Japan Has Huge Weekend of Fighting Game Tournaments

When the sun set in America, the Japanese fighting game community came alive. In total, four majors took place over the course of the weekend covering nearly every smash title and plenty of other fighters. Japan Cup 2017 (SSB64), Crazy Hand 2017 (SSBM), Umubera Japan Major (SSB4), and KVO x TSB 2017.

Tournaments in Japan aren’t usually the focus. Aside from a few events a year, the west is almost always the center of the fighting game universe. It takes a perfect storm of tournaments, and that’s what Japan provided. The first major event was KVO x TSB 2017, which brought together all the best Guilty Gear Players from Japan.

KVO x TSB 2017
For one thing, anytime Ken-ichi “Ogawazato” Ogawa is entered into a tournament, the prestige of that event goes up significantly. I also turn into a screaming fan girl. However, his Zato-1 couldn’t get past Omito “Omito” Hashimoto, and lost to his elusive Johnny that we saw at Evo 2017.

Via twitch.tv/teamsp00ky

Besides Guilty Gear, the event featured seven more games and was a great showing for that scene. In most games, top players did make an appearance, including Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez taking Super Smash Bros 4. The other tournaments included Pokken, both Smash titles, King of Fighters XIV, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. But no Street Fighter V which raised some questions.

To get back to the point, it was nice to see the Guilty Gear scene throw a big event. The uniqueness of that game and validity of the players make it an entertaining watch…and as I said earlier, Ogawa is a fighting game God.

Umebura Japan Major 2017
The biggest event of the weekend had to be the Umebura Smash Major. All of Japan’s big hitters showed up to one of the largest Smash events of the year. It was a nice showing from the less known Japanese players, but MKLeo from Mexico ended up taking home the win.

Via twitch.tv/shigaming

Despite picking the most unfortunate tag in Smash, Kengo “KEN” Suzuki is a player people will start to remember. The best Sonic in Smash 4, who was recently placed first on Japan’s Power Rankings, made his point this weekend. Even with the loss in Grand Finals, his 3-0 win over MKLeo in winners finals was impressive.

However, MKLeo made a character switch after the first set. He switched from Cloud to his namesake in Meta Knight and won six of the next eight games. MKLeo made adjustments and used MK’s excellent vertical attacks (shuttle loops) to kill off the top.

Japan Cup 2017
For Smash 64 fans, this is one of the biggest events of the year. Japan’s Smash 64 scene is arguably stronger than America, and that makes for a good show. Familiar names like Wangera and Kysk got upstaged by the second best Kirby main in the game, Fukurou.

For example, Fukurou showed off his strong punish game even against one of the most elusive Pikachu players in Maha. It was a great victory considering Fukurou usually finishes second to Wario. He finally got his big win.

Crazy Hand 2017
The Crazy Hand series is one I try to cover as much as possible. It’s the most stacked Melee tournament consistently. It’s usually the same players winning, but there’s still plenty of hidden gems among the entrants.

Crazy Hand top 4. Via twitter.com/MasterHand_ssbm

Conversely, Japan’s rising Marth main, Daiki “Rudolph” Ideoka, has had great success recently at Japan regionals. His win was due in part to returning to Marth after a brief stint with Fox. He looked as comfortable as ever with Marth. Now we’re guaranteed to see Rudolph at Evo 2017.

Outside of Rudolph, the top results were all over the place. Similar to the rise of players like Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett in North America, Nao “Gucci” Iguchi’s Captain Falcon is leveling up. His play got him all the way to Grand Finals. Wins over Yu, Kounotori, and K.F. show the type of day he had.

Regardless of how good the singles event was, the main event had to be the East vs. West Japan crew battle. Even with a lesser talent pool, the East came through with Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto and Gucci taking a combined 18 stocks. Only K.F. on the West came close by taking eight stocks with Jigglypuff.

In conclusion, it was nice to see a marathon weekend of events overseas for a change. The tournament scene isn’t as developed, but the talent pool there is ridiculously good.

