Redbull Gods and Gatekeepers: A fresh new idea with mixed results

Melee’s at a stage in its development where trying new things is not only fresh and new but necessary. Singles tournaments are great, but the audience needs something to keep them interested aside from singles. Crew tournaments could be that outlet.

Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman showed us the potential of teams and how different compositions can work.

Yes, the M2K team was absolutely stacked: Shroomed, Duck, and Zhu create a rather tough opponent, but that wasn’t the main story coming out of Gods and Gatekeepers. No, the main story was the emergence of possibly the bigger underdog of the entire tournament.

Team SFAT. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

Zac “SFAT” Cordoni passed up depth in favor of teaming with his best bud and doubles partner Kevin “PPU” Toy. Now those two are incredible players, but the addition of Army and Ryan Ford was seemingly their downfall. Logic would say the best team is deep and not relying on any one person or strategy (hence why M2K’s team won), but that’s the exact strategy SFAT employed to reach the Grand Finals in WINNERS.

Here’s how they did it:

According to the rules, if a set extends to a game five, it’s no longer a one-vs-one match and turns into a doubles match to decide the winner. The key for team SFAT was: by any means necessary, force other teams into a game five. Considering SFAT and PPU make up the best team in the world it seemed to be a solid strategy.

For this reason, SFAT’s team was able to pull off upset after upset and fall into winners finals and eventually grand finals. Two game five wins over Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez and Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett’s teams propelled them to a second face finish. The struggles came when they got behind 2-0 in the set early and had to win out with bad matchups.

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

However, M2K’s team, despite falling to Wizzrobe’s squad, didn’t have to rely on strategy. The four players on the team knew all it took was winning the individual matchups. Yes, teams could compete with them, but the overall talent was clearly a step above the rest of the competition.

The Upsets

However, the crew battles did something that no tournament has done in quite a long time. It evened the Melee playing field. It was a nice change of pace to see names not usually in the spotlight making huge plays.

Ice warming up. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

 

The inspiring Marth play from Medz to upset team Mango 3-0. The doubles performance from ChuDat’s Ice Climbers and Weston “Westballz” Dennis to take out Leffen. Each of the top seeds fell in the first round – that’s something that has never happened in singles.

A team comprised of two fringe top-50 players almost won the entire event. Regardless of your opinion of the tournament format, there’s no denying it presented a myriad of surprising and fun results. I hope to see more of these types of tournaments in the future.


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Feature image courtesy of twitch.tv/redbullesports

Armada continues best year ever with win at Evo 2017

In Melee’s fifth consecutive year at Evo, the results stayed consistent. Adam “Armada” Lindgren asserted his dominance as the world’s best Melee player, winning in straight sets over Joseph “Mango” Marquez. This secured Armada his second Evo title.

Armada winning a tournament is hardly news anymore, but that doesn’t take away from his massive achievement at Evo 2017. This speaks to his consistency and work ethic. He continues to perfect his Peach play while improving at playing under pressure.

As a matter of fact, Armada has become nearly unbeatable in last stock situations since famously falling to Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma at Evo 2016. Armada had to put that loss behind him and as a result it made him stronger for this latest run of dominance. The second Evo victory for Armada not only adds another trophy to his mantle but improves his 2017 resume as the best year from any Smasher ever.

Mango vs Armada

Nevertheless, Mango was looking to finally get that elusive third Evo title after failing the last two years. His first win over Hungrybox, after two consecutive exits at the hands of Hbox’s Puff previously, finally setup the matchup fans of Melee have been waiting to see at an Evo for the last four years.

Shockingly, this is the first time Mango and Armada reached Grand Finals in the same Evo. El Classico, as it’s known in Melee circles, fizzled out the last couple years. Armada held up his end of the bargain, but Mango struggled to reach the finals through losers bracket. And after all this time, Armada did what he does best and won by simply outplaying his opponent.

Reminiscent of Genesis 4, in which Armada dismantled a mentally tired Mango, Armada wasn’t pushed like in previous years. Evo 2017 felt similar to that Genesis 4 result. Mango put all his strength into beating Hungrybox and didn’t seem as mentally prepared to face Armada’s overwhelming, punish-heavy Peach.

