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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Armada Secures His Place in History Winning Genesis 4

Photo courtesy of twitch.tv/VGbootcamp

Adam “Armada” Lindgren cemented his spot in history, winning his third Genesis title. The win came over Joseph “Mango” Marquez, making it three wins in a row in a Genesis Grand Final for Armada. Armada’s run of dominance continues as he narrowly edges out Mango in the winner’s bracket and follows it up with one of his strongest finals performances ever.

Mango and Armada were destined from the start to meet again in Grand Finals. In four Genesis tournaments, no other players have made Grand Finals. It took Armada squeezing by Johnny “S2J” Kim in top 64 to even stay in winner’s bracket, and then avoiding losing 3-1 to Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman in winner’s finals. At the same time, Mango had one of the more difficult losers bracket runs to make this rematch possible.

After falling 3-1 to Armada, Mango went straight into a loser’s bracket match with William “Leffen” Hjelte, who fell into losers before top 8. In a rather sub-par top 8, Leffen vs. Mango stands out as a must-watch match. The intensity and stakes of this moment added the extra pressure, and made for a wild set. Mango took the 3-2 victory, but that’s after falling behind 2-1 in games, and even down in stocks on both games four and five. It was a set that will be remembered.

Genesis is known for its memorable moments. Mostly because of the rivalry between Mango and Armada that started at Genesis back in 2009. Four Genesis’s and still no other player has broken into the top-two. M2K had the best chance to break up the streak at G4, when he was up a stock on game four, up 2-1. But in the end, Mango and Armada found themselves facing off in Grand Finals.

The finals matchup that seemed as if destiny had intervened, felt lackluster in the end. Armada thoroughly dominated Mango, beating him in less than nine minutes, with a three-stock victory on game three. Armada went 6-1 overall against Mango, and a staggering 4-0 on Yoshi Island, which was Mango’s primary counter-pick.

Mango seemed to have used up all his mental fortitude just getting back to Grand Finals and wasn’t mentally prepared for the robot that is Armada’s punish heavy Peach. It was a showing of Armada’s consistency and mental strength, as even when he’s down 2-0 to S2J or losing to M2K, he never plays like he’s out of it. He always sticks to the game plan.

Here are the final results at Genesis 4:

1.Alliance Armada (Peach/Fox)

2. C9 Mango (Fox/Falco)

3. Echo Fox M2K (Marth/Sheik)

T5. Liquid Hungrybox (Jigglypuff)

T5. Panda Global Plup (Sheik)

T7. Tempo Storm Axe (Pikachu)

T7. G2 Westballz (Falco)

 

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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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Genesis 4 Smash Draft 2017 Preview

Photo via https://smash.gg/tournament/genesis-4/smashdraft

It’s finally Genesis week! The world’s most historic Smash tournament will take place once again in San Jose, California and host thousands of Smash players. On top of the standard single and double events, Genesis will be running the Smash Draft crew battle tournament: A single elimination, 5 vs. 5 melee crew battle tournament that will be happening on day one of Genesis 4.

The teams were drafted on the Scar and Toph Show. There are eight teams, captained by the names mentioned below, seeded based on rank, and draft position set by the lower seeded players deciding where to pick first. Kashan “Chillindude” Khan was the last seed so he got the first overall pick.

Therefore, the top seeded, Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, will face off against Chillindude’s crew in round one. Got it? Now, the results of the draft were all over the place. Some players picked solely based off rank and prestige, while others wanted more well-rounded teams (or to play with the homies).

