Takeaways and Discussion on Salem’s win over ZeRo at Midwest Mayhem 10

Midwest Mayhem 10 provided an emotional roller coaster for Smash 4 viewers on Saturday, November 25th. Most Valuable Gaming’s Saleem “Salem” Young went up against Team SoloMid’s Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios in the grand finals of Smash 4 singles. The two players have played against each other numerous times throughout Smash 4’s history. Perhaps their most well-known spar was at EVO 2017, where Salem won against ZeRo using Bayonetta’s infamous Witch Twist, making him the champion of EVO this year.

midwest mayhem

Saleem “Salem” Young won the final match of the set by initiating a Witch Twist combo with only twelve seconds left. Image: YouTube.

Barrios had placed first in the previous two Smash 4 singles at Midwest Mayhem. Barrios attempted to defend his throne and go for a “threepeat” at the event. He certainly put up a fight to accomplish this. Barrios and Young first played in Winners Finals, where Young won 3-1, putting Barrios in Losers Finals. This put Barrios up against Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, where Barrios won 3-2. This reunited Barrios and Young, where they fought in Grand Finals of the event. After a bracket reset and two wins for each player in the second bracket of grand finals, it all came down to the final match.

History ended up repeating itself. Although Barrios attained a comfortable lead throughout most of the match and a timeout would have lead to Barrios winning the event, Young ending up killing Barrios’ Diddy Kong with a Witch Twist, ending the match with only eleven seconds left. You can watch the entire Grand Finals of the event here.

After watching the tournament, it occurred to this author that this tournament initiates some talking points that the Smash community can have. With that in mind, let’s discuss some takeaways from the tournament.

Barrios got cheered for at grand finals of Midwest Mayhem

Whether you consider yourself a fan of Barrios or not, no one can deny the legacy he’s left on the Smash 4 community. He is widely considered to be the best Smash 4 player to this day. At the Grand Finals of Midwest Mayhem, Barrios actually was enthusiastically cheered for by the audience attending the event. This is a bigger deal than it may initially seem.

In 2015, Barrios was a player that very few people enjoyed watching in tournament. This was mainly due to Barrios winning nearly every event at the time, with him having a 53 tournament winning streak during the year. He was even recognized by Guinness World Records for having the longest winning streak in all of Super Smash Bros.. This inevitably made Barrios a difficult player to root for at the time. Many viewers rooted for other players to dethrone Barrios, and end his winning streak.

Over two years after Barrios’ stellar winning streak has ended, it is encouraging to see such a large event have a grand finals that involves Barrios that has audience members cheering for both players. This creates a more even-sided competitive environment, where the best player isn’t considered unbeatable.

The Shifting landscape of competitive Smash 4

midwest mayhem

Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios (left) and Saleem “Salem” Young (right) shake hands after an intense Grand Finals. Image: YouTube

This leads into how much the competitive landscape of Smash 4 has changed over the past three years. Since the Wii U version of Smash 4 recently turned three years old, Midwest Mayhem does a good job at capturing what the competitive landscape has become over those three years. Midwest Mayhem featured a wide variety of characters used across the over three hundred entrants in the tournament. Additionally, the Grand Finals of this tournament shows exactly how much room for improvement there still is in Smash 4 for even some of the best players in the world.

Throughout their sets, Barrios repeatedly used Diddy’s up-throw into up-air, often waiting for Young to perform an air dodge. Young didn’t adapt to this situation until the final match of Grand Finals, where he finally jumped after Barrios performing an up-throw. Young failing to adapt quickly led to fair amount of his KOs throughout Young and Barrios’ total of fourteen matches played against each other. On the other side of that coin, Barrios often used Diddy’s Monkey Flip as a means of compensating for Diddy’s poor air movement speed. Barrios’ over-reliance on this move eventually cost him the final match of Grand Finals, with Young punishing Barrios’ Monkey Flip with an After Burner Kick into a Witch Twist.

