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

img_1365

 

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

Mango Wins The Big House 6 Despite a Wild Sunday of Upsets

A day of wild upsets culminated into a top 8, where new talented players got a legitimate chance to win a Melee major. At the end of the day however, Joseph “Mango” Marquez was able to outlast everyone and win his second Big House title in the last three years.

Mango, as we’ve grown accustomed to, sends the crowd for a loop with his up-and-down play style. Mango ran through the winners bracket, but not without his fair share of hardships against his Swedish counterpart, Adam “Armada” Lindgren. Armada, in two separate sets, had Mango down to his last stock in game 5, but couldn’t manage to find the kill to take the set.

Mango also fell down 2-0 in his Winners Semifinals set against Armada and in the second set of Grand Finals, Mango found himself down 2-1. He managed to scrape by and win both of those sets despite the deficit. The overall set count was 7-7, which shows just how even these two were at The Big House 6.

Ice Freezes the Player Field
The big story was obviously Mango’s win, but Mustafa “Ice” Ackyara finishing third is also a major story. Ice joins Zac “SFAT” Cordoni, who he beat in this tournament 3-0, and Justin “Plup” McGrath, as the only players to finish inside the top-three at a premier tournament as a player ranked outside the top six.

Courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

Courtesy of twitch.tv/vgbootcamp

He’s also the first German born player to make it this far at a major event. His run through the gauntlet of Fox-mains earned him his highest placing of his career. Ice has been an up-and-coming player since his top 8 breakout performance at Evo 2013, and now he’s starting to figure it out.

“I’m finally getting to the point where I can deal with my nerves,” said Ice on the VGBootcamp post tournament interview.

It was quite the tournament for Ice, considering he finished above Justin “Mew2King” Zimmerman and Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, who both rarely finish outside the top-three. In fact, it was only the third finish outside the top-three for Hungrybox in the last year.

Armada Finishes Second Again
Armada has had a tough stretch since the start of the Summer, and adding another second place finish at TBH6 won’t ease the pain soon. Armada was once again stuck in a state of disappointment as he couldn’t leave his chair after barely falling to Mango in the Grand Finals. It felt and looked like Armada at Evo 2016, where he left everything he had on the stage, and came as close as you can to winning a title, while finishing second.

Courtesy of twitter.com/thephenominalEE

Courtesy of twitter.com/thephenominalEE

Unfortunately, Armada finished second in both singles and doubles, and it’s becoming a theme for the Swedish legend. On top of that, Mango has consistently beat Armada in 2016.

Mango wins his sixth set over Armada in 2016
Mango has had an up-and-down 2016, but he’s had no trouble with the world’s most consistent player in Armada. The set count now moves to 6-3 in favor of Mango, and considering Armada’s record against everyone else, Mango has been his biggest hurdle this year.

Whether he goes Peach or Fox, Mango has had little trouble dealing with Armada. Mango’s struggles in 2016 come off losing to players ranked well below him, but he has winning records against every top player outside of Hungrybox in 2016.

Mango gets his third premier tournament victory of 2016 and his second win in his last three tournaments. He is starting to put it all together at the end of the season. But getting another TBH win shows he’s still arguably the best player in the world.

Here are the full top 8 results:

1. C9 Mango (Fox)
2. Alliance Armada (Peach, Fox)
3. Ice (Fox)
4. Echo Fox/MVG Mew2King (Marth, Sheik)
5. Liquid Hungrybox (Jigglypuff)
5. CLG SFAT (Fox)
7. COG Wizzrobe (Falcon)
7. CLG PewPewU (Marth)

Super Smash Con Becoming The Event for Smash

Super_Smash_Con_logo

Super Smash Con has only been around for two years, but the impact the event has made on the Smash community is jarring. It not only caters to Smash fans in general, but gives space to all of the individual Smash game fans to enjoy their favorite title. The Dulles Expo center was host to 2,224 Smash fans from all over the world for one of the most Smash Bros. filled weekends you can ask for.

The main organizers being Justin Wykowski alongside one of the most respect tournament organizers in the community, Rob “Juggleguy” Harn, and Michael “Nintendude” Brancato, the world famous Ice Climbers main has created the perfect environment for pure Smash Bros. fans and players. The four-day event gave ample time for every request the Smash community asked for.

First off, making the event a four day affair allowed the tournament organizers to be more lenient on their decision making. Deeper in brackets, the tournament turned to all best of fives in every single Smash game. The reason they went with the top 24 instead of a top 32 is too save time. Mostly because the best of fives extends sets by a significant amount of time.

The fact that every game gets an equal opportunity, is a great thing for the community. The convention aspect as well as the Smash 64 combo contest gave Smash Con a very special feel. The tournament future of Smash is not always clear but, with the Super Smash Con team running this type of event it insures Smash will always be loved.

Now let’s talk about results…

Super Smash Bros 64 Champion: SuPeRbOoMfAn

Believe it or not, this might have been the biggest non-surprise of the weekend. Daniel “Superboomfan” Hoyt was the clear favorite heading into this event with no Wario and the Japanese Pikachu staying home. Superboomfan has only not finished first at one other event in 2016, in Genesis 3.

