Oh Canada!: Get on My Level 2018 Preview

By Josh Brody

This weekend, Toronto once again plays host to Canada’s sole Smash 64 major: GOML 2018, featuring new faces and a new twist on the Waterfall Tournament Format. The inclusion of divisional play brings a more familiar format, while the addition of play-in brackets, or “Wildcard Brackets”, gives fringe players an opportunity for a thrilling, last-ditch effort to advance. The removal of placement pools, paired with the creation of larger divisional pools, might give players more sets against players in their own skill range, allowing for more meaningful, competitive sets, though the larger effects of this radical change will be further assessed after the event.

The competition at the top level went through a significant shakeup for the second year in a row, with three of the top four from last year’s bracket being replaced by other incredibly dangerous names, including SuPeRbOoMfAn, Wizzrobe, and Derek. Isai and Mariguas gave the world a few instant classics last year, but there is no shortage of excitement expected from their replacements, responsible for several memorable sets of their own.

Despite nearly a year lying between GOML 2018 and the most recent matchup between Boom and Wizzrobe, the rivalry feels very much alive. Although it tends to be one-sided in terms of the final outcome, Wizzrobe often manages to push Boom to the brink, something no other player (bar Isai) in North America has proven capable of. At Smash N’ Splash 3, Wizzrobe took Boom to Game 5 in Grand Finals in a set full of nail-biters, while at Smash Con he squandered a strong start with a failed shield-break punish that seemed to sap him of his competitive edge. Even though these two are expected to face each other at least once, a talented roster of players lay behind them, eager for their shot to bask in the northern lights.

Several other Canadian talents re-emerge, after remaining quiet for most of 2017 and 2018, with a chance to remind the world why they’re feared. Revan hasn’t been seen since early 2017, when he scored wins against Isai and Josh Brody, but was handed surprising losses by Shalaka and Janco. The young Kirby prodigy has performed well in GOMLs past; however, he hopes to avoid elimination at the hands of his neighbor TR3GTheZ for the third year in a row. TR3GTheZ also seems to be invigorated by playing in his home country. In previous GOMLs, he has taken down KeroKeroppi, Zero, Revan, and Derek, and nearly defeated Mariguas in the Fox vs. Pikachu matchup. TheZ was last seen in a Fox-locked Boss Battle 3 performance where he slipped early in Placement Pools to Shihman, barely edged out CTG, and let the Fox Crew down vs. Tacos’s Donkey Kong. Despite this, he is yet again a top 3 threat, itching for a return to Grand Finals after coming up short in 2017. He’ll likely face Wizzrobe for the first time in almost two years, and Josh Brody for the first time ever, creating some unusual matchups.

Fray and Derek, the notorious online heroes from previous GOMLs, also return to the scene to finish what they started. Derek began GOML 2016 shakily, dropping an early set to Fck Vwls, before going on a legendary loser’s bracket run. He took down Shears, Nintendude, Josh Brody, and was robbed of a huge upset vs. TheZ with an untimely activation of Whispy Woods. Fray on the other hand, came on strong with a huge victory over Kort and a memorable performance of his own against TheZ before falling short against Darkhorse. The two will be joined by an old-school online prodigy, Killer, who hasn’t been seen at tournament since 2015, when he took down LD and Josh Brody during a surprise visit to Xanadu. If he’s still anywhere near his previous levels, he will emerge into D1 as a huge threat.
GOML 2018 will be streamed on twitch.tv/ssb64, starting with doubles pools at 10 AM EST on May 19th, ending at 10 PM with Singles Top 16 round robin. It will recommence at 11 AM the next day with singles Top 8 and finish off the event with the final run of doubles.

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Keystoned II Preview: Returning to the Birthplace of WTF

By Josh Brody

Keystoned II

The rise of the Philadelphia Smash 64 scene from late 2016 through early 2017 also brought about the rise of a new Smash 64 annual event: Keystoned. The inaugural Keystoned event in 2017 was the first large-scale tournament to run the Waterfall Tournament Format, a system conceived by New York’s Dark Gentleman and optimized by Baltimore’s Shears, which has since become the standard for Smash 64 majors. With an entire year to adjust to the format and a lineup that features 20 of the 64 League’s Top 64 ranked players, Keystoned II expects to live up to the unpredictability and excitement of the first.

Placement Pools

Following the trend set by Keystoned in 2017, the 2018 iteration features massive placement pools, all stacked from top to bottom. There are many exciting matchups, some familiar and some new, scattered throughout these pools.

Josh Brody vs. Loto

Florida’s veteran Captain Falcon main, Loto, has thrust himself back into notoriety in recent years, earning himself a spot on the 64 League Rankings in 2017. Faced with a matchup he’s very familiar with, he could give Brody a run for his money. In theory, all he needs is four grabs.

Czar vs. KD3

Philadelphia’s rising star, KD3, has a chance to build upon his ever-expanding résumé with a big win against a formidable veteran. His recent trajectory suggests he should be more than capable of dispatching the Mario/Luigi main in his path. However, he could be caught off guard in his first high-stakes matchup against the “Bros”.

Stevie G vs. Yobo

Penn State’s Stevie G returns to the scene of his best performance yet, where he made Top 8 at Keystoned 2017 with wins over Star King, Finio, and MasterHandJob. Yobo will have a chance to relive his own success, as he also attempts to repeat a Top 8 performance, which featured victories over Shears, Jimmy Joe and The Protagonist. An unpredictable matchup between two evenly skilled players, which will likely end with a globally ranked player finishing third in their Placement Pool, is almost unthinkable.

The Protagonist vs. Yunque

An uncommon character and player matchup, a well-traveled solo Fox main from Baltimore, versus a more reclusive mostly-solo Jigglypuff main from New England, may be the most unique set amongst the higher seeds. Traditionally considered to be a disastrous matchup for Jigglypuff, recent years have seen the scales tip back into Jigglypuff’s favor. The impact of Yunque’s 2:00 AM showdown with Nintendude at Shine 2017 may be seen in this set, when the time comes.

D1 / Top 8


With the level of closely-matched talent below SuPeRbOoMfAn, the flow of Division 1 and Top 8 is anyone’s guess. Every player brings excitement to the bracket in their own way, however, there are a few unusual suspects that add a uniqueness to Keystoned II’s top phases.

Zero, a surprise entrant making his way from Texas, proved himself to be a threat to some of the strongest players in the world in 2017, taking sets off of Wizzrobe, Mariguas, and Isai. Although a win over Boom may still be out of reach for him, a victory over Sleepy Fox, more commonly known as LD, would speak volumes for his matchup knowledge. Perhaps he even has new strategies to test out against Boom’s Kirby this time around.

Sleepy Fox sightings are rare in recent years, but they always leave an impact. Long considered to be a Falcon slayer, he is expected to face several high-level Falcons, which could put his skills to the test like never before. Although SuPeRbOoMfAn opts for Pikachu against Sleepy Fox, Zero and Lowww’s Falcons are dangerous to any Fox main.

Lord narwhal is a well-established and perhaps consistently underrated talent. Despite a tough loss to Madrush in Placement Pools at Let’s Go!, which he quickly avenged in Division 1, the North Carolina scene’s father and top player maintained a very clean résumé in 2017. His close set against Alvin at SSC 2017 hangs over him, however opportunities against Lowww, Robert, and Fireblaster could prove big for his status as a top player.  

Robert had a quiet 2017, although he had his best tournament yet at SSC 17, featuring wins over Fireblaster and KD3, and a close set against Wizzrobe. The young netplayer should be anxious for opportunities to challenge new foes, such as lord narwhal, Czar, and Zero, but he may also appreciate another opportunity against Fireblaster. Robert will have plenty of chances to continue his upward trend into 2018, with an absurd amount of close competition to contend with.

ZPK Dubs


Near the end of 2017, Hitstun 5 in Texas introduced a “Zero Pikachu Kirby” (ZPK) Ruleset for doubles, the first usage of full character bans in a tournament of its caliber. An experimental ruleset with the goal of encouraging players to branch away from Pikachu and Kirby, to create a more diverse field of characters. For its first run, ZPK offered some interesting teams, although there were clear favorites from the get-go. With seven Luigis and six Marios, more than half of Top 6 was comprised of Mario/Luigi teams.

Hitstun Top 6 Doubles

Following up on the usage of the “Single Pikachu Kirby” (SPK) ruleset at Keystoned (2017), Keystoned II has gone one step further, running their own ZPK doubles event. With a roster of players approaching “major” status in both size and skill level, Keystoned II will offer an even deeper look at the trends and consequences of banning Pikachu and Kirby.