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SSB World, A New Smash 4 Database Focused on Helping Pros and Amateurs Improve

The landscape of Smash is growing rapidly with the frequency of weekend majors, and payouts starting to rise. The amount of data out there for Smash 4 alone is daunting. Smash has endless amounts of information tied to the game; but with Smashboard’s popularity falling, it’s gotten harder to find reliable sources of information regarding Smash 4.

Enter SSB World, a community driven site working towards creating a database filled with essentially anything Smash 4 players or fans can go to learn, watch, or just experience Smash. The main draw is the video database, which currently has 15,000 videos, and is growing every day. It doesn’t just include major tournaments, but extends all the way down to local events.

Furthermore, the site allows for players to search for character or player specific matches. It’s a great resource for players struggling in a specific match up or for those trying to get a handle on a character. Any member of the community can add a tournament video to the database, and that’s the beauty of SSB world.

Production Value

On top of that, SSB World will be able to provide necessary information to help analyze tournament and character results. As Smash grows, the more crucial this type of information will become. It’s not only interesting to look at, but will be essential to the industry as stream productions continue to grow and become more professional. A database dedicated to tracking players and characters will have great insight for streamers, commentators, and even players studying their opponents or characters.

Each players page not only provides their matches but also their record according to the database, among other important details. The site also works with the PGR, which is the stats team for Panda Global. It gives anyone looking at a player page a comprehensive look at that player’s tournament success up to that point, once again making it easier for broadcasters.

Say a player is looking for information on a player in his pool at a tournament, check SSB World. It’s the most optimal way for finding Smash 4 videos on the internet and provides much more insight than YouTube. The database covers character usage and how characters fair on certain stages. It’s a perfect medium for pro and amateur players.

Stats are the Future

Stats are the future of Smash, whether that’s in Melee or Smash 4. The readily accessible information on character or stage usage is the first big step. The base of information is all there, and as the scene continues to grow, more stats will become more accessible. In Melee, thanks to Fizzy’s mod, the game can track wins in neutral, edge guard percentage, and center stage control.

Stats as specific as this are the next step in the evolution of Smash. Imagine having that sort of data always available after sets. Not only will it be interesting, but it will actively help players improve. For example, a player who’s winning neutral 60% of the time, but is dropping most of his edge guards, will know exactly what he needs to work on. It will be a great resource, and databases like SSB World are helping the community by pushing us towards more data-driven play.

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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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Fatality Pushes Captain Falcon Forward with Second Place Finish at Civil War

Fatality After Beating Nairo. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/2ggaming

“Nobody can take this away from me. This is something where I can say YES I can do this, this character can do this. Now I have that thing and it just makes me feel more positive than ever about what I can do in this game.”

Civil War was a thrill ride from start-to-finish and no other player personified that more than Fly Society’s own Griffin “Fatality” Miller and his Captain Falcon. Wins over Rei “Komorikiri” Fuwukara and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, prompted his run all the way to Grand Finals. I asked him if this was his best performance ever:

“Oh, easy”, said Miller.

“I played the best I’ve ever played,” Fatality continued.

In “the most stacked Smash 4 tournament of all-time’, Fatality runs the gauntlet and finishes second. The 28th ranked player on the PGRv2 took out a litany of higher-ranked players. Even in less than ideal matchups, Fatality was getting the edge by adapting to his opponents tendencies.

“I had to go through a ton of tough matchups” said Miller, “but I did it anyway. Then again, I think Falcon’s also a better character than most of the niche characters. My matchups aren’t as bad. Even if I had 19 losing matchups every single one of them might be 45:55, which is doable. “

Furthermore, Fatality is a Falcon loyalist and has been a major part in growing the Captain Falcon meta-game. He’s the highest ranked Falcon-main and the only Falcon on PGRv2.

