Genesis and Schism: Lucky's 2019 Kickoff
Sat 2nd Mar 2019 - 6:37pm
We've finally kicked off 2019 with one of the powerhouse tournaments, Genesis 6! With upsets, up and comers, and the quality of high-level Melee increasing by the minute, Genesis 6 was set to be a tournament on the 'must watch' list. One competitor in particular, Joey 'Lucky' Aldama, has stories of controller issues, suicide controversy, and international travel. Lucky attended Schism 3 shortly after Genesis 6 and adjusted to another time zone and game version. Lucky gives us his thoughts on a whirlwind beginning to his year.
You made 25th at Genesis! How was your overall experience of the tournament?
Lucky: The overall experience is always really fun. The tournament itself has a lot of history. I think a lot of people go to that tournament with the idea of having a good time. It has a legacy thing going on from Genesis 1, starting with Armada and Mango, to being one of the most fun tournaments. It's one of the tournaments that holds good memories; when you go there, you'll have a good time. Regardless of how you play, how many friends you do or don't see, it's just going to be a good time. Naturally, when I went there this time, I had a great time outside and inside of the tournament, while playing too. 25th wasn't ideal, but it was still a fun weekend!
What was your favorite set at Genesis to play and why?
Lucky: My favorite set was probably against Spark. I had an unfortunate set in Winners where I lost by suicide. I was trying really hard to stay in a positive mindset as I knew I should have won that set with no problem. I was going through my losers run and I ran into Spark. He was probably the lamest player I've ever played in my life. He really tested my patience. At one point, I literally didn't want to play him. I was trying so hard to stay positive in my mindset. I played him and I was thinking 'I shouldn't even be playing this guy, I should be in Winners'.
He was trying to abuse all these cheap mechanics in the game. I didn't want to play him and I was even considering just running at him and just try to force a win with just tech skill. I realized 'No, this is bad, if I'm already getting frustrated with this guy, how am I going to beat better players?' so I had to compose myself, mid set, mid match even. I just had to step up my mental game and my presence of mind. I was really proud of myself for switching that all around and really stomping out the set.
One of your sets became a huge topic at Genesis. You were doing fantastically in Winners and were moments away from winning your set with Darkatma. With seconds before his Peach hit the lower blast zone, Fox ran off the stage to his death, causing you to head to the losers bracket. Can you explain what happened?
Lucky: I really wish I could tell you. The second that I pressed L to roll onto the stage to abuse the invincibility, I knew it was over. I've played the game for 13 years, so I know when the game is over. Sure enough, he didn't grab the ledge, he was going below the stage. I did a fistbump with my controller in my hand, I stood up as I did it. I lightly let go of my controller onto the table as I was standing up. I've done this before, plenty of times but the set was over. There was nothing else that could happen. I honestly don't know how my character ran off the stage. I hold my controller a very specific way and the more I watch the clip, the more I think about it.
I take my thumb and index finger off the controller when I'm not trying to play. I still don't see how it Fox turned around and ran. You can almost tell that I placed my controller already by the point that my character started rolling. Funny enough, someone mentioned to me at the tournament that it had happened to them too, during a set. They had pressed L to roll up and win. They also let go of the controller because you want to play it safe and not do anything on accident to tempt the fates. Just like me, they had the same thing happen. Funny enough, the tournament was run on arduinos, I know they've had problems before, I don't know if that's some kind of glitch or bug. I really hope not because I'll feel even more bummed about it. I don't want to hope it's my fault but I'd rather it be my fault than it be the arduinos' fault, and that it's a big problem.
Is there anything you’d do differently for next year’s instalment of Genesis?
Lucky: I'm not going to let go of my controller until I see the game over screen! *laughs* That's the safest bet!
Soon after Genesis, you flew out to Ireland to compete at Schism 3! It was the weekend following Genesis, which means you had little time to prepare and had to adjust quickly to a different time zone. Did this affect your play or did you adjust well?
