Among the veteran Melee players that are slowly returning to the competitive scene, Mew2king is among the most fan anticipated. The esports icon was integral in creating the foundations of competitive Melee and his unprecedented game knowledge was responsible for a significant number of tech discoveries.
Although Mew2King has essentially soft-retired from Melee, the Smash World Tour has provided ample reason to get back into competitive shape. This combined with a resurgence of Melee content viewers (thanks Slippi.gg!) has even made Mew2King's dream of streaming Melee profitably possible.
However, Mew2King and returning Melee competitors like him have their work cut out for them. The modern approach to professional Melee training can be rigorous to the extreme. New tools like Unclepunch allow pro players to exhaustively practice hyper-specific scenarios while Slippi's essentially lagless direct mode allows world-class talent to practice with each other any time they want.
In other words, the new generation of Melee pros are just built differently. As veteran pros were taking a break from the game, players like iBDW and Zain were redefining the melee Meta.
The modern Melee difference
"Mew2king is going to have to update so much of his gameplay though, so much of his gameplay is really outdated."- iBDW
During a recent practice session against iBDW, Mew2King held his own admirably, but both players knew they are playing at different levels of polish. iBDW, for example, aims to practice Melee for five hours a day. Many of those hours are spent playing with the best players in the world. As a result, the highlight reel moments of four years ago are standard fare for the likes of iBDW. The KO in the clip below is incredible, but iBDW is quick to remind us that these plays are the results of arduous and specific practice.
Mew2King has the sensibility and talent to adapt to the modern meta, but it will take time and consistent practice with world-class talent. Mew2King is often candid about the pressure he faces from his fans to return to Melee, but his recent aspirations to return was ultimately his decision
"Negativity is one of the reasons I wasn't going to play. But I decided, F-it, whatever, I'm bored. I'm so bored I feel like I'm wasting my abilities" - Mew2King
Even when rusty, Mew2King is a lethal opponent and his Melee eye is as sharp as ever. In the clip below, Mew2King identifies the layers of mix-ups iBDW is employing when edge guarding and comments on how the pressure makes it feel like Marth has no "right answer." iBDW agrees that there is no right answer because it is a 50/50 with no visual queue.
This is the type of specific matchup insight that propels new school Melee players to tournament success. A lesser Fox might have simply ledge stalled or committed to one powerful option, but iBDW creates a mix-up scenario out of thin air.
The above clip is another telling edge guard scenario that looks textbook for iBDW. As Fox shrugs off stray Marth hits with accurate CC, iBDW then immediately punishes Mew2King's 2nd platform mixup with a shield dropped bair. The moment Marth gets off stage, iBDW is ready for the lethal edge guard setup that feels as oppressive as it looks.
Imagine the skill level you have to be at to make Mew2King say "this sucks, what the F*** do I do?"
Mark of the King
Despite having a lot of de-rusting to do, Mew2King's good-natured love of Melee and positive outlook remains his strongest edge against his opponents. Even when getting bruised by iBDW, Mew2King's passion for sick Melee keeps him asking questions and constantly learning. This is the mentality needed in order for Melee's most methodical Marth to once again reach peak form.
On his Twitter, Mew2King retweets sick Marth combo videos and openly praises dope play. In esports, a key element of burnout is losing the aspirational motivation to improve. it can especially easy to feel disheartened when facing the reality of a brutal 20XX gameplay and the grind required to keep up.
But something tells me that Mew2King is uniquely resistant to Melee-inspired burnout. Even after 20 years of Melee, watching Marth combo people to death with style still has him typing out "so awesome" in the comments. Mew2King continues to be inspired by Melee's expressive gameplay and, as a result, still possesses the spark needed to compete at the highest level of play.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.