In the beginning of 2017, I decided to think more critically about Melee and practice more seriously. In that time, I've focused on a number of key areas of improvement for my Fox.
One of the biggest improvements to my Fox came from learning the spacies chaingrab. For those of you who don't know, this is a chain grab that Fox has on Fox and Falco from 0 to kill percent. First, you upthrow the spacie. Then you react to their DI - if they DI hard left or right, dash in that direction and jump-cancel grab, if they DI slightly, just walk in the direction they DI in and jump-cancel grab. And finally if they don't DI and are beneath 30%, just regrab in place. If they are above 30%, they can shine or even jump out, so you will want to up-tilt or up-air to continue the combo. Around 100%, you can look for an upsmash. You will need to jump cancel upsmash if they hard DI out or in.
Anyways, it actually isn't that hard and has a huge pay off, especially against low level players who don't know how to make it difficult for you. It probably is either the second or third easiest 0-to-death chaingrab in the game, behind Peach's upthrow on spacies (which doesn't actuallly start at 0), and Pikachu's upthrow on spacies (which has slightly tighter timing for the JC grabs, although there is no risk of being shined out). I practiced this chain grab in 20XX 4.05 by playing against spacies on Final Destination with Shield Propensity set to 100. The CPU will try all kinds of different DI, and is intelligent enough to try to shine out as well (it actally has much better shines than people, and sometimes catches me as early as 25% with a no DI shine out). Learning the chaingrab was singlehandedly the biggest improvement to my fox play in the last few months.
A really good mixup that I've been using a lot is a 50/50 between running shine nair and running shine grab. If your opponent is dashing in or not shielding, the shine will connect, and the nair and grab will either miss but be safe because the enemy is pushed back by the shine, or both the shine and the following nair/grab will hit.
If the opponent is shielding, shine nair and shine grab are both safe shield pressure. Shine grab will punish opponents who stay in shield, and shine nair will punish opponents who try to roll, jump, or wavedash away (which is what 90% of players do when being shield pressured).
Something else that I never really implemented before is the mixup between drill shine, drill grab, and drill uptilt. Most players will expect a shine after a drill and try to either SDI out (if they are good), or tech/DI the shine (if they are ok). However, if you can connect with the drill and the opponent SDI's out, you can often get in an uptilt or turn around grab. On many characters, this leads to an upthrow or an upair, which is often a better damage dealing move/combo starter than shine. If they aren't SDI-ing out, then drill grab and drill turn around uptilt are both guaranteed on most characters at most percents (if the drill connects optimally). One last nice thing about this is that you can do a cool mixup with drill on shield - drill is not really safe on shield and so most players instinctively try to shield grab it, but if you cross up their shield and drill, you can punish the shield grab with a turn around grab or uptilt of your own.
This tech is a really small but useful piece of matchup knowledge, courtesy of Druggedfox. If you have port priority and get a grab on Shiek at 0, you can get uptilt and then nair as a true combo for around 25%, which is great because it gets her into a super vulnerable percent for upthrow upair, drill uptilt, waveshines, etc.
The last technique that I'll talk about today (because this post is getting quite long, not because I'm out of things to say) is just a small thing that I noticed Mew2king does against Falco on Final Destination especially. At the very beginning of the match, he will run up and shield at almost always the same spot. This spot is positioned such that if the Falco tries to do a (lazy) laser right as the match starts, Mew2king will powershield the laser and be close enough to Falco such that he can't safely laser again. The great part about this is that hitting the powershield is fairly easy because almost all Falcos try for a laser as quickly as they can in the start of a match. If you get the powershield, often you can convert into a grab or drill shine, and many people are overwhelmed and don't expect this. Even if you don't get the powershield, you still at the very least blocked the laser and are closer to Falco, making it more risky for him to laser again.
The biggest improvements in my play in the last few months have come from a number of fairly small tech skill and mental game improvements. Figure out what you are not good at, learn what will help you improve, and focus on the very next step in front of you. For example, I felt like I wasn't very good at the Fox/Falco matchup, so I studied some videos of the matchup, took specific notes about what the Fox player did, and then grinded out the tech that I didn't know.This seems obvious when I say it, but is something that many people don't do. 90% of players aren't going to spend 45 minutes every day for a week learning a chaingrab, they are just going to play for years hoping that eventually one day they learn it through osmosis. But the truth is, if you want to improve quickly, you need to conciously identify flaws in your gameplay (and trust me, there are flaws), figure out how others have fixed them and how you will fix them, and then grind in the lab, friendlies, and tournaments to actually implement the fix that you researched.
Anyways, I have a lot more thoughts but for now I'll leave this as it is. Look out for another blog post on Fox tech/theory next week.