Five players who can claim the Smash 4 throne

Since its release in 2014, there has been one player dominating the scene: Gonzalo “Zero” Barrios. Since he retired last month, the top spot is wide open. There are a few players who have consistently been ranked highly but now they have the chance to take it to the next level. With Zero now gone anything is possible and we are guaranteed a new number one ranked player. Ever since the PGR (Panda Global Ranking) system has been ranking the 50 best players in the world, no one has been able to dethrone Zero. This year will be the first time that someone else will take the top spot. Here are five players I think have the best chances of taking the number one spot

 

Liquid Salem

Let’s start off with the current number two ranked player in the world. Saleem “Salem” Akiel Young Just signed with team liquid after a red hot

Evo 2017 Champion Salem
Courtesy DBLTAP

2017. The Bayonetta main is approaches every game with a slow methodical offense centered around patience. His incredible tech skill paired with Bayonettas’ deadly moveset make for a very volatile pairing. Salem Racked up huge results in 2017, placing first in three S tier events. His most notable win coming at EVO 2017 where he shocked the world defeating by defeating Zero in set two of grand finals. Salem is rarely seen outside of top 8 of any event he attends, and consistently delivers amazing results.

Salem is currently number two in the world, but he came very close to dethroning Zero. A lot of his biggest victories last season came against Zero and he became a bit of an achilles heel for him. With Zero gone Salem is definitely poised to take the top spot that just narrowly eluded him last season.

Free Agent Dabuz

Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby is often known as Smash 4’s most consistent player. You can find him in just about every top eight with his tried and true Rosalina.

Smash 4 king of consistency, Dabuz
Courtsey Liquidpedia

Dabuz doesn’t get all the credit he deserves because he’s not a very flashy player but he is very effective. He took first place at two S tier events last season which was a personal best for him. His play is very calculated and combined with the dangerous potential Rosalina has, he can produce some scary offense. Dabuz does a great job of keeping a wall between his opponent, using Luma to keep opponents out at all costs. He is a very skilled player but sometimes struggled against Zero.

Even with one of his biggest wins of last year coming against Zero, he could stand to improve. Zero being gone could possibly be the final step that leads to Dabuz rising up among the ranks.

Echo Fox MVG MK Leo

Leonardo “MK Leo” Lopez Perez is one of Smash 4’s most prolific players at only 16 years old! Given the nickname “prince of smash” he is often considered to be the best player in the world now that zero is gone; even after ranking 4th on the PGR.

MK Leo, Prince of smash 4
Courtesy K-P-B

Leo is simply on another level when he’s playing. Whether he plays Marth, Meta Knight, or cloud, he is precise and deadly. He’s the best with just about every character he uses and it shows in tournaments. He has two S tier wins along with one A tier win and consistently places high. The thing that really sets him apart is how successful he is against Zero, as he was definitely one of Zeros’ demons last season.

Leo is very calculated in his movements, from spacing to execution. His tech skill is amazing and many believe he will be the next to be crowned the best in the world.

  NRG Nairo

Smash 4 fan favorite, NRG Nairo
Courtesy SSB World

“The Peoples Champ” Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada is always a fan favorite. Next to Zero he is the PGRs’ most consistent performer as he has placed third for the past three seasons. With his Zero Suit Samus by his side he is well equipped to clutch out close games or destroy whoever comes into his path. Nairo is very active in the community as he streams almost daily to a large audience, and has a massive social media presence. However he is much more than just an icon online as his results speak for themselves. He only had one first place finish last season, but it was an S tier event and he placed second at a few other tournaments. He also was only outside of top 8 two times last season. In a game where many top players will have the occasional bad tournament, Nairo always has a great run.

Nairo also did well against Zero and was one of his biggest rivals. With him gone Nairo is definitely a favorite to take the top spot this season.

BSD Elegant

The always electrifying Elegant!
Courtesy Twitter

Ok now hear me out, this is a bit a of a wildcard. Matt “Elegant Fitzpatrick was ranked 11th best in the world last season and isn’t necessarily a favorite to take the top spot. But I believe that he has the tools and the momentum to have a great chance at taking it. He’s the best Luigi player in the world and he is a very explosive player. He has very respectable tournament results and while he hasn’t gotten first place at a huge event yet, he is always threatening.

