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).

Photo via twitter.com/mvgleague

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.

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Armada Completes The Smash Summit Four-Peat

Photo courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/File:Ss_spring2017.png

Can anyone stop Armada (Adam Lindgren)? His recent stretch of tournament wins has never been done before. He’s only lost one set in the last five months and has won 10 out of the last 11 tournaments he’s entered. After winning his fourth consecutive Smash Summit, the question needs to be asked: can anyone beat him?

For example, players are now suggesting a bounty on Armada’s head to incentive players to try just a little harder next time. At this point, it doesn’t seem to matter what or how you approach Armada. He’s going to figure that play style out and counter twice as hard. Wether it’s his improving Fox play or his quick ability to pick up tendency’s there seems to be no answers.

Additionally, he’s now the only player who can claim a four-peat at a singular major tournament. Ken (Ken Hoang) has done this during dark ages, but winning four consecutive Summit’s relatively easily is unprecedented. The event only invites the best-of-the-best, but for Armada it’s almost like playing pools at a normal major.

He’s not only separated himself from the rest of the pack, but now has made it clear he’s a level above even the gods of Melee. It’s almost a foregone conclusion who wins the tournament. Betting for the field is a mistake. It’s Marvel vs Capcom 2 Justin Wong-esque as he wins every event.

As for his Summit performance, on the surface it doesn’t seem that impressive. He had two decisive wins over ChuDat (Daniel Rodriguez) and Leffen (William Hjelte). He went Fox for the majority of the day based on matchups. His Fox-ditto play has now surpassed the best Fox’s as he clearly had the edge against Leffen. The only match he truly struggled in was against Hungrybox (Juan DeBiedma) in winners finals.

Winners Finals 

At this point, Armada’s made a clear separation between him and Hungrybox. There was a time where he struggled against Jigglypuff in the Fox matchup. Those days are long gone as Armada has essentially optimized his play style against Jigglypuff and more specifically Hungrybox.

Early on, Armada wasn’t getting away with rolls or techs in as Hbox was able to capitalize with rest punishes. As soon as Armada noticed that, the match turned towards his favor. In a close 3-2 set, it still never really felt like Hbox had control of the game. It was a constant struggle waiting for Armada to overextend as he dodges double-lasers.

Ultimately, this win places Armada higher than any player to pick up a GameCube controller. The last quarter of the 2016-2017 has been all Armada. It’s almost annoying how good he’s become. There used to be a shred of doubt there but he’s completely destroyed that idea. He’s the best to ever do it and until further notice, he’s unstoppable

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Armada Secures His Place in History Winning Genesis 4

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

Adam “Armada” Lindgren cemented his spot in history, winning his third Genesis title. The win came over Joseph “Mango” Marquez, making it three wins in a row in a Genesis Grand Final for Armada. Armada’s run of dominance continues as he narrowly edges out Mango in the winner’s bracket and follows it up with one of his strongest finals performances ever.

Mango and Armada were destined from the start to meet again in Grand Finals. In four Genesis tournaments, no other players have made Grand Finals. It took Armada squeezing by Johnny “S2J” Kim in top 64 to even stay in winner’s bracket, and then avoiding losing 3-1 to Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman in winner’s finals. At the same time, Mango had one of the more difficult losers bracket runs to make this rematch possible.

After falling 3-1 to Armada, Mango went straight into a loser’s bracket match with William “Leffen” Hjelte, who fell into losers before top 8. In a rather sub-par top 8, Leffen vs. Mango stands out as a must-watch match. The intensity and stakes of this moment added the extra pressure, and made for a wild set. Mango took the 3-2 victory, but that’s after falling behind 2-1 in games, and even down in stocks on both games four and five. It was a set that will be remembered.

Genesis is known for its memorable moments. Mostly because of the rivalry between Mango and Armada that started at Genesis back in 2009. Four Genesis’s and still no other player has broken into the top-two. M2K had the best chance to break up the streak at G4, when he was up a stock on game four, up 2-1. But in the end, Mango and Armada found themselves facing off in Grand Finals.

The finals matchup that seemed as if destiny had intervened, felt lackluster in the end. Armada thoroughly dominated Mango, beating him in less than nine minutes, with a three-stock victory on game three. Armada went 6-1 overall against Mango, and a staggering 4-0 on Yoshi Island, which was Mango’s primary counter-pick.

