Why I haven't been going to tournaments
Recently some friends have brought up the fact that I haven't been seen at tournaments lately. It's true - I haven't traveled for a major since The Big House 7 (I went to Genesis 5 but it was local). Let's talk about why that is.
In the time around Genesis 4 and BEAST 7 it occurred to me that I wasn't having as much fun competing as I used to. I kept competing throughout 2017 and as the year went on this trend continued. Despite coming off a career high MIOM rank #17 and having a top tier sponsor in Splyce, competing was becoming a chore. It felt more and more like I was only doing it because I achieved success in Melee and didn't want to give it up.
This feeling was compounded by the realization that Ice Climbers are not a viable character in the current metagame. I currently believe that with today's pool of active players the highest rank that an ICs player can consistently get is ~#15. People will surely point to ChuDat's 2017 as a counterpoint, and I agree that with a perfect storm of good brackets and solid play an ICs player can hit the top-10, but as we've seen with Chu's recent struggles, this isn't sustainable. I have so many thoughts about this but for the sake of this post I'll leave it at that for now.
The short story is that competing with ICs isn't fun for me anymore. I already hit my personal peak of #17 and am satisfied with that accomplishment. If I practiced many hours every day, I might be able to go a little bit farther, but since I have a career outside of Melee I don't think that's worth it or viable. Further, playing to "not lose" is much less fun than playing to improve, and if I'm not able to put time into actually increasing my rank with ICs then it's no longer fun to compete. I'm honestly surprised that so many players who have been ranked top-30 for years have been able to continue this endless grind without burning out. We all have the dream of "breaking out" into being a "god-level player" but only a few people have actually managed to do it.
Let me be clear though that I'm not retiring from Melee. After Evo 2017, I made the decision to stop practicing ICs and instead put all of my time into Marth. I felt this was necessary if I wanted to actually improve as a player, and for various reasons I think Marth is the best fit for me out of the top tier characters. I currently play Marth at all tournaments that do not have significant non-local attendance, in which case I just play whatever I think will get me the best result. During this transition period, I will not be traveling out of region for tournaments unless I'm there for another reason (such as if I'm there for work). IMO, there's nothing in it for me to travel until I can conquer locals with my new character, especially since I currently do not have a team or sponsor to please.
Marth has been a really tough grind, but for the first time since 2016 I really feel the hunger and drive to improve again. It's been taking me back to some of my most enjoyable moments playing this game, which was when I was climbing the local ranks and eventually the national ranks. The dream is to be a Marth/ICs dual main similar to how Plup keeps his Samus in the pocket for certain matchups. I realize that I may never get to the same level that I did with ICs, and I'm perfectly okay with that, as long as I'm having fun. That's always been the most important thing for me.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to reach out to me @NintendudeSSB if you have questions about any of this.