Kirihara Wins His First Tournament Ever at Frame Perfect Series 2
It’s been an impressive couple of weeks for the Japanese Smash 4 scene. Random Japanese players, in their first American tournament, have come in and had tremendous success against American competition. First, Tsu at Frostbite, now Kirihara (Noriyuki Kirihara) at Frame Perfect Series 2 as he took Grand Finals over the world’s best, ZeRo (Gonzalo Barrios).
Additionally, it’s the first Rosalina main since Dabuz (Samuel Robert Buzby) to win a major. The “Japanese ZeRo” surprised us all, winning his first Smash 4 tournament EVER at a major in the United States. His road to his first title came rather easily. He didn’t drop a set the entire tournament, and beat ZeRo in straight sets 3-2, 3-2.
Japan’s hidden bosses are coming out of the woodwork. A region that’s been known to have a strong Smash 4 scene is finally backing it up with results. Komorikiri, who’s basically a United States citizen, made another deep Losers run, sending home Dabuz and getting revenge for the legendary “.9” moment at Genesis 4 against Captain Zack (Zack Lauth).
It was a strong showing from Japan. The road to ZeRo wasn’t easy for the eventual champion, having close sets with Mr. E’s (Eric Weber) Marth (3-2), and ESAM’s (Eric Lee) Pikachu. He proved Rosalina is much better than the general perception. His use of Luma even proceeds the consensus world’s best Rosalina in Dabuz. If Luma is still alive, it’s extremely tough to approach or escape Kirihara’s approaches.
A trend is developing, visit the US and face ZeRo in Grand Finals. It’s been known how deep the Japanese scene is, but now it’s being displayed right before our eyes. Even Tsu, who nearly beat ZeRo, said that there’s a lot of players better than him back home, and he’s correct. The turf war for Smash 4 dominance begins now.
Hungrybox holds it down in home state
The Melee tournament was a disappointment. The favorites either decided not to play or only play half-halfheartedly. It setup for expected results without much excitement behind it.
That said, Hungrybox (Juan DeBiedma) deserves a ton of credit. He was able to just come out, play Melee, and win. He didn’t overthink it. Hbox knew he had the advantage in top 8 and rode that all the way to another win.
Unfortunately, the fans didn’t get the classic Armada (Adam Lindgren) vs. Hungrybox Grand Finals, or Mango (Joseph Marquez) making a losers run; but this event seemed to be a warm up for Full Bloom 3 next weekend. Mango clearly was apathetic towards this event, going Captain Falcon all the way through top 48. He lost 3-0 to Drunksloth (Jay Dahya), who had a strong weekend, finishing in the top 8, and Kels (Kelly Smith) who also finished in the top 8.
Armada was in attendance, but decided to only play doubles. It’s not clear why players were dropping out, but it left a dull product at times. As a Melee purist, I could watch any match and be happy, but most fans would see Mango or Armada and shut the stream off.