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

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

Hungrybox Struggled with his Finger Injury

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

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

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

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

Mew2King Wins Smash Conference for Melee

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

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

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

Salem Takes Smash Conference for Smash 4

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

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

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

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

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The Local: Kounotori Speaks about MasterHand and the Japan Melee Scene

photo via twitch.tv/amsayoshi

The off-season of Smash is here with almost a month off tournaments before Genesis 4. In times like these, it’s good to appreciate what makes players and events make up the community. The focus today is on the MasterHand events in Osaka, Japan. The Japanese scene is still a small niche community, but the tournaments rival any local or regional scene in terms of talent, in the United States.

Photo of Kounotori via twitter.com/kounotori_ssbm

Yosuke “Kounotori” Kono is the number one ranked player in all of Japan as well as the head tournament organizer for one of the most prominent regional in Japan. The MasterHand events are bi-weekly tournaments that attract many of the top Smashers. It’s the breeding ground for names like Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto and Daiki “Rudolph” Ideoka, who have made an impression on American Smash fans.

For Kounotori, it’s a struggle as a tournament organizer to grow a scene that is focused primarily on Smash 4. “It is difficult to judge if the Japanese Melee scene is growing or not,” said Kounotori, “Japanese smash 4 scene is much more lively than Melee. And there are tournaments which are recognized by Nintendo officially. And recently sponsored players appear gladsomely like Nietono, Abadango, Komorikiri, Kameme and Ranai.”

The Effect of “Shachiku”

On top of Smash 4 being the main game in Japan, the general work culture often prevents players from improving their games. Several players must deal with life, as Konoutori puts it, as a “Shachiku,” which basically translates to an employer forcing long hours on its employee.

“Once a player becomes a Shachiku, they have no time to play Melee competitively any more. It makes competitive level go down and quench other players’ passion… its big loss,” said Kounotori. He noted that this is probably the main reason the Melee scene has stayed relatively small in Japan.

Japan’s Unique Play styles 

Despite lower average numbers than most American events, Japan has produced some incredible talent throughout the years. Ryota “Captain Jack” Yoshida is a legend in the Melee community, as well as aMSa who popularized the aggressive Yoshi style and found plenty of Yoshi tech. Names like Kounotori, Rudolph, and Flash (retired as best Sheik in Japan) have been on the brink of making deep runs at North American majors.

In the meantime, Kounotori talked about two of the better players in Japan who can’t travel. “K.F is Japan’s Best Jigglypuff. Unfortunately, he can’t attend overseas tournament because he can’t take consecutive holidays,” Kounotori continued on,”Tapioka, a Japanese top Fox/Falco. I think he’s never attend overseas tournament because of money problems mainly.”

Only a small portion of the Japanese scene can afford to pay to travel to American tournaments out-of-pocket. Some of the most talented players can only be seen at the MasterHand tournaments: Nanashi the top Samus main, S-Royal a strong Fox player, Shippu the top Japanese Peach,and Zoma who’s currently the best MewTwo player in the world.

The MasterHand tournaments are still the most consistent way for Japanese players to play the top-level competition in the country. BattleGateway, per Konoutori, is the highest attended event on average, as it’s held in Tokyo, Japan. “BattleGateway in Tokyo is about bimonthly or less but around 80 players attend,” said Konoutori. “Kansai (around Osaka) has as many strong players as around Tokyo. But total of players are less than Tokyo.”

MasterHand caps it at 64 players, but they do throw an annual tournament that has around 128 players called CrazyHand. It’s not the most wide-reaching tournament series, but it does attract good competition. Without Nintendo support, the entire effort falls on the shoulders of tournament organizers like Konoutori.

“The Japanese scene is much smaller than the US,” said Konoutori. “It’s not only about the number of competitors, but also ‘spontaneous contributors for community’. Of course, I really appreciate attendees (especially helping us set up).” It’s a team effort to provide Japan with a competitive tournament.

The tournament is streamed by aMSa every week, and even with smaller numbers it’s still one of the most entertaining regional because of the different styles. MasterHand will continue to develop players with unique outlooks on the game because they’re not influenced by American play styles.

As Kounotori said, “now the Japanese Melee tournament scene will manage on a small portion of players.”

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

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

Hungrybox Confirmed for DPOTG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero Takes the Top Spot Again in 2016

 

Photo via twitch.tv/ugc

Photo via twitch.tv/ugc

The Smash 4 tournament landscape in 2016 has provided viewers with a litany of different players winning at any given tournament. It’s been a change of pace from Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios dominating at every tournament in 2015 (51 straight tournament victories). But in 2016, no player has been able to separate himself from the pack.