The event itself was a huge success for the Smash 64 community. A resurgence is happening and the roots of a comeback, similar to the rise of Melee back in 2013, are forming. Super Smash Con was the largest Smash 64 of all time and local numbers are rising. If they make the game more tournament friendly, we could see it popping up more often.

The competition was unreal. A large percentage of the top 20 players showed up and the big names like Joel “sai”Alvarado, Wangera from Japan, and Arturo “Mariguas” Nunez from Mexico. In the end, it came down to SBF and the surprising (but not really suprising) Wizzrobe in Grand Finals using Yoshi.

The Melee pro rolled through winners by beating all the worlds top Yoshi’s in a Yoshi mirror. He took out Prince, in a fairly dominant set with a three-stock and a two-stock. He also took out Kurabba from Japan. His only loss coming to SBF in winners and grand finals with his Kirby counter-pick.

Outside of the two main storylines, the event provided a litany of major upsets. Canada also poured it on with three players in the top eight (Z, Revan, and SBF). The most exciting part of the weekend for any of the games, was Wangera’s time-out on game five against D3xter. A last second hit for the survive and advance buzzer beater

Super Smash Bros. Melee Champion: Mango

Joseph “Mango” Marquez looked broken a week before Super Smash Con at Clutch City Clash. His set against Zac “SFAT” Cordoni was some of the sloppier play we’ve seen from Mango all year. He didn’t have any answers then, but as he proved this weekend it was just an off weekend for him.

Mango’s run gave him a chance to get back on some players that ruined past events. His road in top 24 started with Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett, who Mango absolutely dominated with his Fox play. His next match he got a shot at SFAT and promptly took the set 3-1, still using Falco, a character he struggled with last week.

Mango made it through winners bracket unscathed, but he now faced a player in Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma who’s had his number and the confidence all year round. The set count wasn’t close at all this time, Mango had every answer for every Hungrybox situation could be put in. It was a dominating Fox effort reminiscent of the past where Mango had a firm grasp on beating Hungrybox.

Mango’s now won his third major event in 2016, proving he’s still a major threat and could be considered the best in the world. He needs to show some consistency heading into events like The Big House 6 and Dreamhack. But it is good to see Mango back up on the trophy stand.

The rest of the event was filled with upsets and insane runs through losers bracket. Jeff “Axe” Williamson and Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman started Sunday off in the losers bracket. But, by the end of the day the two of them were fighting for third place. Axe went through (in order): Abate, MacD, Wizzrobe, PPU and Shroomed. We also got to see Misaya “aMSa” Chikomoto finish in the top 12 while taking out top ranked American players.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl Champion: Vinnie

The biggest surprise of the entire weekend was undoubtedly Vincent “Vinnie” Cannino taking home the Brawl title. Vinnie was known as a top Brawl player, but never to the point that he’d win a major tournament. His Ice Climbers and his grab heavy neutral game carried him all the way through.

He took out the famous Diddy Kong Brawl main ADHD and the most practiced Brawl player at the tournament V115, who he beat twice in winners and grand finals. Vinnie showed how strong the Ice Climbers are in Brawl, considering how strong the grab game is. V115 and his Zero Suit Samus took him to the edge in both sets (losing 2-3, 2-3) but Vinnie was able to clutch out stocks.

The other interesting aspect of this tournament being no prominent Meta Knight mains, beside Jason “Anti” Bates, made top 8. M2K didn’t make an appearance because he wanted to focus on Melee, but we still got a chance to see an out-of-practice Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada and Elliot “Ally” Bastien. Formerly, the second and third best Brawl players in the world, take each other out.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Champion: Nairo

The final game of the weekend and for good reason. Smash for Wii U at Super Smash Con reached 1,200+ players. Making it the third largest Smash 4 tournament in history. Nairo came out on top, after a rather long losing streak for the widely regarded second best player in Smash 4.

Nairo had to play out of his mind to win this event. His run through winners consisted of James “Void” Mekaku-Tyson, who has been on a tear recently, beating him in 5 game series. Mr. R followed and then in Grand Finals he took out his toughest matchup in Samuel “Dabuz” Busby . The Zero Suit Samus reigned again.

Smash 4 saw a lot of early upsets, so Sunday was a bloodbath in loser’s bracket. Ally took out Abadanago in losers quarters, making the Clutch City Clash champion finish tied for 7th. As all the recent Smash 4 events, this one also provided many upsets.

Esam, like he did at Evo, made it further in Melee than he did in Smash 4. Nakat missed top 24, as well as many notable players. After a year of absolute dominance from one player, it feels good to see that the landscape for Smash 4 has completely opened up and it’s truly anyone’s game to win.

Super Smash Con 2016: Bringing the Community Together

Super Smash Con is this upcoming weekend and will be holding tournaments for every single Smash game ever released by Nintendo. The tournament will be running singles and doubles for every game and will be filled with rank players across all games.  It’s a convention put on by the Smash community for the Smash community.

