Swiss Smash in the COVID-Era #9: ItseMePG

“Swiss Smash in the COVID-Era” is a series of interviews with some of the best players in Switzerland, figuring out how they are dealing with the “COVID-Era” (from March 2020 until the present days of 2021) and its absence of offline tournaments and how they are preparing for the return of offline events in the foreseeable future.

ItseMePG at Orcus Smash

ItseMePG (@ItseMePG) from Zürich-Affoltern is known for his Snake and is currently a free agent. He was ranked 10th on the 2019 Swiss Smash PR. In December 2019 he won his first big offline tournament and continued strong into 2020 where he usually placed in the Top8. The recent DLC characters made him think about what character to play when offline returns…

How did COVID affect your private life?
I’m doing my apprenticeship as an IT-Specialist and so it varied quite a bit. I’ve had home office for a while, then I was back at my workplace and the same goes for school. It was a bit stressful, but I’m managing it pretty well, I think. What changed the most were the weekends. Usually, I’m working hard during the week also doing my schoolwork and then reward myself with a tournament or meeting some friends during the weekend. So I had to find a replacement because otherwise my motivation during the week would’ve dropped. One thing I did replace it with was practice, including online, but I’ve also played more sports, for example basketball.

I’ve seen that you streamed your speedrunning. Is that also something you started during COVID or did you already speedrun before that?
Speedrunning was always interesting to me, seeing full mastery of a game, but I’ve never really found a game for myself to run until I played the Final Fantasy 7 Remake. The music, the combat and the story are amazing, so I wanted to give it a try. I found out quickly that it’s quite a long run, taking multiple hours, but I enjoyed the game so much that I was willing to spend the time required to learn it. Competing against your own times is also different compared to competing against somebody else. Currently, I’m mostly taking notes as a lot of new things are being discovered and there is also the new PS5 version of the game, which might affect where the game is going to be run in the future. But I’ve played less recently as I’m playing more Smash again, now that tournaments are finally looking to come back.

On that topic: You’ve mentioned practicing online, how exactly did you practice?
I did a variety of things. I’ve played some tournaments to test myself, test new characters or see how I perform under pressure. Then I’ve used some grinding Discords or played online arenas with friends. And sometimes I just played some Quickplay to test a few specific things. Whenever I didn’t play online, I used the training mod pack, because I think you can learn a lot by using it.

Karpador64 mentioned in his interview that you played Yuzu with him, but his connection was too bad. Who do you play Yuzu with? From what I’ve heard, a lot of the Swiss German community is not really using Yuzu that much.
I’ve used it when playing a bunch of people from grinding Discords. I’m mostly playing as client right now because I still have some framerate issues that I can’t fix and so I’m mostly looking for people who can host for me. I’ve had a variety of experiences. Longer distances tend to have worse connections. You really need a good internet connection to make it work.

You’ve mentioned trying different characters, what are you actually playing right now?
That’s also something I ask myself (laughs). Currently I play Sephiroth the most. I feel like I can play him online and offline without noticing much of a difference compared to other characters. Pyra&Mythra for example I dislike playing online because I would have to abuse Pyra more, which is not as viable offline, and I can’t perform all the things I want to with Mythra. And I also play Ice Climbers on the side. They’re a lot of fun and I love the character. I think for the first few offline tournaments I’m going to play around a bit because I can’t really decide yet whether I should play the characters that are considered the best or the ones that are the most fun to me. Ice Climbers have some issues but they also have some crazy strengths.
Having played Snake for so long I started to think of him as more of a gimmick that would suffer a lot when he gets figured out. When that happens I’m afraid I would suffer a lot against the better players. I don’t get that feeling when playing Pyra&Mythra or Sephiroth because they’re just broken. I think Pyra&Mythra are a bit better, but I would be surprised if Sephiroth wasn’t a Top10 character. He has so many unfair things. There are a few matchups where I don’t want to play him, but aside from that he’s amazing. I think he suffers the most against characters that are better in close range, but also on long range, like Diddy Kong or Wolf. Snake is an exception, because Sephiroth is really strong against his recovery.

Talking about offline, did you get to practice offline?
I’ve mostly played with Karpador64. I think I visited him around once per month at least. And I’ve also played with Mistic once or twice.

You’ve mentioned the training mod pack earlier. How much time do you spend on the theoretical side of the game, like labbing, matchups and more abstract things?
Previously I’ve spent around one hour per week on those kinds of things. Nowadays I usually spend around 1 hour after a training session in the training mode, building muscle memory, for example reacting on DI, like you can do with Mythra down-throw. You can practice that quite well with the training mod pack and it also helps me getting used to offline again after an online practice session.

You’ve participated in one of Coach Ramses webinars, I think it was on mentality. How was that for you?
It was really interesting. In that webinar quiK’s coach Irel also joined and so we could hear multiple point of views and learned a lot about all the things that can cause stress. What I liked the most about the webinar was that, unlike watching one of his educational videos you were also able to ask questions at the end. I think we had about 30 minutes for our own questions, and he even offered to answer some more in the respective Discord channel after the webinar. I think both mental and theoretical explanations how people approach the game are interesting to learn about.