SuPeRbOoMfAn has once again joined forces with the strongest available player, Fireblaster, and is once again a heavy favorite for first place. The two other teams which filled out Hitstun 5’s Top 3, Josh Brody/Darkhorse and Shears/Loto, will face a deeper and more established talent pool if they want to repeat their performances. The inclusion of proven teams such as KD3/HAMMERHEART and Czar/KeroKeroppi, along with dangerous sleeper teams such as Lowww/SKG and MasterHandJob/Sleepy Fox, makes this tournament tough sledding for top 3 hopefuls. Spectators should be excited to see how several strong Fox players perform in a meta without Pikachu or Kirby.

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Follow all your favorite players bracket runs on Smash.gg and see all the hottest matchups on Twitch.tv/bros_calamity.

Genesis 5 Preview: California Dreamin’

By Josh Brody

For the third consecutive year, Genesis 5 has included Smash 64 in its events, making it one of the premier West Coast tournaments. Eight of the top 15 ranked players on the 64 League Rankings will be in attendance, giving G5’s roster a terrifying level of top talent. Paired with solid depth in the form of several West Coast sleepers, January’s annual super-major promises to be a wild ride from start to finish.

Genesis is a familiar name by now in the Smash 64 community, but this year offers a few new and exciting reasons to tune in. As has become expected, G5 will be the first iteration of the NorCal super-major to run the Waterfall Tournament Format, for a better competitor experience, and many more exciting and closely matched sets. In years past, Genesis showcased many talented Japanese players making their first journey to the United States to compete, however G5 will be bringing in well-established threats from Japan, fully experienced in North American Smash tournaments. G5 will also debut community-voted streamed pools matches, making the spectator experience as enjoyable as possible from start to finish. On top of that, Character Crews make a return following a successful run at Boss Battle 3, featuring a slightly different selection of characters. With all of that being said, some people prefer the classics, with the Combo Contest getting its runback.

Community-Voted Pools Streaming

In the endless effort to improve stream viewership during pools matches, the 64 League announced an open-voting system for Genesis 5. The first approach of its kind, the voting system allowed the Smash 64 community at-large decide which matches from each wave of pools would be displayed on stream.

Singles Placement Pools

Freean vs. hipstur

Hipstur, known for his very flashy Fox style, will by no means have an easy path to Division 1 in his placement pool. Freean has wins over Masterhandjob, Dark Gentleman, SotoH, and many others since he became a full-fledged Luigi main. Hipstur will aim to shut down any attempts of approach from Luigi, as Freean will utilize any chance he gets to unleash the green plumber’s terrifying punish game.

Madrush vs. Shihman

Madrush had an excellent year in 2017 as far as Falcon dittos go, with big wins against lord narwhal, Darkhorse, and Janitor. He comes into the new year following his debut on the 64 League Rankings with a target on his back. Shihman had a huge win of his own at the end of the year, with a stunning upset of TR3GTheZ in placement pools at Boss Battle 3. Like many players on the West Coast, Shihman proved his status as a threat in 2017, but sadly lacked the appearances and consistency to solidify himself. Shihman is capable of holding his own in the ditto, however, he may use this opportunity to unleash his pocket Luigi.

Daniels vs. Dishier Wand

Daniels, a rapidly rising player to close out 2016, unfortunately suffered several setbacks in 2017 due to his health. He appears ready to bounce back in 2018, with high hopes to make Dishier Wand his first victim. Texas’s young Falcon main had a solid debut year in 2017, with wins off of Shihman and Wookiee, and will be more than happy to take on the combo-happy Pikachu main.

Horbie vs. Blondekid

In a marquee matchup of East Coast vs. West Coast, NYC’s Horbie will face off against Northern California’s Blondekid. Horbie is coming off of a career year with wins over HAMMERHEART, Darkhorse, and Yobolight, while Blondekid has quietly become one of NorCal’s most improved and toughest regulars. These two long-time veterans of the scene managed to fly under the radar for years. However, with Horbie’s recent success, and Blondekid’s steady improvement, both players are hopeful they can start the year with a notable win.

Doubles

Brody Bros. vs. Nintendude and Isai

In a throwback to Apex 2012, the NorCal duo of Isai and Nintendude have reunited and are expected to be an oppressive force in doubles. The “Brody Brothers” Josh Brody and Darkhorse have a deep history in doubles against Nintendude, with none of it favorable for them. It won’t get any easier with Isai in the mix either. It has yet to be seen if team NorCal will opt for a combination of Pikachu/Mario, or stay true to the nickname of “Bang Bros.”, pulling out the classic Mario/Luigi team that brought them glory many years ago. One of the strongest teams in the US will face off against two of the strongest teams players in Smash 64 history, in what could be an explosive matchup.

Kimimaru and Hydra vs. tacos and Alvin

The Mario brothers themselves, Kimimaru and Hydra, were last seen at the scene of perhaps the biggest upset in the history of Smash 64 doubles. Soon after dispatching the Brody Brothers, the twins dismantled Dext3r and Mariguas; to say they made waves would be an understatement. The two accomplished this feat at just their second major teaming together, the implications of which are staggering. On the other side is one of several teams comprised of strong players missing their usual teammate, Alvin and tacos, who form an intriguing wildcard team. While tacos has established himself as a dangerous weapon regardless of who he’s paired with, Alvin has yet to prove himself at the top level without Isai. Paired with a skilled teammate, against an imposing level of teams talent, this could be the perfect opportunity for Alvin to step out of the shadows of his usual teammate and truly shine in his own right.

Team Mejor vs. KeroKeroppi and Cobr

Whether they’re playing their classic combo of Pikachu/Mario, or experimenting with double Pikachu, Team Mejor is always a sight to behold. Although asking for an upset could be way too much, the combination of KeroKeroppi and Cobr can be dangerous in its own right. Most spectators will want to tune in for next-level teams combos against a very talented team. However, it will be fun to see the chemistry between two strong players and friends as they take on 64’s most notorious duo.

Combo Contest

Genesis 5 will play host to a Smash 64 Combo Contest for the second year in a row, with reigning champion k y s k returning to defend his title. K y s k dazzled the crowd in 2017, with creative and precise item combos that threatened to completely redesign the combo contest metagame. However, following the Super Smash Con 2017 combo contest, it is fair to wonder what k y s k will try to do to keep pace with Prince in terms of pushing the envelope. He will also have to contend with perennial threats in tacos and Alvin, as well as the wildly talented, yet volatile Janitor, amongst other hopeful contestants.

All capable of comboing with the best-of-the-best, these three players have shown flashes of brilliance. However, they have each just barely fallen short in their previous endeavors. Tacos has displayed daring creativity with each combo, and could potentially take it all if he polishes up his ability to close out his combos. Alvin will be hunting for his first high score from judge SuPeRbOoMfAn. However none can blame the Canadian, because Alvin’s knack for creating long and exciting combos comes with a tendency to drop his combos almost imperceptibly. If he can keep his combos true, he can give k y s k a run for his money this year.

Janitor on the other hand, is still trying to live up to the expectations set for him by the community, and himself. Janitor seemingly possesses technical abilities to rival that of Prince, but is unable to respect his own limits. The Southern Californian fan-favorite may finally opt for a short-but-sweet approach this year, after finding himself unable to maintain composure during his insanely elaborate and demanding attempts last year.

It is impossible to attempt to predict what lies ahead following each combo contest, as no one could have foreseen any performance capable of topping Prince’s victory at Super Smash Con 2016. Spectators, and even competitors were left wondering if there was any going back from the Pandora’s Box of item combos that k y s k unleashed at Genesis 4. Every event has left questions, and each time Japan has fired back with answers. The question at this point should not be whether k y s k can surprise viewers once again, but rather can anyone from the West finally snatch victory away from Japan.

Character Crews

Boss Battle 3 introduced an oft-discussed but never implemented side event: Character Crew Battles. The first iteration of these crews opted to exclude Pikachu and Kirby, but showcased stacked teams for Mario, Fox, Donkey Kong and the rest of the cast. With a slightly more limited participation in certain areas, Link, DK, Yoshi and Ness are absent. Careful adjustments were made similar to Boss Battle 3 to help balance the crews, making for some interesting compositions.

