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.

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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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Armada Wins UGC Smash Open Slowing Mew2King’s Special Losers Bracket Run

photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ugc

photo courtesy of twitch.tv/ugc

The streak of major wins continues as Adam “Armada” Lindgren was able to win his third straight major tournament at the UGC Open Series. His win comes over Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman who had his own special run through losers bracket on Sunday in St, Louis, Mo.

Armada is coming off a win last week at Dreamhack, and is hitting his stride in the last month. The first set of grand finals loss to M2K was only the second set loss he’s had in a month. Fortunately, he had a pretty clean road to grand finals aside from his matches with M2K and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma in winners final, but still managed to advance.

Hungrybox took Armada to last game, last stock but Armada entered that stock on Dreamland with a lead and finished the job. Hungrybox managed to win the first two games on battlefield and final destination, but Armada played a strong zoning game and won the Dreamland counter picks. Armada moves to 4-1 against Hbox in the last three tournaments.

As for grand finals, Armada had to work extremely hard to overcome M2K’s smothering Marth. M2K won the first set 3-1, resetting the bracket. He was on fire for most of the afternoon after he got beat by Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby’s Falcon, sending him to the losers bracket. His tear included a game 5 win over Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Hungrybox. The entire losers run is filled with excellent talent, including the same man that sent him to losers: N0ne (3-0).

Mew 2 King after his 3-2 win over Hungrybox (photo cred. Twitch.tv/UGC)

Mew 2 King after his 3-2 win over Hungrybox (photo cred. Twitch.tv/UGC)

The run had M2K going 24-11, all against top players and three gods. Notably, he had an incredible day and he almost pulled it off. Unfortunately for him, he faced the one player who’s situated to deal with someone who’s playing at their best in Armada. After an extremely quick first set loss for Armada, he switched up his entire Peach strategy and won three of the next four games and the trophy.

Armada, as he always does, nearly swept every opponent he faced outside the top five in bracket. The one loss he took was to Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna, but won the set 3-1. Overall he was 16-7 and only had to switch off his main character in Peach to face Hungrybox. He epitomizes consistency and is without a doubt the hardest player in the world to take a stock from.

Armada ends the year with four major wins and some close second place finishes. It’s hard seeing a scenario where he’s not the worlds best player in 2016. UGC is a good place to end the year for Armada.

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Matches you Might have missed at The Big House 6

The Big House 6 came to a close this past Sunday with Joseph “Mango” Marquez taking home the trophy with a win over Adam “Armada” Lindgren. Most viewers saw the top eight, from Mango coming down from 0-2 to beat Armada, to Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya shocking everyone by beating down Zac “SFAT” Cordoni in a dominant 3-0 sweep. What most viewers didn’t see was the exciting matches before top eight ever even happened.

I’ll answer everyone’s questions, “how did Ice get into top 8 in winners side?””Who sent Hungrybox to losers bracket?””where was Leffen?” I’ll answer all these questions and more.

Silentwolf Upsets Mew2King 3-2
The match that turned the entire winners side of the bracket upside down. Otto “Silentwolf” Bisno pulled off the upset of the day, by sending Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman to losers in winners round 2 of top 24. The upset eventually led to Ice making it to top top 8 winner side after beating Silentwolf 3-2 in the next round.

Silentwolf’s play can’t be overlooked here, despite not finishing the day on as high of a note (ended up losing 3-1 to Kevin “PewPewU” Toy before top 8). Silentwolf is a smart, defensive-minded Fox, and we saw that on game one, Battlefield. He never approached and put M2K in bad situations. He ended the game with a two stock.

In classic M2K fashion, he switched off Sheik and went to Marth while counter-picking Final Destination. It was a quick three-stock, but the game one counter-pick advantage loomed large in this set. Silentwolf took M2K to Pokémon Stadium and kept putting him in the corner. The 2-1 score gave Silentwolf the increasingly important game five counter pick.

M2K had no trouble on Fountain of Dreams, taking a +6 stock advantage on his counter-picks into game 5. Luckily for Silentwolf, Dreamland was still available and with M2K not feeling as confident in his Sheik-play, stuck it out with Marth on a disadvantaged stage.