Elegant didn’t get to travel as much as the others on this list last year, but I think if that changes this season, we could see a changing of the guard in the Smash 4 scene. Elegant is such a skillful player and his dedication to the game, and impressive tech skill make him a player to watch in the race for the top spot.

Who do you think will take the number one spot this season? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

 

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The future of competitive Smash: A hopeful outlook

As the year comes to a close, now is as good a time as any to discuss the future of Smash. Last week, we discussed the concerns and troubles that competitive Smash has experienced throughout the past year. This week, however, it’s time to have the second part of that conversation. While there certainly continues to be concerns regarding the financials and growth of Smash as an esport, there’s more positive and hopeful aspects of competitive Smash to talk about.

One of the most powerful things about the competitive Smash community is that, no matter how little money and coverage surrounds Smash Bros. in comparison to other esports, the community remains as loyal and dedicated to the games they love. This past year is proof that the Smash community is as alive as ever. What helps prove this was the abundance of incredible tournaments throughout the year, in addition to the growing diversity of represented players and characters in tournaments. Can we hope that these trends will continue into 2018 and beyond? What should the Smash community strive for as we look to the future of Smash as an esport? Let’s talk about it.

2017 as an example of the future of tournaments

The health of any esports community can be measured by both the quality and quantity of major tournaments. Smash is no different. Thankfully, this year has seen the prevalence of high-quality Smash tournaments throughout the year, and a large contributor was 2GGaming. Throughout the year, 2GGaming provided viewers with more Smash tournaments than they had provided in any year before. Tournaments such as Civil War and the 2GG Championship provided highly competitive, exciting tournaments for viewers.

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Leonardo “MK Leo” Perez won the 2GG Championship, the tournament that capped off the 2017 2GG Tournament Series. Image: Twitter

Additionally, they were organized, structured and presented in an incredibly professional way. This professional presentation goes a long way to allowing Smash to provide positive impressions to non-fans. In the coming year, if more events have the high-quality production values that 2GGaming exemplified this year, then we could see Smash begin to garner many new viewers, and gain more attention as an esport.

The 2GG Championship Series kept major tournaments at a consistent pace throughout the year. This series also allowed viewers to more easily stay up to date with high-level players. Over the past few years, Smash has struggled to have a consistent stream of content for viewers to keep themselves busy with. This year’s 2GG Championship Series serves a good blueprint for what other tournament organizers can accomplish in the years to come. Nevertheless, continuing to organize tournaments consistently and professionally will help Smash grow its viewer audience, something that certainly needs to be done.

The variety of Players and Characters

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Eric “ESAM” Lew’s win against Elliot “Ally” Carroza-Oyarce at 2GG Civil War was considered by many to be one of the highlights of the entire year. Image: YouTube

2017 was the first year in Smash 4’s life to not see the arrival of any downloadable content or patches that affected the balancing of characters. As such, this year saw some stabilization in the competitive Smash community. Now that the dust of new characters and rebalancing of old characters has settled, players have used this year as a chance to finally grow used to how characters perform in tournament, without having to worry about the possibility of patches affecting balance.

This caused some experimentation within the community. This year, we saw many well-known players pick up new characters. A good example of this was when Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios began using Lucina in tournament to accompany his trademark Diddy Kong. In addition, we also saw the continued main and secondary use of characters that aren’t considered top tier, such as with Matt “Elegant” Fitzpatrick’s Luigi and Eric “ESAM” Lew’s Samus, among many other examples. Tournaments throughout the year brought viewers a more diverse pool of played characters, which kept tournaments exciting and diverse to viewers.

I hope that the variety of characters and playstyles that we saw throughout 2017 continues in future tournaments in 2018 and beyond.

Looking to the future of Smash

Smash has always been at a disadvantage as an esport. Unlike many other esports, Smash doesn’t receive much financial backing at all from its creators. This makes it difficult for competitive Smash players to make a full-time career out of their love for the game. And yet, this year, we saw so much passion and camaraderie among Smash players. This year served as a reminder of how much competitive Smash players love the game that they play.

