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Syracuse Melee Bounces Back: MonkHB’s Runs at Quit Your Friendlies 4 and Larger than Life

In 2015 I moved from Florida up to Syracuse, NY for a job opportunity. I figured competitive Smash was going to be a fond memory of mine at this time in my life and I would begin pursuing other things. Sure, I would play the new games if they were around but traveling and chasing the dream seemed like something that was far behind me. Fast forward to 2017, one of my coworkers told me that there was going to be a Melee tournament at the bar he partially owned. I ended up going 1-2 mostly due to Melee feeling like this unfamiliar creation as I hadn’t played Melee seriously since like 2013. Although my hands weren’t cooperating my eyes could still see the game, at least at the level everyone in the area was playing at.

Growing up I didn’t have a ton of chances to chase the competitive dream, and as an adult I don’t own a car, but these little weeklies at the bar gave me a chance to at least form new connections in this area. I started practicing more, I managed to get a CRT and a cube set up at my job and I would spend my lunches practicing tech skill and scaring off any of my coworkers that wanted to see what all the fuss was about. ‘Cuse didn’t have a huge scene, but it was pretty decently sized. It was at least big enough to consider talking about a PR and lookie there, your boy managed to slide onto one.

Syracuse Smash 2017 Melee PR

What’s with all this preamble? Who gives a shit about a PR list from five years ago, from a city that no one cares about? Well, since this PR was created Syracuse Melee has kinda slid downhill. Local tournaments would barely get double digits, people from SU graduated and moved on to different things, the world started to end…shit sucked. For the past couple years I was convinced I would be resigned to playing solely in online tournaments and traveling for majors, but something happened.

The Weekend Before

Last weekend there was a regional tournament in Buffalo with a $600 pot bonus for Melee singles. The weekend before that one of the ‘Cuse old heads, Manalord, held a smashfest to prep for this and a good amount of people showed up, some people I hadn’t seen in years as well as a few new faces. Everyone was planning on heading out to Buffalo to show the rest of Upstate NY that Syracuse wasn’t dead. I still didn’t have a ride and honestly didn’t plan on going, but I said fuck it and asked around if anyone had a spot, and sure enough there was one seat open.

The fest was a complete success and got me really pumped for QYF. I was playing well and was taking games off of players I never could in the past, so I escaped the feeling of just playing the game and spinning your wheels.

Quit Your Friendlies 451 Entrants (9th Place, 19th Seed)

This tournament was loaded with cash as I mentioned, so it brought out some severe heat from Upstate, including Jmook, who won the tournament without dropping a game…spoiler alert. So despite this being a 51-entrant regional, it was definitely not soft.

Jmook took Grand Finals against Zuppy with stylish combos in his first Upstate event since gaining the national spotlight

The event started with Low Tiers, which Mana strong-armed the event into running, and then he won. Next event was doubles, which was added at the last minute and left me scrounging for anyone to be my partner. I ended up teaming with a Syracuse Fox/IC main, Graddy, and we went 0-2…the games weren’t super eventful, but it just served as a reminder that I need to find a constant doubles partner so I can build up that synergy. Onto the main event.

My run on Start.gg for Quit Your Friendlies 4

The image of my bracket run is above. 19th seed is a pretty respectable placement in the bracket, was originally seeded lower but the TO saw I placed 17th at CEO and was like “Maaaaaybee we should move him a little higher,” so the plan of Place well at a major to stop being seeded low is already off to a great start! Onto the matches:

