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The Power of a Strong Mentality: An Interview With Ginger

Hexjo

Hexjo

Sat 7th Apr 2018 - 11:12am

Avery "Ginger" Wilson made an incredible leap in the player rankings this year, scoring 49th out of the top 100, and naturally his skill can not be overlooked. One of the few Falco mains in the top echelon of play, we talk to Ginger about his experience with Melee, his underrepresented main, and the overflowing wisdom he has to share about the game. 

Full Bloom 4 was quite recent, and incredibly stacked with talent. Landing an impressive 13th place, what do you think you did correctly that helped your performance?

Ginger: I think that one of my biggest skills when preparing for a national, or just preparation overall, includes eating right, warming up at the right times, and falling asleep at the right times. I think that those things get overlooked constantly. You can talk about gameplay all you want, but there’s a battle that starts even before the tournament does.

How did you feel after defeating Axe?

Ginger: Absolutely ecstatic - but I was very respectful. Every time I beat someone higher than me and I really want to pop off, I give them a very respectful fist bump and let them walk off. It doesn’t really show it in the VOD, but afterwards I turned to the crowd and hugged a bunch of my friends. It meant a lot for me, and I didn’t realize at the time that it was my best win ever. I didn’t even fully realize that he was ranked number 7 in the world after beating him.

Overall impressions of the event?

Ginger: The event overall was fantastic. I actually didn’t think about the event much because I had absolutely no complaints. The tournament was run really well, there was food nearby, it had a really nice venue, the temperature was really nice; basically no complaints at all.

Impressions as a competitor?

Ginger: In terms of me as a competitor, it started with pools being immediately tough. I think anyone that I talked to at the event would agree that their pool was tough, and mine was no different. The first person I played was Slime, and we had a fun set. I beat him and then a couple more people before having to play AbsentPage. He had a terrific run, placing 9th, but I’m glad that I was able to stop him. He took a game from me, but overall I feel that he wasn’t able to adapt quickly enough, and I counter-adapted to his tempo changes during game 3.

Immediately after I had to play Axe. I had done a lot of preparation against Pikachu, watching Mango and Westballz videos, along with having practice against Anther, which helped me a lot. After I won, I was done for the day, and the next morning I woke up and had to play HugS. He played an incredibly patient style and followed a consistent game plan, which led to a pretty swift 3-0 for him. I dropped down to losers, and was waiting on the winner of Lucky and 2Saint. I thought for sure I was going to play Lucky, but 2Saint made an incredible run, beating him 3-0. He must’ve been completely in the zone, and I felt like I had to stop him. He brought it to game 5, but I felt I was in control for most of the set and ended up winning because of it. I consider myself probably the best Falco in the world at the Puff matchup.

Way later in the day I played my last match against Wizzrobe. The set was excellent, I watched a lot of Mango to get a sense of the matchup because I think he’s the most oppressive. It didn’t work out for me as well, as Mango’s more consistent with a lot of stuff and has way more experience. He ended up beating me 3-1, and I was decently happy with my placement, but not satisfied. Placing 13th definitely made me happy, but I’m always looking for more.

 

What inspired you to get into competitive Melee?

Ginger: I started out playing casually, but my brother is actually 12 years older than me and found out about the competitive scene when I was 8. We found out about Ken and Azen, and all the super old school guys. We watched a bunch of high level videos and tournaments, and thought that we were maybe just the best players in the world. We had no idea of the scope of the competitive scene, so just watching high level play was so enticing and cool.

What made you choose Falco?

Ginger: Casually, I was a Falco main. I just loved the way he looked, and his aesthetic was so cool to me, even to this day. Even as a kid, I thought he was fast, his moves looked cool, I thought the blue jacket looked good on him. (I’ve been rockin’ the blue jacket since I was 6 years old.) Watching Bombsoldier back in the day inspired me to keep pushing him too because I realized how good he was.

 
(A clip from Bombsoldier's combo video, "Soldier of Fortune.")

Speaking of Falco, what are your current thoughts of his placement in the meta? Predictions of what the future holds for him?

Ginger: In the meta, I consider him the second best in the game right now under Fox. I think that Falco players need to step up a little bit, but as the meta progresses and gets closer to maximum human potential, I think that Falco is most definitely number 1 in the game. In the meta right now, I think that Fox is just a little more consistent and his punish game is a little more fleshed out than Falco’s, which happens to be the consequence of in-game stuff like Fox having guaranteed combos off of his up-throw. Falco’s combo tree is a little more sporadic. You need to react a little more quickly off of his hits, and people aren’t that great at doing that right now. But once people really flesh out the flowcharts, I think we’re gonna see harder and harder Falco punishes, which is gonna be sick.

Who do you think inspired your playstyle with falco the most, if anyone at all?

Ginger: Mango, for sure. PC Chris was also a huge influence for me growing up, Zhu and his Happy Feet combos maybe inspired me more than any other videos that I had seen at the time. But Mango’s playstyle relates most to mine. When people watch Mango, they say that they don’t understand why he would do a certain option or why he’s so aggressive, but it just clicks with me. I understand it so well, and I feel I would make a lot of similar decisions as him. When I watch Mango play, I can feel myself wanting to do the same thing, so I feel I draw a lot of inspiration from him.

You've been ranked #1 on Netplay for an extremely long time, which is very impressive. How do you view Netplay as a training tool, and how detrimental do you think it is to Melee’s metagame and growth?

Ginger: So this is a touchy subject for some people, because yes - I am number 1 on netplay, I had 264 sets won in a row on there, but I actually don’t think it’s that important of a training tool. There are specific cases where I think it’s really important, but depending whether you’re playing on a high or low ping, you can build different habits. I think that one of the most important things when talking about improvement is building a solid foundation, and I don’t exactly think netplay does that for you.

