1/3/2018 – Anees “Milhous” Assaf has quickly become one of the best players in Central Ohio thanks to his anything-but-standard Sheik, and a ton of netplay practice (online competitive Super Smash Bros. Melee play) where he is currently ranked No. 3 on Anther’s ladder. Milhous has been climbing the ranks of OSU Melee, as he is No.3 on the PR there, only behind Drephen and Fizzle (Hanky Panky was inactive this season). In this interview, Milhous talks about his meteoric rise and how netplay has helped him become a much better player!
TL: What player do you draw the most inspiration from/who is your favorite player?
Milhous: I’m going to say Drephen. I feel like the way he interacts with the game, his personality comes through and I feel like that’s very important. That’s why I like a lot of players like Drephen, n0ne and Mang0. I think it’s very sad that you can take a professional player, and you watch what they’re doing and not know who they are, like there are certain Foxes that are just very simple, although they may be good, it’s just not very creative and it’s very formulaic. I like players that have their personality show through their play, and I think that’s very important.
TL: In what ways do you think netplay helps you improve?
Milhous: Well so for me, I play a lot of netplay, almost daily, and I put a lot of care into how I play on netplay, which I think a lot of people don’t do. I feel like the biggest difference between netplay and irl play is that you’re more comfortable and you’re sitting in your chair and at home, and I think you can create a tournament experience by caring a lot about the game and about every interaction, and as long as you do that I think you can get a lot out of it. So that’s what I aim to do whenever I play.
TL: Whenever I played netplay I would sometimes get nervous if I were to play a ladder game or something.
Milhous: Yeah that’s what I’m saying dude! Every once in a while I’ll play someone that’s ranked below me on the ladder, and I’ll be like, ‘oh this will be a free win’ or something. Next thing you know they destroy the first stock, that gets me to sit up and it gets me to care a lot because I do care about winning, and I think that nervousness is actually good, not only do you care, but that means you’re being pressured and if you’re not being pressured, that means you’re not practicing right because the only time it matters when you practice is when you’re pressured because that’s whats going to happen in tournament. You just gotta get better at being under pressure.
TL: I always say you can never underestimate your opponents.
Milhous: Oh yeah that’s huge. That’s a huge thing anywhere, but especially on netplay because you’ll just play with some guy who’s maybe a smurf or maybe they’ve got like a random name, and they just whoop on you. There’s good players everywhere, and a lot of times it’ll be the same thing where somebody pretty good from like, North Carolina or something will play me, and he’s just never heard of me or something, and they’ll sleep on me, you just gotta show them. That’s actually one of the things I focus on now, even if I think somebody is bad, I want to try to push myself to do as best as I can against them. That way I’m mentally ready if they are good, I don’t try to just auto-pilot.
TL: What are your goals as a player for 2018?
Milhous: So for me, what I like to do is just set very simple, very achievable goals. I want to, during a major, get above 97th place, or at least 97th at my next major, whether that be at Genesis or something else big. Just because I know that I’m capable of getting something like 129th or right below it, so it’s a little bit of a stretch where all I have to do is beat maybe one or two players that are a little bit better than me, and it’s not to beat someone specific, it’s just a goal of mine to place well I guess. Other than that, just constant improvement, like I know personally when I play, there’s a lot of things wrong with my play, like I don’t jump-cancel grab and stuff like that. I’ve got to just slowly get better at getting better.
TL: How did you become the No. 3 netplayer in the world?
Milhous: I don’t know, netplay is a very funny thing, and I clearly care about my rank, that’s why I have a high rank. It’s just you gotta go into it and you gotta try very hard. Right now I’m looking at ranked and there’s a guy named Milhousfan69 and I still don’t know who it is and I’m pretty upset. I’ll figure it out eventually.
TL: In your opinion, what is the most important thing to practice?
Milhous: So I think the most important thing is recognizing why something doesn’t work. A lot of players will get upset about a certain option that’s being used against them, but it’s Melee so everything has a counter-option. You have to understand why a person is doing that, and you have to figure out what to do against it. Everybody practices doing that in different ways, some people watch videos, some people will just play a lot, but I think you have to conscientiously think about it. You’ve gotta think well he’s doing that so I should do this. It’s really important to be aware at all times and of different situations.
TL: How far do you think you can go in this game?
Milhous: I think I have what it takes to be top 100. When I play players that are top 100 level and I think about where they were two years ago or a year ago when they weren’t top 100, and I know what it took them to get there and I just have to put myself through that regimen. The fact that they can do it means that I can do it too. So i don’t think there really is a ceiling for me, it’s just how much do I want to put into the game. At this point I don’t see an end to that, so I’m just gonna keep doing my thing and putting in my work.
TL: I consider myself a step or two below you skill level wise, and I feel that a lot of players around my level, myself included, struggle with consistency, do you have any advice with keeping consistent at all?
Milhous: So inconsistency results from not being in certain situations before. Not being mentally or technically prepared for a situation will be fixed with a lot of experience with the game. Like if you’ve never played against a Bowser, and next thing you know a Bowser will beat you because you weren’t ready for it and you just have to be ready for anything. The only way to get better at being consistent is to prepare better. You just have to play a lot of people and learn a lot of situations, and if you put yourself through a bunch of situations you won’t be tripped up as often. I think it’s also a result of playing netplay because you play a lot of different people and you just prepare yourself for a lot of things.
TL: How did you see such rapid improvement?
Milhous: It’s a lot of time, like I play this game a ton. You’ve gotta play the game and you’ve gotta really enjoy it. My mentality is a decently good one, like I never get too upset at the game, so when you lose or something, you’ve gotta go back in and have the mentality to get better against certain things. You have to just figure it out. It’s just a grind really, and if you’re just being put down, you’ve gotta just keep at it and know where your flaws are. A lot of people will complain about not getting better, then you watch their play and there’s clearly things that they could be doing differently and options they’re just not picking. It’s just slowly realizing why things are happening. If you can point those out, then you can improve.
If you want to become a netplay warrior yourself and get just as good as Milhous, click on this guide to help you get started on netplay!
Keep up to date with the netplay warrior, Milhous, on twitter here.
If you want to watch Milhous grinding netplay, you can follow and watch him on Twitch here.
Tyler J. Linden