Mango seemed to have used up all his mental fortitude just getting back to Grand Finals and wasn’t mentally prepared for the robot that is Armada’s punish heavy Peach. It was a showing of Armada’s consistency and mental strength, as even when he’s down 2-0 to S2J or losing to M2K, he never plays like he’s out of it. He always sticks to the game plan.

Here are the final results at Genesis 4:

1.Alliance Armada (Peach/Fox)

2. C9 Mango (Fox/Falco)

3. Echo Fox M2K (Marth/Sheik)

T5. Liquid Hungrybox (Jigglypuff)

T5. Panda Global Plup (Sheik)

T7. Tempo Storm Axe (Pikachu)

T7. G2 Westballz (Falco)

 

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Genesis 4 Preview: Will The Top Seeds Run the Table?

The importance of the Genesis tournament series for the longevity and growth of the Super Smash Bros scene can’t go understated. It’s a legendary event that has produced arguably the best Smash sets of all time. It’s where the Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Adam “Armada” Lindgren rivalry began. Genesis is history, and more history will be made this weekend at Genesis 4.

Genesis 4 will be the biggest Genesis to date. Six individual Smash tournaments. 11 overall events that will be taking place, including Rivals of Aether and Street Fighter V. Two crew battle tournaments, one for Smash 4 and the other for Melee. It has something for every type of fan.

The main events will be Melee and Smash 4 top-8. The competition for the doubles tournaments and even Smash 64 will be fierce and deserve your attention though. 3,000 players are registered and ready to compete. Here’s a preview for every single event happening at Genesis 4 this weekend.

Smash 64 Singles

Smash 64 has significantly less entrants than the other two Smash games (185 for singles), but the story lines and competition is still top notch. Recently signed Daniel “SuPeRbOoMfAn” Hoyt, who won Super Smash Con to round out 2016, is once again the heavy favorite. In terms of dominating his personal game, no other player in the Smash community comes close.

The field has nearly every player in the top 10, so expect some of the more notable names to reach top-8. Boom won’t have an automatic trip to winner’s finals. Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett is a rising star and a real threat to take out the game’s best. His second-place finish at Super Smash Con showed his potential. Wizzrobe is slated to play Boom winners round 2 in top 64 which could be on upset alert.

Outside of those two, classic names like Isai, the Mexican players Arturo “Mariguas” Nunez Hernadez and Distrito “Dext3r” Federal, and the ever so dangerous Peruvian slayer Alvin “Alvin” Leon Hara will also be in attendance as the second seed. It’s a stacked field, but the real story will be whether Boom can win another Smash 64 major.

Winner Prediction: SuPeRbOoMfAm (sorry, he’s just too good)

Smash Melee Doubles

Don’t sleep on Melee doubles this weekend; the top five teams will be in attendance, and certain teams will be put to the ultimate test. PewFat, Kevin “PewPewU” Toy and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, had a great 2016 as the year’s best team, but let’s see how they perform at an event with M2Box (Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma), team Alliance (Armada and Andreas “Android” Lindgren), and team Europe (William “Leffen” Hjelte and Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya).

Therefore, the winner of this event is nearly impossible to predict. Even Mango and Johnny “S2J” Kim could make a run. An event of this magnitude with players taking the doubles side seriously will result in some of the highest-level teams matches possibly ever. Most of the teams registered, who have a shot at winning, are combos of players who have teamed before and have chemistry. It will be a great gauge on the best doubles team in the world.

Winner Prediction: PewFat

Between Hungrybox’s hand issues, the northern California crowd, and the introduction of PPU’s Fox play for counter-picks, it just feels like it’s finally their time to take a Genesis.

Smash Melee Singles

Three Genesis events and three Mango vs Armada grand finals. Will it happen again? The biggest hurdles for the possible quadruple rematch is easily Leffen and Hungrybox. Hungrybox made huge strides in 2016, and despite a hand injury, can ruin everyone’s fun by winning. Leffen, on the other hand (get it?), missed last Genesis and is a huge threat to ruin the Genesis script.

Furthermore, this could be the event of the breakout star. Players like SFAT, Ice, Justin “Plup” McGrath, and James “Swedish Delight” Liu have been threatening to take out the top-six players for the better half of last year. Genesis 4, with the extra month of preparation, could be the event one of these names creates a Melee upset that will never be forgotten.