While on paper the players accompanying him don’t appear to be as strong as the other crews, k y s k could lead the Kirby crew on a rampage reminiscent of Revan’s slaughter in Lets Go!’s Draft Crews. The Mario crew appears top-heavy, yet dangerous as well, with the twins Kimimaru and Hydra leading the way.

While the rest of the crews were crafted with solid skill distribution throughout, the Jigglypuff and Pikachu crews appear to be the most well-rounded. The Fox crew is deep enough to make moves, but their potential is contingent on Alvin’s strength and consistency on Dreamland. Falcon features a tough one-two punch of Janitor and Madrush at the top, but will need solid performances from rising talent Dishier Wand and not-Falcon-main HaM to keep up.

If there’s anyone capable in these crews of putting a stop to the looming Kirby threat, it would be Jaime’s Samus. Along with SotoH, the two of them have their work cut out for them, barring a surprising performance from Hunter or Eggmcmuffin. On paper, the Luigi crew has a tough road ahead of them. However, the team has several experienced Luigi players with a good spread of skill and character familiarity which could give them the edge against other crews.

Top 6

The top-ranked player on the 64 League Rankings for 2017, Fukurou, makes his first appearance since meeting his match in Jyrem, the Peruvian formerly known as Gerson. The Kirby master’s summer could best be defined as a display of “bend, don’t break”. He dropped sets to both Mariguas and Wangera, but returned to end their tournaments in both instances, en route to first place victories at both majors he attended. Fukurou’s sets against SuPeRbOoMfAn and Alvin went down to the wire at SSC, and he will have his hands full if he’s forced to face them again. Sadly he’s expected to face his fellow Japanese Kirby, k y s k, if Wizzrobe fails to claim their rematch.

Alvin returns to action, determined to redeem himself following a double-elimination by Wizzrobe at Shine 2017. Although he’s surely hungry for the opportunity to exact revenge and quell any claims of a “Yoshi problem”, Alvin is aiming first and foremost for a path through SuPeRbOoMfAn and Fukurou into Grand Finals. Alvin’s record against Boom is clean since his debut in the United States, although each set has been a nail biter. Even if he’s able to come out on top yet again, he’ll have to improve on his past performance against Fukurou if he wants any chance at avoiding a rematch with Boom in losers bracket.

SuPeRbOoMfAn enters Genesis 5, still hunting for his first victory in Northern California, whilst facing tougher opposition than the previous two years. With months to train and potentially tip the scales in his favor, Boom has the perfect opportunity for redemption. With memories of intensely close sets against Fukurou and Alvin in 2017 ingrained in his mind, Boom carries the burden of the hopes and dreams of North America. The multi-character battles between him and Alvin are a sight to behold, although some may be more excited for the potential rematch of the instant classic SSC set against Fukurou.
K y s k had a spectacular debut in North America at Genesis 4, however he was surely not satisfied with third place. Making his way back to the United States, expect k y s k to push SuPeRbOoMfAn, Alvin, and perhaps even Fukurou to their limits, with his smothering Kirby style alongside a more polished Pikachu and Captain Falcon. The reigning Combo Contest champ dominated last year’s competition leading into Top 6, yet was unable to contend with Alvin and Boom in the end. He surely has no issue with the idea of a rematch against Wizzrobe, but the kid could throw some tricks his way this time around.

Wizzrobe’s most recent tournament appearance was easily his most impressive, as he went into Shine 2017 with a mission, and came out successful. Wizzrobe double eliminated both Mariguas and Alvin in fairly convincing fashion, despite an unexpected hiccup in the form of Alvin’s Mario. Despite a strong summer performance, if Wizzy has mixed feelings about returning to Northern California, it’s easy to understand why. In one of his finest moments, Wizzrobe finally took down SuPeRbOoMfAn in a 3-0 sweep. The magic stopped there, however, as he suffered a sweep in the other direction by k y s k, before losing a tight set against Dext3r in Top 6. With the latter not present this weekend, Wizzrobe’s most likely obstacle is his rematch with k y s k.

The chances of Isai staying at the six spot are incredibly low. Whether he pulls off an astonishing upset against Boom, or loses quickly to Cobr for a chance to play more Splatoon 2, Isai’s trajectory remains predictable in its unpredictability. Regardless of the destination, the journey is always interesting with Isai. Whether he’s using Luigi against Wizzrobe, Pikachu against Mariguas, or Samus against Josh Brody, there is no shortage of highlight-worthy moments during his sets.

Tune into the full schedule of events and streams at Genesis 5 over on the Super Smash Bros 64 League Twitch channel.

HandsomeTom’s Guide to the Kirby Ditto

By Etienne “HandsomeTom” Gagnon

Kirby dittos are probably the least understood matchup by the population of SSB players. This guide intends to help Kirby players of all skill levels gain a better conceptual understanding of how to play the MU and aims to offer to non-Kirby players the tools to better appreciate its subtleties from a viewer’s perspective. I believe that parts of this guide contain knowledge that was not priorly accessible for or understood by NA players, on a more than instinctual level at least.

Introduction

As the meme goes, Kirby dittos are all about pressing up on the joystick, meaning that the only thing you have to do is jump a lot. Now there is a large part of truth to this seeing as:

  1. Kirby does not have a good upair.
  2. Kirby’s down air has a dominant hitbox.
  3. Kirby’s only antiair from the ground (uptilt) leaves him somewhat vulnerable.

For these reasons, Kirby has a lot of trouble attacking opponents above his head while he has a very easy time attacking opponents under him. This mix of conditions creates an ecosystem where both Kirbies need to acquire and maintain a position above the other Kirby to be in an advantageous position.

Obviously, this is best achieved by reaching and holding the top platform, for the simple reason that it is the highest point on the stage. A Kirby holding the top platform can hardly be attacked by a Kirby from a lower position, leading to the kind of drawn out stalemates that characterize the MU and despair the viewers.

On a more subtle level though, the Kirby from the bottom has a lot of options to slowly chip away at the opponent’s control of the top platform, and the Kirby on top needs to be very cautious so as to maintain that control. This guide aims to make more accessible these subtle interactions between the airborne Kirbies.

Specific Techskill

Obviously, as in all matchups, techskill matters if you want to make it at the top level. As I mentioned earlier, Kirby dittos are defined by the character’s positioning; the speed at which you move limits the positions that you are able to acquire. It is therefore essential to be as efficient as possible with your movement so as to give as few frames as possible to your opponent to get into better positions (more on that later). It’s very important to have a solid understanding of Kirby’s movement if you want to play this MU well.

  1. This means that you should mostly be using stick hops when jumping from the ground. As I mentioned, getting above the other Kirby is essential in this MU, and stick hopping allows you to gain more height with your jump. There are few scenarios when you want to c hop in a Kirby ditto. Moreover, stick hopping allows your character to rise faster than a c hop, so using the stick hop will allow you to climb to the platforms faster. Stick hop unless you have a good reason not to.

Bonus: on game start you can buffer a stick hop input on the very first frame. If you do this and your opponent doesn’t you should be able to get a free first possession of the top platform.

  1. To gain as much height as possible, it’s also essential to master the timing of your double jump so as to get maximum height out of every single one of them. This means double jumping when the rise of your previous jump is finished but before Kirby starts falling down. The timing varies with each jump and needs to be mastered.
  2. You must learn Kirby’s perfect land from ground to side platform, side platform to top platform and ground to top platform at a minimum.

Fastfalling vs Slowfalling

Most players simply fastfall as soon as they get the chance to. This is a mistake. The decision between choosing to fastfall or to slowfall requires a lot of nuanced thinking. Remember that SSB is a game that is played through both Time and Space. When deciding to fastfall or slowfall you need to think about when and where you want to fall. The relationship is the following: fastfalling lets you arrive somewhere faster but what you gain on a time axis you lose on a space axis because fastfalling makes you lose drift. By falling faster you lose horizontal space you could have travelled by staying in the air longer. This applies to every character.

In Kirby dittos more specifically, a Kirby that decides to fastfall reaches the ground faster than his opponent. This means that he will start a new sequence of jump while his opponent is still exhausting his remaining double jumps or is slow falling, allowing the fastfalling Kirby to gain the height advantage in the near future. This also means that he puts himself under his opponent in the present by fastfalling. This is something you need to consider when deciding to fall and is highly dependant on the relative positions of both Kirbies. Covering every scenario is not possible here.

As a rule of thumb though, if you are willingly putting yourself under the opponent you should do it as he is initiating a double jump since he won’t be able to come down on you until the rise of the jump is  finished. This is situational.