M2K nearly pulls it off

However, Armada did struggle in one of the most intense and pain staking sets of 2017. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, similar to Mango against Hungrybox, put his heart and soul into beating Armada. Even in a best of three, the set felt like it took ages. A seven minute game three on Pokémon stadium was a game to be remembered. Every single hit was important.

Although M2K didn’t get the win, he managed to make Armada sweat. Something that isn’t easy to do. In no other set did Armada feel that pressure or the threat of a loss. Armada went 12-3 in the semifinal bracket, and despite a small setback against Jeff “Axe” Williamson, he dominated all day.

Armada sets up a chance at the “Threevo”

I don’t want to already move on to 2018, but it’s hard not to picture what could happen in the days to come. Mango has spoken of a third Evo title, but has let it linger too long and now is in jeopardy of potentially losing the “threevo” to his nemesis, Armada.

In the event that Mango and Armada meet in another Evo grand final, the stakes will be as high as they’ve ever been. But for now, it’s Armada’s time to sit back and enjoy another Evo title. One of the hardest working players in Smash continues to separate himself from the rest of the pack. The onus is on the rest of the field to match the Evolution 2017 world champion.

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The newcomer’s guide to Evo 2017

EVO 2017 is a monster of a three day tournament. It’s been going strong online with viewership rising steadily since 2009. With two weeks to go, we’ll give some tips on how to watch, enjoy and survive the long three day weekend of EVO. Make sure to grab some snacks.

Pre-Show: Snacks r’ Us

Courtesy of Kellog

Think of this like a Super Bowl and Wrestlemania for video games. Limited commercial breaks, minor swearing, insults, trash talking, mind games, commentators going hoarse- and that’s just Friday. A usual set up to watch as much of the action as possible requires north of three TVs, a mini fridge, assorted snacks of multiple veins. Pizza is a must order in case matches go long. It also helps to have one or two friends sit down and watch with you as this is a spectacle. Most of all, during any sort of downtime, make sure to stay hydrated in some fashion and reload any and all snacks. It helps if you’re going to watch EVO with someone to bring some food as well.

First: Know the LINEUP

Street Fighter V – The longest running staple in the fighting game scene. The premier game that gets all the attention.

Tekken 7 – The step sister to Street Fighter. Pioneering the 3-D arena combat games, it’s held in regard to Street Fighter as a near equal.

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 – A new game in an old style, Guilty Gear is the alternative to Street Fighter as a 2.5D (3D characters on a 2D plane) with flashier visuals, absurd characters and a much more underground scene.

Injustice 2 – Mortal Kombat and Justice League in one game. If one has ever wondered about Mortal Kombat, this game is the successor to it and always has a strong showing.

Super Smash Bros. Melee – The oldest played game featured on stream, Smash Bros. Melee has been a underground community until it broke into EVO a few years ago. Since then, it’s given rise to a second coming of Esports within itself and others.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U – The little cousin, Smash for WiiU or Sm4sh is more casual and easier to watch. Players in this are less famous than the Melee counterparts yet all the more entertaining as the character pool is more diverse.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction – made by the people who made Guilty Gear. It features highly detailed sprites, ridiculously combos and an in-depth combo breaking system. No character within the game is too good or too bad to be played.

King of Fighters 14 – A new game on the scene, it must fill the shoes of the last KoF which was 13. It’s legacy is more well renown internationally, as its character pool is largely diverse with interesting 3 on 3 game play.

Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 – The last of an old guard, MvC 3 is likely about to have its last big major at Evo 2017. It was never quite Street Fighter but it did have incredible moments tied to it.