In addition, expect the brackets to be filled with upsets. A tournament with 80 of the top 100 players in attendance is sure to set off some unfamiliar matchups and results. Expect the unexpected; last year Michael “Nintendude” Brancato took out M2K before top 8. If I had to bet, I’d say a God falls before top-8.

In the end, the event will almost surely come down to if anyone is good enough to beat Armada. He has been on a tear of tournament wins in the winter months, and it’s unclear if the Swedish snipers reign of terror is ending. That said, Mango will be playing in front of a raucous crowd all cheering for him, and we all know what happens when Mango gets momentum and a crowd behind him.

Melee is the marquee event this weekend, with 1,700 players signed up. The matchups in top 64 will all be entertaining, from Ice facing off against Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, to the Evo runback of Jeff “Axe” Williamson against Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno. The story lines will be endless and the amount of high-level Melee waiting to be played is staggering. There’s a reason most Melee players consider Genesis the holy grail.

Winner Prediction: Armada

It’s hard seeing anyone beating this guy at the level he’s playing at right now. Mango can win this tournament but it will take some diligent play and making sure he gets a shot at Armada in Winners bracket.

Smash 4 Doubles

Smash 4 doubles is still in its infancy. The team that wins is usually the two best players, as opposed to the best strategy, character choice, and the most skill combined. Keeping that in mind, Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada are clearly the best team. The only other team even on a comparable level is Elliot “Ally” Bastien and Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez.

It will still be interesting to watch the different team compositions and styles. Japan will have two of the more interesting teams: Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura and Takuto “Kameme” Ono, plus Rei “Komorikiri” Furukawa and Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi. They will present interesting styles and a possible threat to the top players. Jason “Anti” Bates and Salem will be the other team capable of winning the entire event.

As is the case for every tournament at Genesis 4, the focus will be on if anyone can take out the top team. Nairo and ZeRo are incredibly talented players with chemistry. There are some serious contenders who could beat out those two, but it’s unlikely at this point.

Winner Prediction: Nairo and ZeRo

Smash 4 Singles

ZeRo is once again the favorite to take Genesis. He’s starting to return to form after a sporadic 2016. But with that, it’s safe to say Smash 4 is the widest open tournament of them all. It’s not out of the question to wonder if a player not named ZeRo can win Genesis.

MKLeo wasn’t at Genesis 3 or many of the 2016 majors, so this will be his first real test at a major. He has shown the ability to hang with anyone. Ally is another player who can win this event. He’s clearly not fazed by large crowds (Evo 2016 champion) but has unfavorable draw in bracket (he’ll face ZeRo in Winners Semifinals).

Even a couple years into Smash 4, the meta game still is developing. It makes these major tournaments more fun because the results can be random at times. ZeRo might be the clear-cut favorite, but the rise of Cloud players like Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey and Kimorikiri are lurking, waiting to pull off the upset. That’s not even mentioning players like ANTi, Salem or Larry Lurr who have taken out every single one of the top five players, including Zero.

Winner Prediction: MKLeo

This is MKLeo’s moment. Here is a kid the Smash world has been waiting on for the past two years, and he has finally got his chance. If anyone can take out ZeRo and run the table, it’s the versatile MKLeo.

I hope I provided fans with a guide to what to watch for this weekend. It’s impossible to predict what will happen. One thing is certain though, it will be entertaining to watch it all unfold.

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Genesis 4 Smash Draft 2017 Preview

Photo via https://smash.gg/tournament/genesis-4/smashdraft

It’s finally Genesis week! The world’s most historic Smash tournament will take place once again in San Jose, California and host thousands of Smash players. On top of the standard single and double events, Genesis will be running the Smash Draft crew battle tournament: A single elimination, 5 vs. 5 melee crew battle tournament that will be happening on day one of Genesis 4.

The teams were drafted on the Scar and Toph Show. There are eight teams, captained by the names mentioned below, seeded based on rank, and draft position set by the lower seeded players deciding where to pick first. Kashan “Chillindude” Khan was the last seed so he got the first overall pick.

Therefore, the top seeded, Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, will face off against Chillindude’s crew in round one. Got it? Now, the results of the draft were all over the place. Some players picked solely based off rank and prestige, while others wanted more well-rounded teams (or to play with the homies).

