Melee Player Quits Match Over Opponent's Jigglypuff Stalling

Over the weekend, an entire venue of Super Smash Bros. competitors and spectators lost their collective minds over the actions of one Jigglypuff player. Did he cheat in some way? Go overboard after a win? Destroy a CRT? Yell obscenities at the audience?

No, he simply played to the Pokémon’s strengths in a favourable matchup, causing his opponent to get so frustrated that he unplugged his controller and left in a huff.

Fighting games are all about matchups. Since characters often differ from one another in terms of move lists and play styles, competition can sometimes begin right at the character select screen. In Street Fighter, for instance, Dhalsim is almost always going to have an advantage over Zangief due to the way he can control space with his stretchy limbs.

Super Smash Bros. Melee has a similar matchup in Jigglypuff vs. Ice Climbers, in which the floaty Pokémon is able to run away as soon as she gets a life lead, thereby keeping distance between herself and the duo’s scary mixups and grabs.

This exact scenario played out at Battle of BC 3 in Vancouver, Canada this past weekend. As the event’s Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament reached the finals, Alejandro “Chango” Gastelum played to Jigglypuff’s strengths in a match against Ice Climbers main Chaucer “Fauxhebro” Gilson, using Puff’s hit-and-run gameplay to keep his opponent at bay.

Fauxhebro, wearing a custom shirt emblazoned with #FreeFaux to protest the tournament’s banning of the Ice Climbers’ controversial wobbling technique, fought back admirably and ended up forcing a crucial fifth game to decide who would remain in the tournament.

Throughout that fight, though, he looked frustrated. In previous games, Fauxhebro regularly shook his head in apparent disapproval of Chango’s tactics, and as he entered the final game of the match, he changed his in-game name to ‘PLAY’ as a way to signal his criticism of Chango’s keep-away game.

When Chango continued to play defensively, Fauxhebro’s barely-contained irritation boiled over. Five minutes into the game, Chango held a slight 3-2 stock advantage thanks to his ability to float from platform to platform and avoid Fauxhebro’s Ice Climbers assault. Unable to make any headway, Fauxhebro simply stopped moving.

Chango, due his life lead, had zero reason to approach an opponent that excelled in close-quarters combat, and waited at the opposite end of the stage, leading to a standstill. The commentary team complained. The audience complained.

A fellow Super Smash Bros. Melee player, Johnny “S2J” Kim, held up two middle fingers in the front row to protest the Jigglypuff-fuelled inaction on stage. Everyone booed, even the commentators. But in spite of all this, Chango sat stone-faced, refusing to engage until Fauxhebro finally unplugged his controller and walked off stage.

In the war of attrition, Chango had won, but no one seemed happy about it. Later on, popular Twitter account theSirToasty posted an edited clip of the match with the caption, “Melee at its worst.”

The above video immediately caused divisions in the greater fighting game community on social media, split along predictable lines. Classic fighting game players saw nothing wrong with Chango’s play, comparing it to Justin Wong’s famous ability to play “lame” or “turtle” through many of his matches. The Smash scene, however, has a very different idea of what constitutes legitimate play.

Due to the way characters like Fox and Falco have dominated tournaments, the community believes fast, combo-heavy matches should form the basis of competition. Anything else is disrespectful to those watching the fight, or so a vocal contingent of the scene seems to believe.

Tactics like those that Chango put on display over the weekend are colloquially known as “camping,” a derogatory term for playing keep-away when there is no reason to approach.

For my part, I find it hard to disagree with traditional fighting game players. Chango played the match beautifully, and forcing your opponent to get up and leave the set using just your gameplay to frustrate them should be a point of pride.

At the Evolution Championship Series, I’ve seen audiences separate into similar camps. Folks who focus on games like Street Fighter, Tekken, and Guilty Gear will frequently cheer for Smash champion Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma’s stalling Jigglypuff strategy, while Melee players boo for the exact same reason.

What is considered exciting or engaging differs from game to game, due in part to the overall scene being more like a loose umbrella of feudal states rather than a unified community.

While the Smash community has been embroiled in the ongoing wobbling discussion, a separate, less popular conversation has sprung up about the possibility of limiting the ways in which Jigglypuff can camp, with some players even wanting to ban her from competition altogether.

These arguments typically revolve around how Super Smash Bros. Melee is perceived by viewers, with some worried that Jigglypuff matches are slow enough that they can turn people off from the game entirely.

With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gaining traction as the new hotness, this anxiety isn’t necessarily unfounded, but it also highlights the differing values of the Smash community in general, where playing to the growing spectator class is sometimes considered more important than allowing competitors to use whatever tactics they need to ensure a win, even if those tactics aren’t that exciting to watch.

“I’ve got a lot to say about wobbling and the whole situation that went down today but all I’ll say is I miss the days when people honored the unwritten rules of Melee and didn’t cry about everything they didn’t understand,” Fauxhebro posted on Twitter after the tournament ended, seemingly referring to the scene’s tendency to shun defensive play.

It’s hard to say whether wobbling would have allowed Fauxhebro to compete with Chango on more even footing, but there’s certainly a tinge of irony in protesting your character’s most potent technique being banned while also making a grand show of quitting against an opponent who is playing their character as efficiently as possible.

Much like with wobbling, the Jigglypuff conversation is one that won’t be going away for a while, and for better or worse, the Smash community will need to contend with it if they plan to continue supporting this unchanging, 17-year-old game.