Lucky: It's always hard to say. I'm not a big fan of travelling back-to-back weekends, but it happens. When you're a competitor, it doesn't matter if it's one side of the country or one side of the world. Going into it, I assumed I was flying in early enough, I flew in two days before the tournament. I don't know if it was due to time zone or random anxiety, but I had a terrible time sleeping out there. I think on average, I was getting 2-3 hours of sleep a night, if that. When the tournament came around, it was rough. I don't want to say it was jetlag, it didn't feel that way at least, but I would just lie in bed while restless. I don't know if I was just excited to be in another country or being excited to play and try to win the tournament, but it was definitely rough.
There are also some differences to the game in Europe, especially as some of Fox’s moves are nerfed such as his upsmash and recovery. You had dealt with this before as you attended Heir 2 in 2015. Did you prepare in the same way or was there a new approach to the game differences?
Lucky: I completely forgot that Europe plays on a different version of Melee. I don't know how I forgot. It's been years since I've gone to Europe so it slipped my mind. I was practicing on the NTSC version leading up to the tournament. I didn't think twice. When I got there, I was playing different characters and practicing, I wasn't paying attention. One of my matches in pools was against a Marth called Branspeed. The second I shined him, he fell over. That's when I realized 'Oh my God, I'm playing PAL." I was in Ireland for three days at that point and it hadn't crossed my mind that I was on a different version. That was definitely my fault. I think I did my best to adjust to it; I got second place. Even then, against S2J, I think I played well, I just wasn't fully prepared, for sure!
If you were to travel back to Europe to compete in a PAL tournament again, how would you prepare for the game changes and the time zone differences? Would the preparation be different next time?
Lucky: I would definitely focus a lot on recovery. People bring up nerfs to Fox's weight and to his shine; where shine shouldn't be knocking down certain characters. Also, complaints on his upsmash being weaker but I would really just focus on his recovery. Fox with bad recovery has to be one of the worst characters in all of Smash. He gets combo'd into edgeguard situations like no other character in the game. If you don't know the right percents to hold away, to make sure you get a good angle, to up b, which heights to up b, how you can angle to the edge from above or below properly, you will handicap yourself so badly. I will definitely prepare most for that. As far as time zone goes, I really don't know. Maybe I'll get some sleepy time tea *laughs*. Get the tea with the little bears on it. I would definitely look into something that would help me sleep, maybe meditation.
You got 2nd place regardless of all these factors! How did you enjoy the tournament and the Irish Smash scene overall?
Lucky: I enjoyed the tournament a lot. Schism isn't exactly blessed with the same insane amount of entrants that we have in America. It's a much smaller event which made it feel like everyone in the room knew each other. That really reminds me of the days when I first got into the Smash community in 2006. When you were in a venue, there were only 30-60 people, so it was so easy to know everyone. Nowadays, when you go to Genesis, EVO, or Big House where there are 1000-2000 people, it's impossible to know everyone. So it had that old school grassroots feel where everyone just knew each other, everyone wanted to cheer. There was one side of the room happily cheering against the other side of the room. It was a much more personal feel, everyone knew each other and it was very close knit. I love the feel of that. That's one reason I would be more than happy to go back because it's got such a classical feel to it.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at more tournaments this year! Which tournaments are your favorites and which are looking to attend?
Lucky: Easily, if I were looking at tournaments that I must go to, it's Low Tier City. It's one of the smaller ones, which is in June in Texas. It's one of the tournaments that is smaller than you expect considering the top player turnout, but it's got such a good feel to it. It's not too big, it's in a great city, and there's great food. There's just enough top player attendance that makes you want to go there and to challenge yourself to make you want to get to number one. You occasionally get a God out there; Mango, Hungrybox, or Leffen previously. You still then have an abundance of top 20 talent in attendance. Easily one of my favorites to go to. Of course, there's the obvious larger tournaments like Shine, Smash Con and Big House. Low Tier City still stands out a lot to me.