“I think that more Falcons are going to start coming out,” said Fatality.”I’ve been convinced for quite a while now that he’s at least a fairly viable character and I just needed something I could show the world and say ’Hey, I’m not just crazy. Look I can do this and if I can do this, so can you’'”

Additionally, he showed the world that any character is capable of making a deep run with smart game planning. Fatality went through plenty of preparation for his matches against Komorikiri and Nairo.”Well, up until today, I had always kind of struggled in the cloud matchup,” said Fatality

Komorikiri vs Fatality. Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/2ggaming

“I guess I just haven’t had enough practice to figure it out yet. But leading up to the Komorikiri match I was studying tons of Cloud footage and talking to a lot people about the matchup,” said Fatality,”and just trying to figure it out. It’s been one of the few top tier matchups that I just haven’t had a handle on yet. And after doing all that while studying my most recent set with him before that when I lost. I was basically, at least seemingly, able to figure out the matchup.

Consequently, Fatality got down early in both his sets against Komorikiri and Nairo. As he stated, he had a specific game plan to outlast his opponents adjustments and that was clearly displayed. The number of kill setups with his delayed up-airs gave everyone problems all weekend.

Fatality vs Nairo
Nairo, the third best player in the world, got a quick 2-0 lead over fatality. “I mean, I was feeling nervous but at the same time he and I were both dropping a some things here and there,” Fatality  stated.

“Two games were just the data I needed to figure out how he thinks,” said Fatality.

Moreover, he explained the philosophy behind his decision making process before-and-after sets: “I try not to think about the game in a general sense I’m more specific than that. I try to focus entirely on psychological analysis, profiling my opponents thoughts, and then in addition to that just crafting all the best strategies to counter whatever it is I happen to be seeing at the moment”

Character Diversity in Top 8
His win over Nairo was the marque victory in his run to Grand Finals. In top 8, he eliminated Noriyuki “Kirhara” Kirahara, Zack “Captain Zack” Lauth, and T before reaching Samuel “Dabuz” Robert Buzby, in Grand Finals. That’s a Donkey Kong, Bayonetta, and Link main on his road to facing a Rosalina.

Fatality wasn’t surprised to see the character diversity in top 8, “most of the stuff that shuts down mid-tier characters is stuff like Diddy Kong, especially Diddy Kong, Cloud, and to a smaller extent Bayo are the characters, that for the most part, invalidate lower tier characters and since the main representatives from those characters were less successful,” said Fatality

The Civil War losers bracket bloodbath led to a more diverse top 8. “It’s not too surprising that when you also have the best players of those smaller, more niche characters then when they don’t have to necessarily deal with those awful matchups,” said Fatality.

The Civil War Crew Battle

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/2ggaming

Fatality’s not bitter about not being selected for Team Ally, but he’s making sure that in the future they’ll have no choice but to pick him. He’s well on his way with his best career finish at a super major. Even with the raucous singles tournament, the crew battle was the main event.

I asked Fatality if this was the future of Smash event, “I don’t think there’s really a future in it because there aren’t enough, almost hard rivalries or enemies in the community yet,” said Miller. “It doesn’t feel that inspiring for most of the players involved. I know from speaking with people who typically are a part of these crew battles that while they’re fun for the crowd the players usually care very little.”

He continued on talking about the general tournament, “It was absolutely incredible. Just as a tournament itself its probably the best tournament I’ve ever been to. The venue was amazing. The production was amazing. Playing outside was really cool.There was basically like a giant concert venue on stage,” said Fatality.

The next tournament you can find Fatality is at ComicCon in Mississippi and later in April he’ll be attending CEO Dreamland which is the next big major. Fatality has put himself on the map and will now be looked at as a more potent threat to win tournaments.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Japan Steals the Show at Frostbite 2017

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/unrivaledtournaments

The Japanese invasion is real. Even despite ZeRo (Gonzalo Barrios) scraping his way through losers to win Frostbite 2017, the Japanese tremors reverberated around the entire venue on Sunday afternoon.

It’s known how strong the Japan Smash 4 players are, but it wasn’t clear exactly how strong until this weekend. The surprising part was the players who ended up at the top of the results page. It wasn’t the usual names, like Abadango (Yuta Kawamura), Kameme (Takuto Ono), or Ranai (Ryuto Hayashi). It was the play of Lucario main Tsu and Olimar main Shuton that shocked everyone with improbable runs in their first international tournament.

