Jason Roberts: When did you start playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, and what got you into the scene?
JR: How did your first Melee tournament go?
DC: Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Daniel "KoreanDJ" Jung were both at this tournament. It was Game Over 4 or 5, way back in the day in Boston. There was a 20-person line of people just waiting to get bodied by Mew2King, so I’m like “yeah, I’ll get in that line.” I went Marth, didn’t take a stock, and got bodied because he’s Mew2King. Then in bracket I lost my round one match and in my first round of losers I went up against another Marth player. I lost game one and he was up three stocks in game two. At that point I just tried to do the stuff that Mew2King did to me and I won the set. Of course I lost my next game, but it was a very great experience that kept me coming back for more.
JR: So you started with Smash 64. What attracted you to the Smash franchise, and kept you playing it in favor of other fighting games like Street Fighter?
DC: I started with Smash 64 because I was 3 or 4 years old at the time and that’s just what we had. Since it was the first fighting game I played, Street Fighter and other fighting games made me feel a lot more constricted in my movement. And Smash, you have so much control over where you go, and I think the movement is one of the best parts of Melee in particular, and is one of the reasons why stuck with the franchise.
JR: Why Marth? What about the character appeals to you over other characters?
DC: So after I watched the Smash documentary, the first few stats that I watched were Ken Hoang, versus Joel Isai Alvarado at MOAST 3, and Ken versus Bobby "Scar" Scarnewman at Kings of Cali 2. After watching those, I watch this 2.5-hour Marth tutorial that Ken made. Just by watching the tutorial, my Marth was better than all of my other characters so I stuck with him.
JR: You’re known for your tech-chasing. How did you develop the ability to consistently tech-chase, and why do you prefer that line of play over other approaches to Marth?
DC: That comes a lot from the way that I practice. My first main practice partner was Derek “Tartox” Clark, and he was insane. He was New England PR caliber, but he went inactive. We played all the time. Eventually I installed one of the first versions of 20XX on my Nintendo Wii and practiced almost every day on that.
I practiced all the movements first, getting down wavedashing, and L-canceling. Then I practiced comboing the 20XX AI, which had random DI and teching. That just led me into tech-chasing because I practiced against the AI a lot, and the more I practiced, the more consistent I got. It’s kind of my answer to slide-off DI. If you up-throw Fox on a platform and try to do an up-air to cover all the techs, they can use slide-off DI to punish you in certain situations. I got really annoyed by all of the Fox players doing that to me, so instead of throwing them up on platforms, I throw them on the ground.
JR: You’ve participated in several Melee doubles events in Majors throughout your career, but not with a stable partner. Why is that? Have you not found the player that complements your style the most yet, or are you not as passionate about doubles?
DC: I love doubles. I found the right partner twice and the first one was Tartox. Even after Tartox stopped entering singles, we were still doing doubles all the time. We definitely won Make Money Off Melee doubles way more than any other team has, and he hasn’t entered doubles with me in a year. After that, once Jason “Infinite Numbers” Gauthier stopped playing Ice Climbers and started playing Fox under the tag “Rich Boi Rich,” I started teaming with him and this was mostly after he stopped entering singles. We teamed frequently, and won frequently, but we didn’t play many great teams, we mostly won locals. The best team we probably played was Anthony "Slox" Detres and Tyler “lint” Auger who we 3-0’ed.
A great story about Numbers and I was at Fight Pitt 8. Doubles was at 10 or 11 a.m. that day, and we woke up at 9 a.m. As we were about to head out to play teams with the people we were rooming with, I look at Numbers and say “hey do you want to skip doubles and sleep three more hours?” He said yes so that’s what we did [laughs]. As for the future of doubles, Rhodes "Joyboy" Sabangan and I played a lot of doubles at Shine, and we are thinking of trying to do some consistent teaming which I’m excited about. The moral of the story is don’t make your consistent teammate someone who doesn’t like to enter Melee singles.
JR: You don’t want to get your heart broken again, right? Third try is the charm.
DC: I have two ex-husbands; that’s the way I look at it.
JR: What do you think New England needs to level up as a region in compete with other regions? Is the tournament structure to spread out, or does it lack the proper talent to level up against?
DC: I honestly think we have everything we need. We have very motivated players, and we have so many tournaments. I think if we could unite more on the monthly tournaments, like Mass Madness and bring up the numbers there we might see a little more improvement, but it really comes down to each person’s individual training. Maybe we don’t have that many top 100 players anymore, but in my experience, the average level of a New England player is higher than average skill level of someone from most other regions.
JR: You are ranked first in New Hampshire, and currently ranked third in New England, just behind Slox, and Jack “Crush” Hoyt. How are you prepping to continue the climb?
DC: I haven’t been as consistent in my daily training so I’m going to work on that, but I do usually go to two tournaments a week. What I’m going to try and do now is stream match analysis, as well as use the Uncle Punch training pack. I’m going to try to netplay more, but I won’t be able to stream it because my computer isn’t good enough. I’m also working on being more mindful about the things I’m doing. I need to practice things I struggle with rather than things I do a lot. Melee is about learning and improving at a bunch of little things and if you are just focusing on a couple things instead of increasing your toolkit, then progress can slow down.
