Justin “Plup” McGrath fought his way to a victory at Runback in Mesa, Arizona. The win over Weston “Westballz” Dennis in Grand Finals secured Plup’s largest career tournament win.
In fact, it’s his first win at a tournament with over 200 entrants and Runback featured four of the top 10 players, so it was no cakewalk. He ended the day with two set wins over Westballz and a 3-0 to James “Duck” Ma in winners semi’s
For Plup, it’s been a strong year with consistent 5th place finishes, but he’s still looking to get over the hump. A win at Runback, even with none of the top five in attendance, instilled confidence that he’s a level above the players eyeing his spot in the rankings. If he can figure out players like Juan “Hungrybox” DeBiedma, he has the potential to win majors.
On a day where the raucous Arizona crowd was going off, Plup was calm and composed. It doesn’t matter who he’s playing or the stage he’s on, his demeanor is always the same. Even when Westballz had Plup against the ropes on game five, his approach didn’t change and he ends up winning the tournament on a ridiculous combo.
The return of Westbawz
The other main story out of Runback was the return of the cocky Westballz. After a lackluster start to 2017, Westballz seemed to get his mojo back this weekend with the second place finish. It was good to see the defense first, punish heavy Westballz this weekend.
Also, the fact that Westballz beat Zac “SFAT” Cordoni in two separate sets on Sunday sparked some flames. As one of the most heated Smash rivalries in Melee, Westballz has historically had SFAT’s number (9-4 lifetime) and Runback was no different. He ends the two game losing streak with an emphatic victory at Runback.
In the end, he gave Plup a run in grand finals but got edged out in last stock scenarios. It’s his highest finish in 2017 and could be a confidence booster heading into the summer.
1. Panda Global Plup (Sheik)
2. G2 Westballz (Falco)
3. CLG SFAT (Fox)
4. Phoenixl1 | Duck (Samus)
5. MedZ (Marth, Fox, Falco)
5. Tempo Storm Axe (Pikachu)
7. Bladewise (Peach)
7. EngGameTV Syrox (Fox)