Additionally, Japan had its moment in the regional crew battles. The talented Japanese squad pulled the biggest upset of the weekend, taking out the American squad. The theme continued from Saturday night to Sunday morning. Kameme started the day off sending MKLeo (Leonardo Lopez Perez) to losers bracket. Tsu followed it up by squeaking out a win against VoiD (James Makekau-Tyson), and took that momentum all the way to grand finals.

On top of that, Shuton was able to eliminate the world number two, and Tsu took the winners finals set over the greatest of all time, ZeRo. It was a proud day for Japanese Smash. It seemed to start the trend of upsets that followed throughout all of top 48.

The Losers Bracket Bloodbath

Both MKLeo and Ally, two of the heavy favorites, finished outside the top five. Tweek (Gavin Dempsey), who had been on a tear in the last couple months, ended his run in the first round of top 48. The early upsets on Saturday created one of the scariest losers brackets ever. Ranai played Ally (Elliot Bastien Carroza-Oyeca) in round one losers. That’s two of the worlds best players facing off in an elimination game right away.

In any case, top players were falling fast and early. It set up improbable losers runs, including Ally running through the gauntlet, and Shunto taking out four of his fellow countryman before slipping in the top 8. When Tweek and Ranai both are eliminated in round one losers, it shows just how tough Frostbite 2017 was.

Grand Finals

On a day filled with electric finishes, Grand Finals did not disappoint. Tsu showed early on that despite the stock count, he can use Lucario’s comeback mechanic to stay in any game. If his percentage raises past 130% he suddenly becomes impossible to hit. ZeRo was the only one capable of finding those kill moves in clutch situations.

Combined, the two played three sets. In all, the final set count was 7-6, with ZeRo’s Diddy Kong getting the win on last stock, last hit. It was the first time all day anyone was able to catch the elusive Lucario main.

As always, ZeRo’s adjustments came into play and ended the unsuspecting tournament run from Tsu. It was America’s first look at Tsu. Based off of today, it won’t be the last time we’ll be seeing the Lucario main.

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Dreamhack Committing to Super Smash Bros In 2017

Dreamhack has committed to the Super Smash Bros scene by running six Smash tournaments in 2017 with an $100k prize pool. The long standing LAN centered event is making Smash, especially Melee, a permanent part of their events moving forward.

Photo via https://twitter.com/DreamHack?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

The six events will offer different games. All six events will feature Melee, but half of the events will also have Smash 4. Four of the events will be on North American soil (Austin, Montreal, Atlanta, and Denver) and the final two will be at the marquee event’s in Sweden (Winter, Summer). Dreamhack has expanded its reach across North America and is bringing Smash with it.

On top of a guaranteed spot at Dreamhack events in 2017, the winners will get a piece of the $100k prize pool at each event. The prize pool per event will average out at around $10k per tournament, which is well above the usual tournament average. Doll that out over six events and Dreamhack becomes essential to any top Smash player.

 

Dreamhack Committing to Smash’s Future Success

It’s clear that Dreamhack is listening to the wants and needs of the Smash community. Armada (Adam Lindgren) has been outspoken about his desire to grow Smash through Dreamhack. The local Swede has been great at building a relationship between the two. That also goes for community leader, D1 (D’Ron Maingrette), who pushed to bring Smash 4 to Dreamhack events.

The inclusion of Smash 4 into future tournaments is great news. It will give the scene even more exposure and provide Smash 4 players with a chunk out of the prize pool. It’s a sign that Smash isn’t just a trend within Esports. It’s a community that’s here to stay and Dreamhack seems to recognize that.

In the end, it’s another legitimate tournament option for professional players and the average Smash competitor. In a world of frequent tournaments, Dreamhack will be a staple because of the cash payouts and overall quality of their events. Smash has been looking for a circuit to latch onto and Dreamhack might be the one.