It doesn’t show you what you should be doing in real play. Sometimes you’re just freestyling, and there’s no one there to tell you if you’re doing things right or wrong. If you go to a tournament and lose, you have someone that’s watching, a friend, or even your opponent to ask what you were doing wrong. In netplay, a lot of people just grind and don’t really pay attention (which is more of their problem than netplay’s) but I do think it’s a consequence of how accessible it is.

But like I said, I do think there are certain cases where it is really important. If you’re just someone from a random town in Idaho (I don’t really know what the Idaho scene is like), you probably don’t have much of scene nearby. If you have netplay, you’re able to get some mid to high level experience within your neighboring states. But for someone in my position in the Midwest, to play someone better than me, I get really high ping. We’re not truly fleshing out character matchups, and I feel like playing on netplay will lull me into a false sense of what would be safe to do or not in tournament.

 
Ginger's Anther's Ladder rank as of writing this interview.

How important do you think a strong mentality is in the grand scheme of a match, and what are some basic guidelines that one can use strengthen theirs?

Ginger: I think that mentality is more important than execution when you consider tournament play. I think mentality takes up about 70 percent in the importance of a tournament set, which is a lot. People have different areas they need to improve on, but simple things to improve mentality include respecting your opponent, and making sure that you want to win but aren’t afraid to lose. A lot of newer players don’t come to terms with the latter, because when you’re a casual player, you just want to beat your friends. It sucks to lose, and your friends rag on you for losing. Nobody likes to lose, but when you commit yourself to a learning process, you have to realize that losing is a part of that process, no matter what. You will never just be a winner. The sooner you can lose that lesson, the better your mentality is going to be.

When struck with a game or stock deficit, or just feeling frustrated, what mental adjustments do you try and make to bounce back?

Ginger: One important thing I always try and tell myself is to assess the situation, and say to myself, “Is it my execution that’s getting me punished, or are they straight up outplaying me, and there are adjustments that I need to make in neutral?” There’s a pretty strong difference there. Do I need to polish up my play, and my ideas are good, or are my ideas bad? If my ideas are bad, I need to reassess quickly and try to adjust what I’m doing to counteract what they’re doing to punish me.

If I’m frustrated, I always try to say to myself, “Well if they’re outplaying me, I just have to respect that.” There’s no way that you can come back in a set if you don’t believe a person deserves to take stocks from you. It just doesn’t work that way. If I’m in a deficit and making a comeback, or in a really tense situation, I always tell myself that the more mentally composed player will win 90 percent of the time. Everything in my body is telling me to stay mentally composed, because my main goal is winning. If I’m going to give myself a 90 percent chance to win, just by staying more mentally composed, then that’s what I’m going to do.

Are there any outside hobbies or forces that you think have helped improve your play?

Ginger: Most definitely. I played high school varsity tennis, and that’s where I think I really learned good work ethic, the importance of a solid mentality, and solid preparation. All of that stuff really came from tennis. I had a great high school tennis coach who really hammered into us the importance of preparation. If there was a tournament on saturday, the tournament actually started on thursday. “You guys are going to bed early tonight, eat the right things now,” stuff like that. Being involved with the sport and having mentors like that really, really helped.

What was the set you felt the proudest winning?

Ginger: I actually have to say that I think the set that was the most important to my career was beating Beach for the first time. At the time, his tag was Tremor. He’s currently my roommate, but he probably beat me at least 50 or 60 sets in a row. He was a local power ranked Sheik man in Michigan, and I could not beat this guy. It was incredibly frustrating for me.

Every single time I went to a tournament where he was there, I would turn to KJH, and would say “Today is the day.” I would say that every single time for 60 days! “Today is the day I would beat Beach. Today is the day.” KJH told me, “I feel like when you beat him for the first time, you’re never gonna lose again. You’re gonna cross that line, and it’s gonna be over.” And that’s exactly what happened. I beat him, and I still have not lost. We’ve been roommates for about a year and a half, we’re amazing friends, but it taught me so much about the game and how you can prepare for a person. The way that I learned to analyze by studying his play, how badly I wanted to beat him, and assessing my motivators were all huge lessons for my career going forward.

As a spectator, not a player, what do you think was the most enjoyable tournament you attended or watched?

Ginger: Genesis 3, most definitely. It was the first time where I felt like esports was actually happening (to Melee). We were in a stadium, there were concession stands, and people were checking if you had a badge to get in, it was absolutely crazy. Lights flashing, giant monitors, it was unreal.

Thoughts on Genesis 3's top 8 venue?

Ginger: Sooo cool. The top 8 was just like a sporting event. I actually had Drephen pretty close by to me, and I didn’t know Drephen that well. But Mango reset the bracket, Drephen and I looked at each other and we were like, “Yes!” We high fived each other, and I was like, “I don’t even know this guy that well,” but we were popping off. That’s what happens at football games, you know? Your team is winning, you’re popping off with everyone around you, it’s so cool. (Melee) felt like a real sport, it was awesome.

 

Do you have any defined goals you’re looking to reach in 2018?

Ginger: In 2018, my current goal is to be top 25 by the end of the year. I’m more of a process oriented person than a goal oriented person, but a lot of people ask me what my goals are, and I have to say that that’s a good one to shoot for.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us! (change) Any shoutouts you want to give?

Ginger: Shoutouts to my family for always supporting me, I’ve had the most supportive family throughout my entire competitive process. Shoutouts to Beach, and shoutouts to KJH!