Going to stream some match analysis of my set vs Edric at shine then some unclepunch training https://t.co/KKhkW4Gdux— Dween the rock Johnson (@SsbmKalvar) August 28, 2018
JR: What are some of those little things that you need to do?
DC: I played against Zaid “Spark” Ali, Nicholas “NMW” Whittier, and Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams recently, and they all Amsah teched when I went to hit them with one of my kill moves, and then immediately fastfalled and grabbed the ledge so that they didn’t die. So I'm going to start doing that more [laughs]. It’s very frustrating deal with, so I want to learn how to do it. I also want to use Uncle Punch to get more consistent at SDI’ing Fox’s up-throw-up-air, and I need to play certain matchups more. I think I’m just never going to be good at the Yoshi matchup.
JR: Is that because New England doesn’t have good Yoshi players, or is the matchup something that you don’t like?
DC: The matchup is my worst by far and I think I can get pretty far in bracket by just not playing Mike “Peanutphobia” O’Mailey or Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto. There are only two of them, so avoiding them shouldn’t be hard.
JR: Piggybacking off that, what characters do you feel New England doesn’t have a strong representation of right now?
DC: You can still improve even without players around your skill level, or players better than you, but it’s definitely harder. Right now we’re kind of lacking in Jigglypuff players. We have Andrew “dudutsai” Tsai and Ryan “ShkShk” Kotowski, but New Hampshire in particular has no Puff players that come to events often. New England is also lacking in Peach players. We used to be the kings of the floaties, but now we need more of them, and more mid-tier characters like Luigi. We do, however, have a decent amount of Samus players.
JR: In 2018 you’ve taken out strong players in Michael “Nintendude” Brancato, Bronson “DaShizWiz” Layton at GENESIS 5, as well as Dustin “Gravy” White and Theodore “Bladewise” Seybold at Shine. What do you feel you need as a player to help you take out even bigger names and make it farther in bracket?
DC: This summer I’ve gone to a lot of out of region events and been able to play good players I haven’t before. The most important part of playing a good player is seeing the tools that they use, or how they use tools differently. Once you know those tools exist, or see how they use them, you can start to try and figure out how to counter them. So I'm going to continue to keep traveling and play players I don’t usually get to play.
Recently I’ve developed tournament habits to help me improve at events. When I'm at a bigger tournament I tend to eat light because if I eat too much I feel sluggish. I always eat a banana because the potassium helps with shakiness that can come from tournament anxiety. I sip water and I don’t stop sipping water. I cannot tell you how many bottles of water I went through at Shine. Shout out to Peter “PKLuv” Phaneuf for giving me a liter of water right before I played Bladewise.
JR: I’ve heard that you are the most hydrated man in Melee.
DC: That is a fact. I have to shout out the Melee Socialists for that one, because they were really the pioneers of hydration as a meme. Josh “Bugatti” Guerrero in particular has a few tweets about drinking water that have really resonated with me, so now I buy giant packs of water all the time and leave them in my car. Anytime I’m at a tournament I just throw five bottles in my bag at a time and go through the packs by the end of the weekend.
i wanna live in a future where grandmas ask if you had your daily 64oz of water instead of shoving food down my throat— vengaboy tell'em (@bugattibag) November 3, 2017
JR: What’s your most memorable set of your career what made it so memorable?
DC: For the longest time I had a very bad Captain Falcon matchup. There was a few times where I was first seed at a tournament and got upset 3-0 by a Falcon that was seeded 20th or something like that. Back in the day, Pedro “Klap$” Otero was seventh on the New England PR, and I thought I might never be able to beat him. Whenever we played I always tried my best and believed in myself, but I could not beat him.
At Shift, Klap$ was the first seed and I was the second seed in my pool. Leading up to the tournament I was practicing my tech-chasing on 20XX, and flowcharting all of my combos really well. When I played Klap$ at Shift it was the first time I played him in months, and I won very cleanly, 2-0. I really did not expect that at all. I almost cried, but for the record I did not. It was a very meaningful victory for me, and everyone was surprised by it. Numbers was like “what?!” It was a good time [laughs].
JR: Do you have a favorite combo video?
DC: New Hampshire loves “RockCrock the Crusher 2,” it’s an instant classic. I made two combo videos, one was in 2015 when I was very bad, and one was the New Hampshire PR video in 2016. The combos in the PR video aren't the greatest, except for the ones that Numbers does which are ridiculous, but both of those combos have a lot of sentimental value to me. Oh, and “The Game Is Not Over.”
JR: Shout outs?
DC: Shout outs to PKLuv for hooking it up huge with that water. Shout out to all the Melee Socialists, crews are always a highlight of Shine every year. And yeah, shout out to everyone in New England, and everyone I’ve played so far.
Photos courtesy of Jason Roberts/DBLTAP