Holding the Platform

If the Kirby on the top platform makes no mistakes he should almost never lose control of it. The first way to lose the platform is to get hit, so don’t get hit. The other way is to make spacing mistakes so as to get pushed off by the other Kirby’s superior spacing over an interaction. Holding the platform effectively implies not giving an inch if you don’t have to. The common mistake is to treat the top platform as some monolithic entity. The top platform has different spaces and the place where you land on it will affect your ability to maintain control of it. Consider these scenarios.

Scenario A

Kirby Ditto Guide 1

Scenario B

Kirby Ditto Guide 2

In scenario A the Yellow Kirby will have a hard time holding the top platform. This is because in spite of being slightly above the pink Kirby, the pink Kirby’s zone covers much of the platform so the yellow Kirby has less space to retreat to.

In scenario B the platform is basically unassailable for the pink Kirby since yellow Kirby has a lot more room to move without giving him the platform. Pink Kirby will have a hard time pushing off yellow Kirby with his spacing.

Consider these scenarios:
Scenario C

Kirby Ditto Guide 3

Scenario D

Kirby Ditto Guide 4.png

With both Kirbies on the ground, scenario C is much more likely to turn into Scenario B than Scenario A and vice versa for Scenario D. The takeaway from this is that the place where you land on the platform determines your ability to hold it at the end of a jump sequence.  You should avoid yielding any space if you don’t have to because any space given is less room that the opposing Kirby will have to gain to push you off.

Scenario E

Kirby Ditto Guide 5.png

Sometimes yielding space on the top platform is necessary though. In Scenario E if the yellow Kirby just landed at the edge of the platform trying not to yield space, he’ll just get hit. The ideal landing point depends on factors such as the positioning of both Kirbies, the amount of jumps left, the timing of the jumps, etc. There are too many possible situations for me to cover exhaustively. Here is an example of Fukurou holding top platform vs Moyashi to illustrate what was just covered. Observe how Fukurou’s landing points lets him easily deflect any attack.

giphy-downsized-large.gif

Taking the Platform

We just saw what mistakes to avoid when holding the platform. The most common way to take the platform is to capitalize on spacing mistakes made by the top Kirby when holding the platform. This means that you need to be ready to occupy any space yielded by the opposing Kirby in his landings. This also means that you should apply the same principles that we just covered about landing on the top platform to landing on side platform. A Kirby standing on the outside edge of the side platform will have a hard time gaining enough space to secure a landing on the top platform. A Kirby standing on the inner edge is much more threatening. Again, safety first applies. Don’t get hit.

Another method to taking the top platform is attacking from the bottom. The idea is quite simple: if Kirby is on the top platform then it is difficult for him to engage a Kirby that is on the floor, due to the distance between the two. Therefore you can be quite safe from the floor. What you do then is while the top Kirby is hovering above the platform you try to call out his landing with a stick hop and then a double jump poke through the platform.

  1. If the opposing Kirby is at a low percent this should be done using a perfect land fair to the top platform to open up a combo. The downside to this is that missing your read exposes you to getting daired on the top platform and comboed.
  2. If the opposing Kirby is at a mid to high percent you should poke with a bair while staying under the platform. This way a hit will successfully shove the top Kirby off of the platform while missing your read will result in you getting daired through the platform and going back to the floor, which will be hard to follow up for the top Kirby.

The risk reward on this second method of attacking the top platform is not so great so I wouldn’t really advise using it unless you’re really getting outplayed in the air.

Rhythm

Observe this clip: 

giphy-downsized-large (1).gif

I studied this match pretty often over the years and was confused for a long time as to how Moyashi  gets hit so easily in this sequence. He seems to be spaced far enough to stay safe yet Fukurou dips down and whacks him off the stage like it’s nothing.

I think Moyashi’s mistake lies in the rhythm of his jumps in relation to Fukurou. Consider that starting from the side platform essentially means that you are down a jump to the Kirby from the top platform. This means that if both Kirbies are in sync while jumping, the Kirby that started by being down a jump will have no chance to ever catch up. In the above clip, Moyashi initiates a double jump sequence in sync with Fukurou. Fukurou identifies this, dips down instead of jumping (essentially sacrificing his extra jump) and hits Moyashi during the rise of his jump, where he is essentially in lag.

Now this clip: 

giphy (1).gif

Here Fukurou makes sure to jump so as to be one “beat” ahead of Kysk. You can see that his attack is much more threatening than Moyashi’s. The reason for that is that being one beat ahead lets him play at the same height as kysk for a few jumps, allowing him to negate the top platform’s height advantage. This technique is KEY to challenging the top platform adequately.

Edgeguarding

Here is a series of aphorisms :

  1. Every SSB recovery is a function of time and space. Good recoveries afford the character more solid mix ups along one of these two axis.
    1. Mario’s recovery is strong because he has a lot of mixups time wise as to when he will recover (plus the priority of his upB).
    2. Pikachu’s recovery is strong because he has a lot of mix ups over space. This goes without saying.  
    3. Falcon’s recovery is bad because it’s linear through both time and space.
  2. Height is good for a recovering character because it affords him both more time to recover and allows him to choose different spaces to recover to.
  3. Gravity is problematic for a recovering character because it pulls it to the blast zone
  4. Gravity counters the effect of height.
  5. Gravity is a function of time.

The takeaway from this is the following. A recovery is only good as long as you have options. Upon losing height a character loses options. This is especially true for Kirby. Gravity makes a character lose height. Gravity’s effect is amplified by time spent offstage by a character.

Always remember this : Time works against a recovering character. If you force a character to spend more time offstage during his recovery, his options are going to exhaust themselves on their own.

This means that it’s important to not rush it when edgeguarding Kirby. There’s rarely a need to go for a read to hit him while he is double jumping. Often simply making him waste time offstage is a safer way to complete the edgeguard.  Most of the time using this simple strategy will suffice.

Position your Kirby at a spacing similar to the diagram so that if the other Kirby tries to double jump a fair it will whiff. Remember that any jump essentially forces the opposing Kirby to move in a set direction (up) for a large amount of frames. If you are spaced like this and they try to jump with a full forward momentum, they will enter the zone where you can simply back air them on reaction. Being forced to go up from the jump, they won’t be able to dodge the attack. What this means is that at this kind of spacing , the opposing Kirby will have to make a jump with less than full forward momentum, to give himself enough room to avoid your attack. This slows down his recovery. Repeat this spacing at every jump until you have slowed him down enough for gravity to force him into an upB. Return to the stage and edgeguard the upB.

Applying this strategy effectively will suffice in most edgeguard situations.

As I have noted, height offers many more options to the opponent when recovering.  If you send someone offstage high enough there is effectively no way to convert the edgeguard. This means that you should favor combos that hit the opponent offstage as low as possible. If you can do one less uptilt in your combo you probably should, because uptilt gives up a lot of height. I believe that this is also the reason why Fukurou (or myself for that matter) will prefer to use drill resets when comboing from the top platform instead of a bair to nair chain.

Another important concept is that you should take risks when the reward is at it’s maximum. This means that if you are going to force an engagement on an opposing Kirby, you should preferably do it when some of his jumps are exhausted and he is coming down to the stage to set up an easy edgeguard. K y s k is especially good at hitting these timings.

Playing against the Corner

In perfect play Kirby ditto, the top Kirby’s platform defense is so strong that it is impossible to take. Therefore the lower Kirby is eventually forced to retreat to a safe space under the side platform. This can be tricky to play against. To engage a Kirby that is under the side platform you will be forced to land on the side platform and to drop through to attack. The key is to not get called out by a perfect land fair from the bottom Kirby to the side platform. Therefore it’s important to condition the bottom Kirby into not using that option by faking a landing and baiting his fair. To do this, run off the side platform a few times but DJ before landing to check his reaction. Practice running off the top platform and DJ back with a perfect land to make this motion faster.

Once you have managed to secure a landing on the side platform the bottom Kirby will have few options left.

  1. Start jumping from the corner.
  2. Run under you into the center
  3. Jump at you recklessly.

None of these options are especially strong and you should already have a good idea of how to deal with them. Watching high level matches will do a better job of explaining than anything I can write really. Just make sure to always stay safe and minimize the risk of giving away your position. You should therefore be especially wary of option 3 and play around it until you have detected a pattern.

Conclusion

I believe that parts of this guide contain knowledge that was not previously available, on a more than instinctual level anyways, in the North American smash scene. Most of NA’s current top Kirby players fail to apply these principles adequately. Thus if you practice integrating the content of this guide to your play, you can easily become a dominant player in the Kirby ditto.