This is important, in that it shows that everyone in the Smash 4 community – even two highly ranked players – still has room to significantly improve their play style. This Grand Finals is a good example of how much Smash 4 can still develop moving forward, which is exciting both as a player and as a viewer.

Moving Forward with Tournaments

Though Midwest Mayhem has come and gone, many more Smash 4 tournaments are on their way over the next few weekends. The 2GG Championship is next weekend from December 1 – 3, with the Smash 4 Boot Camp Invitational being held a week later on December 7 – 10.

What were your reactions and takeaways from Midwest Mayhem this past weekend? And what are you looking forward to seeing from the upcoming majors over the next few weeks? As always, join the conversation and let us know!

 


 

Featured image courtesy of Unrivaled Tournaments via YouTube.

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The New Star in Smash? Salem somehow wins back-to-back majors

Winning Evo and Dreamhack in a weeks span is special. Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young did exactly that and sent the Smash world into a frenzy while he’s at it. Salem’s unrelenting ability to defy the situation and pull out a win at any deficit is what defined his unexpected run to two S-tier major wins.

In fact, it’s what characterizes his play the most and gives Salem the Hungrybox effect every time it’s a last stock scenario. In a tournament scene flooded with strong Bayonetta play, Salem has separated himself from the rest. It’s the preciseness of his neutral game and how he turns a win in neutral into huge damage and in many cases: death.

$14,000 is a nice chunk of change for two weeks of service. Winning once can be considered a fluke, but winning twice is proof that it’s more than that. Yes, Salem is riding a wave of momentum and plays a character that no ones collectively figured out, but that doesn’t take away from his immaculate play that should be commended.

Let’s take a look at Salem’s results over the past week because they are staggering. At Dreamhack Austin, he took out Jason “ANTi” Bates and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada twice in bracket. He also had wins over Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, and of course, the now famous set with Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios at Evo 2017 a week ago. He finished off his Dreamhack weekend by sneaking out two set wins over James “Void” Mekekau-Tyson.

In a word, it’s been epic what he’s been able to accomplish in the losers bracket. On the verge of elimination, he’s been consistently able to scrape out wins. It’s becoming his calling card and is what makes him such a dangerous opponent.

Salem

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/dreamhacksmash

The next star in smash 4?
As a result of these past two weekends, Salem has flipped the Smash world on its side. It’s extremely rare for a player outside the likes of ZeRo, Ally, or Nairo to take an event of this size and notoriety. It’s nearly blasphemy to think a player could do it twice in a row. The odds were heavily against Salem but that didn’t stop him.

However, Salem is no stranger to shocking the world and winning a super major. Apex 2013, and most likely the last notable Brawl major, was won by none other than Salem by surprising the world and beating the worlds best at the time in Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman. His demeanor and temperament seem to be most effective up on the big stage as he’s proven over the years.

Now, it’s been a long time since a player established himself as a threat to win every tournament he attends. But, the combination of Salem’s skill and the uprising of Bayonetta as a top tier character gives the look of a potentially new god in the Smash 4 scene. It’s clear he has the makings of the next super star in Smash 4.

The real test will be whether or not he can keep up these placings. It’s likely he’s not going to win every event from here on out so it’s important for Salem to stay consistent and place high at every event possible. Right now, no one seems to have a handle on how to approach his Bayonetta. For now, that works in his favor but he’ll need to keep adapting to stay on top.

Nevertheless, it’s good for Smash to get new blood at the top of the leaderboards. Consistent placings, like with Melee, create storylines, but the hectic nature of Smash 4 tournaments right now is great for the scene. Salem is the face of this new trend. ZeRo, Ally, and Leo “MKLeo” Corrazco all missed top 8. Is it a sign of the times changing of just a blip in a busy Smash schedule? All I know it’s going to take some serious thought to take down king Salem.

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featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/dreamhacksmash

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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