Second: Know the Players and the scene

Street Fighter V

 

SFV logo courtesy of Capcom

Memorize these names: Daigo, Justin Wong, Infiltration, Fuudo, KnuckleDu, Xaiohai, GamerBee, Xian, LI Joe, PR Balrog, Punk, and Snake Eyez. It seems absolutely ridiculous with these names but they’re the actual notables for Street Fighter. Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara essentially built the Street Fighter scene. If you google Evo Moment Number 37, it’s those two clashing almost fifteen years prior. Older players recognize  Daigo and Justin Wong, while Infiltration, Xiaohai, Xian, PR Balrog, Fuudo, KnuckleDu, Tokido, Momochi and Bonchan made their names specifically to american crowds in Street Fighter 4. GamerBee put an exclaimation on his name by eliminating Justin Wong in a set that shocked the crowd and the bracket. Xian, Fuudo, Infiltration and Daigo are all previous EVO winners. New comer Punk looks to be the favorite for Street Fighter V and might win it all. Rarely has a unanimous favorite ever won an EVO as competition within this particular tournament is fierce and notoriety is just a target on your back.

 

Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 and BlazBlue

Only one name needs to be mentioned for this and it’s Dogura. Ever since his appearance in BlazBlue, Dogura has essentially ruled most of the “anime fighters” with an iron fist in the past. Now sponsored by cyclops, Dogura looks to take another couple jewels for his crown. His opponents like Kazunoko in GG and Kizzie Kay in both GG and BlazBlue may not be so kind as to oblige. Look for a lot of the quarter finals to really open up as there’s very little wiggle room when it comes to the standings and rankings of these games. Skills gets wins and a lot of the players mentioned have spent a good chunk of time understanding the fundamentals of these games as much as the high flying combos. Their game has no weaknesses that are easily perceived.

Injustice 2

Sonic Fox holds the number one rank in nearly every game made by Nether Realm Studios. Mortal Kombat X and Injustice before that, Sonic Fox has been involved in the scene. This year however begs the question for upsets. Injustice’s balancing has shifted from the long range pokes of Deadshot and Dr. Fate to mainstays from Injustice 1, namely Aquaman, Batman and Superman. Players will likely rotate in counter picks at will as having a good back up character is a great idea to set the edge against an opponent.

Smash Bros

While the scenes are not remotely interchangeable the games are. For Melee, it’s always going to be a close debate on who wins the whole thing. Armada, Mango, Hungrybox, Mew2King are four of the five gods of Melee and despite age – nothing has changed, they still cycle between who is the best. Leffen who is more an anti-god never fails to challenge them however. If any of those five names are streamed, it’ll likely be a massacre. If two of those five names are on the screen however, the match will likely be blowing up chat, Twitter and people’s minds all at the same time. In the meantime however, the Sm4sh scene has quietly congealed into ZeRo versus everyone else. The past two years, ZeRo has essentially crushed in near every bracket he’s been in. Players like Dabuz and Nairo have stood up against ZeRo but it’s never truly fallen in their favor.

Third: Study the schedule

While Evo 2017’s schedule has yet to be posted, the event is closing in and the stream guide will be the window. Look at the games and ask yourself which ones you’re curious to see played at the highest possible levels.

No game is a bad watch and experimenting is definitely encouraged. Top picks for sure will be Injustice 2 – the early games show off a lot of the unorthodox plays and the character range will be diverse. Guilty Gear and BlazBlue always have interesting matches and will likely be great sometime on Saturday depending on the quarter and semifinals schedule. Finally, save as much energy and food for Sunday. That essentially is the gauntlet of five or six games in a row running throughout the day into the evening.

The games without knowing the order will be Sm4sh, Tekken 7, BlazBlue, Marvel 3 and Street Fighter 5 with two hours set aside for each block.  The snub for Melee is likely due to it taking an abnormally long time to finish the last two years among other reasons. Yet that absence will likely cause enough conspiracies to rise up as to why. Regardless, this guide hopefully helps get you through EVO 2017 weekend.


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“From our Haus to yours”

Armada’s Loss at Royal Flush Ends Historic Six Month Run of Dominance

In the world of competitive Melee, it’s hard to imagine Adam “Armada” Lindgren being overlooked as a player. Falling short at Royal Flush to Joseph “Mango” Marquez was a heart breaker and ends a historic run of dominance from a singular player. But in this community, sometimes the narrative is more appealing than reality.

Armada vs DruggedFox . Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

Let’s take a look at just how good Armada has been in the last six months.

Yes, six months of dominance, from the end of October 2016 to early May 2017, Armada won everything. In that same time span, he only dropped two sets. One to Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma at Canada Cup 2016, and the other to Jason “mew2king” Zimmerman at UGC Smash Open, which both resulted in losses after the reset.

