[SSBM] Don’t chase a faster character!

Super Smash Bros. Melee professional Mango reviews his match loss to Leffen in the grand finals of GOML 2016. Leffen was playing Fox, while Mango (in all but one game) played Falco, Fox’s slower near-twin.

In this post, I’ve pulled points where Mango noticed himself making or avoiding the same strategic mistake again and again: chasing. He chases Leffen’s faster character into bad fights at ledges and platforms. Fox’s speed advantage gives him many options for turning on the pursuer, who has to correctly divine what is coming. Mango recognizes he should have patiently played from center stage instead of chasing, forcing Fox to come to him. Doing so would negate some of Fox’s speed/options advantage by forcing him to openly commit an approach. Mango’s chasing and other missteps cost him the first place finish, but reviewing the games helps him continue to improve.

Early in the match review, Mango asserts that “you can see he’s always running away from me already. Any time I do anything towards him he’s either full hopping or running away. That was his gameplan, which can easily be countered and am patient and have lasers.”

Falco on stage has trouble approaching Fox on the platforms. Leffen is using platforms and hops to approach at indirect angles:

“I’ve got to give up edge and go to center stage and laser.”

Continue reading “[SSBM] Don’t chase a faster character!”

[Chess] When an opponent’s position is harder to play, let them stew in it

In this pair of clips, ChessExplained's commentary sheds light on the cross-game theme of soliciting a misstep from an opponent by preserving a position that is harder for them to navigate than for you.

In this first clip, white's e5 move is committal, as pawns cannot move backwards. By committing to e5, white limits his own options and reveals his plan to black. Before (and after) the e5 pawn push he enjoys a space advantage that gives him more room to maneuver. If white had not locked himself into an e5 pawn structure here, he could have continued to make some easy and flexible strengthening moves. Black's more cramped position limits his options, and he would still need to play around white's multiple possible pawn advances. By pushing e5, white cuts himself off of these other plans, and black does not have to play around as many ideas at once. White passed up a chance to leave black in a less-comfortable position for a few more moves, which would give black more chances to err:

Another related but distinct theme crops up in a missed opportunity for black that Chris highlights: fix an enemy weakness in place so that it cannot be easily strengthened or traded off. One parallel appears in League of Legends laning. Let's say purple team's mid laner is low on hp or mana and would like the opportunity to return to base for a refresh. The blue mid player might ward up and push, pinning the purple mid to the tower. If purple goes back, they will take tower damage and miss extra xp, but if they stay they cannot fully contest lane, and may even be slain by a tower dive. Here, black could have used his own pawn to achieve a similar effect: