Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams shares his thoughts on his performance at GENESIS 5, staying motivated, and his goals for 2018.
How did you prepare for this tournament? Was there a specific practice regimen?
I looked at my projected bracket and tried to prepare myself for specific matchups. I knew I’d most likely be playing against Ryobeat, a Peach player from NJ. He was a player I was kind of worried about so I thought a lot about the Peach matchup and practiced for it in advance.
How did you feel going into this tournament and how did it affect your performance?
I’ve always felt like I’ve been improving, ever since I started playing. So each current day I’m the best player I can be. I took my first ever rest from Melee during this Winter break (a personal record breaking low of only entering 1 tournament in 3 weeks), which meant I wasn’t as warm as I could be. But even during my break, I still watched Melee sets and thought about the game, and I feel like I was able to come back into the swing of things with a fresh mindset. A small break can be good because it can serve as a sort of mental reset; it’s enough time to break some very bad habits and forces you to think more holistically about the game because you’ve been away for a bit.
I think that helped a lot going into Genesis because when I started school this Winter quarter, I had a newer perspective and was able to implement things I had been thinking about.
What part of your performance did you think that you executed well, and that lower level players could learn from?
One thing I executed well was keeping my mentality in check. In winners bracket, I lost to PewPewU— a player I previously held a 2-0 record against— in a pretty embarrassing fashion on stream. I felt as though I had played literally the worst I had ever played. After talking about it with Druggedfox, someone I look up to a lot, I was able to consolidate my feelings and work through them. I messaged Druggedfox on Messenger pretty much directly after the loss telling him how I felt, and he said something that really stuck with me. “If you played the worst you’ve ever played just now, that only means you will play better during the rest of the tournament!”. Hearing that actually made a lot of sense to me, and I was able to channel that into positive energy and ended up having one of my better performances in my career at a tournament of that caliber.
It’s something lower level players can learn from for multiple reasons. 1. It’s important to realize that ranked players can play bad too, and that it’s okay if you personally have a rough set because everyone goes through it. And 2. That singular set doesn’t have to define you for the rest of the bracket. It’s completely up to you how you react to it, and the previous sets have actually no bearing on how the rest of your sets need to play out.
You were the highest placing solo Sheik main that attended Genesis. Why were other players who have been known for their Sheik not as successful this tournament (aside from Plup)? Is having a secondary character necessary for covering Sheik’s weaknesses in the developing meta?
Honestly, my bracket was easier than it was projected to be. I was the beneficiary of several upsets, which meant that I ended up playing lower ranked players who made upsets, instead of the higher ranked players I was originally slated to play. It’s not to say my bracket was a cakewalk, but just that it was “supposed” to be much harder. But I also think in general I’m actually a very consistent player at nationals, basically never losing to anyone ranked lower than me.
I don’t think a secondary character is necessary if you main Sheik, though that’s not the popular opinion. Most top sheik mains (Plup, Shroomed, Swedish Delight, etc.) at least play one other character regularly in tournament (usually for the Jigglypuff or Ice Climbers matchups). I don’t think that’s necessary at all, though. I think Sheik doesn’t lose any matchups super badly, meaning every matchup is more dependent on individual player skill than character differences. But I also think it’s possible that Sheik is at an advantage in every matchup. I for sure think Sheik beats Jigglypuff and Ice Climbers, which are the two ostensibly “bad” matchups for Sheik.
I think the reason why people default to playing another character for certain matchups is that it’s easier to mold that character’s playstyle around beating a certain character. Whereas if you are trying to play your main, you have to change how you normally play and that can be frustrating.
UCF/ No UCF? Controller mods? Does it matter?
I am very pro UCF. I think that it’s ridiculous certain controllers are objectively better than others, to the point where certain techniques are nigh impossible to do. This would be less of a big deal if Gamecube controllers were still being manufactured, but because Nintendo has ceased production, a controller can range up to $50, and the price jumps up way more if it’s known to have good dashback.
Admittedly, I didn’t notice much of a difference between my play during Genesis 5 (which was on vanilla Melee) and when I was playing on UCF, except for a couple of cases.
There is definitely an argument to be made that UCF makes certain things too easy, and that it’s not a big deal to get individual controller mods, but at this point the vast majority of the Melee community wants UCF.
Once players had qualified for top 8, who were you predicting to win?
