Interview with New Top 100 Melee Player Rik
Sat 3rd Feb 2018 - 12:32pm
Erik "Rik" Gerlitz, a Fox main, is the newly ranked #81 on SSBMRank 2017. He hails from Indiana and is #1 on the Indiana Power Rankings. I spoke with Rik about his history with competitive Melee and his thoughts on the current meta.
What was your introduction to competitive Melee?
Rik: I always played with a bunch of friends in my town, we were always pretty competitive. We had already turned off items, turned on stocks, and then we found videos of the advanced tutorials
Advanced How to Play?
Rik: Yeah, the how to play tutorials, and then we were like, “Oh this is great!” and then that was it, we started playing.
What was your introduction to tournaments and that scene?
Rik: The videos had a bunch of views, so we knew people knew about that stuff, and then, I can’t remember exactly how we found out, but I think at one point we wondered if there were tournaments and we started looking and it was around the time when Nintendo was getting into a bunch of crap with trying to censor that one EVO, I think it was 2014, so we were looking and then all that came into the spotlight, so it was pretty easy to see what was going on.
So you started playing in 2014 and you originally played Falco, right?
Rik: Yeah, my original main that I actually played for a good amount of time was Falco, I experimented with Doc, Sheik, and Marth a little bit before that, but Falco was the one I stuck with for a considerable amount of time.
So what made you make the switch to Fox?
Rik: There was a specific set I had with Kels at Landlocked, which was an Indiana regional. I just remember feeling way too slow and restricted in how I wanted to play. I felt like if I’m playing against the good players, I have to play defensive and very slow and methodical, and I feel like I wanted to play the game quicker and more free-flow, and Fox is quicker and he has more options so you can kind of freestyle it whereas Falco is more limited and structured and slow.
Switching gears a little bit, you’re from Indiana and you play in the Indiana competitive scene. It’s a little bit of a smaller scene, how do you think that has affected your progression as a player?
Rik: It definitely has hindered it a lot, I would say, but I think the people here are really cool. It kind of forced me to do more thinking about the game, and luckily when I started playing I was a senior in high school with an easy course load so I just did Smash stuff along with all my classes. When it came to actual practice, there really wasn’t much for a while because I didn’t know anymore, and once I started getting in the scene very fortunately the closest smasher by far to me happened to be Lanceinthepants, who is the best player in Indiana besides me. I’m also limited on matchup experience, I’ve been a fastfaller specialist since I started playing because that’s who I play against, and I try to travel in the region and in the country to get some of the other experience in floatier matchups and stuff.
You’re one of many players from the Midwest that sort of emerged out into the top 100 this year. Do you know what might have caused that sort of surge of results that we’re seeing from the Midwest with all these new top 100 Foxes?
Rik: Yeah that’s a really weird phenomenon, I don’t really understand why that is but the Midwest is catching up, I would think, to the rest of the country. It’s hard for me to say, I think 20XX and Netplay really helps because back in the day before those you kind of had to play other people, so the Midwest was sort of limited because we weren’t that good, but with the inception of 20XX and Netplay people were able to grind on their own, and if everyone can get better on their own and then play each other again then we’ll sort of get that benefit that the west coast and some of these other dense states had before the inception of it, where they could play each other and get better. Now we can get better on our own and then apply that to each other, so it’s kind of like an accelerated training, I think, if I had to say.
Right, and 20XX and Netplay, are those your main practice tools?
Rik: I don’t use Netplay, I tend to just do 20XX, and usually not even that much, I’ll usually just hop on and grind very basic tech skill for 20 or 30 minutes a day before I go to bed.
Let’s talk a little bit about your run at Show Me Your Moves 18. What do you think led up to that and enabled you to take so many names at that tournament?
Rik: You know, I don’t know really. I’ve always felt like I could beat these people, and I’ve come close a lot of times, and everyone I beat I have beaten before, I just happened to do it in succession this time.
Oh really? I wasn’t aware that you had these wins before, your run was PRZ, Cal, Reeve, KJH, Kels, and Captain Faceroll, right?