Evo 2017 Lineup Announced, Community Funded Vote to Decide Ninth Game

 

The Evo lineup has been announced: Street Fighter V, Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Super Smash Bros Melee, Guilty Gear XrD Rev 2, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, Injustice 2, Tekken 7, King Of Fighters XIV, and lastly a community funded donation drive vote featuring nine games.

photo via twitch.tv/redbullesports

It was also announced that Evo will be moving away from the Las Vegas convention center and into Mandalay Bay where they held finals day in 2016. The move coincides with the fact that shuttles were necessary to bus people to and from the venue last year. The event will be held July 14-16th so mark your calendars.

The main focus now is the community funded donation drive. The same way Melee made an Evo appearance and started the renaissance, another community funded game will get that chance. This includes SkullGirls that barely missed out on an Evo spot in 2013. The Marvel community who was left out of the main lineup for the first time ever will also have a shot to make it to Evo through donations.

(Photo via twitch.tv/redbullesports)

Here’s the kicker, the winner of the donation drive gets a spot in the arena during Sunday finals. So, it’s not only a chance to get a tournament at Evo, but now the game that gets voted in will get the extra exposure from the massive viewership on Sunday at Evo. On top of that, four new games will be making an appearance on the Sunday main stage: Smash 4, BlazBlue, Tekken 7, Injustice 2, and the players choice will make up finals day.

Unfortunately, the push to help growing communities by placing them on Sunday has relegated Super Smash Bros Melee back to Saturday night. The second most watched game in the last three years will be a two-day tournament and Top-8 will be ran outside of the arena. KOFXIV also missed the cut.

However, Mr. Wizard (Joey Cuellar) tweeted out that Melee finals will not be on Saturday morning, like how Smash 4’s top-8 in 2016 was early in the morning. The Evo staff listened to the complaints of the community and adjusted. The logistics of a two-day event for potentially 2,000 players is murky, but the Evo staff is well prepared and experience with a tournament of this length and size.

Evolution 2017 is expected to see some growth once again. People need to remember it’s a showcase of fighting games and their communities and not centered around just one game. If you’re a Marvel player and you’re mad that the game didn’t get in initially, show the Evo staff just how strong the Marvel communities is by coming together and winning the vote. Melee rose from the ashes in 2013 and now Smash is a staple in the Evo lineup.

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Genesis 4: Smash Doubles Bringing the Hype

Photo courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/commons/images/a/ab/G4logo.jpg

The doubles events have delivered at Genesis 4, with upsets, new faces in top 8, and extremely high-level play. After a lackluster day one, with the Smash Crews somewhat falling apart with top players exercising their right to skip the event, doubles made up for it.

The lead story of the day is the brilliant play from arguably the most underrated team in Melee doubles: William “Leffen” Hjelte and Mustafa “Ice” Ackakaya. They took out the second seeded Swedish duo of Adam “Armada” Lindgren and his brother, Andreas “Android” Lindgren. The set went to five games, and the Fox-duo of Leffen and Ice combined the excellent team spacing and synergy with their constant ability to survive the Swedish brother’s team combos.

Ice and Leffen advanced to winner’s finals and will face off against the top overall seed, and hometown favorite, in PewFat. Kevin “PewPewU” Toy and Zac “SFAT” Cordoni had little trouble disposing of every team in their path. They beat Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma in a quick 3-0.

Afterwards, the most successful Melee team in history (M2K and Hbox) ran into another up-and-coming doubles team, with Jeff “Axe” Williamson and Justin “Plup” McGrath. The Pikachu and Sheik composition allowed for supreme edge guarding and the back-and-forth hits from both Plup and Axe. The estranged team only lost on game 5 to Ice and Leffen, so this team is a serious threat to make a loser run and win this event.

Unfortunately for Plup and Axe, they face Andorid and Armada first thing tomorrow morning. In the only other matchup between these two, the Swedish team got the better result. In winners, the question is: can anyone take out the world’s most consistent Melee team in PewFat?

