Starting off this new series is the pioneer for European Fox mains, Miguel “Zgetto” Penalva. Hailing from Utrecht in the Netherlands, Zgetto is currently ranked 9th overall on http://smashranking.eu/ holding a 79.0% win record and a TrueSkill value of 81.28. In addition, he holds the title of the “Original European Fox” being currently ranked as the 4th best Fox main (Not including Armada’s match up dependent Fox), only sitting behind RB TSM|Leffen, mYi|Ice, and VwS|Professor Pro.
With that being said, Zgetto is on the rise, making great strides in his gameplay and placings since coming out of a short break in 2014. Over the last three years, his TrueSkill rating has continued to increase. He also jumped from 11th last year to 9th this year, and the year is only halfway through. As the Crimson Blur eloquently put it in one of Tafokints’ Commentator’s Curse episodes, “The players he (Tafo) watches out for are the veterans coming back into the scene”. This quote certainly cannot be any truer for Netherlands’ Zgetto.
- How have you been? Are you planning to travel more to the US?
“I have been really well and focusing a lot more on melee. I would like to go, but am busy with other stuff in life. Pound was a big opportunity for me so I went, but I felt like I wasn’t there mentally. Next time, I’d like to go on my own terms (without the compendium support) whenever that is because it will be easier to perform. I need to have a clear mind”
- How did find out about competitive Melee and did you have any trouble convincing your parents?
“When I was a kid, I played a lot of Super Smash Bros. 64, but of course it was only for fun. Then in 2002, my brothers and I bought Melee when it came out. We played a lot of it but I didn’t find out about the competitive scene till around 2006. Funny enough, at the time, I played a lot of Mario Kart DS and tried to become number one online for the time trials, which I did for about 3 months and then quit playing it. During this time, I ended up playing Azen and later on, Isai. Eventually, I found out that they were really good at Melee too.
I then watched a lot of Melee, mainly Bomb Solider videos and the East Coast vs. West Coast 2005 crew battle. I first started as a Falco main. My switch to Fox happened because I got four stocked by a Marth in one of my first tournaments and one month later, I faced him again, chose Fox, and four stocked the Marth back. I ended up really loving Fox because there was always new tech to explore. With regard to my parents, my mom was really accepting of me playing Melee since I made lot of good friends from the tournament.”
- You are unanimously known as the “Original European Fox main” and pioneered the character in the mid-2000’s in Europe. Can you explain your rise to one of the top players back then?
“Back in the day, Sweden and Netherlands were really the two big powerhouse countries in Europe. Lucky for me, the best player in Europe at the time was Amsah, who is also from the Nethlands, so we got to play a lot. 2006-2007 was the Year of Amsah. He actually four stocked me when we first played at a random smash fest. We also would always meet in bracket. My big break out was in 2008 at Smash Attack, in Germany. There I beat Amsah in Winner’s Semis and had to play Armada in Winner’s Finals.
Armada, still pretty young was just climbing to the upper tier of European players at the time. He was good but definitely not as dominant as he is now. In Winner’s Finals, I manage to beat Armada to make it to Grands. Then Armada beat Amsah and he double 4-0 me to win the tournament. Back then we use to play best of 7’s and only played on Corneria and Brinstar. Looking back, I think I lost because deep down I believed he was a better player than me, and once that happens its over.”
- Can you describe how you approach the game, because it very different from the stereotypical “European Fox mains”?
“I really prefer to play the player and take control during the match. I like to apply pressure and figure out what they will do to escape that pressure. It is really tough to pull off because it is so hit or miss. Either way, I put a lot of effort in dictating the pace of the match to my advantage.”
- Since your comeback in 2014, you have been climbing the European rankings. Would you be willing to share any new Fox tech that you are trying to implement in your unique gameplay?
“I really think that edge cancels to shines have a lot of potential for Fox mains. Specifically, edge cancel drills and weak bairs to shines and side-b’s to shines could change the Fox punish game completely. I really want to start implementing this like how a lot of Falcon mains are incorporating edge cancels consistently in their gameplay. It will be the next nice thing to watch and do.”
- What are some of the differences in playstlyes between countries?
“I think both Holland and Sweden have mixed playstyles but generally they try to play the player. For example, when I play a set, I use the first few stockes to try to get use to the player and pick up on their habits. I think Germany and France play more defensive and focus on the match up more. In England it varies, Fuzzyness plays the player, but Professor Pro is very match up based. I feel like that is one of his weak points because he can become repetitive.”
- One of your biggest wins in the past few months was a 3-0 victory over Westballz at a local in the Netherlands. How did that feel and what goes through your mind when you face the top American players?
“Yeah I got the win over Westballz that time, but I think we are 1-1 on sets and I got destroyed by him at Avalon so I still have a long way to go. There really is no other Falco like him and once he gets going it is hard to stop him. I am happy though that I beat him twice in doubles though. About playing those top players, as I said before, I think it is important to not place them on a pedestal. You have to think you are as good if not better than them. Like at Pound, I respected Mango too much when I played and as a result, played poorly. I need to switch my mentality and say, “He is just another Fox”.
- You have stressed a lot the importance of mindset, what do you think are overlooked aspects of it?
“Back in 2013 I was playing not to lose and I plateaued as a result. I hate playing people worst than me because I hate to lose to them. I use to have an idea of myself and got frustrated when I did not replicate that image. I know that is not a good mentality. Now I just want to improve. Mindset is so important because it can start snowballing and you end up playing worst. Every player should work on their mindset so they can bring out their maximum potential.”
- The American scene has a lot of historical matches, what match for you epitomizes the European scene?
“I think ROX/Ros4 when Armada almost beat Amsah and placed 4th was an incredible set. In addition, match with Captain Jack vs. Amsah from the time he came to Europe”
Armada vs. Amsah at RoX4 (2007):
Amsah vs. Captain Jack at ESA2 Grand Finals(2008): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWTvIpGpmgg
- There are a lot of content out for players to improve, but what advice would you give to smashers trying to improve.
“There are a few things that come to mind. Ironically, I was doing it when I first start and that was believing that I could beat anyone. That changed when Armada came into the scene since I never thought I could beat him. I also never watched videos where I’d lose till recently and that have helped a lot. It is also really important to be objective when looking at your performance. Lastly, I learned that you don’t have to play that good at the start of the tournament. The goal in the end is to slowly build up your play as the tournaments goes farther in brackets.”
- Last question, how did you get the tag “Zgetto”?
“It is just a really old name that my neighborhood friends use to call me in the past. There was no right way to spell is so I just wrote it down as “Zgetto” and used the tag during my Mario Kart DS days. Then it just eventually became my tag in smash.”
Be sure to check out Zgetto defend his homeland at Syndicate on September 10th and 11th. You can find more tournament info on https://smash.gg/tournament/syndicate-2016/details