I hope to have demonstrated that Kirby dittos are, from a strategic standpoint, much more complex than what is commonly believed. Simply camping top platform is insufficient if you want to compete in this MU at the top level.

Image Credit: @seventhstation

Boss Battle 3 Preview: Indy at It Again

By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

One of Smash 64’s largest exclusive tournaments makes its return to Indiana this weekend, as the third edition of the Boss Battle Series kicks off on Friday. Boss Battle 2 had it all, it had food provided, housing included and  crew battles. It even gave birth to some true comedic gems, such as SuPeRbOoMfAn’s notorious walk-up song, and Janitor drowning in pools. Indy64’s Bacorn has kept the Smash 64 community well-informed of everything packed into Boss Battle 3; however, the event has also managed to create a few pleasant surprises along the way.

Indy64’s B33F generated excitement near the end of registration with the announcement of Character Crew Battles, an event never before attempted at a Smash 64 major. A fun and unique addition to the lineup at Boss Battle 3, this event pits full crews of a single character against each other, with a crew representing each character except Pikachu and Kirby. The Fox crew aims to run away with it, featuring an incredibly dangerous one-two punch at the top with TR3GTheZ and Lowww, while hosting some strong depth throughout the roster. Despite losing Tacos and Fireblaster to DK and Mario respectively, Team Yoshi is poised to do some damage as well, with sHEERmADNESS and Shears at the top, along with a similar level of depth. The Falcon crew, with the loss of Boom to the Link team, and the addition of KeroKeroppi, could be the strongest crew led by a player who doesn’t main the character. With some creative balancing efforts and interesting choices by top players, several crews such as Mario, Samus, DK and Link could be dangerous sleepers as well. While traditional crew battles are single elimination, this event will be run as a double elimination bracket. While this is not as appetizing as Waterfall, it allows for more matches than a typical crew battle, while being reasonable with time constraints. A successful running of this bracket could open the door for future events to run character crews, and perhaps even improve upon the concept.

The Single Pikachu Kirby Ruleset (SPK) isn’t anything new for doubles anymore. However, this weekend features the first appearance of Team Luv (Tacos and TR3GTheZ) in an SPK doubles tournament. Team Luv will be the first top-level team to enter a SPK tournament, as well as the strongest team affected by the ruleset. While one of the two players will have to switch off of their doubles main, both are notoriously strong with the entire cast in singles, which could make for some very unpredictable matches. TR3GTheZ came out on top at GoML teaming with Isai where the two played a host of characters, rarely challenged by the competition. However, Team Luv will have to face SuPeRbOoMfAn, who they’ve never beaten before, forming a formidable duo with Dext3r. While Boom’s Pikachu is one of the biggest doubles threats in the world, his strength with the cast could prove invaluable, as Dext3r’s strong singles secondaries may not be ready for top-level doubles. Although these two teams are leagues above the rest of the competition, there is no shortage of strong teams vying for Top 8, or potentially even Top 4. The Bang Bros. from Baltimore, BarkSanchez and Shears have a strong résumé and a solid claim to the #3 spot, but they will have their hands full with the strong pool of talent closing in on them. KeroKeroppi and Czar are both known for their singles prowess rather than doubles, but with the two best friends finally teaming together, they could have the star power and synergy to break into a shaky top 4.  NaCl and CTG have proven to be a force in standard doubles, and in theory SPK should make them even stronger. The two have built a strong reputation in recent years, and have come close to breaking into the next level on several occasions. KD3 and HAMMERHEART are fresh off of a strong performance at MVP vs. MoMS, despite falling just short in Grand Finals, and have shown in 2017 that they’re a tough team to tackle. Fireblaster and $$$ Jim $$$ have a tough path but could build upon their success from CEO Dreamland, while Lowww and Antarctican hope to continue the trend of online teams’ success in SPK doubles. The ruleset shouldn’t have a huge impact on the teams seeded for Top 8 besides the top two teams, however it could shape their paths through the bracket. With a very diverse group of teams, there will be no shortage of interesting matchups to check out.

All eyes for singles will be on KeroKeroppi, seeing how he fares in his return from a long hiatus. In his prime, he would have found himself in the #2 spot at this tournament. However, due to tough losses to Dext3r, tacos and TR3GTheZ, followed by his year away from Smash, he finds himself in the 5th slot. The spots underneath Boom have no guarantees, whether or not Kero works his way up there, as the gap between the next three players is minute at best. Dext3r has had the most success in the past twelve months, although TR3GTheZ and tacos are both still capable of taking him down. BarkSanchez, Fireblaster and Hero Pie have solidified their spots rounding out Top 8, but face some dangerous threats, both familiar and mysterious, that could steal a spot in the final bracket.

KD3 has made a name for himself tearing down regions such as NYC and Florida, but wants nothing more than to finally make a big splash in the major scene. With a plethora of characters at his disposal, he has an answer for anything that gets thrown at him and a surprise for any obstacle in his path. With wins over KeroKeroppi and Firo under his belt, perhaps he’ll add some new names to the list on Sunday.

Finally able to make his way away from the East Coast, Lowww has a shot to dominate outside of Philadelphia and show he’s arrived as a true top threat on console. Boasting an incredible level of matchup knowledge and a strong understanding of the game as a whole, Lowww has the makings of a top player, as consistency is key. While he seems to favor his trusty Fox as of late, his Falcon provides a dangerous backup plan if necessary. He’ll likely find himself with yet another difficult path, although he has the potential to power through and chalk up a few more big wins.

Finding himself in a bracket of out-of-region talent that finally does not match him up against fellow Floridian Loto, sHEERmADNESS can now free the beast and show the level of talent that has allowed him to take sets off of players such as Fireblaster and BarkSanchez. Having managed to fly under the radar in recent years, sHEER could sneak in a few upsets if he’s on his game. With plenty of time to prepare for this event, his notorious grinding could pay off big with plenty of unsuspecting victims still sleeping on the former “legacy fraud.”

Czar has slowly been working his way back in the major Smash 64 scene, potentially encouraged by the return of Kero. With the two becoming regulars at the Nebulous weeklies in NYC, Czar has been able to demonstrate that he is still a strong player, while many would suggest he has room to level up even further. How unfortunate would it be for the rest of the bracket if he found his old form just in time for this weekend?

Boss Battle 3 has found itself to be a haven for online talent, and while players such as Lowww and sHEERmADNESS lead the pack outside of Top 8, such as hydra and SKG could find their true breakout performances this weekend. Hydra’s performance at Snosa III, featuring big victories against NaCl and SotoH, put him on the map for Boss Battle 3 with high expectations. SKG’s console debut at CEO Dreamland saw him take down Nintendude and NTA, but the dominant online competitor has much loftier goals in his follow-up performance. While SKG’s path will unfortunately likely lay through fellow online players, he’ll have plenty of chances to beat his seed and land himself on the radar. Hydra’s path will more likely feature a slew of console talent, with well-seasoned veterans such as Marbles and CTG ready to stop him short. If Hy continue their improvement on console, the bracket could become very interesting come Sunday.

These players will have their hands full with other familiar threats such as CTG, Loto and HAMMERHEART. In the modern era of Smash 64, no one is safe.

Singles pools begin at 10 A.M. on Saturday, September 30th and will be streamed on the SSB64  League and Pushblock Gaming Twitch channels.

The​ ​Prodigal​ ​Son​ ​Returns:​ ​An​ ​Interview​ ​With​ ​Smash​ ​64’s​​ ​KeroKeroppi

By Brendan “Bean” Murray

In 2016, one of the top Smash 64 players announced via Twitlonger that he was quitting the game and moving on to play its sequel. Despite being ranked 10th on the 2016 SSB64 League rankings and earning The 64 Story’s “Best Sportsmanship Award,” he decided to retire, citing his isolation and the game’s meta as the driving forces behind his decision. He would compete in one last tournament, Genesis 4, before hanging up his Hori for good.

Nine months have passed since Genesis 4. In that time, KeroKeroppi has posted about Smash 64 on social media and played friendlies with other players, but has not competed in any tournaments (excluding Let’s Go!, where he competed in doubles). It seemed that Kero was truly set on retirement. Then, in the span of a month, he moved to New York City to work, started coming to locals, and re-entered the competitive Smash 64 scene. Kero was gracious enough to sit down with me and discuss the rollercoaster of a year he has had, as well as his journey to that point, his competitive mentality, and his impressive rise to the top echelon of players.