So the question needs to be asked, who is the best Smash 4 player in the world right now?

Looking over tournament results, it’s easy to point to Zero and say he was the best player. He had wins at Genesis 3, The Big House 6, and UGC. But then I glanced over his summer stretch, and he definitely struggled. He nearly went two months without a tournament victory and even finished outside the top 8 at one event (CEO 2016).

Now Zero was able to recover at the end of 2016 as his Diddy Kong was able to match the changing meta-game. He’s won his last four events. But, that doesn’t change the fact that he had trouble winning tournaments for long, important stretches of 2016. Let’s take a look at other players who outperformed Zero at times this season.

The Most Talented Players Without the Result
The first player to look at after Zero is absolutely Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada. The New Jersey native has been closely behind Zero since the release of Smash 4. He somewhat regressed in 2016 after a fantastic 2015 season, but that was the playing field leveling out. Zero and Nairo were in a league of their own for an entire year.

In terms of skill, Nairo is without question one of the most talented players in the world. He proved that in Brawl and now his Zero Suit Samus is doing it in Smash 4. Unfortunately, that hasn’t necessarily translated to tournament wins. He’s close to making that jump to the top spot in 2017, but it will take more consistency

img_1351Leonardo “MK Leo” Lopez Perez has been a rising Smash star since he was able to almost effortlessly take out Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad two year ago at Smash Factor 3. The relatively unknown player put himself on the map with his highly advanced Meta Knight with a win over the second best smash 4 player at the time, only a week after placing second at Evo 2015.

Fast forward to this year, MK Leo is not only a well respected player, but he’s now a proven player with experience. He’s still limited by the fact it’s hard for him to travel in and out of Mexico, but he’s earned the respects of his peers. One can see what the top Rosalina main, Samuel “Dabuz” Robert Buzby thinks of Leo’s skill in the tweet to the left.

Leo doesn’t necessarily have the tournament results to be consider the best player in the world, but the 15-year old is a serious threat to strip Zero of that title when he’s able to travel more often. He’s been so good against some of the best players in the world, including Mr. R, who picked up Bayonetta just to combat his Marth.

The Japanese Argument
Japan has made a splash in Smash 4 this year. The most notable player being Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura has become a household name for Smash 4 fans. His play with MewTwo has completely shifted the meta-game. He even won his first American major at Pound 2016.

The problem, along with the two players I mentioned above, was he wasn’t consistent enough. He had bad finishes at Genesis 3 among other events, but usually stayed around the top-five. Another Japanese player that had a breakout performance this year was Takuto “Kamemushi” Ono, who finished second at Evo 2016.

Kamemushi along with Abadango and the the third most notable player from Japan (all three finished in the top 8 at Evo): Ryuto “Ranai” Hayashi, all play unique characters. No one else was able to bring out the potential from Megaman quite like Kamemushi. Ranai’s patient Villager play style also have top players fits.

The fact that these players are winning with underused characters is a testament to their skill. Unfortunately for them it’s hard to travel to American events so we don’t get a clear picture of their actual ranking, but all three have proven to have the potential to be considered among the best players.

The Best of the Rest
Now I don’t want to give the wrong impression here, it’s still Zero and then everyone else. These players here could be considered ahead of any of the players named above. That said, despite success in 2016 these players haven’t given me any reason to consider them close to the top.

Let’s start with Elliot “Ally” Bastien Carroza-Oyarce, who won the biggest event of this year in Evo 2016. He had a great year. Ally’s resurgence transformed him from being known as only the second best Brawl player to a legitimate tournament threat in Smash 4. He had some great performance in 2016, but he also had bad performance placing himself outside the top 25.

Photo via twitch.tv/evo2k

Photo via twitch.tv/evo2k

The last two players I wanted to talk about are both east coast players. Dabuz, the villain of Smash 4, is still considered the third best player in the game. He’s one of the most consistent players in the tournament scene and that’s important to note.

The last player that needs to be brought up in this discussion is Jason “ANTi” Bates. ANTi is a great player who doesn’t always preform to his level. But when he’s at his best, there’s not a lot of other players who can compete with him. His win at CEO 2016 was one of the most memorable moments of the year.

The Smash 4 tournament scene will look vastly different very soon with so many international and talented players available for more tournaments. Zero won’t always stay on top and 2017 could be the year he loses his crown.

Here’s my top 11
1. Zero
2. Dabuz
3. Nairo
4. Leo
5. Abadango
6. Kamemushi
7. Mr. R
8. Ally
9. Larry Lurr
10. ANTi
11. Ranai

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