However, his last two outright losses were to Mango. In both instances, Armada lost to Mango’s Fox in reset game five situations. As always, those sets were absolute classics, with the crowd favorite Mango taking it home (The Big House 6 and Royal Flush). Armada responded exceptionally well after the game five loss at TBH6 and showed his untempered resolve.

Conversely, Armada gave Mango the hands at Genesis 4. Armada’s 6-1 game differential and a +10 in stock differential over Mango was staggering. Despite it being a massacre, the pure dominance is sometimes overlooked because entertainment value was compromised. It was the quickest Grand Finals yet, and killed the carry-over momentum Mango had from playing in losers. It almost looked too easy for Armada.

Subsequently, Armada ended up winning nine straight tournaments from October to April. Two Smash Summit victories, UGC Smash Open, Dreamhack Winter, and most importantly, Genesis 4. No one could touch him in the singles bracket. He had four Grand Finals victories over Hungrybox in that span, who has been arguably just as consistent.

That’s not even mentioning Armada’s results in doubles. It’s hard to argue against the Swedish “brudders” being the best team in Melee right now. The reset win over William “Leffen” Hjelte and Mustafa “Ice” Ackaya at Royal Flush showed once again the unflinching demeanor of Armada and his brother Andreas “Android” Lindgren.

Looking back on Melee history, Armada’s most recent run coupled with his success in the last three years has never been matched in modern Melee. Sure, Ken “Ken” Hoang had long stretches without losses, but those were in the early days. Now Melee has high-level tournaments every weekend. Mango is the only one with similar runs of pure dominance.

On the whole, it’s good to see new names on top of the results page. But let’s take a second to fully appreciate the historical context of what Armada was able to accomplish. It will be hard to mimic that performance with how competitive Melee is today, but Armada can do it again. His Fox continues to improve while his Peach is as steady as ever. He has the formula and experience.

Even with his most recent loss at Royal Flush, I would not bet against Armada heading into the Summer of Smash (tournaments). It will be interesting to see if Armada can win his third title at another tournament. Mango and Armada still battling for the Threevo.

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Plup’s Luigi Pleases the Crowd at CEO: Dreamland; Mew2King Takes Home Top Prizes

The CEO: Dreamland win for Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman was impressive. He beat top seeded Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, overcoming a 2-4 2017 record against Hbox. The bounce back win was a great story, but it took a back seat to the rise of Luigi.

The last month for Justin “Plup” McGrath was not spent playing Melee. Plup, being a top-10 player, spent the last couple weeks traveling across South Korea and focusing on anything but Melee. In his first tournament back, the readiness and performance was in question. Then, late Saturday night, Plup sent out this tweet:

In light of this tweet, Plup took to the CEO ballroom floor and proceeded to turn heads with a character most people would say couldn’t win a major. Plup’s Luigi was assumed a gimmick when the day started, but no one was thinking that at the end of the day.

Furthermore, Plup took out Michael “Nintendude” Brancato and Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, proving early on his Luigi was for real. He made it into a winners semifinal at a major by going all Luigi. It’s a rare sight seeing Luigi anywhere near Top 8. Stephen “Abate” Abate was the first Luigi to make a deep run at The Big House 5 where he almost brought the venue down with his win over Johnny “S2J” Kim (the invisible celing set). The play of Ben “Luigikid” Tolan making deep runs at SSS, and Eduardo “Eddy Mexico” Lucatero Rincon help legitimize Luigi with strong wins in Southern California.

The best part is Plup has no recorded tournament sets with Luigi, so in his first try he finished fifth. He gave the eventual champion, M2K, a ride before the inevitable readjustments coming from M2K’s counter pick of Marth from Sheik.

SFAT Loses the Runback

SFAT and M2K. Photo courtesy of YouTube.com/vgbootcamp

It’s rarer than rare to see a performance similar to Zac “SFAT” Cordoni’s at CEO: Dreamland. The only other player with similar results that come to mind is William “Leffen” Hjelte who has beaten multiple gods before he was considered one himself. SFAT is slowly developing those next level mind games to be able to compete with the likes of M2K and Hungrybox.