M2K had a self destruct on his first stock and played with a deficit the remainder of the match. Silentwolf looked content in slowly build his lead by staying away and lasering. He avoided platforms and any bad positions he could put himself in. His defensive play gave him the edge and Silentwolf went on to pull the huge upset, 3-2. 2-0 on his counter-picks is the key stat to look at in this instance.

Infinite Numbers Beats Westballz 2-1 before top 64
Jason “Infinite Numbers” Gauthier, an Ice Climbers main from New England, who’s also a rising star, was able to take out Weston “Westballz” Dennis in round two pools. The match being so early in pools means no video but from what I’ve been told, Numbers was having no trouble landing grabs.

Infinite Numbers won his first match on Fountain of Dreams, which gave him the counter-pick advantage (FoD good for both Ice Climber and Falco). He lost on Westballz’s Pokémon Stadium counter-pick, but had final destination in his back pocket to win the set 2-1.

From that point on, Infinite Numbers struggled and lost his next two games to Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez in the Ice Climbers mirror match and Justin “Syrox” Burroughs, the top ranked player from Colorado. Westballz went on to go 4-1 on Sunday, only losing to Mew2King in top 16 losers.

SFAT Sweeps Hungrybox
SFAT is starting to figure out and implement certain strategies that beat Jigglypuff. He’s now on a two game winning streak against Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma and that’s not good news for Hbox. SFAT looks like Leffen circa. 2014, where he started to slowly figure out Hungrybox and his Jigglypuff.

Game one was on Battlefield, and SFAT never left the stage. He never once gave into Hungrybox’s aerial shenanigans and efficiently got vertical kills by getting grabs and calling out whenever Hungrybox was coming down with a back-air by up-smashing and taking the trade. You can almost tell where Hungrybox is at mentally depending on if he’s successfully getting consistent Smash-DI on Fox’s up-throw into up-smash. He didn’t have that today.

Hungrybox went to Dreamland game two and made things harder for himself. The large stage allowed for SFAT to play more patient and laser more proficiently. In both games one and two, SFAT gets down a stock early, but by the time Hungrybox is on his last stock he’s a full-stock ahead. SFAT showed awareness and made adjustments after every stock he lost.

He even got Hungrybox to stand up AND sit down. Game three went back to Dreamland but it was more of the same from Hungrybox. He couldn’t find an opening on SFAT’s defensive Fox play, specifically with the run-away game.

Granted, Hbox didn’t look his normal self at TBH6, but still a huge win for SFAT regardless.

Shroomed Pulls it off Against Plup’s Fox 3-2
It was an up-and-down tournament for Justin “Plup” McGrath. He fell in round two pools to one of the TBH6 crew battle heroes in Zain “Zain” Naghmi. This set up a massive losers bracket run from Plup. He beat (in order): Professor Pro 2-0, S2J 2-0, and Wobbles 2-0, before losing in game five to Shroomed.

DeJuan “Shroomed” McDaniel, one of the best players in NorCal, survived against Plup’s new Fox. The usual Sheik ditto we see from these two (saw it at TBH5, Plup won 3-0) changed with the Fox switch. It was a struggle, but Shroomed was able to win the match sending Plup home in 25th.

Other notable results:
R2DLiu Upsets Axe –
Jeff “Axe” Williamson had never heard of R2DLiu before the Big House, but you can bet he’ll never forget him now. R2DLiu sent Axe to losers bracket in phase two pools by a count of 2-1. The Massachusetts native Fox main finished 33rd, his highest placing in his career. He also finished 65th at Shine.

Zhu Finishes off Axe – Julianne “Zhu” Zhu followed the lead set by R2DLiu and sent Axe home packing with a 2-1 victory. It was only the third time in Axe’s career he finished outside the top-25. It was the worst placing in his professional career, thanks to Zhu, who finished 33rd.

Swedish Delight Cleans Up against Shroomed – its been quite the year for James “Swedish Delight” Liu, who quietly has another solid ninth place finish at TBH6. He also managed to 3-0 Shroomed in a Sheik ditto. He ended up sending William “Leffen” Hjelte home 3-0 and narrowly lost to Hungrybox in game 5.

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