Smash 64

The original Smash game that started it all will be back at Super Smash Con 2016. The event is stacked with international talent and is expected to be the largest Smash 64 in the games long history. It will be the toughest test yet for a community that isn’t used to the large turnouts, with 314 players registered for the events.

Last year’s champion, Dan “Superboomfan” Hoyt, will be back to defend his title in both singles and doubles. The Canadian Smasher has been the best player in North America for the past five years, with Joel “Isai” Alvarado not consistently showing up to events.

Superboomfan’s been the best player, but he won’t have an easy road to another Super Smash Con title with players like Texas’s Eduardo “Tacos” Tovar and the best American player Joey “KeroKeroppi” Speziale, who finished third and second at last years’ event,  a solid performance for the event. Isai is always more than a threat to take his game to another level and take the event. He’s still widely considered as the best Smash 64 player in history.

The last time these players met in a tournament was at Snosa 2 in Pasedena, California where Superboomfan took out Tacos in Grand Finals. Isai finished third and Mexico’s best player Arturo “Mariguas” Hernadez finished fourth. Realistically, any of the top five players are capable of winning this event.

Courtesy of http://www.ssbwiki.com/Snosa_II

Courtesy of http://www.ssbwiki.com/Snosa_II

Expect to see the top players to be switching off their main characters constantly in certain matchups. The average characters played throughout a tournament is 2.43 and only players like Melee pro Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett and Abacus “LD” Zilch will rarely switch off their Yoshi and Fox picks. Aside from Genesis, which just recently made its return, Super Smash Con is the biggest event with the biggest payout for Smash 64.

It will be tough to take out Superboomfan who is so proficient with all his characters and in every matchup, but he’s not unbeatable. The crowd will get a good look at a game that didn’t have a chance at making a real competitive scene, but is still extremely technical and fun to watch.

(Look back here later for a full Melee preview)

Super Smash Bros Brawl

Super Smash Brothers Brawl is the game people feel is not on par with the rest of the franchise. Brawl players will tell you the exact opposite. The one game that doesn’t ever get the love and attention of the other three will be back at Super Smash Con and should provide some intense action.

The undisputed best Brawl player of all time will be in attendance. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman had a run in Brawl on par with the great Justin Wong runs in Marvel vs Capcom and the long run Zero had at the start of Smash 4. He won last year’s event using the controversial character Meta Knight over Eric “ESAM” Lew, who surprised everyone by taking out the second best player in Brawl’s lifespan Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada.

Smash COn

The tournament didn’t necessarily have the viewership or notoriety of the other events considering most of Brawl’s best players have moved on or retired from playing the game, but the game did provide hype. Watching Jestise “MVD” Negron play his zoning game with Snake, a uniquely interesting character in Brawl, or Kero play the spacing game with Olimar is something we don’t see in any other smash game.

Yes, a majority of the entrants will play the standard Meta Knight, but even Meta Knight’s style is unique to Brawl and extremely hard to take your eyes off of. Brawl will add a nice blend of old and new players and characters that all have the same goal in mind: take down M2K and his insanely good Meta Knight.

We didn’t quite get the Grand Finals we were hoping for last year with Nairo falling out of the tournament to Esam’s aggressive Pikachu, but it’s hard to see a scenario where that doesn’t happen this year. The event, like Smash 64, has an incredible prize pool. M2K walked away with $2,235 after winning Brawl at Super Smash Con 2015.

Super Smash Bros. For Wii U

Comparing this year’s event to last years is going to be difficult. The entire Smash 4 landscape has changed, Gonzales “Zero” Barrios is no longer the juggernaut he was a year ago and the field is wide open. Considering the Evo 2016 champion Elliot “Ally” Bastien finished outside the top 32 at CEO 2016 only to come back two weeks later and win Evo tells you that the Smash 4 landscape is very fluid at this moment.

Super Smash Con should be no different. It’s nearly impossible to pick a winner or which character will win at this point in the meta-game. Anyone can lose to anyone, as proven by the fact that the last four major tournaments which all have different winners with similar player pools. It’s a complete toss up at this point.

The favorite would probably have to be Ally, who lost at last week’s Clutch City Clash, but took home top honors at the biggest Smash tournament of all time (Evo 2016).  Other names like Japanese best player and winner at Clutch City Clash, Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura, will be competing. The CEO 2016 champion Jason “Anti” Bates will also be in attendance.

Super Smash Con will boast the third largest Smash 4 event in the games short history which says a lot considering the next two events ahead of it were the two most attended events in Smash history. The community will also get the respect it deserves by catering to a Smash contingent audience with best of fives in all of top 32.

Expect to see a wide variety of characters throughout top 32 and names that you’ve never seen before taking out top players. Smash 4 is volatile so at an event this big upsets will happen and amazing players will fall before top 8.

Watch the entire event at: http://twitch.tv/VGbootcamp (hyperlink)

Check back to The Game Haus for more Super Smash Con coverage. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ them on Twitter. We also have our own subreddit. Be sure to check out TGH’s newly revamped forums if you want to discuss with Blake or any of the other writers!

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