Last year, Team Hbox took home the Smash Draft title over team SFAT, with one of the strongest crew battle teams ever assembled (two God’s). This year, the field is wide open. Crews are more balanced and there’s less potential gimmicks and shenanigans compared to last year. It should be a down-to-the-wire tournament

Here are the teams:

#1 Overall Seed: Team Hungrybox

Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma (Jigglupuff, MIOM Rank: 2)

James “Swedish” Liu (Sheik, MIOM: 11)

Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett (Captain Falcon, MIOM: 12)

Stephen “Abate” Abate (Luigi, MIOM: 40)

Colin “Colbol” Green (Fox, Marth, MIOM: 25)

Strengths: Team Hungrybox will be one of the strongest teams at this event. Not only do you have to take out two extremely dangerous players in Swedish and Wizzrobe, but then an additional four stocks off Hungrybox. It also helps that this team has five unique characters to throw out at any given time.

Weaknesses: Abate is somewhat of a wild card considering he hasn’t attended many major tournaments in the past year. Colbol has the potential to take out top players, but has been trending downwards recently with his Marth play.

X-Factor: Wizzrobe has shown in the past that he can take out a God or at least push their limits. If he shows up and gets the crowd behind him early on, look out for Wizzrobe to pull an upset. Following up his aggressive style with Hungrybox will pay dividends in the end.

#8 Overall Seed: Team Chillin

Khasar “Chillindude” Khan (Fox, MIOM: 36)

William “Leffen” Hjelte (Fox, MIOM: 5)

Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby (Captain Falcon, MIOM: 18)

David “KirbyKaze” MacDonald (Sheik, MIOM: 29)

Theodore “Bladewise” Seybold (Peach, MIOM: 39)

Strengths: The overall depth of this team isn’t great, but N0ne and Leffen are players capable of turning games around quickly. Leffen can stock tank and take out weaker players with plenty of stocks remaining. N0ne has the jaw-dropping ability to turn games in his favor with Falcon’s combo game.

Weaknesses: Overall, this team will struggle against deeper teams. They have no distinct counter-pick advantages outside of Bladewise. If N0ne and Leffen don’t play above their usual skill ceiling this team will fail.

X-Factor: KirbyKaze. KirbyKaze has been flirting with retirement throughout the better half of 2016. He’s still capable of beating top-players, just based off his skill level, but the question is if he’s in practice or not? If he is, that adds an entirely new component to this team’s game plan.

#2 Overall Seed: Team SFAT

Zac “SFAT” Cordoni (Fox, MIOM: 7)

Dejaun “Shroomed” McDaniels (Sheik, MIOM: 10)

Kevin “PewPewU” Toy (Marth, MIOM: 14)

Austin “Azusa” Demmon (Peach, MIOM: 57)

Justin “Syrox” Burroughs (Fox, MIOM: 67)

Strengths: The crowd. The Northern California “big three” in SFAT, Shroomed, and PPU will garner the most audience support, and in this environment, that’s huge. This team will surely have the most chemistry and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses better than any other team.

Weaknesses: Azusa is an up-and-coming Peach main, but he’s put into a big spot here. His goal is not to come overwhelmingly negative in terms of stock count. SFAT, as the captain, will have the option to counter-pick with his Peach, though.

X-Factor: Syrox. Syrox has been on fire in the last two months and is gaining confidence. The NorCal big three will do their thing, but the matches will be won on the back end with Syrox’s performance. The young Fox main could surprise some people.

#7 Overall Seed: Team Zhu

Julian “Zhu” Zhu (Falco, MIOM: 31)

Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman (Sheik/Marth, MIOM: 4)

Ryan “TheMoon” Coker-Welch (Marth, MIOM: 21)

McCain “MacD” Lavelle (Peach, MIOM: 26)

Santiago “Santi” Pinon (Falco/Sheik, MIOM: 43)

Strengths: Counter-picking M2K. Zhu decided to choose a spot where he could grab a Melee God (M2K) in exchange for team depth. Using M2K in specific situations will decide how far this team goes in bracket.

Weaknesses: Depth. Outside of M2K, every other player ranks outside the top-20. TheMoon is capable of pulling off upsets, but this team must face a team with three players in the top-15. It will be a struggle after M2K.

