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Zackray Wins Fist Major Tournament with Sora

It’s been just a few weeks since Sora has been playable in Smash Ultimate and already has a major tournament win in Japan. At Kagaribi 5, Sota “Zackray” Okada made an impressive tournament run, sweeping the tournament, winning all ten of his sets with Sora.

Japan’s Competitive Scene

Kagaribi 5 had exceptional players in attendance such as Seisuke “Kome” Komeda, Shuto “Shuton” Moriya, “ProtoBanham” and Issami “T” Ikeda. The normal top three players in Japan are ProtoBanham, Zackray and T. While many may say Zackray won due to him being a top player, he is not like MkLeo who is a clear number one player in his region.

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Japan’s Smash Ultimate scene is extremely different than the west’s. While the west seems to be more top-heavy in it’s competitive scene, with most tournaments going to MkLeo or one of the handful of top contenders. Japan, doesn’t have such a skill gap, meaning that tournaments are much more volatile. This makes Zackray’s victory even more impressive due to the sheer amount of competition in Japan.

Zackray’s Kagaribi 5 run

Zackray had to go through a gauntlet of phenomenal players to get to Grand Finals. He first 3-0 Choco and  3-1 Shooky who are both considered the best Zero Suit Samus in Japan. Zackray went on to 3-0 Ken to get into top eight and had two close sets against Shuton and Kome who he reversed 3-0 to get into Grand Finals.

Analysis of Zackray’s Sora

Depiction of Sora in Smash Ultimate

Since Sora is such a new character, Zackray could not rely on conventional combos to win, opting to rely more on his fundamentals more than anything. He was able to mix up his shield pressure with f-air and N-air, by either driving back, fast-falling or drifting behind the opponent. He also utilized instant double jump fairs that made his pressure game even more volatile.

Zackray is known for his ledge guarding ability. With a character like Sora, he seems to be the best option for said style of play. However, Zackray chose to stay on stage in most of his advantage states, opting to punish player’s get-up options or using ledge trump to get a drop-down up air.

Sora’s Potential in Competitive Smash

Sora is the final Smash Ultimate character - The Verge
Official Sora announcement art from Nintendo

Zackray showed the potential Sora has in competitive play. The competitive scene sees Sora as a high-tier character. However, this perspective may change once Sora is optimized by top players like Zackray. Time will tell if Zackray will continue to use Sora in the tournament. Never the less he has shown that he is willing to push Sora to his fullest potential.

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