In that case, did you consider, or have you already had a coaching session?
I haven’t yet, but I’m considering getting one after the first few offline events, just to get some input from somebody else and what they think about my play and how I could improve further. Getting another perspective is always helpful. As for webinars, if it’s a topic I’m interested in and I have time whenever it takes place I’m definitely considering participating in another one. There’s always something you can learn.

Just recently the new DLC character, Kazuya from Tekken, got announced for Smash. What are your thoughts on the character and his inclusion?
I think Kazuya is pretty cool just because Tekken gets a representative in Smash. I would’ve been disappointed if they didn’t. I’m really looking forward to the soundtrack from Tekken. It’s difficult to say much about the character judging only from the trailer but I think he’s going to have a few cool things for sure. I like that he has a comeback mechanic that maybe works similarly to Tekken’s “Ragedrive”, even though it might get annoying to play against. On the other hand, he’s most likely going to be another auto-turnaround character and I hate that mechanic. Overall, I’m happy that he got announced and that Tekken is now represented as well.

What’s your opinion on characters from other fighting games in Smash? What do you think about their archetype in general?
That’s a difficult question. I like Terry’s design. His kit is well-rounded, he can get a lot from a single hit and his comeback mechanic, but a player that is really good with the character will get a lot more out of him. Ken on the other hand is a bit more forgiving, because you get a lot out of most moves, but they still both struggle against SDI, especially Ken. As I mentioned earlier, I dislike the auto-turnaround mechanic because there are situations where it just allows you to spam their down-tilts and jabs, stopping you from approaching or catching your roll without having to react. But I think it’s good to have the close-quarter archetype of characters, which you have to play keep-out against.

It looks like Kazuya will be another character with a comeback mechanic. What’s your opinion on those?
I think it mostly depends on the character, some I’m ok with having one, others I think don’t really need to be that strong. Cloud Limit is alright because he has to use it sooner or later. Somebody I think doesn’t need such a strong comeback mechanic is Sephiroth, ironically. If you take a stock and then get the correct read, you can take another early stock with “wing” and then you could have a three stocks to one lead and don’t even lose “wing”. I think it depends on the mechanic, but it’s nice to have characters where you get rewarded for keeping your cool and making use of the comeback mechanic. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m good with Sephiroth, because even if I’m down three to one stocks, I’m still confident I can turn the game around. And I’m even more confident when I know I can rely on “wing”. That also helps me not getting nervous in such situations.

If you could choose the character for the last slot in the Fighter’s Pass, who would you choose?
That’s a touch choice to make… I think I would choose either Dante or a Monster Hunter character. I think Dante is somewhat unlikely because there are a number of characters that have some of his moves, like Joker’s down-gun. Regarding Monster Hunter, I’m just simply a huge fan of the series so I’m hoping for that, but ever since the Mii costume I’m less confident in it happening. If it did, I hope it would be in the style of “Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite”. I really enjoyed how they worked in that game!

You’re currently a free agent. What are you looking for in a new sponsor?
I’m mostly looking for a sponsor that allows me to reach my goals and can support me when I start traveling to tournaments again, especially because I plan to attend more out of country tournaments. It would be amazing if there were coaching possibilities, because I like to have someone I can look at mentality related things with, but that’s more of a wish than a requirement.

Offline tournaments are coming back. Where do you see yourself, for example on the next PR?
That’s quite difficult for me to judge because at least in the beginning I’m not going to use Snake in tournaments anymore. My current goals are also less focused on results and more on my own improvement. It would be nice to get Top10, but I’m mostly trying to reach my goals for improving and reflecting on my gameplay whenever possible.

A lot of Swiss players have mentioned that they want to travel more. You mentioned it earlier too. What are your exact plans?
I’m planning to attend tournaments like the WAG series in Austria, some tournaments in Germany like Dokomi in August and depending on the situation I might also travel to France. For now, I want to focus on our neighbouring countries, but I might travel further at a later point.

Can you give me 3 players you would keep an eye on with the return of offline events?
My first pick is Jaka (@Jaka_SSB). He played a lot, and I also had a chance to play with him. I feel like he’s going to be even better than before COVID due to him gaining a lot of experience. That’s why he’s my number one pick.
My second pick is DeepFreeze (@DeepFreezeIV). I think he still needs a bit of time with Joker, but what I know about him and his work ethic makes me confident that there’s going to be this moment when Joker fully clicks with him and then he will get back to his previous placings if not better.
My last pick is Karpador64 (@Karpador64). I’ve practiced the most with him. I was surprised how well Wario fits him as a character, especially considering tht his movement and airspeed is the exact opposite to Luigi’s. His mix-ups make it really annoying to catch him. I think all of us who switched characters will suffer a bit in the beginning but as soon as he’s gotten used to everything again and figured out some of the matchups he’s going to be a serious threat again.

Do you have any hot takes or some banter for the Swiss Smash Community?
I don’t know if you can call it a hot take, but I feel like the Romandie is going to get better placings in the beginning, but after some time, when the Swiss German players are on top of their game again, the standings and PRs are going to look similar to what they did before COVID.

If you want to see more of ItseMePG, you can follow him on Twitter or try catching his stream on Twitch where he’s streaming his Final Fantasy 7 Remake speedrun attempts and maybe some Smash in the future.

Updated at: 14.02.22 (16:46)
Created at: 25.06.21 (12:02)
Created by: Yomi