The Smash community is built about more than just the thrill of the actual player versus player competition. The most elite players love to explore the technical possibilities of the game. Over the last sixteen years, players have developed the exciting metagame we all know and love to watch. There’s more to the game’s peak performance than just waveshining out of shield and next-level movement reads: there are a number of 1-player game modes that have strong appeal for competitive development.
A small community of passionate fans have dedicated their attention to gameplay modes like Break the Targets and, especially in recent months, Home Run Contest. After a decade of one player dominating the leaderboard, at one point holding 22 out of 25 individual character world records, the long-time #2 ranked player has made a challenge for the title.
That challenger is our Smash manager, Mike “Typo” Bassett. Typo spends his time at Immortals helping ANTi and Shroomed pursue their path to greatness. On the side (while juggling school and professional duties), he’s started streaming.
On December 14th, Typo took the crown. Not only did he earn the record with Peach, but the achievement pushed his total high score enough to make Typo the uncontested best Home Run Contest player in the world.
438 completions with the Peach WR strat before I got the RNG I needed. If that wasnt enough, my total had been #2 for about a decade but now I can finally say that I’m the best Home Run Contest player in the world.
Peach 7673.8ft/2338.9m [WR]
Total: 131464.5ft/40068.8m [WR]
— IMTypo (@hrcTypo) December 15, 2017
What is the Contest?
Melee’s Home Run Contest is, on the surface, deceptively simple. A Smash character faces off against a sandbag, and is given just ten seconds to deal as much damage percentage as possible without accidentally knocking the sandbag off the platform in the process. As time is running out, the player must choose his highest knockback finisher and use it to send the sandbag soaring through the air as far as possible. The farther it goes, the better the player. The 10 second time limit makes the category very competitive, with each attempt being optimized..
Typo’s Home Run Contest streams borrow the approach of speedrunners, who challenge and brainstorm new innovations to improve their scores. Typo had long since became dissatisfied with improving an individual character category if he wasn’t going to get a world record with that character, and slowly expanded his list of new individual world records starting in the summer of 2017.
Typo picked up Home Run Contest as a teenager. When he was fourteen years old, he’d look up glitches and easter eggs, playing around as an idle way to pass the time. He couldn’t compete in tournaments (it’s tough to travel for tournaments and work hard in high school) so he buckled down with the single player mode. “I always, always, always wanted to play more, no matter what.” Typo laughs. “To the point where it sometimes caused me to not do as much homework as I really wanted to, or should have.”
In between school and preparing himself for a potential classical trumpet career, Typo’s early years of buckling down to learn Home Run Contest helped him master the basics of muscle memory. Eventually, the demands of life distracted him away from Smash. He studied the trumpet seriously in college until 2014, and started grad school for a business degree in 2016.
When he returned to the game, and eventually started streaming, he returned to his old hobby. At one point, he realized he had the potential to become one of the Home Run Greats.
“Randomly, I was brainstorming some strategy with Link one night on stream, and then I found something that kind of could work, and as soon as I got that world record and had the reaction recorded, I was hooked. From that point on I started going down the list for all the records I thought I had a strategy for and I could figure out, and figured to heck with it.”
Typo would best this World Record in the weeks to come, but the thrill of brainstorming a new strategy had him hooked. Between July 14th and December 14th, he accumulated 2 additional improvements with Link alongside new world records with Fox, Marth, Young Link, and Puff. At one point, he realized that he was only 1,000 feet away from the coveted total high score world record, and he knew there was only one character he could use to cover that massive distance effectively: Peach.
Home Run Contest, due to its 10 second time limit and massively optimized metagame, is understandably filled with constant resets and hours of tedious practice. But standing out among the tedium is Peach: the most time-consuming character in Melee’s Home Run Contest. Typo’s strategy was not unique; he adopted his strategy from the previous record holder, a lesser-known player named SSBMstuff. SSBMstuff had moved on to speed running other games, but he’d pop in to cheer for Typo during the process of attempting to break his record.
Typo’s attempt was far different from his high school attempts; a necessary change to earn over a thousand feet of progress. The first three seconds rely on technical jab combos that must be perfect down to one or two frames. After that, Typo had to execute a complicated pause buffer setup, a multi-hit downsmash to bounce off the back wall, and several nerve-wrackingly inconsistent bat drop combos. Precise spacing was absolutely required for all of the above, or even the best timed inputs could lead to a reset. The magic number was 233% – any lower risked not breaking the record, any higher brought too much risk on board from not being able to complete the strategy in time.
Finally, Typo had to pray for the vanishingly small chance that Peach’s down-B special attack would pull a bomb, not a turnip. Not only did he need to execute the above perfectly, he needed the 1/384 chance that Peach would produce a bomb.
It would take four hundred and thirty eight attempts before lightning struck.
On the shoulders of giants
SSBMstuff had held two out of twenty five individual character world records before Typo claimed his Kirby record in summer of 2015, and then the Peach record. The real titan was a Japanese player named Sin2324, who at one point in time had held twenty two out of twenty five of the world records. Much like Typo he tapered off, year after year, around 2007. However, in 2015 he shockingly deleted his entire Internet presence. Even though he was slowly losing world records over time, most people could barely exceed his distances and could not even come close to some of his more impressive scores.
As Typo worked on his own scores, he eventually began to climb the mountains left by Sin2324, slowly claiming his records. Peach was the last record he needed to completely take the title away from Sin and become the best in his own right, claiming the most total distance in the game mode.
“The idea that someone could beat Sin was as hype as anything you can imagine.” Typo says. Between the goal, the RNG, and the slow progress, it became a whirlwind of excitement for Typo. “Everything piled into this one thing, where I can’t think of any one situation where you could be more expectant of a massive outpouring of adrenaline.”
“The last interaction I ever had with Sin was when I achieved a Kirby world record, which was significant because Kirby was the last character to ever achieve over one thousand meters. Sin was always upset he never got a thousand meters on every character. When I finally got that in the summer of 2015, he commented on my YouTube video… He always spoke in broken English, but he said something along the lines of how he was figuratively getting on his knees, tearing off his shirt, crying with tears falling down his face that it had finally been done.”
Sin vanished from the scene shortly afterwards, and has not been heard from since. Typo never got to inform his old friend and rival of the accomplishment.
“He really left me mountains to climb and goals to pursue. I don’t know that I would have continued or did as much as I did if it weren’t for that benchmark in every category.”
From goal to goal
The moment that the luck finally lined up was exhilarating, but his muscle memory carried through in the brief half-second of execution needed to successfully complete the record. “I felt the adrenaline, but the adrenaline doesn’t have the chance to go from your heart to your fingers. It’s just not possible.”
The sandbag soared through the air and past SSBMstuff’s score. Typo had claimed the world record by 2.3 feet and taken the ultimate title away from Sin2324.
“What’s next? That’s a really good question.” Typo pauses. “Despite having achieved all these world records in the past few months, I haven’t gotten a new score with eight or nine characters that I haven’t gotten a new record with since high school. It’s very strange to consider that I’m breaking these world records and getting all these innovations, but I’m leaving out a good third of the cast.”
In addition, Typo is interested in eventually reaching out to Sin and sharing the good news.
Never content with his past achievements, Typo is considering popping in a new memory card to push his boundaries and pursue new world records with characters he’s long written off as outside his comfort zone. He’ll have to fit it in around his duties as a Smash manager and his rigorous school schedule, but he’s optimistic. He might even look into traditional speed running over his Winter break. Typo embodies the Immortals spirit of pursuing a goal relentlessly, surrounded by a small but passionate community.