A long time coming for Polish: Why the Peach main's rise in Melee isn't a surprise

 

Matt "Polish" Warshaw put on a show at the Smash World Tour 2021 North America East Regional Finals. Placing third overall, he had wins over Arjun “lloD” Malhotra, Avery "Ginger" Wilson, Cody "iBDW" Schwab, and — unbelievably — Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedma, an accolade not even Adam "Armada" Lindgren’s Peach was ever able to accomplish.

 

The Peach main had by far the best tournament of his life (and this is someone that just won Smash Con).

 

Should this really surprise us, though? Is this a Cinderella story, or a promising player living up to his potential? I simply believe the latter. Looking at it on a wider scope, it’s clear Polish is an extremely talented Peach player — one who could become one of the best players in the world. While his SWT run may have shocked some, it shouldn’t have. It’s been a long time coming for Polish. 

 

Polish and his Peach set the foundation in Super Smash Bros. Melee

 

Many people might think that Polish appeared out of nowhere, but the reality is he’s had a steady rise over the past few years. He was already ranked 63rd on the 2019 MPGR — posting good results all throughout the year.

 

At Super Smash Con 2019, he had another great run like what we saw at SWT. He beat Daniel "ChuDat" Rodriguez, Kalindi "KJH" Henderson, and Michael "Nintendude" Brancato — placing 9th overall. He was already on his way before lockdown.

 

For whatever reason, though, he didn’t seem to be the strongest player in the online era, notably not appearing in important online events like Rollback Rumble: The Big One. Now that he’s returned to offline events, he’s back on the path to becoming a top player. 

 

Also, just from speaking with him and reading through his Twitter, the guy has the detached mentality of a winner. Even in losses he constantly speaks of how has learned from the experience and what he can do better. He doesn’t overthink his play, which is really important for his execution and gameplans. Even when he’s down 0-2 (as we saw against iBDW), it’s never out of the realm of possibility that he can make a reverse 3-0.

 

 

Historically, Polish has shown so much promise in the big matchups — more than some of the other top Peaches. All these “upsets” are complicated. The obvious one to mention is his Jigglypuff record. That win over Hungrybox was not a fluke. In a matchup so notorious for its one-sidedness — to the point where Armada quit even attempting Pearch versus Jigglypuff — Polish is a master. 

 

In 2019, Michael Rollberg was actually ranked higher than Polish — a Jigglypuff main known for his avoidant, uninteractive style. Yet, Polish has an excellent record on him: 3-0 in sets and 9-2 in games. Yes, you can point to Hungrybox’s focus on Ultimate content and atypical choice to hold forward in some spots for why he lost. But the deep expertise Polish has in the matchup should not be discounted, and Hungrybox still placed a respectable 4th in the tournament.

 

Then there’s his play against Falco. Polish’s record against Ginger wasn’t pretty, having a 2-5 record from their online and LAN sets. The odds were stacked against him on paper, but Ginger tends to have high variance with his performance with either winning notable tournaments like Low Tide City 2021, or underperforming with 13th at Riptide.

 

With Ginger sort of giving in to “Throw to Polish day” with a tragic side-b SD to end the set, Polish did his part in maintaining his fundamentals. Outside of Ginger, though, he has winning matchups on every relevant top Falco not named Mang0. We saw great evidence with how he handled Magi too.

 

 

And of course, there’s Polish’s point of pride: the mirror. He seems to be one of the only weirdos (in a good way) that actually enjoys playing other Peach players. Against all the other top Peach players he has played—whether Kyle “Kalamazhu” Zhu or lloD—Polish always had the edge. This was no exception.

 

His match against iBDW is trickier, as Polish’s record vs Kalindi “KJH” Henderson, Joey “Lucky” Aldama, and Kurtis “moky” Pratt, Polish generally had the winning or even-ish records from the general Fox field the last two years. Against iBDW himself, Polish lost their last set in Pound Online 2021 in a tight Game 5 last stock set.

 

I will say though that iBDW has stated he’s lost to Polish multiple times in friendlies and Smashladder sets in the past. Polish has a good handle on iBDW’s style, where his inherent aggressive style is typically countered by Peach’s natural defensive walls. With these contexts in mind, Polish has been capable for some time now in taking down a top Fox, and with iBDW also lacking consistent Peach practice on his end, this was a spewing ingredient that was bound to manifest.

 

Given the history and prior records of Polish’s matchup spreads, this was actually a long time coming. This isn’t a Cinderella story of him magically coming out of the woodworks — the blueprints were there. It was time to start building. But what about his gameplans? For Polish to succeed in due time, what were the gameplans?

 

Polish's Peach gameplay rivals Armada, a Super Smash Bros. Melee God

 

Polish’s gameplans are very unique, involving deep expertise with platform turnips and clean, consistent execution.

 

His punish-game is great — especially on spacies. He made nearly every tech chase and edgeguard count, something he’s obviously practiced to a tee. A great example is his last stock versus iBDW.

 

 

His execution is something that rivals even Armada’s Peach himself. Watching the first minute of it versus Hungrybox, it’s apparent how comfortable he is using Peach’s float cancels, DJ arc, wavelanding, and shield dropping. He uses all of his execution tools near flawlessly — probably using technology we don’t know of because of our Peach ignorance (what’s a hyperfloat btw). 

 

 

This is what makes Polish’s Peach special: he finds opportunities to pull turnips — a staple in a lot of her matchups — by using the platforms and baiting off of it. Especially if the opponent is not in position, he finds opportunities to pull platforms and gain a big advantage. 

 

A step further is when the opponent catches on. He baits with shield drop and d-smash punishes — executions he even got against Llod, a fellow Peach player that should be the first to know this trick. 

 

 

He d-smashed pretty much every single one of his opponents with his platform turnip baits. He even got one on Zain, a top two player!

 

 

His overall understanding of footsies, frame advantage, and playing to Peach’s walling strengths deserves a separate column. The precise spacing built from years of experience and execution showed throughout all of his sets.

 

So what's next for Polish?

 

This was a great showing for Polish, but there’s a few areas of focus he should look at to continue on this trajectory.

 

He needs to do something about edgeguarding Marth. He lost his last set against me for this reason, and a huge factor on why he couldn’t win against Zain was because of his lack of edgeguarding and corner pressure. Unless he can find a solution aside from bombing himself multiple times, he is going to be stuck.

 

He also needs to gain more experience against Captain Falcon and Sheik. He has even or losing records against the Falcon field for the most part. Jason "Gahtzu" Diehl and Edgard "n0ne" L. Sheleby have been challenging for him. He also has problem matchups with Benjamin “Ben” Strandmark and Jacob “Jflex” Pinto, so Sheik isn’t looking promising right now either. While his run was a long time coming, don’t be surprised if he ends up struggling versus those matchups in future tournaments.

 

The true test is Polish’s gameplan being more closely studied and dissected. Part of the reason why his current unique approach is working so well is because he is not as heavily studied as an “up-and-comer." Once people start thinking and adapting to his platform turnip game and how he currently moves, it will be up to Polish on how he can properly respond back.

 

With his strong mentality and history of hard work, though, he just might do it.

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