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Fixing the Little Mac Meta

Cagt - May 24, 2017

Dear Mac Nation,

We need to get our shit together.

I'm not going to beat around the bush, neither am I going to make excuses. It's time we realize a few things about our character, and what we need to do to change it.

First and foremost: while we heavily defend our character as a mid-tier or lower-mid tier, Mac is simply not at that state right now. We don't have the results, presence, or wins of a mid-tier. Our character is consistently seen as Bottom 10/15, and we struggle to produce meaningful results at majors. We have to fix that. Sure, our character may have a better MU chart then most would believe, but we need to prove to people that our character's strongest tools make an impact and aren't overshadowed by our glaring weaknesses. The top Macs still struggle to make it out of pools at majors: we either choke in losers finals or lose right away in Round 2 Pools. Granted we don't necessarily have bad placings, and we shouldn't expect amazing results given we are playing a low tier character, but it's baffling that to this day we still struggle at making it out of pools. This goes for all the top Macs including myself - we can do so much better with our character. And it's time we step it up.

So, what exactly do I think is holding us back? Our playstyle and perception of the character.

Yes, Mac has a bad grab. Yes, Mac had bad aerials. But guess what? We shouldn't be outright blocking any of those options in a match and focusing only on what we do best. In other words: we need to treat our character like an actual Smash character. I'm not saying to start juggling people with UpAirs or fish for kill throws, but at least utilize them more than simple once-per-set mixups. I'm the biggest culprit of this, I will straight up admit it. I've incorporated grabbing a bit more in my game, but it's still very lacking. On top of that, I never do aerials. Ever. Even though I'm aware of aerial combos/extensions and know how to do them, I simply ignore them. I need to change that.

But back on topic of our playstyle: you know the whole "Mac loses to shield" mentality? While yes, it is true that the R button is a very good tool against us, we need to stop letting that take such a hit on our character. Look at Fox: yes, his grab game isn't the best outside of Dthrow at lower percents, and with good DI he has close to no feasible followups. Does that mean Fox players should outright not grab? No, not at all. They still grab as mixups and force their opponents to mixup their shield usage. Mac players need to do this as well: whenever we see a shield, we either spam Dtilts or fish for a DaFsmash, both of which can be baited/avoided and punished. Instead, we could simply grab the opponent and gain percent/stage control. You know, fundamentals?

Same goes for aerials: we need to explore them more than simply Dtilt > Fair or Dtilt > UpAir. We need to utilize Dair jablocks more. I'm not saying suddenly become Mario or ZSS with aerials, but at least use them more strategically so that they don't remain as memes and "Oh look Mac used an aerial!". The moves are there for a reason, and they have their uses. Let's use them. Again, everything I talk about I need to work on as well.

Now that's for our weaknesses, but what about the rest of our game? It's true that we've made tremendous progress on the neutral and punish game of our character, and I love that. Walking has become an essential part of our playstyle, and has worked wonderfully in our meta. But we need to learn to mixup walking and dashing, and utilize all our movement options. I recently made a movement guide on the Mac Nation YT channel showing all the movement options that Mac has to offer. All those options have their uses and applications in a match. We as Macs need to learn all of them and be more mindful of them. We can't simply walk or run 99% of the time. We need to adapt to our opponent and see what movement options we need according to the situation. We're the character with arguably the best ground movement in the game, let's utilize that better.

Also: footstools and jablocks. Those are looking to be the future of the Smash 4 metagame, and we need to adapt to it. So far, our most practical use of that is Dtilt > Nair > Footstool > Dair. Except tell me: exactly how many Macs actively use/land it in tournament? Yeah, not a lot. In fact, almost no one. We know how strong Mac's punish game can be, and we know how much we can get off of it. If we don't adapt to the developing meta, and don't abuse our damage output, we're going to fall behind very quickly.

One amazing thing we have in Mac Nation is diversity - we have a large amount of different playstyles and experiences in matchups, which gives us a lot of options when improving. That's great! But we need to be more open to each other when giving opinions on the metagame, and more importantly: optimizing the metagame for our character: If you go ahead right now and ask every top Mac: "How do I fight Fox? What's your opinion of the matchup?" I guarantee you'll get a bunch of different answers, and no clear conclusion. That's a problem. If we can't sit down and at least a general agreement on the meta of our character, we won't be able to progress it in a single direction, and instead will each go our own way ignoring everything else.

Finally, I'll touch on one final point: fundamentals. We're character specialists, so it's no question that our skills diminish heavily when playing other characters (for the most part). However, we need to fix that. If we want a better understanding of the game and be able to adapt to our opponents better, we need to understand their gameplan as well. Remember that when playing Mac, we're focusing on a small portion of the game because of our flaws. We don't understand the air or edgeguard game as well, or grabbing mindgames. Playing other characters will help us understand them better and become better players. A few of the top Macs have started doing that, and I'm very happy to see it. But we need to improve on it together as a community.

I know I may have seem aggressive in this blog post, and I apologize. But the truth is, I want our character's metagame to develop and improve. I want us to prove the world that Little Mac isn't a shit character like a lot of people think he is. And I want us to improve as players. Doing all of this won't make him a top/high tier by any means, I know we have limits. But we need to keep pushing so we can kill the mentality that Little Mac is a completely unviable character in today's meta.

Touch gloves and come out fighting.
~Cagt (@Cagt3000)

 

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Comments

That is so true Cagt. I am a Mac main myself and I utilize F-air when I land a D-tilt. I understand where you are coming from
Rax - May 24, 2017
That was pretty succulent
Cockchopz - May 25, 2017
Yes. Grabbing is very important even when playing Mac. People who know the Mac match-up well tend to get very shield happy. And I often try to discuss strategies with some of the top Macs, but I'm not entirely sure the best way to go about these sorts of things, I must admit.
Rython - May 25, 2017

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