An Underrated Innovator: The Career of FASTLIKETREE

Hey all, back with another article! Remember, if you want to support these THREE ARTICLES A WEEK, and maybe more down the line, come over and support me on Patreon! I’d really appreciate it.


 

In Melee’s history, the development of the characters and technical skills used are fairly well-documented, from videos like Shined Blind showing where Fox could go back in 2004, to videos like Perfect Dark showing where they have yet to in 2011. Many other examples exist, such as character threads on SmashBoards, or specific sets one could point to as a turning point in the game, like Leffen and Armada at Paragon Orlando. However, out of all of these names, I feel there is one vastly overlooked. One who had developed the meta in multiple ways way back during the game’s Golden Age, and in ways still felt to this day. That man, if you couldn’t guess by the title, is the Fox and Marth player known as FASTLIKETREE.

FASTLIKETREE started out his journey in 2004, getting 5th at his very first tournament. Early on, he showed signs of true skill, despite his lack of technical ability during his formative year. And when I say year, I mean year, as within those 12 months he quickly rose to be the best player in Texas locally in 2005. While he didn’t travel like his contemporaries, he began to consistently defeat well-known players from the time such as Rob$ and Caveman at locals, two players well within the Top 20 in the world. During that time, his technical skill also rose to extremely high levels, being quite possibly the only player in the world at the time to be able to consistently perform Fox’s waveshine infinite across the stage. His Marth was also fantastic, innovating in many ways, particularly with his pivot play, which no Marth had ever even considered beforehand. He was also known for “Tree-grabbing”, a technique that allowed Marths to grab players while running from behind them, much like the more well-known “Johnny grab” with Falcon. Before long, it was time for his very first major.

MLG Dallas 2006 was the first major tournament to happen near FASTLIKETREE, and so he was finally able to go to it. Immediately, he established himself as a threat, defeating Isai’s Sheik in the very first round of the tournament, in what was probably one of the biggest upsets of the year’s circuit. He went on to beat fellow Texas player Rob$, as well as Wife before making Winner’s Semis at the event, eventually earning 5th place. This was a huge statement, but sadly not one he would replicate on a national scale. He would still pick up some wins on the big stage, notably Taj at MLG Anaheim in his first performance out of Texas, and Chillin at MELEE-FC6. By year’s end he would be ranked #21 in the world by the Smash Panel Power Rankings, and #19 in the world by RetroSSBMRank.

However, by 2007, FASTLIKETREE would fade from the Melee scene, eventually leaving it all together. His last gift to us was teaching a certain fellow Marth main some important tactics on pivoting, something he would improve upon in years to come. That player would be Arc, the one often credited for utilizing and inventing many of the techniques people use today, most notably the pivot tippers against Jigglypuff that famously gave PewPewU his win over Hungrybox at APEX 2015, as well as Zain for his major win at Shine 2018.

FASTLIKETREE’s legacy is an often overlooked one, and while it was brief, it was extremely important nonetheless. Without him, many things we’ve seen with both Fox and Marth may not have been developed as far as they have been and be set back many years. The careers of great players like Arc, KJH, PewPewU or Zain may not have taken off as strongly without the years of knowledge and detail that birthed from this relatively unknown player from Texas. His mark on the game is an irrefutable one, and something everybody should know about. Float like a butterfly, and be fast like a tree.


I know this article was a much shorter one, but it was just a story I wanted to get out there about a player I particularly love, despite his fairly short career. I hope you all enjoyed it nonetheless!

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