X-Factor: Zhu. Zhu will be the one making the coaching decisions, so using M2K and TheMoon at the right time will be key. Zhu can also make waves with his Falco, given the right stage.

#3 Overall Seed: Team Duck

James “Duck” Ma (Samus, MIOM: 15)

Weston “Westballz” Dennis (Falco, MIOM: 8)

Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya (Fox, MIOM: 13)

Kalindi “KJH” J. Henderson (Fox, MIOM: 34)

Abshihek “Prince Abu” Prabhu (Jigglypuff, MIOM: 42)

Strengths: Depth. Once again, Duck chose depth over grabbing a top-player. Luckily, he still landed Westballz and Ice, who have shown in the past they can carry teams in crews. Duck also provides a direct-counter for Fox-heavy team compositions.

Weaknesses: Lack of character diversity. Yes, Prince Abu and Duck have unique characters, but there are three spacey mains on this team. If opposing teams have player’s adapt in those matchups, it could be tough for this team to advance.

X-Factor: Duck. The timing of when to use Duck will decide games. If he’s put in the right situation, this team could surprise everyone. Certain players really struggle in the Samus matchup and that could be the difference.

#6 Overall Seed” Team Silent Wolf

Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno (Fox, MIOM: 20)

Joseph “Mango” Marquez (Falco/Fox, MIOM: 3)

Johnny “S2J” Kim (Captain Falcon, MIOM: 16)

Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna (Fox, MIOM: 23)

Hugo “HugS” Gonzales (Samus, MIOM: 38)

Strengths: Mango. I don’t think it’s even a question at this point who the best crews player of all time is. Mango never seems phased by the gravity of the moment and feeds off the crowd more than anybody. If he gets off to a good start, he’s almost impossible to slow down in crews.

Weaknesses: A team of fast-fallers. Outside of HugS on Samus, the rest of the team is susceptible to heavy combos on each character choice. It’s a team of explosive damage characters, but playing more skilled teams will force them to play more defensively.

X-Factor: S2J. Johnny was able to pull off one of the best performances in Smash history at the regional crew battles at TBH6. He was able to take seven stocks against Florida and he took out Leffen in one of the most heart wrenching sets in recent memory. Along with Mango, S2J can finish matches off with style.

#4 Overall Seeds: Team Nintendude

Michael “Nintendude” Brancato (Ice Climbers, MIOM: 17)

Justin “Plup” McGrath (Sheik/Samus, MIOM: 6)

Jeff “Axe” Williamson (Pikachu, MIOM: 9)

Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas (Fox, MIOM: 24)

Mike Haze (Fox, MIOM: 28)

Strengths: Team speed. The character diversity will be important for this team, but overall this team might have the best team speed outside of Team Duck. Expect technical, fast games with players like Axe, Plup, and Professor Pro.

Weaknesses: Mike Haze. This team doesn’t have many weaknesses, so Mike Haze’s lack of experience in crews at this level could play a factor.

X-Factor: Plup. Plup plays two characters at an extremely high level, so if this team needs a Samus pick, he’s capable of making the switch and staying consistent.

#5 Overall Seed: Team ChuDat

Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez (Ice Climbers, MIOM: 22)

Adam “Armada” Lindgren (Peach/Fox, MIOM: 1)

Joey “Lucky” Aldama (Fox, MIOM: 19)

Sam “Laudandus” Rohrer (Sheik, MIOM: 33)

Diaki “Rudolph” Ideoka (Marth, MIOM: 52)

Strengths: Armada. He’s the best player in the world and never loses to players below his skill level. He’s almost guaranteed to go positive in each match.

Weaknesses: Inexperience. Laudandus and Rudolph didn’t participate in last year’s Smash draft, so this is an entirely new experience for them. An event like this might overwhelm the newcomers.

X-Factor: ChuDat. Armada will go positive, so this team needs one other player to carry the team, enter ChuDat. His Ice Climbers can and will be a direct counter-pick, but more importantly using Chu’s unorthodox, sometimes annoying style to get to opposing teams.

Go here to make your bracket predictions here. My predictions are here, check back for more coverage on the Smash Draft.

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The Local: Hungrybox’s Injury Issue, Salem and M2K’s Performances at Smash Conference

Genesis 4 is still two weeks away. The Smash world will now focus in on these next two weeks to prepare for one of the marquee events of 2017. Tournaments have slowed; aside from Smash Conference, there has been no high-level matches since Don’t Park On The Grass. That said, there’s still plenty of news to cover around the entire Smash community.