Note: This article has been lightly edited for continuity.

Brendan:​ ​First​ ​things​ ​first,​ ​where​ ​did​ ​your​ ​tag​ ​come​ ​from?

KeroKeroppi: Yeah, I don’t tell people that. I wouldn’t call it a secret, it’s just not something I go around talking about. There is this Japanese anime frog that, I guess it’s called Kerokeroppi, so I’m not denying that that exists. The thing that I got my tag from very well may have gotten it from that frog — I mean how many fucking things are called Kerokeroppi? So realistically that’s where that came from, but the thing that I got [my tag] from isn’t specifically from the Japanese frog.

B:​ ​So​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​very​ ​into​ ​Japanese​ ​wildlife?

K: Nah, I actually f*** with Japanese wildlife.

B:​ ​And​ ​where​ ​did​ ​the​ ​“Koroshiyo”​ ​clan​ ​originate?

K: So that’s me, my brother Stranded, Czar, Maliki and Skyfire. Maliki’s my cousin, he lives like 45 minutes away, but we all pretty much live…for all of us to be playing in a room on a weekend, it wasn’t unheard of. And that’s just something we called ourselves.

B:​ ​When​ ​did​ ​you​ ​start​ ​playing​ ​Smash​ ​64,​ ​just​ ​in​ ​general?

K: I mained Yoshi when I was ten, and I would beat one-player mode every day before 4th grade, or whatever grade you’re in when you’re ten. Then I got the game [again] in tenth grade, and me and Skyfire would just dick around and play because we were friends from school. And we both were trying to one-up each other, but we didn’t know about anything, we didn’t know about Z cancelling or short hopping or anything, we were straight scrubs.

And then one day we discovered Z cancel. We just googled ‘Smash 64 techniques’ and found Z cancelling, and we were like, “Yo, apparently people actually play this game.” So I googled “Who is the best Smash 64 player” and Isai’s name came up, and I saw the word Smashboards and I was like, “Oh shit let me check out this Smashboards place,” and I found out there were all these players and there were more techniques that weren’t Z cancelling. It was crazy, I will never forget that day. I will never forget…it was, like, 7 PM on a Tuesday night and I was like, “Yo, this is crazy!”

B:​ ​When​ ​did​ ​you​ ​write​ ​that​ ​Smashboards​ ​post​ ​that​ ​called​ ​Isai​ ​out,​ ​saying​ ​you​ ​could​ ​beat him?​ ​Was​ ​that​ ​post​ ​and​ ​that​ ​day​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​of​ ​your​ ​competitive​ ​career?

K: That was the same night, 7 o’clock on a school night. I looked up Isai’s YouTube videos, I found Smashboards, and I thought, “This guy Isai doesn’t look that good.” And I was talking to Skyfire and I was like, we can beat this guy. Let me just call him out and we will expose this fraud and we will be the best. And it obviously didn’t happen like that.

Kero Isai Callout.png

B:​ ​So​ ​that​ ​was​ ​when​ ​you​ ​discovered​ ​a​ ​larger​ ​Smash​ ​world.​ ​Did​ ​you​ ​start​ ​going​ ​to tournaments?​ ​Were​ ​there​ ​tournaments​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to?

K: This was in September of 2011. When I called out Isai, people said, dude, you’re probably, no, you’re definitely garbage. But if you are interested there’s this tournament coming up called Apex 2012. You’re gonna get beat down but if you actually care about the game you might stick with it. And nobody thought I would because at that time so many people think they’re the best players in the world, then they show up and they get beat down and they leave. So nobody expected me to turn into this actual player.

So I go to Apex 2012, I get thrashed by literally everybody. Dude, I distinctly remember Clubbadubba 5-stocking me with Jigglypuff over and over, it’s one of my memories from that tournament. And it actually became one of, probably my favorite weekend ever, up to this date, was Apex 2012, because everyone said that I would leave and not play once I found out I sucked, but I knew how much I cared about the game and I knew I was still gonna want to compete.

B:​ ​And​ ​you​ ​were​ ​in​ ​high​ ​school?

K: Yeah, I was a senior. So this was after I figured out that Isai was really good, and SuPeRbOoMfAn was a really good player, so I kinda went in [to Apex 2012] accepting my fate.

But at this point, Isai and Boom were kinda my heroes, and they still are, you know, and I remember playing Isai for the first time, playing Boom for the first time, and I remember playing all these people that I looked up to. And the crazy part is that I am better than a lot of them now, but they are still, like…I will never forget meeting JimmyJoe for the first time, or JaimeHR for the first time. It was just a really special weekend.

B:​ ​And​ ​after​ ​that​ ​it​ ​just​ ​took​ ​off?​ ​You​ ​were​ ​practicing,​ ​grinding,​ ​going​ ​to​ ​as​ ​many​ ​events​ ​as you​ ​could?

K: What happened was, I played the tournament, everyone was like, this kid is not gonna come back. I knew I would, but they didn’t. I was going away to [college], Apex [2012] was in January, so that upcoming August I was going away to school and I didn’t go to any tournaments between Apex 2012 and Apex 2013. And I met Czar at school, the first week of freshman year, and we started playing together, and nobody knew I had played, and I showed up at Apex 2013 after grinding super hard for a year, knowing I would come back. And I remember I beat BattleCow in a $50 money match, and I ended up getting like 17th, which was super good considering everybody thought I would suck. And since Apex 2013, that’s when I actively started going to locals and seriously competing.

B:​ ​You’re​ ​from​ ​upstate​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​relatively​ ​isolated​ ​compared​ ​to​ ​some​ ​other regions.​ ​How​ ​did​ ​you​ ​manage​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​if​ ​there​ ​weren’t​ ​that​ ​many​ ​people​ ​to​ ​play​ ​or events​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to?

K: My parents are from upstate but it’s not crazy upstate, so I can still go to Nebulous. My freshman and sophomore years I would come home fairly often, and I would be able to go to tournaments here and there. But during my junior and senior years, I pretty much never came home, for various reasons, so I would only play Czar and Skyfire. Those are really the only people I played, along with my roommate, he played too. I would only play at majors and play my friends. And towards my senior year it started to get really hard, because that’s when this whole revival of 64 happened, and my school was super isolated. To get to my school you have to drive an hour without cell service, that’s how isolated it is. I used to be afraid that my car would break down and I would get eaten by wolves on my way home. So it sucked watching all these people go to locals, it was hard.

B:​ ​So​ ​there​ ​was​ ​a​ ​level​ ​of​ ​competitive​ ​isolation​ ​you​ ​experienced?

K: Completely. And in my apartment at school, playing online wasn’t a thing unless I went out and got my own internet, but I didn’t have the money to do that. I couldn’t play online, couldn’t go to tournaments, the only thing I could do was play my friends. It got hard.

B:​ ​Was​ ​your​ ​brother​ ​there,​ ​getting​ ​good​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​as​ ​you​ ​were?

K: Tommy couldn’t drive at the time so he was in his own sort of isolation, though geographically it wasn’t as bad as mine. He pretty much was doing the same thing I was but he was only playing Maliki. So we were both kind of isolated in our own ways. And we played each other on holidays but me and Stranded would go five or six months without playing [each other], which I think not a lot of people realize. We’re brothers, people assume we came up together, we played and trained, but we didn’t really play that much. I’d come home for Thanksgiving and I’d be like, “Let’s sneak in some Smash before our cousins come over,” but we really couldn’t play that much.

B:​ ​So​ ​since​ ​you​ ​were​ ​so​ ​far​ ​away​ ​from​ ​most​ ​regions,​ ​so​ ​isolated,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​tough​ ​to​ ​stay motivated.​ ​Did​ ​you​ ​know​ ​that​ ​you​ ​were​ ​getting​ ​better​ ​compared​ ​to​ ​everyone​ ​else,​ ​even though​ ​you​ ​were​ ​in​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​remote​ ​location?

K: Well, there was a switch, right? I ended up leaving the game, which you’re probably alluding to. Junior year and senior year were the same, I was extremely isolated, but the mentality was different. Junior year, I knew I was getting better, I didn’t really mind that I was alone since I was doing my own thing. But I could only take so much of that. So senior year, it just became too much for me. I’m extremely competitive, by nature, and it got to the point where I was playing Smash 4 with my roommate over Smash 64 because I was like, “I can’t play level 9’s anymore!” There was one period where I went 4 months without playing a human being, because at this point, the other kids who I would play 64 with, Skyfire was playing Overwatch, Czar was playing Smash 4, and I went 4 months without playing a human. I thought, “This is awful,” so I started playing Smash 4 just to have that competitive feel, and I hated Smash 4.