Last year, Team Hbox took home the Smash Draft title over team SFAT, with one of the strongest crew battle teams ever assembled (two God’s). This year, the field is wide open. Crews are more balanced and there’s less potential gimmicks and shenanigans compared to last year. It should be a down-to-the-wire tournament

Here are the teams:

#1 Overall Seed: Team Hungrybox

Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma (Jigglupuff, MIOM Rank: 2)

James “Swedish” Liu (Sheik, MIOM: 11)

Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett (Captain Falcon, MIOM: 12)

Stephen “Abate” Abate (Luigi, MIOM: 40)

Colin “Colbol” Green (Fox, Marth, MIOM: 25)

Strengths: Team Hungrybox will be one of the strongest teams at this event. Not only do you have to take out two extremely dangerous players in Swedish and Wizzrobe, but then an additional four stocks off Hungrybox. It also helps that this team has five unique characters to throw out at any given time.

Weaknesses: Abate is somewhat of a wild card considering he hasn’t attended many major tournaments in the past year. Colbol has the potential to take out top players, but has been trending downwards recently with his Marth play.

X-Factor: Wizzrobe has shown in the past that he can take out a God or at least push their limits. If he shows up and gets the crowd behind him early on, look out for Wizzrobe to pull an upset. Following up his aggressive style with Hungrybox will pay dividends in the end.

#8 Overall Seed: Team Chillin

Khasar “Chillindude” Khan (Fox, MIOM: 36)

William “Leffen” Hjelte (Fox, MIOM: 5)

Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby (Captain Falcon, MIOM: 18)

David “KirbyKaze” MacDonald (Sheik, MIOM: 29)

Theodore “Bladewise” Seybold (Peach, MIOM: 39)

Strengths: The overall depth of this team isn’t great, but N0ne and Leffen are players capable of turning games around quickly. Leffen can stock tank and take out weaker players with plenty of stocks remaining. N0ne has the jaw-dropping ability to turn games in his favor with Falcon’s combo game.

Weaknesses: Overall, this team will struggle against deeper teams. They have no distinct counter-pick advantages outside of Bladewise. If N0ne and Leffen don’t play above their usual skill ceiling this team will fail.

X-Factor: KirbyKaze. KirbyKaze has been flirting with retirement throughout the better half of 2016. He’s still capable of beating top-players, just based off his skill level, but the question is if he’s in practice or not? If he is, that adds an entirely new component to this team’s game plan.

#2 Overall Seed: Team SFAT

Zac “SFAT” Cordoni (Fox, MIOM: 7)

Dejaun “Shroomed” McDaniels (Sheik, MIOM: 10)

Kevin “PewPewU” Toy (Marth, MIOM: 14)

Austin “Azusa” Demmon (Peach, MIOM: 57)

Justin “Syrox” Burroughs (Fox, MIOM: 67)

Strengths: The crowd. The Northern California “big three” in SFAT, Shroomed, and PPU will garner the most audience support, and in this environment, that’s huge. This team will surely have the most chemistry and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses better than any other team.

Weaknesses: Azusa is an up-and-coming Peach main, but he’s put into a big spot here. His goal is not to come overwhelmingly negative in terms of stock count. SFAT, as the captain, will have the option to counter-pick with his Peach, though.

X-Factor: Syrox. Syrox has been on fire in the last two months and is gaining confidence. The NorCal big three will do their thing, but the matches will be won on the back end with Syrox’s performance. The young Fox main could surprise some people.

#7 Overall Seed: Team Zhu

Julian “Zhu” Zhu (Falco, MIOM: 31)

Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman (Sheik/Marth, MIOM: 4)

Ryan “TheMoon” Coker-Welch (Marth, MIOM: 21)

McCain “MacD” Lavelle (Peach, MIOM: 26)

Santiago “Santi” Pinon (Falco/Sheik, MIOM: 43)

Strengths: Counter-picking M2K. Zhu decided to choose a spot where he could grab a Melee God (M2K) in exchange for team depth. Using M2K in specific situations will decide how far this team goes in bracket.

Weaknesses: Depth. Outside of M2K, every other player ranks outside the top-20. TheMoon is capable of pulling off upsets, but this team must face a team with three players in the top-15. It will be a struggle after M2K.

X-Factor: Zhu. Zhu will be the one making the coaching decisions, so using M2K and TheMoon at the right time will be key. Zhu can also make waves with his Falco, given the right stage.