Hungrybox Struggled with his Finger Injury

Photo via https://twitter.com/LiquidHbox/status/816358130611318785

Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma was not the main story of this weekend, but his finger injury suffered last week playing dodgeball has his Genesis 4 status in question. Hungrybox did say on twitter that he’s planning on playing at Genesis 4, but that he might have to switch up how he holds his controller and try a different button press for his aerials (he usually uses the Z-button).

However, Hungrybox did make an appearance at MVG”s Smash Conference in Florida this weekend, and he didn’t look like his usual self. On top of losing to players he often beats, Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett, his aerial spacing and conversions on hits were clearly not as precise as normal.

Hungrybox will play at Genesis 4, but how effective his play will be is still up in the air. He has two weeks to rest or practice holding his controller different ways.  A half healthy Hungrybox can still make a deep run, but it’s hard to see a scenario where he takes out a God with a busted finger.

Mew2King Wins Smash Conference for Melee

M2K got the win, but the real story was Wizzrobe and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni’s performances at this event. SFAT went 1-9 against M2K in 2016, but early in 2017 he took an early 5-3 game lead with a set win and a game five loss at the Smash Conference. He even had success against M2K on Final Destination, taking two games off him.

On the other hand, Wizzrobe nearly outshined everyone by taking out Ryan “TheMoon” Coker-Welch 2-0, SFAT 3-0, and Hungrybox 3-0. He unfortunately fell to M2K, a matchup that’s known to heavily favor M2K. His performance doesn’t go unnoticed though, and is a building point heading into one of the biggest events of the year.

Finally, M2K earned his first tournament victory of 2017, but it did not come easy. SFAT had him on the ropes on game four in the second set, but a bad positional decision from SFAT gave M2K the corner, and eventually the edge guard. The entire match favored SFAT’s pace of play, but in the end, M2K was able to repeatedly overcome large stock deficits to win.

Salem Takes Smash Conference for Smash 4

Photo via https://smashboards.com/threads/smash-wii-u-at-smash-conference-lxix-mvgs-finest-take-on-florida.444611/

Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young, a legend in Brawl for taking an Apex, earned another career victory by winning Smash Conference over Jamaal “Samsora” Morris Jr. The Bayonetta main had little trouble disposing of the other Florida players, only dropping one game the entire tournament. He made a statement by taking care of busisness in a tournament that featured the likes of Eric “ESAM” Lew, Jestise “MVD” Negron, and Andrew “ScAtt” Huntley.

Even M2K entered Smash 4 and made a splash before being eliminated by Esam. Esam, on the other hand, made an insane losers bracket run to finish third, after falling to Samsora’s Peach earlier in winner’s bracket. It was a tournament of mixed results, as ScAtt was eliminated in losers round two by Florida native, Day.  Strong players had to face off against each other earlier because of upsets, allowing for players like ScAtt, MVD, and dyr to fall out of bracket early in the day.

The consistent and balanced play of Salem and Samsora flashed. Both players had no trouble navigating through a tough bracket and might be two players to watch out for the rest of 2017.

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The Top Five Melee Sets of 2016

 

5. Ice vs Silent Wolf: The Big House 6
One of the most overlooked sets of the year, Ice vs Silent Wolf in an incredible Fox mirror. Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno just got through his most promising win, possibly of his career, taking out M2K. He then faced Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, a Fox main who was on fire that month. It was a collision course of extremely technical game play with a chance at top-8 at a super major.

The set went five games. Every game was last hit, last stock. It was a huge opportunity for two players looking to break through their ceilings. Ice got the win, but in a back-and-forth set both players got validation. It also provided the audience with one of the best played Fox mirrors in 2016.
4. Mango vs Plup: Smash Summit 2


Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Justin “Plup” McGrath have had plenty of epic sets in the past, but this one might take it as the best. Plup has a history of giving Mango trouble, and starting the set off with a three stock seemed to spell the same story once again.