So that’s when I decided that I was just going to play Melee. One of my good friends at school, coincidentally, actually was a Melee player. We didn’t even meet through Smash, he was just some kid I knew in the math department, then I just started playing Melee with these guys. I loved 64 with all my heart, but the community wasn’t where I needed it to be to fit my needs, and it sucked. I was either going to pick up another game entirely, or…I felt out of options, and it was a really dark place for me.

B:​ ​So​ ​you​ ​decided​ ​that​ ​Genesis​ ​4​ ​would​ ​be​ ​your​ ​last​ ​tournament?

K: Yeah, Genesis 4. That was in January [of 2017], and honestly, in early 2016, March-ish, I’m thinking, that’s when these first thoughts of quitting came. But I was like, “No way, this is Smash 64, I love this game.” And then, after about six months of battling this [loneliness], I thought, “I’m doing this.” Sometimes I would wake up and be like, “F*** this, I’m playing Melee,” but then a week later I would think that I was being immature and salty. And I remember one time, I really was just feeling down about 64, and I woke up the next day expecting to feel guilty for feeling that way, and I didn’t. And I thought, this needs to happen.

So after about six months of battling this whole “quitting 64” thing, I finally said that Genesis would be my last tournament, in January 2017. And I was so nervous going into Genesis. At the time, I thought it was my last 64 event, and I needed to go out with a bang. I got fifth place and I was so pumped. I got fifth place, only losing to Alvin and Boom, who got first and second, and I thought, “I will take that.” I was so happy with that, and I just decided to start playing Melee.

B:​ ​It’s​ ​interesting​ ​that​ ​you​ ​had​ ​those​ ​feelings​ ​of​ ​frustration​ ​and​ ​isolation​ ​while​ ​still​ ​being​ ​a top​ ​player​ ​in​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States.

K: Yeah, Isai wasn’t playing and I was consistently beating Wizzrobe at the time, so I was one of the top players from the United States. But honestly — and I never really thought about this — I never realized that despite me being better than all these other people, I was really unhappy. A lot of people said, “Why would you quit, you’re so good,” but I was miserable. I was so miserable.

B:​ ​Right,​ ​because​ ​for​ ​every​ ​tournament​ ​where​ ​you​ ​beat​ ​all​ ​these​ ​top​ ​players,​ ​you​ ​would​ ​go months​ ​without​ ​playing​ ​anybody?

K: Dude, before Super Smash Con 2016 and Genesis 4, I think I played another human once, in that six month period. That’s insane, this is crazy. And I ended up getting so angry, I started regretting [so many things]. At this point, I’m in my senior year, and I’m thinking, “I shouldn’t have gone to this school, I should have gone to school in New York City.” I was so angry, and it ended up pushing me to leave the game, like I said. It was tough.

B:​ ​But​ ​now​ ​you’re​ ​back!​ ​You’re​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​you​ ​are​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York​ ​City.

K: Yeah, so what happened was, I won’t go into the backstory, but I found myself living in the city. All those years for me in Oneonta, thinking that I should have lived in New York, wishing I could go back and change what school I went to, and now I was finally at the place I wanted to be.

So at first, I lived here for like a month before coming back, and I was playing Melee. And one day I was like, “What am I doing?” For so many years I wanted [to live in New York City]. The only thing stopping me from coming back at this point is pride. I would be lying if it was anything other than that. I told people I wouldn’t come back, and I wanted to stay true to my word, but this is such a good opportunity to pursue something I’m passionate about, and I would be a fool not to do it. And I knew I’d get shit, because I said I would leave and then I came back and everyone knew it. But despite the trolls and people telling me that they told me so, this was a golden opportunity and something that I wanted for so many years. And now I have good internet and I can play online and it’s the fuckin’ best.

B:​ ​And​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​day,​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​make​ ​decisions​ ​based​ ​on​ ​your​ ​own​ ​feelings,​ ​not what​ ​other​ ​people​ ​may​ ​think​ ​of​ ​you.

K: Honestly, that was half of it, and another thing too. When I was playing Melee, I never had a goal, which I think is a dangerous mentality. Ever since I started playing 64 and found out I was’t the best, I wanted to be the best, that was the thing driving me. But I would play Melee, and I would go to a tournament, I would get bodied, I wouldn’t care. I’d go to my friend’s place, get bodied, I wouldn’t care. I didn’t want anything out of the game.

And it all hit me one day. I thought, “What am I doing, dude?” When I was battling whether or not I should come back [to 64], I realized that I would rather take a set off Boom than win Evo five years in a row for Melee. It wouldn’t mean anything to me if I won Evo for Melee, it would mean nothing. Taking a game off Boom is the greatest feeling in the world, let alone taking a set. I feel like I would actually cry. And I thought that on paper, Melee was always the better option. I should have played Melee, but I was passionate about 64. And I was finally in a city where I could do it, so I would have been foolish not to pursue it.

B: There’s​ ​an​ ​emotional​ ​investment​ ​that​ ​has​ ​to​ ​be​ ​there.

K: Yeah, I wasn’t caring about Melee. It felt like a chore, and when I lost, it didn’t drive me. I didn’t care. I didn’t lose sleep about going 0-2 at a tournament.

B:​ ​Now​ ​that​ ​you’re​ ​back,​ ​what​ ​are​ ​your​ ​thoughts​ ​on​ ​the​ ​state​ ​of​ ​competitive​ ​Smash?​ ​What do​ ​you​ ​think​ ​about​ ​how​ ​much​ ​it’s​ ​grown​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past​ ​few​ ​years,​ ​what​ ​it​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​do​ ​to​ ​keep growing​ ​and​ ​be​ ​sustainable?

K: To be honest, the state of the community meant nothing in my decision to come back and I hadn’t even thought about it until this moment. I thought Smash Con 2017 was a complete success, and I think it was really good for the community. It was one of the best Top 8’s we’ve had. But [the state of the community] wasn’t in the back of my mind. One of the reasons I hadn’t thought about [the community], and I’m not sure how this will come out, is I think one of the things that drove me to unhappiness was [that] when I was in my isolation I used to argue a lot. Because I couldn’t play the game, I was like, “why don’t I just go [online] and argue with people about four stocks, single Pika-Kirby, whatever,” and the game became political to me, it was too much. So I told myself when I came back that I wouldn’t care about rulesets, which characters are good, which characters are bad, y’know, Shears could tell us we are playing 7 stocks with items on, I’m not going to argue. I am just playing the game because I love it at this point. I am not trying to be, I’m not going to make ruleset posts or anything like that. I’m just playing the game because I love it. And I think that will bring me a lot more happiness. Although I’ll still argue with people about matchups all day. Some people have no idea.

B:​ ​Do​ ​you​ ​have​ ​any​ ​personal​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future?

K: I am actually super pumped moving forward. I gotta say, I am at the best possible place I can be in my Smash career. In terms of how I’m playing, I’m not playing great, because I haven’t seriously put time into the game in nine months. So my actual play is not the best. But everything else — and this will eventually make me play better — everything else is the best it can be. I’m finally in the city I wanted to be [in], I can go to weeklies every week, I can play online, like I said, I stopped caring about this whole political section of Smash, like rulesets and stuff, I can play console with people, I’ve honestly been working on, I’ve been putting a lot of time into a certain character that I’ve kinda wanted to play for a long time. And it’s been bringing me a lot of happiness, too.

B:​ ​Is​ ​it​ ​Samus?

K: [Laughs] Dude I’m just in a really happy place. I think about how I think about the game now versus how I thought about the game my senior year of college and they are so different, dude. I, I just can’t wait for the future. It finally feels like everything is where it needs to be, and I think I’m going to see more growth now than I ever have. I’m really happy about the future.

Brendan Murray is a smasher from NYC who joined the scene in mid-2016. He mains Samus, which he regrets every day. You can find him on Twitter at 

64 Free For All: Boss Battle 3

The 64 Free For All is a question session with some of the biggest names in Smash 64. 6 questions, 4 top personalities. Today we have four players in our scene with interesting stories to their 64 career. The rising PA Smash star: KD3. The legend returning from the unholy game: KeroKeroppi. The flashy boss of this very event: SSBMTL | TR3GTheZ. One of the showrunners of the weekend: Professor_wizard.