#3 Overall Seed: Team Duck

James “Duck” Ma (Samus, MIOM: 15)

Weston “Westballz” Dennis (Falco, MIOM: 8)

Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya (Fox, MIOM: 13)

Kalindi “KJH” J. Henderson (Fox, MIOM: 34)

Abshihek “Prince Abu” Prabhu (Jigglypuff, MIOM: 42)

Strengths: Depth. Once again, Duck chose depth over grabbing a top-player. Luckily, he still landed Westballz and Ice, who have shown in the past they can carry teams in crews. Duck also provides a direct-counter for Fox-heavy team compositions.

Weaknesses: Lack of character diversity. Yes, Prince Abu and Duck have unique characters, but there are three spacey mains on this team. If opposing teams have player’s adapt in those matchups, it could be tough for this team to advance.

X-Factor: Duck. The timing of when to use Duck will decide games. If he’s put in the right situation, this team could surprise everyone. Certain players really struggle in the Samus matchup and that could be the difference.

#6 Overall Seed” Team Silent Wolf

Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno (Fox, MIOM: 20)

Joseph “Mango” Marquez (Falco/Fox, MIOM: 3)

Johnny “S2J” Kim (Captain Falcon, MIOM: 16)

Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna (Fox, MIOM: 23)

Hugo “HugS” Gonzales (Samus, MIOM: 38)

Strengths: Mango. I don’t think it’s even a question at this point who the best crews player of all time is. Mango never seems phased by the gravity of the moment and feeds off the crowd more than anybody. If he gets off to a good start, he’s almost impossible to slow down in crews.

Weaknesses: A team of fast-fallers. Outside of HugS on Samus, the rest of the team is susceptible to heavy combos on each character choice. It’s a team of explosive damage characters, but playing more skilled teams will force them to play more defensively.

X-Factor: S2J. Johnny was able to pull off one of the best performances in Smash history at the regional crew battles at TBH6. He was able to take seven stocks against Florida and he took out Leffen in one of the most heart wrenching sets in recent memory. Along with Mango, S2J can finish matches off with style.

#4 Overall Seeds: Team Nintendude

Michael “Nintendude” Brancato (Ice Climbers, MIOM: 17)

Justin “Plup” McGrath (Sheik/Samus, MIOM: 6)

Jeff “Axe” Williamson (Pikachu, MIOM: 9)

Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas (Fox, MIOM: 24)

Mike Haze (Fox, MIOM: 28)

Strengths: Team speed. The character diversity will be important for this team, but overall this team might have the best team speed outside of Team Duck. Expect technical, fast games with players like Axe, Plup, and Professor Pro.

Weaknesses: Mike Haze. This team doesn’t have many weaknesses, so Mike Haze’s lack of experience in crews at this level could play a factor.

X-Factor: Plup. Plup plays two characters at an extremely high level, so if this team needs a Samus pick, he’s capable of making the switch and staying consistent.

#5 Overall Seed: Team ChuDat

Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez (Ice Climbers, MIOM: 22)

Adam “Armada” Lindgren (Peach/Fox, MIOM: 1)

Joey “Lucky” Aldama (Fox, MIOM: 19)

Sam “Laudandus” Rohrer (Sheik, MIOM: 33)

Diaki “Rudolph” Ideoka (Marth, MIOM: 52)

Strengths: Armada. He’s the best player in the world and never loses to players below his skill level. He’s almost guaranteed to go positive in each match.

Weaknesses: Inexperience. Laudandus and Rudolph didn’t participate in last year’s Smash draft, so this is an entirely new experience for them. An event like this might overwhelm the newcomers.

X-Factor: ChuDat. Armada will go positive, so this team needs one other player to carry the team, enter ChuDat. His Ice Climbers can and will be a direct counter-pick, but more importantly using Chu’s unorthodox, sometimes annoying style to get to opposing teams.

