Hungrybox's Weird Habit

xChaos

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#1
Something I have been working on the past few days is making heatmaps of where on the stage a character is more likely to win neutral in certain matchups. It's a project I started to work on because I didn't really know where to start when it comes to reteaching myself the neutral game, so I figured that working on optimal positioning would be a good first step. I have a couple of local Jigglypuff players that I'd like to be able to beat (shoutouts to Freky), so the first matchup I decided to make the heatmaps for was gonna be Jigglypuff vs Sheik. Naturally there aren't a ton of top Puff players, so it ended up just being a compilation of data for Hungrybox vs Sheik.

To make the heatmaps I would pull up a video and every time a player won neutral I paused and took a 5/100 opacity brush in Photoshop and I would mark where Jigglypuff was whenever she won neutral. What I expected to find was that the closer to center stage you were the more likely you would be to win neutral, as this was the trend for every other player in every other matchup I had done this for. But Hungrybox was a whole lot different from everyone else.


So in this picture red indicates a position where Hungrybox won neutral against the top Sheik players (Shroomed, Plup, Swedish Delight, and Kirbykaze), and blue indicates Puff's position when one of the Sheik players won neutral. This is data compiled from several sets over a 1.5 year period.

Normally what you would expect from a heatmap of positions is something fairly symmetrical, but when Hungrybox is involved it isn't symmetrical at all. Normally in neutral between two top players one player is holding center stage while the other tries to take center stage from them, because it is generally agreed to be the best position to be in. What's interesting about this heatmap, though, is that it shows that Hungrybox is significantly better at walling out an opponent to the left of center stage than to the right of center stage. What it also shows is that Hungrybox is similarly better at weaving through the opponent's walls that they put up coming from the left edge to center stage. To put it simply, Hungrybox, against Sheik anyway, performs better on the left side of the stage than he does on the right. This is a pattern that isn't really seen in other top players.

This pattern isn't Battlefield specific, either. The directionality of Hungrybox's play is clear on other stages as well. For example:

This is Hungrybox vs Sheik as well, against the same players. As you can see there is a clear gradient from left to right, when Hungrybox holds center stage he is much better at keeping a player out who is to the left of him rather than to the right. It's a very strange habit.

The post that originally inspired me to make heatmaps like this was this post about the positional data between Hungrybox and Armada at Big House 5: https://www.reddit.com/r/smashbros/...s_of_game_1_of_the/?ref=share&ref_source=link

It's not the same matchup, but the positional data that /u/FetchFrosh gathered about Hungrybox plays really well into what I learned about him by looking at the heatmaps that I made. This is the picture in question, that details everywhere Hungrybox went during the game with Armada:


We can see three big things that confirm Hungrybox's habit of favoring the left side of the stage.
1. The brighter the green, the more frequently Hungrybox would be found at that location of the stage. As you can see, it's clear that Hungrybox tends towards the left-center of the stage during most of his play.

2. We can see that Hungrybox spent considerably more time trying to get down from the top right of the stage than the top left at the stage. This supports the theory that he is not as capable of regaining center from the right as he is from the left.

3. Finally we can see that he spent a lot more time on the right edge than on the left edge. We can probably infer that this is because he was trying to wait for an opening to return to center stage as he finds it harder to get back from that position than he does on the other side. He doesn't need to plank on the left side because he's naturally better there.

Anyway, this directionality isn't nearly as present in every matchup Hungrybox plays, but it seems like the ones that most prominently show this habit are the ones where the opponent is a relatively slower character that Hungrybox is able to wall out. Heatmaps for the Samus and Peach matchups are incredibly similar to the Sheik ones when Hungrybox is playing those matchups too.

Matchups where the opponent is much faster than Hungrybox do not show nearly as big of a directional influence in Hungrybox's play. Here's a heatmap of Leffen vs Hungrybox at GOML 2016:


As you can see, this is a lot more symmetrical. Leffen won this game because he was doing a better job of winning in center stage than Hungrybox was. If you watch the set, you'll see that Hbox was frequently playing from the edge. There's no clear directionality when Hungrybox is fighting a Fox, from the data I've seen thus far. (something else interesting is that Leffen only won neutral like 3 times per stock, he got a ton of mileage with his lasers)

So what's the point?

