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Fuzyll


Hopelessly passionate husband, engineer, hacker, gamer, artist, and tea addict.


Input Analysis: ZeRo vs. MVD

I'm a scrub-tier Smash player. I learned a ton of bad habits growing up because I was the absolute best Smash player in my local area and never needed to improve. I simply wasn't aware of the greater Smash scene in 2000-2007. With Smash 4 being released last year, I've finally found my way back into the scene. It's huge! And I suck.

What I don't suck at, though, is analysis. I've been trying to main Yoshi, so I've been painstakingly analyzing recorded Yoshi matches looking for differences in play. I've got a few SmashBoards posts (like this one) on them now and they've been favorably received by a number of top Yoshi players.

I've hit a bit of a wall with my Yoshi play, though, so I've been trying out other characters. The best players can play well with any character, so I figure this is a great time to branch out. Today, there was a Reddit thread asking what ZeRo has that others don't. Since I've been working on Diddy Kong a little bit lately, I figured I'd take a stab at trying to figure that out.

In my opinion, the two best Diddy Kong players at the moment are ZeRo and MVD. MVD still doesn't have the results that ZeRo does, but I think it's pretty obvious that he's a solid player. They also have something else in common: They've both played Mr. R toward the end of a recent major tournament. This lets us compare apples to apples.

MVD

The first match I'd like to analyze is Paragon LA Winner's Semi-Finals - MVD (Diddy Kong) vs. Mr. R (Sheik):

For each game, I've included some brief notes on the game and a full map of inputs. These are cribbed painstakingly from the footage by hand, so please note there may be slight errors.

Game 1

MVD didn't play well during the first minute or so of this game, but eventually found his footing. He uses a lot of Diddy's available options throughout the game, keeping him un-predictable. The casters also noted his un-conventional use of Diddy's barrels offensively, which worked out well for (he secured the last kill with it).

Jab        2
Ftilt      4
Utilt      0
Dtilt      6
Fsmash     3
Usmash     1
Dsmash     0
DashAtk    0
Nair       4
Fair      21
Bair       4
Uair       3
Dair       2
Nspec      4
Fspec      9
Uspec      6
Dspec     10
Grab       4
Pummel     3
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     1
Dthrow     1
Bthrow     0
ItemToss  10
Shield    25
Roll       6
Dodge      5
ADodge     6
Tech       2
MissTech   0

Game 2

MVD was completely and utterly out-played this game. Plain and simple. Just look at all the defensive options he spammed, all the whiffed smashes, and the extremely low use of good options like bananas.

I think he knew this, given that he waves off his coach at the end of the game.

Jab        1
Ftilt      0
Utilt      1
Dtilt      6
Fsmash     1
Usmash     2
Dsmash     1
DashAtk    0
Nair       1
Fair      13
Bair       3
Uair       6
Dair       0
Nspec      0
Fspec     11
Uspec      2
Dspec      3
Grab       5
Pummel     2
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     2
Dthrow     0
Bthrow     0
ItemToss   3
Shield    18
Roll       8
Dodge     10
ADodge     1
Tech       2
MissTech   1

Game 3

MVD played significantly better this game. He made great use of bananas to all kinds of options (grab, multiple smashes). He also used relatively safe strings of inputs like Shield -> Roll -> Dtilt -> Grab to fish for setups. That being said, he missed a lot of the opportunities he had set up for himself (like the whiffed up-smash at the end of the game).

Jab        4
Ftilt      2
Utilt      0
Dtilt     12
Fsmash     4
Usmash     3
Dsmash     0
DashAtk    0
Nair       0
Fair      19
Bair       8
Uair       4
Dair       2
Nspec      5
Fspec     14
Uspec      1
Dspec     13
Grab      15
Pummel     9
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     5
Dthrow     0
Bthrow     1
ItemToss  15
Shield    30
Roll      19
Dodge      9
ADodge     2
Tech       3
MissTech   1

Game 4

MVD started this match off a little shaky as well, but immediately got into a good groove. He made great use of Grab -> (Pummel) -> Uthrow -> Uair and only whiffed a single smash attack. This game in particular showcases MVD's usage of Dtilt to get in quick damage and allow for follow-ups.

Jab        0
Ftilt      1
Utilt      2
Dtilt     15
Fsmash     1
Usmash     0
Dsmash     1
DashAtk    1
Nair       1
Fair      10
Bair      10
Uair       7
Dair       1
Nspec      0
Fspec     11
Uspec      5
Dspec     10
Grab      10
Pummel     7
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     4
Dthrow     2
Bthrow     0
ItemToss  13
Shield    32
Roll      19
Dodge      5
ADodge     5
Tech       3
MissTech   1

Overall

I think it's obvious that MVD has a pretty good command of Diddy Kong's available options. It's also evident that he's a high level player due to how well he moves (which isn't entirely captured with just numbers). That being said, he sometimes chooses sub-optimal moves and he whiffs a good number of his inputs (particularly smash attacks).