Rik: Yeah, I’ve beaten PRZ a bunch, Cal a bunch, in my last 15 sets with Reeve I think I’ve lost like one or two, I beat KJH like two years into playing at Rubicon 6, I think. I 2-0’d him at that tournament, and then me and Faceroll split sets this year pretty evenly. I think this last summer, this second half of the last year, we split 3-2 in his favor. And then Kels I’ve beaten before too.
But this was sort of at different times in previous years, not sort of all in one string?
Rik: Yeah I would just get a random set win at a tournament and that would be it.
Alright, and then after that you had your Big House run where you took out Tai and Rishi, and that leads me to wonder that a lot of people have sort of noted that you’re strong in the Marth matchup, particularly from your Big House sets. I want to know your general opinions on the Marth matchup with all this controversy about Marth-Fox. What’s your opinion on the matchup, what do you think you might do that helps you in it?
Rik: Personally, I don’t if the “60-40 Marth wins” thing is a meme or not. Fox definitely wins, just slightly, but Fox wins. I think there are some misconceptions with the matchup. I think a lot of Foxes and Marths think that Dreamland is just bad for Math, but I think it’s one of his better stages actually if they get their kills via edgeguarding, if they avoid Marthritis on Dreamland it’s good. Yoshi’s is great, he has no room to run, and Final Destination is not nearly as good as people think it is for Marth. A lot of Foxes, they play too passively, and for Marth to win he needs to call you out on certain things, but if you’re the one who’s making the first move and you can change that variable, then you’ve shifted the control into your favor, whereas if people play more passive and too careful, because you need to be careful, but if you’re too careful then Marth can kind of just do what he wants.
As we talked about, your second half of the year was noticeably stronger as a whole than your first half and your previous periods of playing. Did you see notable improvement in yourself from that period of time, or do you just think that luck happened to go your way in the second half of the year? It seems that a lot of players around your skill level have the ability to take these sets but they’re waiting for that one bracket where everything seems to go right.
Rik: I think as a I get older I just get a little more conscious in general, and that translates to my Melee game. I don’t know why my second half of the year was stronger, but it definitely was.
You talked earlier about Lanceinthepants. A lot of people know you from singles but you’ve actually been teaming with him pretty consistently at a bunch of different tournaments. Do you guys see yourselves as a static team? What do you think you need to do to start challenging other established top teams?
Rik: Yeah we’re definitely a pretty static team. It’s great because these are the two characters I know the best in the game, but it’s hard around here though, especially, because I was saying that Lance is the closest person to me by far, and Indiana has these weird feelings towards doubles. A lot of people around here are not really fans of it. At our monthlies doubles just doesn't happen, we haven’t had doubles since the inception of our monthlies. Our weekly doubles are maybe three random teams that people just happened to team with. It’s hard for us to really improve because we have to go to a tournament, we’re not going to go out of region for another doubles tournament to actually play other good teams in doubles until the next tournament which is a month or two later. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to climb the ranks in terms of doubles, but I have a lot of fun with it.
Who do you want to take a set from next? Who’s next on your hit list? Obviously anyone just wants to take sets from anyone they can, but is there any player in particular that you really want a shot at in bracket?
Rik: I usually don’t have any specific players that I want to beat for the most part, but if I do pick I would pick just a generally good Peach player. If I happen to play Kalamazhu, or Bladewise, or Mafia, or some other good Peach in bracket, as long as I beat a good Peach in bracket no matter what happens after that I would be extremely satisfied, because it’s been a huge problem for me.
What players, if any, do you think you take inspiration from in your gameplay?
Rik: I try to take a lot of good things from everyone, but I think part of what makes Melee beautiful is the expression of how you play it, so I tend to take what I like from other people, but I also tend to not be too structured in how I play. I try to add a little variance into it. I do take most of my things probably from Leffen and Lucky, I take a lot of some tech stuff from KJH, he’s really good at that, and I definitely take some of my neutral from Mango.
Anything else you want to add?
Rik: Shoutouts to Melee, I guess. It’s a good game, I have fun, I’m enjoying myself.
You can follow Rik on his Twitter, @RiKisSlick22.
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