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Competitive Smash continues to be played at large events such as EVO. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Smash. Image: Twitter

I feel that the future of Smash, though certainly having some legitimate issues and concerns, is a bright one. A large reason for this is the competitive community for the game. The players that we see in major tournaments – their personalities, their playstyles, and their presence – they keep us coming back. While the competitive Smash community itself certainly has flaws just as any community does, it’s clear that all competitive Smash players are determined to keep providing viewers with great sets at great tournaments for years to come.

With the rumors of a Nintendo Switch port of Smash 4 still up in the air, along with so many great major tournaments in recent memory, it’s hard to see competitive Smash going anywhere. This year was a year of growth for competitive Smash. If we continue to see this level of growth, professionalism and diverse playstyles and characters, then we could see Smash become even bigger.

Nevertheless, it’s an exciting time to be part of the competitive Smash community. With that said, what do you think? Do you think this year was a good year for Smash? What do you think the future holds for the competitive community? As always, join the conversation and let us know!

 


 

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MK Leo Takes The Rematch Over Mr. R at Smash Factor 5

Smash Factor 5, a tournament Smash 4 fans have been waiting for centered around one rivalry: if Ramin “Mr. R” Delshad could get his revenge on Mexico’s best Smash 4 player, Leonardo “SF HDG| MK Leo” Lopez Perez. After the surprising upset at Smash Factor 4 in 2015 in which Leo took home the title a week after Mr. R finished second at Evo 2015, all eyes are focused in on the rematch between these two.

The event this year provided some bigger names and had more attention going into this year than last year. Samuel “DT Dabuz” Busby made an appearance as the highest ranking player, but not even he could stop the rematch from happening in the Grand Finals. Mr. R was able to conquer his demons and send Dabuz to losers early in top 8, and MK Leo finished the job as he eliminated Dabuz in losers, beating him 3-1.

The Grand Finals were set. The moment Mr. R had waited for, for almost an entire calendar year was here. And similarly to 2015, MK Leo seemed to have every answer for Mr. R’s more methodical, zoning-type play style with Sheik. The 15-year old rising star once again seemed to take his game to another level.

Before the bracket was reset, MK Leo turned to his alternate character Marth, a character that Mr. R beat a couple months ago 3-0 at Get On My Level 2016, but that result didn’t deter MK Leo from making the character switch. He not only won on Battlefield in game one, but won both of Mr. R’s Final Destination counter-picks, despite being down a stock in both games.

MK Leo, who has one of the most efficient combo games in all of Smash 4, showed that even when he’s losing the neutral game he makes up for it by stringing together long combos and getting solid edge guards. Mr. R struggled getting back up from the ledge, and MK Leo made sure to keep him cornered with retreating forward-airs and zoning with dancing blade.

Some may have considered the switch back to Meta Knight after MK Leo reset the bracket, sandbagging (playing down to your opponent), but let’s remember this is still his main character and Mr. R still had a firm grasp on almost all three of those losses. Mr. R just got hit by well-spaced tippers and lost all of the 50-50 situations. Mr. R also took a quick two-stock off MK Leo’s Marth in the first game on the second set, so a character switch was warranted.

MK Leo was once again able to show off his consistent and deadly kill set-ups starting with his up-air chain combo’s into Meta Knight’s powerful up-B. Any time MK Leo landed a dash attack or got below Mr. R, that more often than not ended up in MK Leo taking a stock by going vertical against Mr. R’s Sheik.

The low percent stock kills took their toll and Mr. R starting getting hit by unsafe options.  The mix-ups from MK Leo threw Mr. R off completely. He even got a low percent stock off Meta knight’s tornado by waiting out Sheik’s air dodge. MK Leo seemed to have every answer in this matchup and once again had his grasp on the mental game against Mr. R.

With the home crowd behind him cheering him on, MK Leo was once again able to take out Mr. R (3-0, 3-2) and win another Smash Factor tournament. The win once again opens up the question of whether or not MK Leo should be considered a top 5 player. MK Leo seems pretty sure of himself….

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