Go here to make your bracket predictions here. My predictions are here, check back for more coverage on the Smash Draft.

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

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

Hungrybox Struggled with his Finger Injury

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

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

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

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

Mew2King Wins Smash Conference for Melee

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

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

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

Salem Takes Smash Conference for Smash 4

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

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

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

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

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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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Cloud 9 Signs Tafokints to Coach; Liquid Crunch on the Importance of Coaching In Smash

Smash is trending towards the influx of personal coaches for top players. The recent signing of Daniel “Tafokints” Lee to Cloud 9 to coach one of the most experienced players in Melee, Joseph “Mango” Marquez, was the second significant player to sign on a coach.

Photo Courtesy of Liquipedia Smash http://wiki.teamliquid.net/smash/Tafokints

I talked to the first player to ever sign with a team as a Melee coach, not as a player. Luis “Crunch” Rosias was signed by Team Liquid back in July, 2016, to be a coach to one of the world’s best players in Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma. Crunch spoke to the effectiveness of Melee coaches and the impact it could have on a player’s success.

“Yeah, I think coaching is really effective. Juan never dreamed of winning Evo a few years ago when I started coaching him,” said Crunch, “It’s good to have a second set of eyes and to help boot camp before events.”

The results since Crunch signed on as a coach are undeniable. Hungrybox is having his best year as a professional, and it’s safe to say Crunch has had a serious impact on maintaining his level of play. Crunch’s main focus is analysis prior to events.

“Juan’s not great at analysis,” said Crunch, “I try to focus specifically on analysis. He needs someone to look over everything in more detail. It’s different for every player.”

Crunch talked about working through a players weaknesses inside and outside of tournaments. He pointed out Hungrybox’s match and player analysis needed some work, but that he excelled in other areas and didn’t have to work as hard on the mental approach. Each player has different needs that a coach has to work through.

“Mango talked about having someone to help him get to sleep on time,” Crunch continued, “M2k (Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman) needs a player he’ll listen to. He can play for hours with random players but could be getting better practice.”

Crunch went deeper into his approach to coaching in Melee. He spoke about the three main aspects he tries to focus on: “It comes down to three different types of roles as a coach. Sports psychology, as in keeping him warm and prepared mentally during a tournament. The second is analysis, and the third is having a practice partner near the same level who can help practice any situation,” said Crunch.

Coaches are the future of Smash. It might seem farfetched from an outsider’s perspective, but having a reliable person to help with all the aspects of being a professional Smash player can’t go understated. The Crunch and Tafokints’ signings are just the start.

“CLG was looking” said Crunch, “there’s definitely interest from some of the other larger teams.”

As a result, more Smash players will get signed on as coaches, as this niche role will soon turn into a necessity. Teams clearly see the value in coaching. This might make them more inclined to bring in coaches, to help keep players motivated and work through the struggles of being a professional Smash player. With two of the larger organizations in esports already signing Smash coaches, expect more top players to seek out a personal coach.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

The Top Five Melee Sets of 2016

 

5. Ice vs Silent Wolf: The Big House 6
One of the most overlooked sets of the year, Ice vs Silent Wolf in an incredible Fox mirror. Otto “Silent Wolf” Bisno just got through his most promising win, possibly of his career, taking out M2K. He then faced Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya, a Fox main who was on fire that month. It was a collision course of extremely technical game play with a chance at top-8 at a super major.

The set went five games. Every game was last hit, last stock. It was a huge opportunity for two players looking to break through their ceilings. Ice got the win, but in a back-and-forth set both players got validation. It also provided the audience with one of the best played Fox mirrors in 2016.
4. Mango vs Plup: Smash Summit 2


Joseph “Mango” Marquez and Justin “Plup” McGrath have had plenty of epic sets in the past, but this one might take it as the best. Plup has a history of giving Mango trouble, and starting the set off with a three stock seemed to spell the same story once again.

