash boards starting from page 1, which dates back to 2008, literally 9 years ago, I’m seeing that a lot of ideas or stuff I do even unconsciously in the game, people have been doing for 9 years. Like, to me it feels like I’m no innovator right now, I’m sort of just dusting off the ways the ways people (Cactuar) established things nearly a decade ago, and adding ME to the mix as in my own style and expression. Which, to me, isn’t all that special if that’s the way it’s been done in any sort of art that takes years of practice.

 

I’m no innovator. I’m just taking what works, and adding me to the mix.

 

 

 

 

No one knows who you are at EVO.

Something that a dear friend of mine said recently was that “No one knows who I am at EVO”. This friend is very skilled in Melee, his name is known among a lot of people from the area he competes in, and can compete with people as skilled as he is. But no one knows who he is at EVO. No one knows who I am at EVO, and no one knows who you are at EVO as well. Unless you’re Armada, unless you’re Mango, unless you’re Leffen, unless you’ve got a real foundation, unless you’re competing in a place where everyone’s eyes (and I mean everyone’s) are going to be looking, which is Top 8, of tournaments everyone’s eyes will watch (again, everyone), no one really knows you. If your goal is to be the #1 best player in the world, if that’s who you think you are right now, why are you getting so sad when the #1 best player in the world doesn’t win? 

Because you’re not who you want to be yet. When did Armada become the best player in the world? When he won Genesis 2. Did he have more patience than anyone in the smash community has ever had? Yes. Did he force the opportunities to show how much he believed he was the best, start his own Genesis, because he wanted to be the best player in the world so desperately enough that he couldn’t wait any longer, and then make a complete fool out of himself if he had lost? Hell no. He waited. Key word, waited. Why do you think you can even be the best player in your region tomorrow? Why do you even need to be the best player in your region tomorrow? What the hell are you even doing today that’s going to make that a reality anyways? Are you practicing for tomorrow, or are you practicing just to “win” for today? It just doesn’t matter if you’re “winning” the practice today. It’s how patient you really are, if the things you want really matter.

Think about the legacy that takes place there, and think about the times that people remember when Armada or Mango lost. Everyone remembers those times. Everyone remembers when Armada lost to Hungrybox at EVO 2016. No one, and I mean literally no one, remembers the time you lost at Weekly Local #45. No one remembers when Armada lost at Weekly Local #45, and no one actually remembers when you lost in Losers-Quarter Finals in Pool #A200 at EVO 2017. The eyes aren’t there. If you want to be remembered, look at where you’re playing. Look at where you’re winning and look at where you’re losing. Are you losing when everyone in the smash community wants to be watching, to see who places 9th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 1st at a super national? Or, are you losing at a place where no one really cares who’s going to get 129th?

The single most important set of Melee I’ve played.

This is a set of mine that I played back when I lived in Temecula. To give some context, this was super early into me starting out in Smash. I was basically a total scrub, a total noob, and I had no idea what I was actually doing. I could only do really basic stuff that I had heard of, like wavedashing and moving left and right. I was trash, but I thought I was really really good. What’s important is that I cannot stress enough how important this set is to me. (For those unfamiliar, I play Marth).

And the last 30 seconds here:

(Shoutouts to Kony, who still competes to this day, and also went from being as bad as he was back then to where he is now, and Temecula Melee for giving me the opportunity back then to compete).

I really am obsessed with this set. It speaks for itself. I’m a total TOTAL scrub. White Marth, super cliche. Hilarious. Look how bad I am here! And I love it. I LOVE seeing how bad I am here, I LOVE comparing myself NOW to who I was back then, and comparing my future self to where I’m at today. I really do wish I had lost the set though. Because if I had lost this set, and I had the mindset that I have now, it would have instantly fueled me more to keep going instead of fuck around for the next 3 years. I think it all comes down to perspective though. Because I had won, I naively thought I was pretty dang good. But look, watch the set and you can clearly see that I wasn’t! If you’re just starting out in Melee, or if you feel you’ve been stuck in a rut, chances are you’re just as good at the game as I am here or something. I’ve been there. I WAS that guy. I WAS the cocky White Marth player who wanted to be the next coolest Marth on the planet. I was the Forward Smash spammer, the roller, you name an attribute of a noob, and I had it. I lived it. I get it. I understand it. I’ve been a complete noob at Melee longer than not being one. And the most important thing I’ve learned from being there for so long is that there is an “escape” or “way out” to “being better”. There really is. But it’s not “hope”. It’s not “I hope I…”. It’s not that. It’s going to be different for everyone, and for me it was eventually not being content with where I was in terms of skill.

This video is 100% PROOF, and I mean legit PROOF, that a complete nobody, can improve. And you can sure as HELL do it quicker than I did! Absolutely! The fact that I’m at where I am NOW is proof of this as well. I want this video to inspire at least ONE of you out there. Even just ONE. Just ONE person, to realize that you can go from absolute garbage to basically any higher level of skill if you’ve got the right kind of focus for it. For some people maybe it takes longer to find it, for some it won’t take as long. I’ve seen it happen way shorter for some than for how long it took me. Everyone has different DNA, so I can’t speak for everyone. You hear it time, and time, and time, and time again, from just about every great player, that everyone starts out somewhere. Again, it sounds cliche, but sometimes the cliche stuff is the most true.

So please, please stop using your “badness” at Melee as an excuse as to why you can’t improve, if you really care about improving!

No expert by any means.