1. Boss Battle 2 was the first Smash 64 tournament (and likely the first Smash tournament in general) to use the all-inclusive model. What do you think could be the next big thing done to make tournaments more attractive for potential attendees?

Kyle “KD3” DiFrank: I think the community needs to continue pushing the implementation of the WTF bracket. I think it’s very appealing to most new players once they understand it. Also, I think local scenes should run more Arcadian events, to attract both new players and players from other Smash games.

KeroKeroppi: I think as far as tournament formatting goes, (WTF, all inclusive, etc.) 64 is on a really great track. I think having a lot of side events is really great, but of course there’s only so much time to allow for things like that. One thing I would like to see more of is very professional promotion when it comes to stream, commentary, etc. I think this is something that Snosa did really well that I would like to see more of.

Marco “SSBMTL | TR3GTheZ” Jardak: By making our scene more attractive, more competitive. People getting better means more hype matches and more interest to watch and play our game.

Jeremy “Professor_wizard” Davis: This is a good question. It is hard to beat a tournament that offers a meal, a hotel and WTF format where most players are playing a lot.

I think the evolution of this, that was sort of accomplished at Let’s Go! but with some limitations, is to provide food/bar/party amenities to be purchased or provided and a 24 hour venue all in the same place.

I think a consistent part of many tournaments that is still not optimized is hosting the party area where people can play Smash or hang out at a location that is walkable or connected to the hotel venue. Think like a house party but hotel rooms and way more people.

It’s ambitious but possible with the right venue.

2. 64 tournaments have been held in some interesting places. Smash’N’Splash is held at a water park. Boss Battle events are held in the Boss Battle Games arcade. With a large assortment of retro and not-so-retro arcade cabinets, it offers some unique activities for tournament goers. What is another cool place you would like to see host a major?

KD3: Shears has talked before about an event hosted on a cruise ship. I’d imagine that would be pretty difficult to plan and put together, but it would be incredible.

KeroKeroppi: Idk what the official name for one of these venues is called (the one in my town is called “The Castle”) but I would like to see a tournament held at one of those fun centers that has laser tag, go karts, bumper cars, bowling, etc. Honestly, those places are litty titty and I’d love to beat some ass in laser tag.

TR3GTheZ: A rave. Let’s ensure our older players stay young at heart.

Proffssor_wizard: My never-gonna-happen suggestion is to have it at a theme park.

My real suggestion is to do it similar to smash-n-splash but have the pool and hotel area all rented out, with the stream and everything outside.

3. Boss Battle 3 features the first real effort to have a character crew battle at a 64 major. With Pikachu and Kirby excluded, many of the lower tier characters could have a chance to shine. Which character crew do you expect to put on the best show?

KD3: I expect the Falcon and Fox crews to be extremely strong. Yoshi, Luigi and Samus should be pretty strong as well. I expect Yoshi to do well with Tacos, Fireblaster and sHEERmADNESS. But if Boom ends up going Falcon, that squad might be too strong.

KeroKeroppi: I’m actually hella pumped for this event. I think that there are a lot of good Fox players going to this event and with the exclusion of a Pika team I think Fox has a chance to SHINE. I’m actually looking forward to this as Fox is typically such a garbage character in the traditional format. Lmfao what a useless character.

TR3GTheZ: Fox is gonna kill it.

Professor_wizard: This is B33F and my brain child, and we have tried to have it so that people get to play who they want to play, but also balance the teams a bit. Everything should be competitive buuuuut…

The Fox team is really talented, and really deep. On paper they will be the team to beat no doubt. And what a fitting storyline for TheZ’s boss battle?

Dark horses are Falcon and Mario.

4. Boss Battle 3 will see the return of KeroKeroppi after a relatively short 8 month retirement. What expectations do you have for the former Melee player in his return?

KD3: I fully expect to see a sharp Kero come [to] Boss Battle 3. I also expect to see more Kirby from him rather than the usual solo Pika.

KeroKeroppi: Honestly who the f*** knows LOL. I think right now I’m probably at like 8.5 which is a lot better than where I was when I first came back but still not where I want to be. I’m hoping to be full power by BB but we’ll see what happens. I plan on going f***ing ham this next week so I think it’s possible. Regardless, I plan on winning Boss Battle. I just have to be on my A game. F*** bitches get money.

TR3GTheZ: I’ve recently played Kero on netplay, he shook off the rust pretty well. I’d still expect Dex or tacos to do better.

Professor_wizard: Let’s go Kero! I’m really excited to see him back and playing, and once we saw his announcement, we knew we had to get him out to the tourney.

I expect no worse than 5th in singles, and for him to quickly establish himself in the upper echelon once more.

5. Who will be Top 8?

KD3: I don’t see many mix ups happening in the Top 4, I expect to see Boom, TR3GTheZ, Dext3r and Tacos. The rest of Top 8 may be up for grabs. It’s really hard to say who gets in, but I can see BarkSanchez, Kero, Lowww, Czar, Fireblaster and Heropie all making some really strong runs.

KeroKeroppi: In no order, Kero, Boom ,Tacos, Z, Dex, Lowww, Czar, Bark

TR3GTheZ: 1-Boom

2-tacos

3-zucchinigod

4-dex

5-bark/kero

7-fireblaster/heropie

Professor_wizard: 1. Boom

2. Dext3r

3. TheZ

4. tacos

5. Kero

5. Bark

7. Fireblaster

7. Heropie

Don’t sleep on Czar tho. Seeding will matter.

6. Why is TR3GTheZ the boss?

KD3: TR3GTheZ is the boss because he’s easily one of the most technical players in the world and he can produce incredible results with many different characters.

KeroKeroppi: Z has a lot of fan boys lol idk kid’s a b**** tho i’m gonna f*** him (both in game and out of game) WHAT’S GOOD?!?!?!

TR3GTheZ: I’m not sure. He sucks.

Professor_wizard: We figured we would invite a boss who could actually win their own event this time.

Free Barking with BarkSanchez

There are so many reasons to be excited for this tournament. Obviously the all-inclusive model and Waterfall Tournament Format (WTF) are very alluring as a competitor or spectator, but these have been done before. However, there are a few new elements being thrown into Boss Battle, along with the potential for some big new matchups to occur.

Character Crews, if ran well, could be the highlight of the tournament. While a lot of characters will be played by competitors who do not main them, there are some stacked teams lined up with a great distribution of skill amongst the cast. While spectators will see some matchups they have seen many times before, such as Falcon/Fox/Yoshi vs. x, or any low tier vs. low tier matchups, they will potentially be treated to some less common pairings between the mid and low tiers. The Fox crew is the favorite going into the event with arguably the best matchup spread, along with the presence of a few killers atop their lineup.

Doubles gives us the long awaited debut of TR3GTheZ and Tacos, also known as Team Luv, teaming together at a tournament with the Single Pikachu Kirby Ruleset. After winning their first major together at Lets Go!, they are the favorites to win their first doubles tournament over SuPeRbOoMfAn and Dext3r, in the absence of his trusty teammate JaimeHR. However, Team Luv, as well as Boom and Dext3r will have to have at least one of their players switch off of their doubles main. Pikachu and Donkey Kong had success at Get On My Level 2017, and Team Luv’s synergy could make the combination incredibly deadly. Their knack for team combos with the power and ease of a Donkey Punch set up could take many quick stocks. Boom, Tacos and TR3GTheZ all have a deep cast, and Dext3r has very strong secondaries and could perhaps surprise us with a new addition to his roster.

Kero’s return to singles is a pretty big storyline; however, I’m more interested in who cracks Top 8. Fireblaster, Heropie and I would be the favorites to fill out the last three spots, but any of us could be upset by some of the strong sleeper talents. Lowww has established himself as a high level threat and could finally do some significant damage outside of the Philadelphia and New York areas. Making a rare trip away from Florida, sHEERmADNESS is a not-so-secret sleeper, poised to re-emerge as one of the finest in the US. Czar looked strong at Lets Go!, but ‘90s kids know if he plays in peak form he’ll cause some serious upsets. Hydra’s most recent performance at Snosa IIII solidified him as a threat, showing he is improving at a breakneck pace. KD3 has had his ups-and-downs playing against fellow MVP talents, yet has made a mess of NYC Smash on several occasions. He’s also coming off of an absolutely unreal double-elimination of KeroKeroppi; can anyone stop this kid?

As usual, with WTF anything goes, so this should be another wild tournament.

-Nothing good in life is free except Kero after a year-long hiatus