PewFat’s strength is dominating individual matchups while always being in range to help their teammate. Ice and Leffen excel in the same areas, so this could potentially be a bad matchup for the top seed. The key in losers will be to take stocks from Android early and often, as we saw in the loss to Ice and Leffen.

Smash 4 Doubles Bringing the Hype

Unexpectedly, Smash 4 doubles has stolen the show at Genesis 4 day two. The meta-game is clearly still developing and the use of Cloud has almost become necessary in team compositions. Obviously, Cloud has the strongest follow-up finishes with his limit break, and teams are finding interesting ways to use him optimally.

The champions, Elliot “Ally” Carroza and Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Peres, had MKLeo on Cloud, ready for any of Ally’s Mario back throws. The win came over the Japanese team, Rei “komorikiri” Furukawa and Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi, who managed to reverse sweep the top seeded team at Genesis 4 in Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrio and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada.

MKLeo and Ally took out the Japanese pair twice, once in winners round 2 and again in grand finals. It was a huge statement for both teams. Considering every player in grand finals was from outside the United States, it was also a huge day for international Smash fans.

 

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

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

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

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

Smash 64 Singles

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

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

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

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

Smash Melee Doubles

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

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

Winner Prediction: PewFat

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

Smash Melee Singles

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

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

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

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

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

Winner Prediction: Armada

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

Smash 4 Doubles

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

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

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

Winner Prediction: Nairo and ZeRo

Smash 4 Singles

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

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

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

Winner Prediction: MKLeo

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

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

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Echo Fox’s Mega Deal Will Start New Era of Fighting Game Player Acquisitions

Photo via https://twitter.com/echofoxgg

A super team in the fighting game community has been formed and signed by former NBA champion Rick Fox’s Esports team Echo Fox. Echo Fox acquired Justin Wong, Yusuke Momochi, Yuko “Chocoblanka” Momochi, Hajime “Tokido” Taniguchi, Leonardo “MK Leo” Lopez Perez, Dominque “SonicFox” McLean, and Brad “Scar” Vaughn, bringing their total fighting game division up to nine players. What does this mean for the rest of the fighting game community?

Echo Fox already sponsors Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Julio Fuentas, two well-established players, and now add seven more players to their arsenal. Echo Fox meticulously selected these players, nearing the end of their contracts, to represent the Echo Fox name. They add three top-20 players in Street Fighter V, the best Mortal Kombat X player, and a rising Smash 4 star.

Additionally, Echo Fox was created as a League of Legends team, but the team funded by Rick Fox and managed by his son have now invested heavily in fighting games. Nine players under contract make Echo Fox the team with the largest fighting game department. It’s the single, most lucrative, contract negotiation a fighting game team has ever signed.

Fighting Game Community Will Benefit

Photo via https://twitter.com/echofoxgg/status/817145836916252673

The insurgence of wealthy investors into the fighting game scene is a welcomed sight. If a team can pay many top-players more than market-value, which in turn will help more players get paid, then the scene will grow. Echo Fox is the first team to ever make a bulk signing of this many quality players. Expect more deals like this from larger organizations in the future.

From here on, players’ value will only continue to rise as more money will be available in esports. The value in return for teams is great exposure on a burgeoning scene. The signing of players from three separate teams indicated Echo Fox believes in the fighting game community. It also shows this team is here to win.

Look at Kennth “Kbrad” Bradley, one of the few players still under contract at Evil Geniuses, who called out Justin Wong last week. The formation of this super team created rivals and players looking to topple the Echo Fox empire. It provides extra story lines and adds jealousy and anger to the equation.  Echo Fox poaching players from Evil Geniuses absolutely ignited a fire to the remaining EG players.

With NBA teams getting involved with Esports, teams with the capital will target players for similar bulk deals. This could be the start of a business trend. Other teams should sign more players just to compete with Echo Fox. It should start off a chain reaction.

Overall, these signings give Echo Fox the best chance to win tournaments; that’s the most important factor, all things considered. Contract details haven’t been made public as of yet.

 

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