Fauxhebro did not respond to Kotaku’s request for comment.


Comments

    I did not think that rage quitting would be the go to Melee tactic of 2019. Ha. This future!

    The real solution is to not main a single character, and have a pocket pick for these scenarios. But alas.

    Reminds me of defensive, point focused boxing, you won't make friends or fans but you will win.

    I can see it getting banned or a rule introduced where you can only run away for a set time.

      I say allow all play styles. If the game is made in a way which allows Ice Climbers to wobble, or if Jigglypuff's strengths include turtling, it is exclusionary and snobbish for tournaments to disallow these things. What they are really saying is, "we only want participants who play in a way that WE appreciate."

        Yeah I'm very much in the camp of do what you can to win within the bounds of the game.

        Bit torn on the wobbling thing since I'm not sure an unbreakable stun lock is ever an intended feature in fighting games but I feel this is something the developers need to address and fix.

    Banning a character for this is pretty stupid. so it might not be sporting, but consider euro football where the ball gets passed around and only towards the end of a 90 minute game does any goal attempts happen.

    Its called a tactic for a reason, the character isnt broken and the competitor pulled out from the comp rather than competing and frankly is ultimately worse

      But sports bring in new rules to try and prevent time wasting tactics all the time. Soccer has had plenty of new rules introduced..

      - Can't pass back to the keeper and have him pick it up
      - Extra time gets added for delays during play
      - Subs must now exit the field at the nearest point
      - Keeper has to put the ball back on the ground within a set amount of time (otherwise it's a fee kick)
      - Obvious deliberate attempts at time wasting can be deemed as misconduct/fouls and additional time added by the referee
      - Deliberately kicking the ball away is a mandatory yellow card now too

    For anyone hating on the Jigglypuff play: what are you here to see?
    Two fighters giving it their all for victory and the prize?
    Or a staged show.
    Genuine competition?
    Or manufactured entertainment.
    Boxing...
    or WWE?

    People hate on Floyd Mayweather too, but he's still the champ.

      My question is, how much skill dies it take to float around and avoid Ice Climbers like that (I dont play Smash, so I legitimately don't know)? Is this something that anyone with a fair range of skill can do? People are watching to see people play like pros.

      If this takes a lot of skill, it's amount to defence boxing. If not, it's closer to bowling underarm.

    Now that's just unacceptable and that is being pissed by quitting a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament in Vancouver, British Columbia Canada.
    It's absolutely unacceptable and I will not tolerate that behaviour.
    While most people rage quit at video games as for me I'm still playing video games today.

    I'm confused as to why the Ice Climber player couldn't constantly attack the Jigglypuff player. I don't play Smash so I get he was playing defensively but that doesn't make it impossible or was the IC player not good enough to get through the JP players defenses?

      He couldn't\wouldn't do anything about JP playing so defensively. Which in the melee community is held in higher regard than finishing the game by outsmarting your opponent...

      Jigglypuff can float around the stage and generally disengage really well. It is incredibly difficult to close in on a player doing this.

        So the best tactic against this would be to play aggressively in the beginning to avoid the Jigglypuff player taking a lead? Or would it be to play defensively in the beginning so as to be in a good position to counter a Jigglypuff player who is trying to take a lead?

        I understand that once the Jigglypuff player gets ahead, it is pretty hard to turn the tables.

          Either or are valid, but with IC, I would probably preference a very offensive based game to try and take first stock quickly. The best response would be to play characters that can close the gap better and have better vertical plays. Ice Climbers are really at a disadvantage in this match up that other characters suffer much less from, and really, a IC player should have a pocket pick to move to.

          This isn't helped however that some Smash tourney rules dictate that you must use a single character either for the matchup or the tourney, which I don't know if applied here however.

    I suppose it is a genuine tactic, and he executed it well. But at the same time, rules are usually put into place in most sports to stop what is essentially "camping" or shying away from the main goal of the game.

    Cricket's LBW for instance, teams and fans would rage quit if a batsman put his pads in the way whenever a ball looks like it would hit the stumps.

      Yep, stuff like shot clocks in basketball and limits on how long a goalkeeper can keep a hold of the ball in soccer are other examples. Rugby League has recently introduced scrum clocks as well. They are designed to keep the game moving and to avoid stalling tactics.

      What was happening here was basically the equivalent of a boxer landing a good punch and then spending the rest of the match running around the ring, totally avoiding any further engagement.

      While this kind of thing is legally allowed in tournaments, it's not a particularly good look for the game either way, both of the stalling tactics and the behaviour of the player that walked offstage.

    This is some damn Miyamoto Musashi skill ;)

      In strategy, you have effectively won when you forestall the enemy, so you must train well to attain this.

    A lot of people coming to this debate now (rather than 5 years ago when it really began) do not have the context for it that long time melee players do. Melee players watched the brawl tournament scene fail because of play patterns and matches like this. The reason melee has survived as a popular competitive game is not due to well-executed camping tactics. It's due to hype as fuck combos and insane tech skill, and everyone knows it. That's why people love melee, and if the pro scene departs from those elements the game is doomed to fail as brawl and sm4sh did.

    The reason ultimate rose quickly to popularity with melee players is the fact that it introduced higher speed gameplay and game elements that punish campy play styles. It's not idle speculation from melee players who don't want to see melee turn into a jiggly snoozefest. They've seen games in the same franchise essentially die for the same reason.

    This article fails to capture that perspective and betrays the author's unfamiliarity with melee.

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