"Jack of all trades, master of none." We've all heard this cliche before; it means somebody who has dabbled in many skills probably doesn't have the capacity to master any. It seems like an intuitive enough conclusion, but in the world of competitive Smash Bros, somebody has challenged this age-old maxim by reaching top-professional status in three different Smash games: Justin "Wizzrobe" Hallett.
Wizzrobe is not your ordinary Smash player. Hailing from central Florida, this 19-year-old has been source of resounding praise by the Smash community for his proficiency in Smash 64, Project M, and Melee. It's his mastery of Falcon in Melee, however, that has been his most remarkable claim to fame.
Right now, Wizzrobe is considered Melee's best Falcon player, and is at least top 15 overall in the world. To uncover what makes this so important, you need to know a little bit about Melee's tier-list. Professional Melee is notoriously binary; most of the top 10 either main Fox or Sheik, two of the best characters in the game. So when a player like Wizzrobe comes around placing as he does with Falcon, a character a few spots below the two top tiers, it's a big deal.
But to better understand his success with Falcon, you need to understand Wizzrobe's multigame beginnings. It was made clear from an early age that he already possessed an immense talent and passion for the all things Smash.
"I wanted to be good since I was little, and that never changed."
Wizzrobe's reason for playing Smash isn't different from most people's: the simple love of the game. For him, Smash in general was the kind of game where he could constantly keep coming back and still never get bored. He started with Melee and already a drive to become proficient was instilled in him. His big dream at the time was to attend his first competitive tournament.
It wasn't long before Wizzrobe's dream was realized. At the age of 13, he went to his first tournament to compete in Melee. There he made a significant impression on other attendees with his technical skill and his strong handle on the game. Wizzrobe reflected on his first competitive experience, saying "I did pretty well. I beat a couple people and attracted a crowd where people were shocked a young kid at his first tourney could do things like waveshine across the stage"
Wizzrobe's first tournament also allowed him to experiment with a character named Captain Falcon. Having a penchant for the F-Zero series as well as the many combos Falcon could pull off, Wizzrobe had a strong desire to make him his main character. After not having much success with Falcon for his first match, however, he did what all great Melee players do: switch to Fox. He did slightly better with his Fox and went with him for the remainder of the tourney.
"But even still, I had always wanted to main Falcon and have him be my best. It was just harder in the beginning," Wizzrobe said of his switch.
Wizzrobe had a competitive drive for Super Smash Bros, the first game in the Smash series, just as he did for Melee. He would continue to place well in both games around his local Florida scene. But gaining proficiency in just two games wasn't enough. His third game, Project M, was an unofficial, fan-made Smash game with gameplay modifications better suited for competitive purposes. It would be this game that would launch him into the spotlight.
He continued practicing all three until he attended the tournament that would serve as a turning point in his career: Zenith 2013.
Zenith 2013 was a national Super Smash Bros. 64, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Project M tournament, and it was Wizzrobe's first tournament with a plethora of top talent present. World-renowned Melee players like Joseph "Mango" Marquez, William "Leffen" Hjelte, Juan "Hungrybox" Debiedmaand Jason "Mew2King" Zimmerman were all in attendance. Hungrybox and Mew2King were also set to compete in Project M. So Wizzrobe set out to take down these stars of the Smash scene in a game he knew well.
While he didn't have a remarkable performance in Melee or Smash 64, Wizzrobe placed first in Project M, ahead of Mew2King and Hungrybox as well as several other noteworthy PM players at the time. Suddenly, he became something of a Project M legend.
Wizzrobe continued to place well in future Project M tournaments, but also started making more noise in other Smash games. In Smash 64, he emerged as a regular in the Top 8 of national tournaments that had some of the game's best players in attendance. And his moment to shine in Melee was soon on its way.
At CEO 2014, at the age of 16, Wizzrobe placed an impressive fifth among the ranks of Adam "Armada" Lindgren, Mango, Mew2King, and Hungrybox. Wizzrobe's skill with Falcon was turning some heads in the Melee community. (He also placed second in Project M, continuing his multigame trend.)
But any Smash player can tell you that balancing multiple games is extremely difficult. Each game has different physics and mechanics, and trying to juggle three is a burden. Wizzrobe could do it, but that meant he couldn't invest all of his resources in one game.
So when the Project M scene faded around 2015 as tournament organizers refused to host it anymore, Wizzrobe had more time to focus on Smash 64, and more importantly, Melee. "The game was fun while it lasted but ended up being less interesting near the end," Wizzrobe said. "PM dying helped give me more time to focus on other games."
A legend dies, a legend is born
Though his PM days might have been behind him, a new era of Melee was in the works. Starting in 2015, he started to see much stronger tournament results. And although it was quite difficult to do with a character like Falcon, Wizzrobe says he doesn't regret staying with him one bit. "I'm glad I stuck with him. Probably would of been higher ranked by now if I switched to Fox, but staying Falcon has its own lessons to learn too. Getting good with Falcon helps me understand the game better I feel, rather than starting off with the best character."
When I asked him how Falcon helps him understand the game better, he replied "By not being able to use broken tools."
Attending larger tournaments more frequently than he did before, Wizzrobe placed in the Top 8 of stacked nationals such as Smash 'N' Splash, WTFox, MLG World Finals, and Frame Perfect Series. At DreamHack Austin 2016, he placed fourth, behind only Mango, Hungrybox, and Mew2King. The Melee community was in awe that a Falcon could get so far.
But perhaps his peak moment was in July 2016 when he took down Hungrybox at WTFox 2. Wizzrobe stunned the Melee community on three different levels: beating Hungrybox, doing so via a 3-0 scoreline, and doing all of that as Falcon. If anyone didn't think Wizzrobe was a threat before, his performance at WTFox definitely erased any doubt.
While many may consider this a "turning point" in his career, Wizzrobe thinks he's on a steady path towards improvement rather than believing that there is any fixed period of significant change in his playstyle. For him, the road to perfection is gradual and there are no shortcuts. "Once I understood the concept of trying to optimize situations, that helped me improve a lot, but overall I feel like I gradually got better. There wasn't really a key year where I improved drastically more than the last."
Wizzrobe has shown the ability to compete in against Melee's top players. Never straying from his tried and true Falcon, he is unique but still a steadfast competitor.
He is fluent in top level play of multiple Smash games and is heralded as the best Falcon in Melee. Despite all of that, Wizzrobe is not content just yet. He has one more ultimate goal: "Be consistent, become top 5, become top 1, then top 0."