The Big House series held their first ever crew battle tournament last year and it was a huge success. A year later, the crew tournament is back and stacked with talented regions all gunning for the top spot. For a side event, it sure has attracted tons of attention from the Smash community, and should be one of the highlights of a busy weekend of Smash.
Jospeh “Mango” Marquez, who is considered to be the best crews player in history, was able to clutch it out against Europe at TBH5 and win it for SoCal. Mango is back, but other regions got stronger over the past year. Europe is a threat again this year on US soil. It hasn’t been made clear whether William “Leffen” Hjelte will play yet, but regardless EU can go deep without him.
The biggest threat to SoCal’s repeat title hopes has to be the newly formed Florida team with two Melee God’s. Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman will be on the Florida team along side Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma. Not only do you have to take out eight God stocks, but the Florida crew doesn’t have a plethora of characters to choose from when counter picking.
Let’s get into every team’s strengths and weaknesses…
David “KirbyKaze” MacDonald
Ryan “RyanFord” Ford
Edgard “n0ne” Sheleby
Vikram “Nightmare” Bass
William “Trulliam” Truong
Strengths: It has to be the Canadians overall experience. Kage, KirbyKaze, and Ryan Ford have been around for a long time and their match up experience is helpful in this situation.
Weaknesses: Overall depth. Yes, Kirby Kaze and N0ne are both top-25 caliber players, but relying on Ryan Ford and Nightmare on the back end might give them trouble against tougher teams.
X–Factor: N0ne without question. He’s got the highest ceiling of any other player and he can turn around games in a hurry. He’s capable of taking out top tier players, so he could decide matches for Canada.
Overall: Look for Canada to be the best of the lower ranked teams. I don’t see Kage having a repeat performance like last year, where he took seven stocks off NorCal. Canada can throw different looks at you, but the overall skill level is not as high as other teams.
Adam “Armada” Lindgren
William “Leffen” Hjelte
Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas
Mustafa “Ice” Akcakaya
Andreas “Android” Lindgren
Robby “Vanity Angel” Gee
Strengths: Europe has four of the strongest Fox players on the planet; couple that with Armada’s Peach counter-pick and they can set up some advantageous situations.
Weakness: The same reason Europe is a strong team also makes them vulnerable. A team more prone to dealing with execution-heavy Fox players will excel against the European squad.
X–Factor: it all comes down to Leffen. If he plays serious, this team can beat anyone. If he goes Marth, this team can get beaten by anyone. Taking eight stocks against Leffen and Armada is a daunting task.
Overall: Europe is a dangerous team. They finished second last year without Leffen for a good reason. Armada can single-handily win games, so having a counter specifically for Europe’s top two is necessary.
Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma
Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman
Justin “Plup McGrath
Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett
Colin “Colbol” Green
Jay “Drunk Sloth” Dahya
Strengths: Florida has three top-seven players and a boatload of character matchups they can throw at you. M2K and Hungrybox are also great stock grinders, so imagine taking eight stocks from those two.
Weaknesses: This Florida squad has very few weaknesses, but Wizzrobe’s lack of experience might play a factor. Colbol’s tendency to SD in key situations might also play a role here.
X–Factor: Mew2King. Florida has the luxury of having winning matchups to counter-pick, especially with M2K who has Final Destination and a Sheik counter-pick in hand. M2K gives them plenty of options to deal with specifically built teams.
Overall: Florida is the heavy favorite to win this event. The incredible talent level from all five players is tough to handle for anyone, but taking 12-stocks from Plup, Hungrybox, and M2K is another story. I could realistically only see them losing to a deeper squad like SoCal.
Kashan “Chillindude” Khan
Daniel “ChuDat” Rodriguez
Zain “Zain” Naghmi
Wenbo “Wenbobular” Dou
Maxwell “Sypher” Weand
Mike “peanutphobia” O’Mailey
Strengths: Switching up the pace is key for Maryland; obviously this team isn’t anywhere near as stacked as the other teams, but they have different play styles. Throwing a Fox like Chillin followed up by the ground game of Chu’s Ice Climbers or possibly Zain’s slow laser approach with Falco could make an impact.
Weaknesses: The back end of their roster. Sypher and Wenbo are fantastic players in their region, but it’s hard seeing a scenario where they can compete with the worlds best players. The overall depth is not great.
X–Factor: Zain. We know what we’re getting from Chillin and Chu. We don’t quite know what we’ll get from Zain. He has the capability of beating a top player and losing to a player below his rank.