To be honest I don't really know. In theory I would guess that if you wanted to beat Hungrybox as Sheik (or any of the other characters he has this pattern against) then you would try to keep him on the right half of the stage, because he is a demonstrably worse player on that half of the stage. I don't know how much mileage one could get out of abusing this kind of thing, but I'd be surprised if it didn't offer at least a slight advantage.

Why does Hungrybox do this?

Hungrybox is pretty well known for being kinda lazy when it comes to the technical aspect of Melee. As Leffen pointed out during Smash Summit, Hungrybox doesn't even JC grab most of the time, he just does a dash grab, which is a fairly basic tech that most competitive players have mastered. I'm not gonna say this is a bad thing, because obviously Hungrybox is still getting incredible results with whatever he is doing right now, but it does possibly offer insight as to why he has formed this habit. Maybe he just doesn't practice his combo setups and basic tech and neutral game in multiple directions. I don't know.

The theory that Sleepyk told me was that it might have something to do with how much easier it is to drift from right to left with your thumb on a Gamecube controller. This is also why some tech, like moonwalking, is easier in one direction than the other.

I don't really know, though, why Hungrybox has this habit. I just found it and thought it was super interesting, I hope you guys do too.

PS: Here's the heatmaps on battlefield separated by color, so you can see more clearly where people were winning and losing: http://imgur.com/a/vadxw
 

Vestboy_Myst

NJ TO & Peach knitwit
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#4
probably has to do with his tap jumping and the left-to-right motion being easier due to our thumbs being on the left of the stick

EDIT maybe the opposite motion is easier? i cant tell now that im trying. someone who actually uses tap jump / puff should chime in
 
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xChaos

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#5
probably has to do with his tap jumping and the left-to-right motion being easier due to our thumbs being on the left of the stick
It definitely has to do with this at least partially, but it still feels like a slightly more difficult drift tech doesnt warrant such a dramatic directionality in one's neutral game
 
Joined
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#8
This is cool! What's your definition of winning neutral in this case? Would it be Hbox landing one bair or something else? Also what did you do for trades?
 

xChaos

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#9
This is cool! What's your definition of winning neutral in this case? Would it be Hbox landing one bair or something else? Also what did you do for trades?
Basically just getting a hit counts as winning. For fox I didn't count lasers at all, for falco I only counted lasers if they lead to something else. For peach I didnt count weak turnips unless they led to something else. I'm not entirely sure if that criteria makes sense for projectiles, but idk how I want to approach analysing those matchups right now. If anyone has any ideas let me know!

Also, a trade would result in a circle for both players under this system.
 
Joined
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#10
Hey xChaos, this is unrelated, but where did you get your profile picture? Did you draw it? I love Pichu and Karin, and think it's super sick and wanted to use it for profile pictures for other things, but I dont want to take it from you obviously. Is it cool if I use it?
 

xChaos

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#11
Hey xChaos, this is unrelated, but where did you get your profile picture? Did you draw it? I love Pichu and Karin, and think it's super sick and wanted to use it for profile pictures for other things, but I dont want to take it from you obviously. Is it cool if I use it?
I got it commissioned a while back. I'm fine with you using it other places :)
 

James Sparrow

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#13
This is probably the coolest piece of analytics I've seen done on smash bros. I can also anecdotally contribute to the theory that particular players have asymmetrical preferences. I was always able to do particular tricks only off of the left ledge, so I ended up becoming very left-favored with my play. I will almost always drift toward that side of the stage after KO'ing my opponent because it's where I feel more comfortable. It's important for players to be able to pick up on your opponent's tendencies and be able to punish them.
 

Bones0

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#14
This is almost certainly a result of uneven spawns, especially given that the two stages you used for examples are BF and FD, the only two stages with asymmetrical spawn locations. Hbox's port affects which side he respawns on, so I'd imagine respawning on the right would lead to more neutral wins on the left as he chases opponents with his invulnerability. The opponent's respawn side would also affect how often Hbox spends time in the air above the left side plat or off the right ledge. Starting spawns alone could be contributing to this asymmetry.

