On May 9th, 2016, Super Smash Bros Melee history was retroactively distorted. For the first time in his storied career, The People’s Champion – Bobby “Scar” Scarnewman – admitted he placed 6th at GENESIS. The prize money given to him from this 2009 tournament, the largest of the time, has always been indicative of this placing.
However, Scar has always been reluctant to accept his 6th place at Genesis, aside from a single mistake nearly a year ago, where Scar’s co-commentator, Kris “Toph” Aldenderfer, was able to expertly extract an oblivious agreement. Caught with his pants down, Scar was unable to recover in time to parry this attack, instead defaulting to answering “correct” to every single question Toph posed.
But the legitimacy of this concession would be quickly challenged by Bobby himself, who explained his unawareness. May 9th, 2016, was different though. In the presence of Toph once again, and also fellow competitive smasher Julian “Zhu” Zhu, Scar made an absolutely un-retractable statement:
“I’m here to tell you for the first time ever that I placed 6th at GENESIS.” He quickly followed it up by declaring that it was an absolute injustice. Despite his self-protest, the meme had transformed into part of history.
A Tournament Injustice?
For those who don’t know, most Melee majors follow a standard Double Elimination Bracket format, featuring a winners’ bracket and losers’ bracket after pool play, allowing a player to lose once in tournament bracket, while still having a chance to win the entire thing. Some glorious tournament runs have happened through this system, including Joseph “Mango” Marquez’s losers run at Pound 3, where he demolished 7 top ranked players on the way to a national title.
Despite the beauty of this format, it does create the situation where countless ties are left unbroken. In the 64-man bracket that most tournaments feature, ties appear at 49th, 33rd, 25th, 17th, 13th, 9th, 7th, and 5th. As less players are part of a bracket, the number of people tied for a position lessens, with the breaking point at 5; above this, all the places are separate from each other. I don’t find any problem with lower place ties. Competitors play for first – I for one hated playing the 3rd place match of my state basketball final.
The playing of matches simply for the sake of tie-breaking has probably never been a fantastic idea. A nightmare occured in March Madness, the biggest collegiate basketball tournament of the year, back in 1981, the final year of consolation matches, Durand “Rudy” Macklin showed his complete disdain for the match. He had no interest, and fouled out from the game as soon as he could, in what he later described as an intentional effort. For a collegiate superstar at the time, his scoreless performance in this 3rd place game could only be attributed to the obsolete nature of tie-breaking playoff games.
Genesis was one of the final tournaments that featured a 5th/6th place tiebreaker in Melee, and actually still does. After finishing 5th in an impressive tournament run for the blazing Captain Falcon, Scar was ready to take a breather. But the tournament officials had other ideas. They couldn’t fathom the idea of having two 5th place finishers. The original prize money distribution was set up to have someone be number 5, and a different person take the dreaded number 6.
Off-camera, off-stream, a match between Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Scar would be played. Not even part of the main event, this match had the sole purpose of breaking the deadlock. Scar would fail to keep his 5th place finish, eventually conceding it in a loss to the edge-guarding genius.
Perhaps the recent statement came as a mere attention grab, but it likely holds much greater meaning. Scar, though only a shadow of his former self as a player, still has incredible relevance to the Melee scene, being one of the favorite casters and content creators within the community.
The People’s Champ may finally be finding closure with the violation that the Genesis tournament made. A man of pride, coining his own unique combos and hard-hitting playstyle, Scar may be pursuing a new path of modesty as he enters the latest stage of his life. Scarduzio finished 5th at Genesis, no one (except a lot of fans, other pros, and tournament money), disputes that. Scarnewman is the 6th placer though, having come to terms with the unfairness that the world sometimes brings.
A new era of Melee is now upon us; with it, a new favorite meme will need to emerge from the grassroots community – one that marks the maturity that this magical game has reached, grinding through immense adversity and even contempt from its creators. Maybe “5th at Genesis” will do.