Overall: it’s going to take some serious luck to see this crew advance far in this tournament. Chu, Chillin, and Zain are capable of causing upsets, but doing that over five players total is tough. Maryland should land in the bottom third of this event.
Kalindi “KJH” Henderson
James “Duck” Ma
Kelly “Kels” Smith
Abhishek “Prince Abu” Prabhu
Griffin “Captain Faceroll” Williams
David “Darkrain” John
Strengths: The diversity of characters. Midwest can throw a Sheik, Jigglypuff, Samus, and two Fox mains at you. Duck will have to play a major role here. His Samus can be a direct counter to Fox heavy teams and to players known for their struggles against lower-tier characters.
Weaknesses: Midwest is a deep team, but the highest skill level still falls well below the top four crews. Duck is considered a top level player, but the rest of the team sits in the 30-60 range. They’ll have to have smart coaching to make up the difference.
X–Factor: Faceroll. He’s still somewhat of an unknown entity, but Faceroll has been making a name for himself in SoCal. He’s starting to consistently take out big names, so watch for him to turn the tide of a match with his methodical Sheik play.
Overall: Midwest’s ceiling is in the top five, but the best thing this team can hope for is an upset. It hurts that Darkrain can’t make it, but the home crowd should give this team a boost when they need it. Expect an upset out of this squad.
Zachary “SFAT” Cordoni
Dajuan “Shroomed” McDaniel
Kevin “PewPewU” Toy
Michael “Nintendude” Brancato
Kyle “dizzkidboogie” Athayde
Julian “Zhu” Zhu
Strengths: The three headed monster in PPU, Shroomed and SFAT. Those three will always be the key to any NorCal crew’s victory. These talented players can be a nuisance for any team, considering you have to take 12 total stocks.
Weaknesses: The two Ice Climbers picks shocked me, making it easy for teams to game plan against them. Expect teams to counter Ice Climbers hard, but if a team has no answer, this weakness turns into a major strength.
X–Factor: SFAT. If he plays at the level he’s capable of, he could be the player to take NorCal to that next level. He’s capable of beating any player in the top six, so if he can pull an upset I could see the entire NorCal team taking off.
Overall: This deep team became deeper with the addition of Nintendude. The double Ice Climbers pick is unorthodox, but it could be a blessing if teams don’t prepare for it. NorCal’s ceiling is winning the entire event if the big three play at their best.
Joseph “Mango” Marquez
Weston “Westballz” Dennis
Joey “Lucky” Aldama
Johnny “s2j” Kim
McCain “MacD” Lavelle
Hugo “HugS” Gonzalez
Strengths: They are the deepest team overall, with all players capable of taking out another team’s best player. We saw how strong this team was last year when they can wear teams down and finish them with Mango at the anchor.
Weaknesses: The fact that they only have one top-six player instead of two. Mango by himself is scary, but when he has to take stocks from both Mew2King and Hungrybox, it then becomes a problem. Europe and Florida both have two elite level players.
X–Factor: Westballz. Mango by default is always the X-Factor on crews, but if Westballz gets going, he’s tough to stop in a crew battle situation. Westballz has been a let down on crews in the past, but he has the potential in high pressure situations to go to the next level.
Overall: SoCal is still as dangerous as ever. Florida might have the upper hand, but SoCal can still make it interesting with their variety of characters. It will all eventually come down to Mango’s performance, and depending on how positive he is in terms of stocks will dictate who wins this crew battle.
Jeffrey “Axe” Williamson
Robert “Wobbles” Wright
Tony “Taj” Jackson
Andrew “Tai” Vo
Ammon “Ka-Master” Styles
Strengths: The southwest team has the most characters to choose from by far. Axe with his patented Pikachu, to Ka-Master’s Luigi, this team has more character diversity than anyone and could throw players off. Even old-school player Taj can bust out a MewTwo.
Weaknesses: Unfortunately, Wobbles and Taj don’t play as much as they used to, and in turn aren’t as dangerous of a duo as they once were. Southwest will essentially come down to how many stocks Axe can take. The other four will have to pick up the slack.
X–Factor: Wobbles. If he’s playing close to his best and styling on people with his Ice Climbers, the southwest team is a potential upset threat. Ice Climbers is known to throw people off their game in crew battles.
Overall: The Southwest team (and Ka-Master) are right there with Canada as the best of the bottom four. And as with Canada, this team is capable of taking out a top team with some solid strategies.
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