Despite a 2-16 lifetime record against M2K for SFAT, he entered grand finals up 3-2 in sets against a player who’s absolutely had his number. All signs pointed to SFAT winning his first major with Gods in attendance. But, as history has shown us before, never count out any of the Gods to get the reset win in grand finals.

M2K, who lost in game 5 against SFAT in winners finals, made key adjustments and played better on Final Destination. Two of the best players statistically on Final Destination played four games on the flat stage. The count was 2-2, but M2K took back stage control and forced his will on SFAT’s Fox.

Unfortunately, SFAT ran into M2K who has historically had his number. The southern California Fox main is creeping into the title conversation. He’s real close to breaking the ceiling, but M2K wasn’t going to let that happen at CEO: Dreamland.

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CEO: Dreamland Smash 64, Melee, Brawl, and Wii U

Photo courtesy of twitter.com/CEOGaming

The growth of Community Effort Orlando (CEO) has flourished to the point where Alex Jebailey, the proprietor of CEO, has been able to create events for specific communities. CEO: Dreamland is the newest installment, and it’s one of the first events of its kind. A tournament dedicated solely to platform fighters.

Yes, Smash events have always been focused around Smash, and to a lesser extent, any other platform fighters. It’s not a new idea, but coming from one of the most well-known and well-respected members of the fighting game community adds a new sense of belonging. It’s a sign of good things to come for the Smash community when traditional fighting tournament organizers are throwing Smash centered events.

However, this is not CEO’s first attempt targeting the larger niche communities in fighting games. CEOtaku, a tournament for the Anime fighters, was a big success. Similar to Smash, Anime players feel as if their needs aren’t always heard. Jebailey and company are here to listen and create an environment built specifically for us, the fans of this game.

The event itself will feature six games: Smash Bros 64, Melee, Brawl, and Wii U. Also added are two recently developed games, Rivals of Aether and Brawlhalla. Dreamland will not only provide high level matches of Melee and Wii U, but also give Smash 64 another chance to be in the spotlight. Rivals of Aether is also starting to generate more competitive interest after recently being at Genesis 4. It even has Brawl as a featured event!

Here’s a quick preview of all the Smash tournaments at Dreamland.

Smash 64

The Smash 64 tournament has two players headed on a collision course towards each other in winners final. Alvin Clay Leon Haro, otherwise known as just Alvin, is quickly rising up the 64 rankings. He’s 4-0 against the best player in the world in his last four attempts, and has won his last two North American tournaments. He’s becoming the best Pikachu, unless Dan “SuPeRbOoMfAn” Hoyt (SBF) can stop him.

SBF had a strong 2016, but started the 2017 season on somewhat of a sour note with some uncharacteristic losses. In all likelihood, SBF will get his shot at Alvin this weekend, and the most patient Pikachu-ditto will commence once again. The only threat I see to potentially messing up this reunion is Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet and his Yoshi coming out of nowhere and beating one of the two. It’s happened before, but seems like he’ll be focused on Melee this weekend.

Melee

Photo courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/CEO/Dreamland

Smash Rivalries may have built confidence in the underdogs and presented doubt within the favorites’ psyche. CEO: Dreamland will be a tournament to build upon that momentum from last weekend. Wizzrobe is clearly the player to watch this weekend. His performance last week was no joke, and he’s a candidate to potentially make it back to Grand Finals.

30 ranked players will be in attendance at Dreamland, which means more upsets will be coming down the pipeline. It’ll be good to get back to an open bracket where anyone can make a name for themselves.

Favorite: Obviously Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma is a heavy favorite to take Dreamland. He’s coming off a win at Smash Rivalries and a win at Full Bloom 3. Outside of Wizzrobe, no one has given him a close set. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman also presents some problems, but after a weak performance at Rivalries (9th place), we’ll have to see if any doubt lingers over.

Players to watch: Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna has been on a rocket ship in the last month. He’s starting to win problem matchups and play consistently. Justin “Plup” McGrath is clearly one of the favorites, but his recent travels have taken away practice time. He might not be as sharp as usual this weekend.