Mango, in the most dire of circumstances, proved once again he can make magic happen. After falling behind on game five, Mango landed one of the clutchest zero-to-death combos in Melee history to take the set. One second, the hope for the nation was dwindling, and the other second he’s taking the set with a soft neutral-air to up-smash kill. Even the top Melee players at the event couldn’t believe what they witnessed.
3. N0ne vs M2K: Get On My Level 2016
Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman hadn’t lost to a Captain Falcon in tournament in an extremely long time. It just didn’t happen. That’s until M2K took his talents to Canada and fought one of the up and coming Falcon mains in Melee: Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby

With the Canadian crowd behind him, N0ne’s crouch cancelling play style gave the most proficient player in the matchup trouble. It was the biggest upset of the year and legitimized N0ne as a serious tournament threat. It was arguably the most hyped a crowd has gotten all year long.

2. Mango vs Armada: Genesis 3
The most anticipated matchup of the last century happened at Genesis 3. The third installment of the Adam “Armada” Lindgren vs Mango Genesis rivalry was nothing short of spectacular. It almost felt like…destiny.

Mango had to make one of his patented losers bracket runs to even get a shot at Armada. Despite all the odds, Mango fed off the raucous Northern California crowd and set up the rematch. It came down to a second set, after Mango was able to reset the bracket. To the dismay of the NorCal crowd, Armada’s switch to Peach was the difference.

Mango reignited the passion of Melee fans around the world. Armada was able to do what he’s done since Genesis 1, and that was to adjust and win. It was enthralling from start-to-finish and started the year off with a classic final.


1. Armada vs Hungrybox: Evolution 2016
Hungrybox’s miraculous comeback over Armada at Evolution 2016 will be remembered in the fighting game community forever. In the sold-out Mandalay Bay arena, the stakes had never been higher. Two of the game’s greatest players on the biggest stage of their careers, playing for the most prestigious title in Melee.

The storylines were fantastic heading into the set, but the match itself surpassed all the hype behind it. Hungrybox was able to overcome all the odds to make three almost insurmountable comebacks to take it in an epic 10-game set. His almost inhuman-like ability to stay calm in the midst of overwhelming pressure defined what made Hungrybox great in 2016. He showed that in abundance by winning his first Evo title over Armada.

It could be considered one of the single best Melee sets of all time. In the moment, the entire audience was living-and-dying on every hit, every Jigglypuff rest. It didn’t seem possible until it happened.

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Leffen Pulls Off the Upset Over Hungrybox to Win Don’t Park on the Grass

 

Photo courtesy of http://twitch.tv/EndGameTV1

Photo courtesy of http://twitch.tv/EndGameTV1

Don’t Park on the Grass could be a look into the future of competitive Smash. The last event of 2016 ended with a wild top 32 bracket, ending with William “Leffen” Hjelte taking out the juggernaut Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma from the winners bracket. A day filled with game 5’s (13 exactly) was overshadowed by Leffen winning his first tournament since Get on my Level this summer.

From the very start of the tournament, all eyes were focused on Hungrybox and Leffen. The only “gods” in attendance were on a crash course for a meeting in the grand finals. Leffen, who’s had a frustrating year due to issues out of his control, got his second marquee win of the year taking out Hungrybox in two sets by a combined score of 6-4.

Leffen earned his second victory in 2016 against Hungrybox at DPotG off vertical kill setups (soft aerials into up-air kills) that jump-cancelled up-smashes. As I said last week, Leffen might be the best player in the world at the Fox-Jigglypuff matchup. He might not always win against Hungrybox (2-2 in 16′), but he always plays the matchup the right way.

Outside of his showdown with Hbox, he had little trouble navigating through winners bracket. Ryan “The Moon” Coker-Welch did manage to send it to a game 5 in winners round one, but Leffen won by a comfortable three-stocks on his game five counter pick stage. He didn’t drop a single game in his next two sets against Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, two top-20 players.

It was Leffen’s first major win on American soil since HTC Throwdown back in September of 2015. He took down Hungrybox at that same event as well. The win was a huge step forward for Leffen, after spending the entire year on the sideline. It should build confidence heading forward and might open the door for the return of the cockiest player in Smash.

Breaking down Grand Finals

Leffen fell behind early in both the winners and grand finals sets against Hungrybox. Both battlefield openers were a one stock victory by Hbox, making Leffen play from a deficit. The loss in both instances woke him up. He raised his level of play after each loss he suffered.

