Q&A: Fly Amanita on returning from hiatus, 2016 goals and Ice Climbers players

Jeremy “Fly Amanita” Westfahl is one of the best Ice Climbers players to ever play Super Smash Bros Melee, with notable placings such as second at Kings of Cali 3, seventh at EVO 2014 and second at Press Start. After being ranked 30th in the world at the end of 2015, Fly took a short hiatus from the tournament life. With his recent reappearance, however, Slingshot’s Dylan “C.C.” Cooke was able to catch up with him at a SoCal local “H’Yes!” tournament series.

Dylan Cooke: You just started coming back into tournaments right?

Jeremy “Fly Amanita” Westfahl: Yes.

DC: How long was your break?

JA: About six months or so.

DC: Your first one back after a while was?

JA: It was the last installment of this series. [H’Yes! Tournament Series]

DC: And you’ve been coming to SSS [Super Smash Sundays] and Mayhem?

JA: I’ve been to one of each so far.

DC: How active do you plan on being in the future?

JA: I plan on being pretty active again.

DC: Do you have any plans for majors coming up?

JA: EVO is probably the next big thing I’ll go to, other than that, the usual big SoCal bi-weeklies and monthlies I’ll go to.

DC: No big travel plans for tournaments like CEO?

JA: It’s unlikely that I’ll attend CEO this year.

DC: Do you have any current goals for Melee?

JA: For the time being I could say, just getting in better shape. My execution is a bit off, sometimes my muscle memory is a bit off. There’s a lot of little mistakes I still make and need to address. I expect most that to go away just by playing in tournaments regularly. Other than that, just re-evaluate how I play a lot of matchups. There are definitely some matchups I need to approach differently than I currently do; I’m not very good against Fox right now, I think. But I know what things I need to study so I just have to get back to doing that. That’s the only really big one, but I also think I’m pretty bad against Marth, but that’s not as important.

DC: Do you believe any of the top level Foxes are doing something different versus Ice Climbers recently? I know we’ve seen Mango and Hax destroying Ice Climbers.

JA: I haven’t seen that infamous set with Hax, so I don’t know what he could be doing. There are a lot of foxes that are good against Ice Climbers and it’s usually not for the same reasons. Usually the only really big trend is killing Nana better. A lot of Foxes don’t kill Nana when they can and I’m able to save her. But then there’s a lot that do just kill her very consistently. Like Westballz’ fox is very difficult for me, mostly because he kills Nana off any stray opening. I don’t really feel like there’s anything to different from about 6-7 months ago.

DC: Do you have anyone specifically on your radar that you’re looking to beat?

JA: No I don’t really do that.

DC: Do you have any thoughts on certain players like Infinite Numbers and ARMY, players who are criticized by the community for their success with wobbling?

JA: Well it certainly helps. Even though I’m bad at it, for many people it’s probably the easiest very harsh punish in the game. But it’s like, at the same time, in the case of Infinite Numbers, I knew who he was before his big run. I was watching him in a New England local and even then I just thought “This is a very solid Ice Climbers player. He gets a lot of grabs; he does a lot of infinites. But between the grabs, he has a generally good game plan. What he does makes sense.” So it’s not like the only factor in his success. ARMY I’ve seen less of; I watched him a bit at the last SSS. He mostly seemed pretty reasonable, he’d occasionally be a bit slower to adapt to things than he needed to be, but then again he’s still new to the character. I do think if you want decent results, it’s easier to do with Ice Climbers. But most of the time these guys are still good players.

DC: Do you find wobbling to be a crutch at lower or mid-levels of play? On the Scar and Toph show, Scar jokingly mentioned a rule where Ice Climbers players would only be allowed to wobble at Top 8 at locals or Top 32 to 64 at majors.

JA: To an extent. There’s two groups of people you’re hurting. One, you’re hurting the Ice Climbers because you’re denying them access to practice their most powerful punish game. I think a reason I’m so bad at wobbling nowadays is because back in late 2007 to early 2008 – I wobbled quite a bit. I feel that in mid-2008 wobbling in SoCal was banned pretty regularly and was for quite a while. So when the time came that it was the norm again, I wasn’t really comfortable with it, so I don’t really think it’s good for the Ice Climbers players. I also think it’s bad for just the people fighting against the Ice Climbers; Wobbling is here and something to deal with, so if you want to become a really good player – it’s something you would need to encounter. So I feel like it would just deny the opportunity for both parties to get experience in sets that involve wobbling, so it’s not something I care for at all.

DC:  Do you have any favorite or least favorite players at the moment?

JA: I don’t really have least favorite players, it’s not something that really crosses my mind to begin with. For favorite players, I do like most of the really good ones. I like Wobbles a lot and really like Plup a lot. I just like what he brings to the Sheik metagame and his Samus is really good as well. Not much other specific stuff, I’ve always like Armadas play a lot – very, very disciplined, practices very hard and it shows in his results.

DC: Do you see anyone currently on the come up, or anyone to be rising through the ranks pretty soon?

JA: Infinite Numbers results have always been increasingly pretty consistently since he started maining Ice Climbers, so we’ll definitely see more from him. He just got second at a pretty big New England tournament, over some people who have given him problems in the past too. I suppose Faceroll if you still consider him on the come up, he already has a lot of good wins. I don’t see anything that shows his rate of improvement will decrease anytime soon. There’s always people who get pretty good really quickly, but a lot of the times they don’t really go anywhere with it. Another good one is Zack, a really good San Diego Space Animals player. But I don’t know how active he’s playing. In ways he’s reminiscent of S2J to me. S2J was always a really good Smash 64 player before he started playing Melee. He had a lot of really good Melee players who were willing to help him improve and help him practice. Like Lovage was a really big part of bringing him into that. With Zack, I see a similar thing but I don’t think he’s being pushed as hard as S2J was. So it’ll probably come down to whether or not he, himself, wants to put in the work to go to the next level or not, and I’m not sure if that’s the case.

DC: Well thank you. Anything for your fans?

JA: Well it’s very nice to hear nice comments about my plan, even though at times I’m very skeptical about the motivation behind that. A lot of people like my play because I don’t wobble very much, but that’s because I’m not very good at it and likely to mess up the infinite a lot of the time. I’ve never been super comfortable with that crowd of support that seriously like me just because I don’t wobble. I do like wobbling. I would do it more if I could. I don’t support tournaments that ban it. But as for people who like to watch my gameplay because they like the decisions I make or that I bring something interesting to the table, I’m appreciative and supportive of that nature at least.

Cover photo by Robert Paul, rmpaul.com.