I predicted Hungrybox to win simply because he has been winning most tournaments these days. Plup was who I wanted to win, but if I were a betting man, I would have bet on Hungrybox for sure.
What is the experience like at Genesis?
The Genesis experience wasn’t incredible in terms of tournament logistics. The venue layout left a lot to be desired, such that there wasn’t much room to move around in your pool area. There was also a lot of noise, which made it difficult to hear your pool captain. I also waited an hour between my Top 64 sets because they wanted everything to be put on a recording setup.
That being said, nationals are awesome for many reasons. Nowhere else do you get to be a part of such a massive event with such enormous amounts of talent. One of my favorite parts of nationals is walking around during later parts of the bracket (Round 2 pools and early Top 64) and just seeing all of the hype matches. Most of that stuff isn’t on stream, so the only way you can enjoy it is by being there in person.
What makes Genesis a tournament that brings in so many players?
Genesis is a tournament with a lot of history (first time Armada went to the states), so it has a brand that people recognize and want to be a part of. Also because it’s in California, it has access to the huge local population of players. I know several people from UCI that suffered the 6+ hour drive to Oakland, which is something that wouldn’t be possible if it were on the East Coast, for example.
What was your favorite moment at Genesis?
Plup winning was really awesome. My favorite moment was playing against llod in bracket and being able to implement stuff in the Peach matchup that I had practiced with him just earlier that day. Peach is a matchup I feel like I’ve struggled with in the past, and it was cool to see things I had worked on come to fruition.
Any fan interactions?
A really cool story is during the middle of day 2 of the tournament, a little kid walks up to me (must be around 12 or 13) and says he’s a really big fan of mine, and wants to play. His tag is “Lil’ Pastry” and he’s from NJ. He was just so excited to play Melee and he felt really invested in learning from me and getting better at the game. Seeing his passion made me want to get better too! He interestingly had a B0XX controller, which is an attempt to make a traditional fight stick controller for Melee. It is one of only 2 in existence, the other 1 being owned by Hax$ himself. Pastry was a very technical fox main and just seemed so happy to be there in the moment.
What keeps you motivated to continue and improve at melee? Depending on a placing at a particular tournament, how do you move forward from a difficult loss, and how do you prevent complacency from success?
I feel motivated by the fact that there is still so much room for me to grow. I can watch a set of myself, and see so many mistakes I make that seem obvious in hindsight. There are countless ways for me to get better, and that’s really exciting to me. I feel like so many players above me in rank are totally beatable, and that’s something I am motivated by.
Preventing complacency is really hard, but one thing to do is to keep a list of things that you need to work on. Even if you win a set versus someone and you feel good about it, if you have a specific notated list that needs to be completed, you still have work to do. And since it’s specific, you know exactly what you can start improving on.
Any particular goals in mind for this year?
I’d like to beat a top 30 player at a national. I am very consistent at nationals in that I very rarely lose to players worse than me, but I never really exceed expectations. I sort of always place around where I should. I’ve taken numerous sets off of top 30 players at locals and regionals, and I want to take the next step and do it at a tournament that really matters.
Favorite character to play besides sheik
Fox is probably my 2nd best character besides Sheik, but Falco I think is the most fun to play. It’s just something about his combos that are really satisfying. He has a lot of moves that just feel good to hit with, and you can swag on people in ways that I feel are universally respected.
Favorite technique/combo to pull off
This might sound funny but one of my favorite combos is hitting an opponent with ledge attack and then tech chasing them off of it. It just seems really silly and frustrating for my opponent to have happen to them.
I also am a fan of chaining multiple down-airs in the middle of my combos. It just feels relatively unique.
What do you want prospective students, who play melee, to know about UCI melee?
It’s super welcoming and there is a large group of people who play, from all skill levels. I don’t want UCI Melee to seem like a place for only tryhards and people that play endlessly every day. That is definitely not the case, and I don’t want to prevent anyone from getting into the scene because they feel intimidated. The scene is very lively, and we recently got some new additions to our club board that I feel like will do great things after I graduate.
Shoutouts to all of my Irvine friends that cheered me on during my matches. It really means a lot to me that you would show your support, and I really do think it helps. Shoutouts to Druggedfox for giving me much needed emotional support and helping me be the player I know I can be. Shoutouts to TAG and the rest of my officers for running sick Melee events and constantly fostering the Melee scene to new heights. Shoutouts to you for interviewing me and UCI Esports for promoting content like this!