Heatmaps like these are definitely a cool idea, but I think it'd be best to look at the symmetrical stages before drawing the conclusion Hbox somehow functions differently on one side of the stage. Ideally, you should have some way of filtering the heatmap to only include certain information. Being able to see how Hbox's heatmap vs. Shroomed differs from his heatmap vs. Plup could obviously yield valuable information, and comparing heatmaps when Hbox uses port 1 vs. port 2 would also be useful for identifying arbitrary information (e.g. "oh, he camps the right ledge more often because Mango's preferred port respawns on the left side of BF").
 
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xChaos

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#15
This is almost certainly a result of uneven spawns, especially given that the two stages you used for examples are BF and FD, the only two stages with asymmetrical spawn locations. Hbox's port affects which side he respawns on, so I'd imagine respawning on the right would lead to more neutral wins on the left as he chases opponents with his invulnerability. The opponent's respawn side would also affect how often Hbox spends time in the air above the left side plat or off the right ledge. Starting spawns alone could be contributing to this asymmetry.

Heatmaps like these are definitely a cool idea, but I think it'd be best to look at the symmetrical stages before drawing the conclusion Hbox somehow functions differently on one side of the stage. Ideally, you should have some way of filtering the heatmap to only include certain information. Being able to see how Hbox's heatmap vs. Shroomed differs from his heatmap vs. Plup could obviously yield valuable information, and comparing heatmaps when Hbox uses port 1 vs. port 2 would also be useful for identifying arbitrary information (e.g. "oh, he camps the right ledge more often because Mango's preferred port respawns on the left side of BF").

This would make sense if weren't for the following things:
1. This trend doesn't hold true for ANY other top player that I've analyzed, regardless of stage. If it were just spawns, then it would effect other players too.

2. When you spawn in, you normally get back to center stage anyway because of your invincibility, setting you up with a normal neutral positioning, so it shouldnt effect the directionality like this.

3. Probably most importantly, this trend also holds true on the other stages as well. I don't have the same amount of data for the other stages, but I decided to show the battlefield and FD ones because the colors were the easiest to see on the dark background. I'll upload them tomorrow because I have to leave for work in a minute.
 

Bones0

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#16
This would make sense if weren't for the following things:
1. This trend doesn't hold true for ANY other top player that I've analyzed, regardless of stage. If it were just spawns, then it would effect other players too.

2. When you spawn in, you normally get back to center stage anyway because of your invincibility, setting you up with a normal neutral positioning, so it shouldnt effect the directionality like this.

3. Probably most importantly, this trend also holds true on the other stages as well. I don't have the same amount of data for the other stages, but I decided to show the battlefield and FD ones because the colors were the easiest to see on the dark background. I'll upload them tomorrow because I have to leave for work in a minute.
1. Have you analyzed port selection at all though? Maybe I'm just imagining this, but I feel like Hbox tends to pick port 4 for the green shield to go along with his Puff's headband. If most players tend to stick to ports 1 and 2, then it seems totally possible that Hbox's uncommon port tends to put him in slightly different situations. Additionally, you will have to look at the ports of his opponents. If Plup, the Sheik that does best against Hbox, tends to pick a port that spawns him in a certain area, we can expect that whatever area they tend to engage in will yield worse results than where Hbox tends to engage vs. other Sheiks who (presumably) use different ports.

2. That simply isn't true, top players usually gain immediate stage control with invul, pushing their opponents to the corners or platforms. It is extremely common for players to get hits during their invul or right after it ends. I've watched M2K long enough to know he'll run across the stage just to grab the right ledge instead of the left. I've also played long enough to know how hard a port 3 respawn on FD can screw over someone who favors the right ledge. Idk what other data you have obviously, but it seems hard to believe that which ledge you go to will not influence where you win/lose engagements.

Obviously I'm not ruling out that Hbox is actually just worse on one side, that's totally possible. It might not even be related to skill, it could just be we don't have enough data and Hbox's performance was an outlier. However, I do believe spawns, respawns, and player tendencies during invul have larger impacts on games than most people think about and it's something we should control for if possible, or keep in mind if we can't.
 
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