How are you enjoying living back in Florida and finally playing Smash full time? Is the lack of distractions helping your mindset?
I think so. I think it’s nice to be doing something fulltime that you really enjoy. It’s just good to be back, because I’m back with my family, my close friends, my coach Luis is moving back to Florida in a month or two as well. It’s just really good, because you can make more money doing a certain job, doing this or that, but if you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, I think it’s kind of worthless. But if I can make a living doing this, playing Smash, and just being with your friends? It’s a really wonderful thing and I know it requires a balance between you and all of the things that could cause you issues – pragmatic as they might be – it’s still fun. I’ve been enjoying it a lot and I hope it lasts a long time.
You’re having a fairly successful lead up to the summer, with two big wins (Frame Perfect and Full Bloom) this spring. Do you think your form is starting to resemble where it was last summer?
I’m getting close. I think last summer was a really special thing. Last summer, you know, I would only drop a tournament here and there. I think as long as I can maintain a podium streak, as long as I can maintain close games and play good Melee… I care less about numbers and more about what happens inside the games, how I’m approaching things, where people are outsmarting me. I think that’s a lot more indicative of my form. I had some really close calls last year. I know SFAT’s been really on the come up as well. It’s really good that people are getting up to that level and I believe that it’s only a matter of time before everyone – even Armada – will start dropping sets more and more. Everyone is just putting in that much work. But we’ll see around midsummer, around June, how I’m feeling. If I can get a tournament streak going there, going into Evo, I could see the back to back Evo wins happening.
Why did you elect to not team with M2K this weekend?
I think he elected to not team with me. I dunno, I forget. Whenever we lose, we just like, we get sick of each other. I don’t know if it’s me or if it’s him. I thought him and Plup were gonna win this weekend! But even they lost to Mango and SFAT. Me and M2K lost to Mango and Lucky at Smash Rivalries. And also Armada and Android lost! There’s just so many questions that need to be asked about doubles. Doubles is so strange. Fun to watch though! I really do miss having a permanent teammate. I wish that me and my coach, Crunch, could just team fulltime and invest that time into each other… but even that is risky, because if he messes up or drops something, I don’t want to ever get angry at the guy! He’s a best friend, I don’t want to blame him for anything. I don’t want to risk a friendship over that. Yeah, I just wish I had a permanent teammate, who was willing to team with me every single time, no questions asked. We’ll see. If he keeps improving, I’m open to the idea, as long as it doesn’t strain our friendship.
How do you think you and ESAM performed as a team? You seem to be able to adapt and play teams with a number of other players.
I had expectations of how we were gonna do between like… this and this (gestures with hands). The lowest expectation, like, the good expectation was fifth, which is what we got. But I knew we’d get at least fifth, because Puff/Samus is a very underrated team and ESAM is just good at reading opponents with a very fast reaction time. He’s actually really good at Melee, I mean he actually got invited to Summit last year and beat Armada’s Fox in crews, twice. It’s no easy feat, regardless of the characters being played. He’s just very talented. I don’t know. The teams meta is really weird. I just feel like communications is the most important thing. As long as you’re communicating with your teammate, as long you’re being really vocal to your teammate about what you want them to do, you know “Do this right here, help me, help me” sort of thing. The more vocal you are, I think, the better odds you have. But you also need to hold your own ground as well. You can’t expect someone else to carry you. You’ve got to pull your own weight and then pull weight when you have to. It’s all timing.
We continue to see the benefits of your work with Crunch, with you playing some of the best Melee of your career at Summit 4. What have you two been working on lately?
He always… sometimes, when I’m on a good winning streak, we’ll not work together for too long. What I’m doing is working, right? But the moment I lose, that’s when he steps in. That’s when it’s most important. Right then is when my mind is the freshest and also frustrated. He’s just like “Ok, this is what happened. This is what you did wrong.”
At CEO Dreamland, he had advice for me, but I was being too lazy and decided to not listen to him. Well, not “not listen to him” but I didn’t set aside time for us to talk. It ended up biting me in the butt, because I got 3rd place. Now I’m making sure to stay humble and always listen to him. He’s here at this tournament and we’re working together. He’s very good at pinpointing what the other Fox is doing, regardless of their style. It’s just all player dependent and it’s all making sure I stay in tune with the current meta. He’s very helpful for that.
Over the past few months, we’ve seen Plup, Colbol, and Wizzrobe level up and put up some of their strongest performances. How confident are you in the future of Florida melee?
I think it’s in really good hands. I have a new biweekly starting up soon and it’s a great, great scene to be in. Tons of variety, tons of competition there. I think Florida is still obviously behind Cali, because they have so many people, but I think Florida is the second best Smash scene in the world right now, especially Central Florida. It’s just an incredible region to grow in and there’s been so many new players coming out of the woodworks. It’s just an amazing place to play and nurture your Smash skill.
What are your hopes going into the summer? Is your focus solely on retaining your title at Evo?
Not just the Evo title, no. I want to stay relevant, I want to stay a part of the discussion. Not just “Who is the best player in the world”, like it doesn’t have to be me. But I want to be the guy who can be that, given a good day. I just want to stay in that position, same as I have been. The status quo is good. I’m enjoying this status quo. If I win again at Evo, that’d be amazing but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t.