Despite struggling on Battlefield, Leffen consistently won on his counter pick stages. He was 2-0 on Pokémon stadium and 4-0 overall on his counter picks. Outside of Dreamland, Leffen found success on the larger stages, going 2-0 on Final Destination. It allowed him to avoid Hungrybox’s aerial pressure and stay patient.

Beating Hungrybox is a mental grind. Playing below average against him will most certainly result in a loss. He never seems to take games off and the nature of his character allows the comeback factor to come into play. Luckily for Leffen, he was feeling good and clearly strong in his mental game.

Even falling behind 2-1 in the grand finals, there was never any quit. He continued to stick to the game plan and consistently got his kill setups late in games. He carried combos farther than any Fox I can remember and that paid dividends down the stretch. It looked like pre-visa Leffen, which is a great sign heading into 2017.

Leffen will have a month to prepare for the next super major in Genesis 4 with the holiday break coming up. Leffen is a momentum-based player and when he’s playing his best he can go on long runs. It will be interesting to see if the break messes with his mental game. If this tournament told us anything, watch out for Leffen in 2017.

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Hungrybox Confirmed for Don’t Park on the Grass, ZeRo’s Saga Updates, and more!

There is no offseason in the competitive Smash Bros season. It’s a year-long battle to the bitter end, but even with tournaments starting to wind down before Genesis 4, we get our last tournament-filled weekend of 2016. Don’t Park On the Grass and the 2GGT: ZeRo’s Saga are the two major tournaments this weekend. One for Melee, the other for Smash 4.

Hungrybox Confirmed for DPOTG

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First off, let me just praise the tournament organizers for coming up with another brilliant name. Only Melee can produce events like “Don’t Park on the Grass” or “In Not Yelling” or even my personal favorite: “Don’t Go Down there Jeff.”

Now with that out of the way, let’s talk about serious business. DPOTG will be held in Seattle, WA, and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma has confirmed that he will be in attendance. Hungrybox alongside Sweden’s William “Leffen” Hjelte will be the only top-five players at the event. The rest of the player field has 28 ranked players.

DPOTG is coming off the heels of UGC two weekends ago and Eden last week in Chicago. It will be the last major of 2016 with most players taking the holiday break off and focusing up for Genesis. It will be one final test for the best players this year and some are still jockeying for position.

The top three finishers at Eden will all be in attendance: the winner Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni. I’d look at these three as the favorites to pull the major upsets over Leffen or Hungrybox. DruggedFox will have the momentum after a dominating performance just last week.

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/Don%27t_Park_on_the_Grass

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/Don%27t_Park_on_the_Grass

It will also be important for players like James “Swedish Delight” Liu and Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas to have bounce back performances after finishing outside the top-8 at Eden. The field is predominantly Fox heavy with hard hitting Otto “SilentWolf” Bisno and Javier “Javi” Dantes Ruiz showing up. Two Fox players that don’t have great attendance numbers but can take out any player in this field.

Leffen vs Hungrybox
I don’t want to jump ahead here, but this is the most likely winners finals match we’ll see. Hungrybox has proven that he’s consistent enough to make his way through the bracket to at least Winners Finals all season. He’s also shown that he struggles with high-level Fox play and Leffen could present trouble in that regard.

Leffen is a bad matchup for Hungrybox because almost no one, outside of Adam “Armada” Lindgren, plays the Jigglypuff match up optimally with Fox. His ability to pop Puff up in the air to capitalize off vertical kill moves is second-to-none. Leffen’s just now returning to his past tournament form, but still faces a 1-2 deficit against Hungrybox this year.

2GGT: ZeRo’s Saga with a $10,000 Pot Bonus

The last event for the 2GGT event saga’s and it ends with our player of the year: Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios. The event will take place at Rio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada and host most of the top-10 players in the world.

It will be tough to slow down ZeRo who has won his last five events. He’s ending the year strong and avoiding the upsets that were his problem at the start of the year. He will have to fend off a flurry of strong competitors to take his sixth event in a row.

Here’s just a few of the top names in attendance this weekend

Courtesy of https://smash.gg/tournament/2ggt-zero-saga-one-year-anniversary-1/attendees

Courtesy of https://smash.gg/tournament/2ggt-zero-saga-one-year-anniversary-1/attendees

If the event turns out to be anything like the rest of 2016, we’re in for a interesting weekend of Smash 4.

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