Sleepers: Jay “Drunk Sloth” Danya has had success at locals recently and could be the surprise player this weekend. His fifth place finish at Frame Perfect Series 2 was an aberration and a performance he can build off of. It’s Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby’s first major appearance since Genesis, so people haven’t seen his play style in a while, which may become a factor.

Brawl

Brawl is back once again! It’s back with all the hard hitting players and should be a nice break between Melee and Wii U. The most successful Brawl competitor in history, M2K, will be competing alongside the second most successful Brawl player, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada.

Despite the history, Vishal “V115” Balaram might be the favorite as the most practiced Brawl player at a Dreamland. Also, the fact that most players will be focused on other tournaments will benefit V115. Look for his Zero Suit Samus to turn some heads.

Smash 4

http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/CEO/Dreamland

The Smash 4 scene is still reeling from Civil War. This will be the first real major since then, so eyes will be on the top players who got eliminated early at Civil War to bounce back. Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios, Nairo, and Jason “ANTi” Bates, who all had bad placings at Civil War, will look to make it back into top 8.

Favorites: ZeRo, as always, is the likely favorite to take the event. Despite one bad event, he’s still the same threat. He has wins over Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez in the last month too. Samuel “Dabuz” Robert Buzby will also look to build off his Civil War win.

Players to watch: Tyler “Marss” Martin always flies under the radar, and this tournament is no different. He has good records against a number of the top players attending. Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey is also due for a nice showing. The final name is the second place finisher at Civil War, Griffin “Fatality” Miller, who’s been having strong showings even in bad matchups.

Sleepers: Jamaal “Samsora” Morris Jr has been an underrated player in the south since release of Smash 4. With the new burgeoning conservative styles of Peach and Rosalina getting results, Samsora could be the next player in line to make a jump in placings.

 

 

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Smash Rivalries East vs West Crew Battle Preview

Smash Rivalries by Yahoo Esports, a return to a more crew focused Melee event that pins the two sides of the country against each other. It’s the most classic rivalry in fighting games: East coast vs. West coast. Players are representing more than just themselves and it creates a level of pressure unseen in a regular singles tournament.

The event itself will be held in California, and will consist of two teams of eight players, five hand selected commentators from both sides of the country, and a $15,000 prize pool. The tournament also has a singles and doubles tournament both with $5,000 in the pot ($5k for each event). 13 of the worlds top 20 players will be in attendance. It’s a star-studded affair.

However, it doesn’t seem like a coincidence after the success 2GG’s Civil War had with Smash 4. Crew battles generate rivalries and appeal to a different type of audience not always wanting to watch the singles tournament. If Smash Rivalries can avoid some of the Civil War pitfalls, like crew battle after singles concludes (salty players), the crew battle can be a highlight reel of clutch plays.

The teams are basically even. It’s definitely a pick em’ game with how tight these two rosters are. Historically, the West coast has been the best, mainly Southern California, aside from a few losses at events like Melee-FC. The Southern California crew (seven of eight players on West reside in California) has won the last two Big House crew events. Mango and the depth was the main reason behind the success.

Let’s take a look at the teams…

East
Juan” Hungrybox” DeBiedma, Florida (MIOM Rank: 2)
Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman, New Jersey (MIOM: 4)
James “Swedish Delight” Liu, New York (MIOM: 11)
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallet, Florida (MIOM: 12)
James “Duck” Ma, Michigan (MIOM: 15)
Ryan “TheMoon” Coker-Welch, New York (MIOM: 21)
Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez, Maryland (MIOM: 22)
Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, Georgia (MIOM: 23)

 

photo courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Strengths: Top of the roster. Having to deal with both Hungrybox and Mew2King is going to be a problem. Both are capable of taking 4+ stock and could quickly turn the game in the East’s favor. Add the ability to neutralize certain players. Outside of Mango, Hungrybox was 25-2 against the West players in 2016. M2K has strong numbers and even better matchups with a counter pick. It’s going to be tough to game plan around M2K’s versatility.

Weaknesses: Lack of depth. The East has underrated talent, but the bottom half still can’t match up with the West. If it comes down to depth, it’s tough to see a situation where the East prevails. Despite their head-to-head records, players like ChuDat, TheMoon, and DruggedFox can be a liability in the wrong situation. A lead will be extra important if they have to fall back on the bottom half of the roster. That said, all three of those mentioned are hovering around an even record against the West roster.

