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A Player Is Not without Honor Except in His Own Town (The Hometown Effect)

Vermanubis - May 17, 2017

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Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home." - Mark 6:4, NIV

Though far from being a blog about religion, the Bible does have this eerily apropos sentiment about a phenomenon in Smash 4 that is seldom discussed. I call this phenomenon the “Hometown Effect.”

What’s the parallel here? Let’s read this passage in the Sm4sh hermeneutic: “A top player is not without prestige except in his own region, among his own PR and in his own tournaments.”

So, what do I mean by all of this? Consider the following player stats:

Fatality: 2nd at Civil War; losing record against Hyperkirby this season who is ranked 4th on their PR.

Locus: Multiple top-level out-of-region results, far exceeding any other in his region; ranked 2nd to Big D in British Columbia.

Captain Zack: Top 20 PGR player; 2nd on PR to Samsora, to whom he habitually loses but in equal measure outperforms out-of-region

All of these players, with their high-profile results, would be expected to unequivocally dominate their local regions; but they don’t. Many of them are either not first on their PR or have losing records to those lower-ranked than they are and whose projections for major events would be far below those against whom they have a winning record.

As largely inconsistent and strange as Smash 4 can be, there must still be some kind of explanation for this. Why do some players dominate out-of-region but struggle in-region?

Short answer: Hometown Effect. Long answer: in a game as unforgiving as Sm4sh is with respect to the time you’re allotted to adapt and formulate counterplays, 4 stocks generally only gives enough time to construct a model of your opponent that is impoverished at best. You simply do not have enough time to comprehend the player behind the character in such a short time, at least, not such that any idiosyncrasies you pick up on become expressly utile. Rather, your baseline is that which is portable and independent of player-specific predilections: MU knowledge. Now, imagine you have all the time in the world to study, acclimate, and adapt to both a character as well as the individual playing them.

This being said, I would argue, and the data, I feel, would back me up, that while relying on player knowledge is impractical in a short-term context (that is, you don't have the time to figure small details out about the person as a player) it is ultimately knowledge that is exponentially more actionable and effective than general MU knowledge. MU knowledge, on the other hand, is actionable in the short-term since it’s represented by a pre-fabricated model that you don't need to learn extemporaneously, but is not nearly as actionable as player-specific knowledge. It is, however, portable, in that it's useful knowledge you can translate among any number of players; it's just not as useful as knowledge of that specific player.

This, I believe, explains why we see the sorts of things we do demonstrated by the data snippet above. When you’re in your hometown, people not only come to learn the MU; they come to learn you. It means far more to understand how someone fights than to understand with what they fight. In a national context, you don’t have the time to build a complete picture of whomever you’re playing; only to narrow down how they might behave and try to sort of stuff them like a Thanksgiving turkey into whatever pre-existing template you might have. In your hometown, not only do you have to navigate the usual obstacles of the game, but you must also cope with the added weight of what everyone already knows about you; with history. It's one thing to be exploited as a character; it's an entirely different thing to be exploited as a player.

So, in this sense, many of us can sympathize with the pop-punk cliche: we really want to get out of our hometown; there’s nothing for us here. There’s precious little glory in fighting old ghosts who know us so well when we could be carving the names of slain titans in our stone tablet for commensurate effort. When you have the advantage of time and ignorance, avenues that were previously unavailable to you against those in your hometown become available once more. Just like moving away from your actual hometown, you're given a fresh start; an opportunity to reinvent yourself without the baggage of years bygone. You can express yourself as a player without the cumbersome burden of being known.

As usual, if this blog didn't give you an exotic form of cancer, you didn't suffer a marked loss in IQ from it and maybe even liked it, then I frequently make updates on my Twitter and you can follow me here:

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On the flipside of the coin, adom's consistency in multiple different regions is something I simply can't dismiss as downright impressive.
A2ZOMG - May 17, 2017

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