Winning Evo and Dreamhack in a weeks span is special. Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young did exactly that and sent the Smash world into a frenzy while he’s at it. Salem’s unrelenting ability to defy the situation and pull out a win at any deficit is what defined his unexpected run to two S-tier major wins.
In fact, it’s what characterizes his play the most and gives Salem the Hungrybox effect every time it’s a last stock scenario. In a tournament scene flooded with strong Bayonetta play, Salem has separated himself from the rest. It’s the preciseness of his neutral game and how he turns a win in neutral into huge damage and in many cases: death.
$14,000 is a nice chunk of change for two weeks of service. Winning once can be considered a fluke, but winning twice is proof that it’s more than that. Yes, Salem is riding a wave of momentum and plays a character that no ones collectively figured out, but that doesn’t take away from his immaculate play that should be commended.
Let’s take a look at Salem’s results over the past week because they are staggering. At Dreamhack Austin, he took out Jason “ANTi” Bates and Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada twice in bracket. He also had wins over Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey, and of course, the now famous set with Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios at Evo 2017 a week ago. He finished off his Dreamhack weekend by sneaking out two set wins over James “Void” Mekekau-Tyson.
In a word, it’s been epic what he’s been able to accomplish in the losers bracket. On the verge of elimination, he’s been consistently able to scrape out wins. It’s becoming his calling card and is what makes him such a dangerous opponent.
The next star in smash 4?
As a result of these past two weekends, Salem has flipped the Smash world on its side. It’s extremely rare for a player outside the likes of ZeRo, Ally, or Nairo to take an event of this size and notoriety. It’s nearly blasphemy to think a player could do it twice in a row. The odds were heavily against Salem but that didn’t stop him.
However, Salem is no stranger to shocking the world and winning a super major. Apex 2013, and most likely the last notable Brawl major, was won by none other than Salem by surprising the world and beating the worlds best at the time in Jason “Mew2King” Zimmerman. His demeanor and temperament seem to be most effective up on the big stage as he’s proven over the years.
Now, it’s been a long time since a player established himself as a threat to win every tournament he attends. But, the combination of Salem’s skill and the uprising of Bayonetta as a top tier character gives the look of a potentially new god in the Smash 4 scene. It’s clear he has the makings of the next super star in Smash 4.
The real test will be whether or not he can keep up these placings. It’s likely he’s not going to win every event from here on out so it’s important for Salem to stay consistent and place high at every event possible. Right now, no one seems to have a handle on how to approach his Bayonetta. For now, that works in his favor but he’ll need to keep adapting to stay on top.
Nevertheless, it’s good for Smash to get new blood at the top of the leaderboards. Consistent placings, like with Melee, create storylines, but the hectic nature of Smash 4 tournaments right now is great for the scene. Salem is the face of this new trend. ZeRo, Ally, and Leo “MKLeo” Corrazco all missed top 8. Is it a sign of the times changing of just a blip in a busy Smash schedule? All I know it’s going to take some serious thought to take down king Salem.
featured image courtesy of twitch.tv/dreamhacksmash