When the sun set in America, the Japanese fighting game community came alive. In total, four majors took place over the course of the weekend covering nearly every smash title and plenty of other fighters. Japan Cup 2017 (SSB64), Crazy Hand 2017 (SSBM), Umubera Japan Major (SSB4), and KVO x TSB 2017.
Tournaments in Japan aren’t usually the focus. Aside from a few events a year, the west is almost always the center of the fighting game universe. It takes a perfect storm of tournaments, and that’s what Japan provided. The first major event was KVO x TSB 2017, which brought together all the best Guilty Gear Players from Japan.
KVO x TSB 2017
For one thing, anytime Ken-ichi “Ogawazato” Ogawa is entered into a tournament, the prestige of that event goes up significantly. I also turn into a screaming fan girl. However, his Zato-1 couldn’t get past Omito “Omito” Hashimoto, and lost to his elusive Johnny that we saw at Evo 2017.
Besides Guilty Gear, the event featured seven more games and was a great showing for that scene. In most games, top players did make an appearance, including Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez Perez taking Super Smash Bros 4. The other tournaments included Pokken, both Smash titles, King of Fighters XIV, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3. But no Street Fighter V which raised some questions.
To get back to the point, it was nice to see the Guilty Gear scene throw a big event. The uniqueness of that game and validity of the players make it an entertaining watch…and as I said earlier, Ogawa is a fighting game God.
Umebura Japan Major 2017
The biggest event of the weekend had to be the Umebura Smash Major. All of Japan’s big hitters showed up to one of the largest Smash events of the year. It was a nice showing from the less known Japanese players, but MKLeo from Mexico ended up taking home the win.
Despite picking the most unfortunate tag in Smash, Kengo “KEN” Suzuki is a player people will start to remember. The best Sonic in Smash 4, who was recently placed first on Japan’s Power Rankings, made his point this weekend. Even with the loss in Grand Finals, his 3-0 win over MKLeo in winners finals was impressive.
However, MKLeo made a character switch after the first set. He switched from Cloud to his namesake in Meta Knight and won six of the next eight games. MKLeo made adjustments and used MK’s excellent vertical attacks (shuttle loops) to kill off the top.
Japan Cup 2017
For Smash 64 fans, this is one of the biggest events of the year. Japan’s Smash 64 scene is arguably stronger than America, and that makes for a good show. Familiar names like Wangera and Kysk got upstaged by the second best Kirby main in the game, Fukurou.
For example, Fukurou showed off his strong punish game even against one of the most elusive Pikachu players in Maha. It was a great victory considering Fukurou usually finishes second to Wario. He finally got his big win.
Crazy Hand 2017
The Crazy Hand series is one I try to cover as much as possible. It’s the most stacked Melee tournament consistently. It’s usually the same players winning, but there’s still plenty of hidden gems among the entrants.
Conversely, Japan’s rising Marth main, Daiki “Rudolph” Ideoka, has had great success recently at Japan regionals. His win was due in part to returning to Marth after a brief stint with Fox. He looked as comfortable as ever with Marth. Now we’re guaranteed to see Rudolph at Evo 2017.
Outside of Rudolph, the top results were all over the place. Similar to the rise of players like Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett in North America, Nao “Gucci” Iguchi’s Captain Falcon is leveling up. His play got him all the way to Grand Finals. Wins over Yu, Kounotori, and K.F. show the type of day he had.
Regardless of how good the singles event was, the main event had to be the East vs. West Japan crew battle. Even with a lesser talent pool, the East came through with Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto and Gucci taking a combined 18 stocks. Only K.F. on the West came close by taking eight stocks with Jigglypuff.
In conclusion, it was nice to see a marathon weekend of events overseas for a change. The tournament scene isn’t as developed, but the talent pool there is ridiculously good.
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