Mango, in the most dire of circumstances, proved once again he can make magic happen. After falling behind on game five, Mango landed one of the clutchest zero-to-death combos in Melee history to take the set. One second, the hope for the nation was dwindling, and the other second he’s taking the set with a soft neutral-air to up-smash kill. Even the top Melee players at the event couldn’t believe what they witnessed.
3. N0ne vs M2K: Get On My Level 2016
Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman hadn’t lost to a Captain Falcon in tournament in an extremely long time. It just didn’t happen. That’s until M2K took his talents to Canada and fought one of the up and coming Falcon mains in Melee: Edgar “N0ne” Sheleby

With the Canadian crowd behind him, N0ne’s crouch cancelling play style gave the most proficient player in the matchup trouble. It was the biggest upset of the year and legitimized N0ne as a serious tournament threat. It was arguably the most hyped a crowd has gotten all year long.

2. Mango vs Armada: Genesis 3
The most anticipated matchup of the last century happened at Genesis 3. The third installment of the Adam “Armada” Lindgren vs Mango Genesis rivalry was nothing short of spectacular. It almost felt like…destiny.

Mango had to make one of his patented losers bracket runs to even get a shot at Armada. Despite all the odds, Mango fed off the raucous Northern California crowd and set up the rematch. It came down to a second set, after Mango was able to reset the bracket. To the dismay of the NorCal crowd, Armada’s switch to Peach was the difference.

Mango reignited the passion of Melee fans around the world. Armada was able to do what he’s done since Genesis 1, and that was to adjust and win. It was enthralling from start-to-finish and started the year off with a classic final.


1. Armada vs Hungrybox: Evolution 2016
Hungrybox’s miraculous comeback over Armada at Evolution 2016 will be remembered in the fighting game community forever. In the sold-out Mandalay Bay arena, the stakes had never been higher. Two of the game’s greatest players on the biggest stage of their careers, playing for the most prestigious title in Melee.

The storylines were fantastic heading into the set, but the match itself surpassed all the hype behind it. Hungrybox was able to overcome all the odds to make three almost insurmountable comebacks to take it in an epic 10-game set. His almost inhuman-like ability to stay calm in the midst of overwhelming pressure defined what made Hungrybox great in 2016. He showed that in abundance by winning his first Evo title over Armada.

It could be considered one of the single best Melee sets of all time. In the moment, the entire audience was living-and-dying on every hit, every Jigglypuff rest. It didn’t seem possible until it happened.

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The Complete Super Smash Bros Melee Free Agent List

Here’s the complete list of free agents for Super Smash Bros Melee. The ranking is completely subjective (feel free to disagree with me), but every player on this list is available for teams to sign.

Top free agents
1. DruggedFox
2. Shroomed
3. Wizzrobe
4. DizzKidBoogie
5. Mafia
6. SmashG0d
7. Abate
8. Bladewise
9. Rudolph
10. Ghatzu
11. Cactuar
12. Santi
13. KJH
14. Frootloop
15. Prince Abu
16. DJ Nintendo
17. Laudandus
18. Alex 19
19. Slox
20. Hax
21. Kira
22. Amsah
23. Kalamazhu
24. Kels
25. Darkatma
26. Tai
27. Zanguzen
28. Dart!
29. Fly Amanita
30. Reno
31. Zgetto
32. Llod
33. Zoso
34. Redd
35. Matt

S-tier
DruggedFox

Sami “DruggedFox” Muhanna is obviously a top candidate to land the next big sponsorship deal. He’s fresh off his first major win of 2016 and has shown steady improvement throughout the better half of the year. Anyone who knows Sami will tell you just how hard working he is as a player. He’s also known as one of the most knowledgeable players in all of Smash.

The one aspect he needs to work on is his marketability. He’s not known for anything outside of tournaments. If he could add marketable skill to his already impressive playing ability, he’d be a home run for any team looking to sign him.

