The metagame has many unspoken rules in how to pick stages in a set. Often, these assumptions about what is considered a “good” stage have gone unchallenged. We hear that Yoshi’s Story is a Marth’s Stage and that Pokemon Stadium is a Fox’s stage. The rationale seems to make sense; Marth likes close encounters and cornering his opponent, so Yoshi’s Story seems to be a great choice. Stadium has low ceilings and transformations that seem to favor Fox.
Recently, I’ve been observing Mango and some of his strengths and weaknesses extensively. From watching some of the earlier summer tournaments, I subconsciously noticed that Mango was losing quite often on Stadium, a “Fox Stage”, and began to track his win-loss records.
|Stages||Mango||Mew2King||Mango’s Win Rate|
|Fountain of Dreams||12||3||80%|
Table 1: Mango vs Mew2King (2013-2014)
1. Initial Impressions
Although the sample size remains rather small, we can still gather some conclusions. The stage win-loss ratios between Mango and Mew2King are vastly different than what people would generally expect. Mango performs exceptionally well against Mew2King on Yoshi’s Story. Even though Mew2King went Sheik for a handful of these games, Mango was still dominant, showing that Marth may not have a strong advantage on Yoshi’s Story as many would think.
To no surprise, Mew2King performed really well on Final Destination. His strong 0-to-death combos on Fox and Falco give him a strong edge on that stage. Mew2King also performs well on Dreamland. The long horizontal stage along with a large ceiling, give Mew2King an ability to recover with his fantastic recovery and allows him to slow down the tempo of the game whenever Mango tries to be aggressive. In general, Mew2King thrives on stages that allow for movement.
Now for the non-conventional line of thought
Mango is anemic on Pokemon Stadium. This is widely consistent with how he fares against the other members of the “big 5″ on that stage (stats will be released eventually). This seems unusual since the low ceiling should work in favor of Fox/Falco and the transformations tend to be amazing as well. So why is this the case?
A. Lack of a Top Platform
It’s no secret that Mango recovers high. On a stage with a top platform, it gives Mango a plethora of options to recover.
Image 1: Mango’s options on Dreamland
In this situation on Dreamland, Mango has several options with a double jump. He can do several options (I’ll just list three, but there are much more)
1. (Red Route) Mango can use his double jump and FireFox/Side+B onto top platform.
2. (Orange Route) Mango drops a little bit, chooses to use a jump based on Mew2King’s reaction, and Side+Bs onto ledge or onto the base stage
3. (Yellow Route) Mango can challenge Mew2King’s reaction by using Side+B immediately to the stage
Out of these 3 main options, there are several permutations that can be added as another layer of depth to Mango’s recovery. Even a player as great as Mew2King cannot cover every option that Mango has in his disposal. In contrast:
Image 2: Mango recovering on a large stage
On Stadium, the number of options that Mango can do is much more simplified because of the timing windows involved. If Mango aims for a high recovery, he’ll take a long time to land and Mew2King will be able to catch him and combo/edge guard him. As a result, Mew2King doesn’t need to cover as much space to edge-guard Mango as he would on a stage with a top platform.
B. Platforms are terrible for Fox/Falco
Youtube Clip 1: Mango getting combo’d on platforms
The platforms essentially work in Marth’s favor and act as an easy extension to combo. His u-tilts can cover everything on reaction, so Mango cannot reliably hide on the platform. Either way, the neutral game works quite well in favor of Mew2King with generous space to dash dance and grab or force Mango onto a platform and punish him with utilts and uairs.
B. Stage Transformation Advantages are Overblown
For the most part, Mew2King is very much aware of when the stage will transform. If he doesn’t like it, he’ll simply stall until the stage reverts back to normal.
3. Why Fountain of Dreams was a disaster at Evo
Many suspect that Fountain of Dreams is a terrible stage for Fox due to its high ceiling and interesting platforms that can mess up a Fox’s tech-skill immensely. However, there are many factors that lead me to suspect that FoD is not as bad as one would expect.
A. Fountain of Dreams limits follow ups
|# of Openings||# of Kills||Total Damage||Average Hits Per Opening|
Table 2: Mew2King’s Statistics on Fountain of Dreams at Evo 2014
It’s interesting to see how Mew2King’s punishment game works on Fountain of Dreams. He averaged an abysmal ~2.06 hits per opening in game 1 and ~1.65 hits per opening in game 2. Although I don’t have the statistics, I imagine that Mew2King has a much better follow up game on every other legal stage. Although Mew2King had 19 openings, he only landed 3 kills. In game 2, he had 17 openings, but had only one kill to show for it. It’s clear that the unique platforms play a large role into the lack of followups, but it doesn’t hurt that Mango also has stellar SDI and game knowledge to minimize punishes. In a match against a high caliber opponent, getting a kill off of a small handful of openings is crucial.
|Game 1||Game 2|
Table 3: Mango’s Death % on each stock
It’s not to say that Mango lived extraordinarily long either. Mew2King was able to land hits into kills and nailed most of his edgeguards in the set. In Mew2King’s four KOs, Mango died at an average of 118%. It’s a tad high of a percentage, but certainly not abnormal relative to their other games.
B. Lack of Horiziontal Maneuverability
Mew2King’s specialty is being able to dash-dance to outspace and bait his opponents. With a thin stage such as FoD, Mew2King doesn’t have the option to move as well as he would on Stadium, FD, and Dreamland. In the neutral, Mew2King found himself frequently in shield, at the mercy of Mango.
Youtube Clip 2: Mew2King stuck in Pressure
Mew2King is caught in this situation frequently and his escape routes are rather limited to deal with this. Wave-dashing OOS, rolling, or jumping all pose immediate risks for Mew2King and will either put him in the corner or in a very disadvantageous spot. As a result, he’s never really able to control the pace of the match since they are so close to each other all of the time.
4. Closing thoughts
It’s important to understand your weaknesses and strengths as a player when it comes to stage choice. Mew2King thrives on larger stages, especially against Mango, and the statistics back this theory up immensely. It’s not to say Mango didn’t played well (which he did), but the set would have been much closer had Mew2King chosen stages that catered to his personal strengths. Statistics and solid metrics help back-up these claims and it’s nice to see how metrics can help people strategically.