  • RubenN52 – Seed 46 Falcon – The dude started off playing pretty hot so I thought we had a secret good player alert, but he SD’d trying to close out my first stock and it was all downhill from there.
  • GoodleShoes – Seed 14 Peach – Didn’t get to play GoodleShoes in bracket, as he and Manalord decided to dip early because the event was running a bit behind schedule. Back in 2017, I was never able to take a game off GoodleShoes, but after jamming a ton of games the weekend before I was confident things would be different this time around, but if he’s back on the grind that may not be the case for long.
  • Zanya – Seed 3 Sheik – Zanya placed second in the Low Tiers tournament and plays one of my hardest match-ups so I knew things were going to be rough. Definitely plays a more slower and brainer Sheik, so I was caught a bit off guard on him not throwing out aerials. Games were close, could probably steal one in the future.
  • Clay – Seed 22 Peach – Clay was originally from Syracuse but moved out to Buffalo for school or work or something, I don’t know man, I’m not his dad. When I first started playing in tournaments in CNY he wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I would have events where I would 4 stock him back-to-back, but as time went on he leveled up in a major way. I stopped winning games against him, and eventually, he started 4 stocking me some games. He became a bit of a demon in my bracket that suddenly vanished so this game meant a lot to me. Game one we had a close game on Fountain of Dreams, but he came out ahead. In my CEO article I mentioned that I don’t like to play other floaties on Dreamland, and if this was 2017 MonkHB I probably would have gone to Yoshi’s Island when he banned Pokemon Stadium, but I’m a wiser man today. I knew I needed space, and I knew I needed to not get caught in stupid scrambles and die. So we went to Dreamland and played a patient game and took game two. For game three I banned Final Destination as I still needed some verticality to not be strung along by his gameplan which only left Yoshi’s, Battlefield, and the runback, so I knew we were heading to BF. The game was tense went down to the last hit and I had a good bread on how he was moving and was nailing him with charge shots. He ended up pulling a stitch face so I quickly processed what he wanted to do and called out a jump to platform and sealed the game with a charge shot, and immediately popped off. Demon slain.
  • Asylum – Seed 7 Fox/Falcon – Alright, I try to keep this a positive space, but I have some words to say. TO pointed me to this guy and we go find a set up, there is no sound so he doesn’t want to play on it. Completely reasonable. Samus makes a loud ass machine noise when she uses her double jump and that’s free info, baby. We get on a setup and hop into game one, and I two stock him pretty handily. Top 16 is best of five so I have no bans, and for five minutes he just sits there in complete silence just looking at the stage select screen, moving the cursor around before saying FD, asking me if I’m staying, and then switching to Falcon. He goes for Knee to Stomp at round start, I meteor cancel and dair him and he dies at 12% and the game wraps up with no issue. He then takes another five minutes on stage select and picks Battlefield. I SD a couple times and he ends up with a game. I take 0.5 seconds to say Dreamland and we’re in the game…I get that there is a lot of pressure to pick a stage, and you need to take in information and determine what stage to go to and if you want to counter-pick…I literally have an article about it right here on my blog, but jesus…PICK UP THE PACE! Anyway, I won the Dreamland game, but I do have to give him props for a really insane recovery on his last stock where he ledge teched like four things and survived some strong hits up into the 200% range.
  • Question – Seed 4 Marth – I haven’t played against this guy before, but I knew he was good from the time he won our CNY/Upstate online local. The games were pretty unremarkable, he did Marth things and I died. Just a constant reminder of one of my weaker match-ups


  • Gnasty for giving me a lift to Buffalo in style. Road two hours and change in a ‘98 Benz convertible with the top down. Definitely one of the sickest road trips of all time, would do it again in a heartbeat.
  • Djang0 for being funny as hell, recognizing me from unranked and not calling me a piece of shit when I didn’t recognize his tag, and warming up my hands with some good Falco practice.
  • People that thought my business card was dope as hell.
  • Syracuse for showing up and placing pretty well

Melee at Larger than Life – 9 Entrants (3rd Place, 3rd Seed)

My run on Start.gg for Smash at LTL

The tournament was definitely a little light. Shoutouts to the ultimate players that filled the bracket so we could at least have an eight-player bracket.

  • Graddy – Seed 6 Fox – Graddy was my doubles partner for QYF, and it just worked out that the seeding would have us play round one. I was joking with him all weekend that he needed to be mindful of his tech options because every time I would downthrow him he would tech past me and I would get a free down smash. I caught him with it once and then he started mixing it up every time after that. Honestly, super proud of him, that is literally growth.
  • Poseidon – Seed 2 Sheik – Poseidon got into Syracuse smash around the same time I did, and he got really good, really quick. Throughout most of 2018 I was unable to take games off him, and that has continued for years. This set marks the first time I took a set off of him since 2017, and the games I won I was pretty far ahead.
  • Manalord – Seed 1 Zelda – Yeah…that says Zelda. Mana has been playing competitively for as long as me, and is miles away the best player in ‘Cuse. The dude loves Low Tier events, and mostly mains Zelda these days. He navigates neutral a bit better than me, and has two really powerful kill moves so I gotta play the game really tight. Games were close all the way through and I feel like I could have come out on top if I have made a few less mistakes, and wasn’t trying to come back from a 0-2 deficit.
  • Poseidon – Seed 2 Sheik – The run back. I came out hot in the first two games and had a close third game, then Poseidon made the last couple of adjustments he needed to stomp me out the remaining games. The loss is rough, but at least I know the gap is closing and that the work I’ve been doing for the past couple of years hasn’t been for nothing. It’s only a matter of time for me to win a Syracuse event.

Cuse Melee Coming Back

It’s nice to see some life being put back into the Syracuse Melee scene. People in Buffalo were surprised at how strong some of the ‘Cuse players were so it’s just a matter of trying to get more people to show up in the area. Locals are going to be happening on a biweekly basis for the foreseeable future, we have RetroGameCon happening in October which should bring people that aren’t going to Big House in.

You can find more of MonkHB’s writing on tournaments & more at monkhb.com

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