Shroomed

https://m.twitch.tv/shroomed

https://m.twitch.tv/shroomed

 

Dejuan “Shroomed” McDaniels is a well established player. He’s been around for a long time and has been a consistent performer through all those years. Shroomed has been apart of the big three in Northern California (PPU, SFAT, and Shroomed), and that’s built notoriety for him over the years. He’s arguably the third best Sheik behind Justin “Plup” McGrath and Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman.

He recently moved on from his former team, Winterfox, so he instantly became a top commodity for teams seeking out Melee players. He’s second on this list, but could easily be considered the top free agent with his resume. You know what you’re getting with Shroomed.

Wizzrobe
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett is probably the most talented player on this list. A multi-game star and quickly rising up the Melee ranks. He not only took a giant step in 2016, but showed off that enormous potential moving forward. The most appealing aspect might be that he’s only 18 years old and hasn’t reached his prime yet. He won’t be a free agent for long.

Dizzkidboogie
Kyle “DizzKidBoogie” Athayde has gone from a solid top-80 player to a must-sign. His recent stretch, making back-to-back top 8’s (Eden and DPotG), shows he has the ability to go deep in bracket consistently. His overall game has improved, although he still gets the majority of his kills from wobbling. He has expanded his repertoire on the offensive side.

He does get somewhat overshadowed by the aforementioned “big three” in NorCal, but he’s earned a serious look from a team. He’s not extremely well known, but is starting to make more of an impression on the scene as a whole.

A-tier free agents
Mafia and SmashG0d

James “Mafia” Lauerman and Rishi “SmashG0d” Malhotra might be two of the most improved players in all of 2016. Both will make probably the biggest jump of any players on the Melee it on Me Rankings considering SmashG0d was unranked i. 2015), and have put themselves in a position to earn a sponsorship.

In terms of potential, these two have shown that they can compete with the best players in Smash. Mafia made waves at Smash Summit 3 (shout out to New England for voting him in), and SmashG0d almost pulled the ultimate upset at a Evo over Adam “Armada” Lindgren (lost on last stock, last game with a lead). More notoriety and these two are surely to pick up deals.

Rudolph

Photo courtesy of http://www.ssbwiki.com/File:Rudolph2.jpg

Photo courtesy of http://www.ssbwiki.com/File:Rudolph2.jpg

Daiki “Rudolph” Ideoka is the lone representative from Japan on this list, but he’s earned a look. He’s quickly risen to second in Japan and he’s now among the best Marth players in the world. Despite sub-par performances at American major tournaments; He showed growth and gained valuable experience.

Rudolph receiving an actual deal is unlikely considering the travel distance between events, but as Smash grows, a player with his skill ceiling will command some attention.

Alex19
Alex “Alex19” Ruvalcaba is the first name on here who should get a deal based solely on his social media presence. He’s generated a following and his relationship to Joseph “Mango” Marquez is invaluable. The content and audience make him appealing to buyers.

On top of that, he’s a good player. He’s not going to finish in the top-8, but he’s capable of pulling huge upsets. He gets better practice than just about anyone with relation to the Norwalk crew (Mango, Johnny “S2J” Kim, and Joey “Lucky” Alden’s).

The rest of the list
I don’t want to give the wrong impression here. A full-time Azis “Hax” Al-Yami would be the most sought after name on this list, but he’s still “retired” and dealing with hand injuries. Steve “Abate” Abate is another name that would be higher, but due to inactivity, his future is uncertain.

Inactivity is a big issue among free agents. There are plenty of extremely talented players that simply don’t show up to tournaments (Santi, Kels, Dart!, Fly Amanita). The free agent market isn’t flushed with talent as of right now, but there are plenty of players who could get offers.

Speaking of recent offers, here’s the list of players who just signed:

KirbyKaze with Melee it on Me

The Moon signed with Misfits
Hugs signed with Selfless Gaming
N0ne signed with Allegiance
Swedish Delight signed with Renegades

 

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