eSports Replay Analysis Example (Written)

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Recently, I reviewed a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate grand finals set for a client. I went into this review blind. I had never seen him play before, nor had I ever heard of him. For privacy reasons, I won’t reveal the player’s name.

However, I wanted to use the written feedback I gave him as an example for what you should expect when you pay for a replay review. Mainly I want this example to demonstrate how detailed the feedback should be, regardless of skill level. Typically the lower the skill level, the easier it is to provide meaningful feedback. Players who haven’t fully become proficient have obvious flaws and blind spots. This makes spotting mistakes and offering solutions very simple.

However, players who are very proficient tend to make less mistakes. Often their opportunities can revolve around mindset, and composure. Decision making at a higher level is often contextual, which makes providing meaningful feedback difficult as well.

Here is the grand finals set replay analysis I provided for my client (names have been replaced with X):

After watching your set and a few other ones including your loser’s finals set against X and your Quarter’s set against X. I have found some opportunities in your game that, if corrected, can help you continue your success. I will be breaking them down into 3 categories. Risk & Reward, Recognition of Opponent Adaptation, Approaching/Retreating reads.

First I want to get all of the basic stuff out of the way. You obviously understand your character, and the game quite well. If you didn’t you not only wouldn’t have been in Grand Finals, but you also wouldn’t have the placements under your belt that you have. (Did some twitter snooping).

Since you are as skilled as you are, and able to endure long tournaments, the opportunities become far more nuanced, and harder to work on. But they are necessary in this skill bracket. The main thing you are going to want to focus on is being as optimized as possible. Far beyond just your mechanical ability. You rarely flubbed a single input during the sets as far as I could tell, and your combo execution is just about perfect.

What I’m referring to when I say optimized, is optimizing your decision quality around Risk & Reward.

This is probably the easiest thing to correct and it only takes some reflection and re-watching of your footage to recognize what you’re doing.

There are many times in your sets that you are willing to fully commit an aerial on your opponent’s shield, or from far enough above them that it becomes telegraphed. In this instance it is mainly Dair, and Nair, though your Fair gets caught as well at times. I noticed this is a gentle habit that you carry over to your Wolf as well.

More often than not, when you are going for a Dair on your opponent. The % difference is large enough that, even if you land it, you can’t follow it up. Worse is if you don’t, the punish potential and sometimes kill potential that you end up in because of it is damaging to your overall game. In a lot of those Ken matches, if X had slightly better execution, those games would have turned out differently, and there are many examples of it during the set. The same goes for other aerials as well. Now, I know we have to take chances and commit to shield pressure at times, Smash is by no means a black and white game. However, becoming more aware of the Risk to Reward ratio when making those decisions will greatly increase your staying power in matches, and help you get closer to your win condition. (Up-Tilt B-air…etc)

Here are some timestamp examples of what I mean.

2:20

4:21

4:53

6:38

11:46

My recommendation to improve on this is to rewatch your footage. Check some of those timestamps out and ask yourself what other things you could have done in those positions. Play them out in your head one by one. Match them up to what you believe your opponent would and can do, and pick out the most optimal that still helps you maintain the pressure you’re looking for.

 

I struggled to get into your mind and understand your decision making in neutral. I watched it over and over and over again, but it was hard to spot the ‘why’ in some of your actions. So I started to focus specifically on how you were taking damage/how you were dealing damage. 

You utilize dash dancing a lot to control space and find openings. Which is great. However at times it looks a lot like guessing and less like reading. Almost a coin flip at times, and some of those times lead to you being shield punished and others it lead to huge combos for you. Now I know how neutral in Smash works, it is often like that. On top of that, I can’t fully get into your head and understand what you were specifically looking for at times. But the way you operated in neutral a lot of the time, looked as though you were okay with taking trades. 

Very rarely did you dash dance shield to bait something from your opponent and force them to over commit onto your shield. Or to not get caught in a post dash animation. Although this can seem small, it played a very large factor in why I believe your opponent switched to Terry, and the benefits he got from doing that.

Here are some timestamps of when your shielding really benefited you and helped turn the fight.

2:14

9:15

15:58

I strongly suggest you start exploring the idea of Approaching/Retreating reads. It won’t be 100% as there is still a lot of guesswork involved. However, trying to recognize when your opponent might commit or is going to retreat will help you avoid taking unnecessary percent, and also start your combo game more fluidly. This will help optimize your neutral, and make it less of a coin flip. It will also help you whiff punish more, and of course not be whiff punished as much. This will overall help with tempo, as well as conserving energy in earlier rounds of pools and matches. The best thing you can do is just actively make it a portion of your practice. When you’re in friendlies or early rounds, focus on the exercise of your opponents positioning.

 

Here is an example of a retreat that cost you some percent 

9:00

Here is an example of an approach read that helped you gain percent 

13:38

Falco has an insanely good air to air game, and being able to force your opponents into your strengths goes a really long way in controlling the full tempo of each match. 

The last thing I want to point out is Recognition of Opponent Adaptation. Throughout the set we are always trying to adapt and make adjustments as we go. Often times a little too late, or not at all. The biggest adaptation your opponent made was:

  • Not over committing anymore. He stopped playing the same neutral game that you were, and became far more stationary and defensive. 
  • Reading your movement and catching you in mid dash/when you were stationary and shielding
  • Using larger, longer lasting hitboxes to combat your neutral. 

This I believe is why the Terry pick worked out so well in his favor (minus all other variables). He was able to use forward tilt, dash attack, and side B effectively against you because of your neutral style. Though Ken has great hitboxes, they are often less reliable from the ranges he needed to break through your neutral. It becomes very evident during the Terry Matches because his spacing is just outside of your range, while still inside of his. 

Here are some examples of his adaptation

9:10

11:09

16:22

Truthfully it looked as though he was working on these adjustments starting in Game 3 of the first set. Which is why after the reset, the games looked and felt different. 

I’m not saying that you didn’t make any adjustments or change what you were doing, however being able to recognize these subtle shifts in an opponent’s play and get there before they do is critical at this skill level. 

 

Mid-set reflection can be difficult without stirring too much self talk, though still important. I suggest making small mental notes after every single game, win or loss, and then letting them go as you play. Allowing your active mind to focus on what’s right in front of you. Of course, habit analysis of your opponents before tournaments is huge, and set reflection is as well.

 

I believe the best example of all 3 things that I have pointed out to you can be found in game 3 of the second set starting at 19:30.

If you take these three concepts and study the set as well, you should be able to see the subtle things that you can improve on. I hope that this has some impact for you, given your established ability. Look at some of your other sets as well, and see if you can spot any habits as well. Like your F-air out of shield timing or your dash grab game. 

If you would like me to review on of your replays, send me a message on twitter @CzechFreeA

 

 

 

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