ZeRo

Now, let's analyze the EVO 2015 Grand Finals - ZeRo (Diddy Kong) vs. Mr. R (Sheik):

Again, for each game, I've included some brief notes on the game and a full map of inputs. These are cribbed painstakingly from the footage by hand, so please note there may be slight errors.

Game 1

In this game, ZeRo seemed to try to go for a string of Dspec -> Shield -> Fair (Grab Item) -> Dash -> Toss Item -> Grab (or some variant of that) very often. When Mr. R saw it coming, it was very safe. ZeRo was almost never punished for trying this. When he was successful, though, he was often guaranteed 30-40% on his opponent.

Jab        0
Ftilt      0
Utilt      0
Dtilt     13
Fsmash     1
Usmash     1
Dsmash     0
DashAtk    0
Nair       0
Fair      21
Bair      14
Uair       4
Dair       2
Nspec     14
Fspec     12
Uspec      0
Dspec     22
Grab      16
Pummel    10
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     7
Dthrow     0
Bthrow     0
ItemToss  26
Shield    59
Roll      34
Dodge      1
ADodge     5
Tech       2
MissTech   0

Game 2

ZeRo mixed things up more in this game, opting for far more spacing-oriented plays like the triple Bair towards the beginning of the game. It looks like he over-used defensive options in comparison to game 1, but that's only because he spent most of the game on his first stock.

Jab        0
Ftilt      0
Utilt      3
Dtilt      7
Fsmash     2
Usmash     1
Dsmash     0
DashAtk    0
Nair       2
Fair      12
Bair      11
Uair       2
Dair       2
Nspec     10
Fspec     17
Uspec      4
Dspec     12
Grab       9
Pummel     0
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     3
Dthrow     0
Bthrow     0
ItemToss  10
Shield    44
Roll      18
Dodge      1
ADodge     8
Tech       2
MissTech   0

Game 3

ZeRo was off this game. He actually missed techs, barely bothered to go for his normal setups, and threw out random smash attacks more (which he was punished for). He was forced to spend a ridiculous amount of time in shield toward the end of the game since he was at 175% on his last stock. Fortunately, he was able to clutch out the win with a sick Dtilt -> Pummel (x2) -> Uthrow -> Dair -> Shield -> Grab -> Pummel (x2) -> Uthrow -> Uair string to take Mr. R from 43% to 82% and seal the stock (the height from the platform helped him secure the early kill).

Jab        0
Ftilt      1
Utilt      2
Dtilt     17
Fsmash     2
Usmash     3
Dsmash     0
DashAtk    1
Nair       0
Fair      22
Bair      10
Uair       8
Dair       1
Nspec      3
Fspec     19
Uspec      5
Dspec     15
Grab      13
Pummel     4
Fthrow     0
Uthrow     3
Dthrow     0
Bthrow     0
ItemToss  17
Shield    90
Roll      35
Dodge      1
ADodge    14
Tech       2
MissTech   2

Overall

It's actually interesting to watch ZeRo's game get less and less crisp as the match progressed. The first game was incredibly textbook and, in my opinion, was complete domination by ZeRo. The second game was a bit sloppier. The third game was nothing like the first two and it looked like ZeRo was unraveling a bit, but he still managed #JustZeRoThings to seal the deal.

Conclusions

Based entirely on these two players (and these two matches) and absolutely nothing else, I'd like to make an observation: The thing ZeRo has that MVD (and other players) don't is simply more optimal play.

This is immediately evident, I think, if you simply look at smash attacks. Over the course of each match, MVD used an average of 4.25 smash attacks and ZeRo used an average of 2.67. When ZeRo throws a smash attack? It kills. It's never stale and can't ever be punished because the opponent is simply dead. And ZeRo doesn't throw them out at all unless the opponent could be killed by them (unlike MVD, who tries to use them for big damage).

ZeRo is also far more likely to bide his time and wait for an opening. He spends a lot of time in shield or trying relatively "safe" set-ups with bananas. MVD is more likely to be in the thick of things. Check the huge number of dodges MVD does relative to ZeRo. This is mostly because MVD needs to extract himself from a bad situation more often.

If you think about it, this makes sense. The absolute perfect game of Smash is one where you choose exactly the right inputs to either hit your opponent or prevent being hit. The closer you are to that perfect game, the better you will perform. ZeRo has optimized his play closer to that point than anyone else.

This, I think, is the major takeaway for me as a player. It's not about combos or advanced tech. It's about proper spacing, smart choices, and paying attention to what your opponent is doing. ZeRo is simply better at these things right now, and that's why he wins. It might not be as flashy, but hey - it pays the bills!