X-Factor: Duck. Samus can be a hassle and most Fox mains still don’t have a handle on the matchup. Duck proved this with a second place finish at Full Bloom 3. With a West team full of Fox and Falco mains, Duck could be the counter pick answer. His play, as of late, has been great and he’s starting to get more marquee wins on his resume.

Sleeper: ChuDat. Yes, Ice Climbers can be hard-countered with a Fox or PewPewU who has a strong record against Ice Climbers. But, we’ve seen Chu pull off the unbelievable upsets. He’s unquestionably the best Ice Climbers player, and his grab setups continue to improve. He had the potential to beat a player like Mango and get whooped by Lucky’s Fox.

West
Joseph “Mango” Marquez (MIOM Rank: 3)
Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, Northern California (MIOM: 7)
Westin “Westballz” Dennis, Souther California (MIOM: 8)
Jeff “Axe” Williamson, Arizona (MIOM: 9)
DeJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel, Northern California (MIOM: 11)
Kevin “PewPewU” Toy, Northern California (MIOM: 14)
Johnny “S2J” Kim, Southern California (MIOM: 16)
Joey “Lucky” Aldama, Norwalk (MIOM: 19)

S2J and Mango after TBH6 Crew Battle win. Photo Courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Strengths: Depth. The East lacks depth, while the West has eight top-20 players. The ability to throw out Axe, Westballz, and SFAT after Mango is a luxury. Almost every player has a positive record against the East squad excluding matches against Hungrybox and M2K. Outside the Gods, it’s clear the West has the personnel edge.

Weaknesses: Character Diversity. The Four Spacie mains will make it tough to counter pick against an East team with plenty of character options. There’s no floatie characters as all are fast fallers, which will give players like Wizzrobe and TheMoon the chance to take the advantage with a strong punish game.

X-Factor: Mango. Anytime Mango is involved in a crew battle it’s most likely going to come down to his overall performance. He has the highest stock ceiling with the best punish game with his Falco. His punish game is what makes him so dangerous in crew battles. Mango builds momentum quickly through his punish game. The only problem is the East had two Gods to throw at him; but if he gets a favorable matchup, watch out.

Sleeper: S2J. He has a favorable record against most of the East squad, and despite tougher matchups with his Captain Falcon, he can still generate plenty of momentum. He’s shown in the past that his nerves are meant for these types of events. At The Big House 6, S2J held off William “Leffen” Hjelte to win the crew battle regional tournament.

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Esports on a Cruise Ship: Gamer Gauntlet 2017

Themed cruises are a thing. You can find them for sports fans, music lovers, and now, gamers.

Cruise Details

A first of its kind, Gamer Gauntlet 2017 is a four-day gaming themed cruise, taking passengers from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas. The ship will set sail on October 20th and return on the 24th.

Pricing starts at $600 per person, but is restricted to people over the age of 21.

The trip is already sponsored by big brands such as Red Bull, HTC Esports, and Meta Threads. A variety of special activities are planned, including concerts, parties, tech exhibitions, and esports tournaments. A specific schedule is not yet available.

For more specific information, click here.

Gaming Personalities

A gaming cruise would be nothing without well-known gamers. Several gaming celebrities have already announced their attendance on the cruise, including voice actors Carlos Ferro and Richard Epcar, and esports personalities like former Quake superstar Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel and the five ‘Gods’ of Smash (Mango, Armada, Hungrybox, PPMD, and Mew2King).

Esports

Several tournaments are planned for the cruise. Games with possible tournaments include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Smash Melee, and Call of Duty.

Call of Duty’s Female Pro League is already hoping to have a huge presence during the cruise. Four teams will be participating in a special invitational that will be streamed at sea. Teams attending are Pnda Gaming, Riot Gaming EU, Riot Gaming NA, and Fury Gaming.  

Along with the teams are experienced casters Quintin “Paradox” Johnson and Jennifer “LemonKiwi” Pichette.  


Let us know your thoughts about the cruise! Would you go?

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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.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Blake!

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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