By Jamie “JAMJAR” Jacobs
Pound 2016 has come and gone. As the #yearof64 rolls on, we were able to experience another exhilarating major. Competitors journeyed from far off places such as Florida and Canada to convene upon McLean, Virginia for the much delayed sixth iteration of this storied series. As 107 Smashers gathered in Tysons Corner, many questions were on their minds. Would the Fireblaster and BarkSanches rivalry be renewed in bracket? Will Virginia pull off an upset against Maryland in the Salty Suite? Will Losers Quarterfinals be streamed? But the number one question everyone was pondering: would a new champion be crowned or would SuPeRbOoMfAn reign supreme?
Day 1 – Salty Suite
The weekend of Smash started off very early for this Smash Writer. The team arrived at the venue as the first 64 players, eager to take in the sights of our first major. Jason “Nardwell” Mani eagerly snapped pictures of the major effort being undertaken to get the tournament underway. We were stoked to meet some Smashers, and soon enough the Canadian Captain Falcon main, Fck Vwls, arrived at the venue. As I sat down to play some friendlies, other 64 players slowly started to stream in and overtake our designated station. While it was exciting meeting other Smashers and playing against so many esoteric styles, I was eager to see some real competition. Luckily, the Salty Suite brought the hype I desired.
As I arrived at The Cave Gaming Center, the venue was already packed. All I had to do was look at each setup to see some of the legendary names of 64. The likes of SuPeRbOoMfAn, tacos, and KeroKeroppi were playing friendlies to warm up for the main event the next day. On the most impressive set-up, a hoard of players surrounded two gaming chairs. Here is where the Salty Suite matches would be contested.
Virginian IceKing and Baltimorean Moonshoes faced off in a battle for N64 games and regional pride. These two young players were looking to make a name for themselves by putting up some rare Nintendo 64 cartridges, worth a total of 270 dollars. In a tight battle, Moonshoes emerged victorious after being pushed to the limit in a five game set. Also on display was a crew battle between Q! and two Indy64 members. Bacorn and Dogs_johnson looked to defend their region’s name against a strong opponent. This set was entirely composed of Captain Falcon dittos and displayed some flashy combos. In the end, Q! handily defeated the two man crew, establishing Pennsylvania’s dominance over Indiana.
The Salty Suite also gave us another edition of the classic Fireblaster versus BarkSanchez rivalry. On the line: the competitors’ pride and twenty dollars. As has been the pattern lately, this set was a classic. Bark managed to bring the set back from a 2-1 deficit. Bark switched it up after the early deficit, using some different edgeguard patterns than he has used in the past. This proved useful, as he earned a relatively strong 2 stock in Game 4. The fifth and final game proved to be as epic as predicted. Fireblaster was down a stock the entire match, but never let it get out of reach. Unfortunately, the small deficit proved enough for his opponent, as Bark continued his recent dominance of the rivalry.
The main event of Maryland versus Virginia went about as expected. These two raucous groups were hyping up the crew battle, though it ended up looking like a bit of a mismatch. While the Virginians had a lot of heart, the Maryland crew proved that talent trumps all. LD’s Fox took 14 stocks from his opponents with his patented combos. This momentum rolled into Shears, as he dominated with the Mario Bros., taking 10 stocks with his pocket Luigi and 8 with a Mario no one knew he had. Moonshoes also had a decent showing with his Yoshi, nearly finishing the crew battle off. After the dust settled, Maryland had annihilated their opponents, finishing with a 13 stock lead. However, it is doubtful that this has quieted the interstate rivalry, as the Virginians are expected to keep challenging their neighbors at future majors.
Day 2 – Doubles Tournament and Singles Pools until Top 8
After a night of salty matchups, the real show was set to begin. Pool A of Doubles provided us with three expected results and one underdog advancing. The powerhouse teams of SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos, as well as Bark The Shark and Darkhorse, known as Barkhorse, easily swept through their bracket to emerge on Winner’s side of Top 8. The New York duo of Jimmy Joe and th3kuzinator were knocked to losers by the top seed, but made quick work of rising Virginia duo, Rusty and Mustard Tiger, to advance. On the other hand, the second half of Baltimore’s BDSM crew, Shears and Daniel had to fight for their lives to earn their shot at Top 8. They were knocked out of the Winners side early by Jimmy Joe and th3kuzinator, but advanced through two rounds to face off against fellow Maryland team Fox, also known as LD, and The Protagonist. This duo was surprisingly swept by Barkhorse, showing some shaky play, despite previously dismantling them in a strong showing at Super Smash Con. Shears and Daniel managed to pull the upset 2-1, knocking out a strong contender from the bracket. This disappointing showing by Fox boded poorly for his chances in singles.
Pool B provided very little surprise, as the top 4 teams advanced to the bracket round. However, the debut of the online warriors, KnitePhox and Combo Blaze, proved troubling for the top seed of the pool, as they managed to defeat Revan and Fireblaster to advance. On the opposite side, the classic team of Nintendude and Firo faced a tough fight against the brotherly team of Dr. lampy and lord narwhal, though they squeaked out a 2-1 victory. From here, the two fallen squads easily swept their opponents in losers to make the bracket. Our eight victorious doubles teams were set, and the bracket was ready.
The first round of Top 8 proved rather unbalanced, as sweeps were produced in all of the sets. The monstrous team of SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos showed why they were the prohibitive favorites, dismantling the brothers Barkhorse whilst using randomly selected characters. Nintendude and Firo disrobed the surprise online warriors Combo Blaze and Knitephox, while the new New York duo, JimmyJoe and th3kuzinator, shocked lord narwhal and Dr. lampy. Daniel and Shears had their impressive run terminated, as they were unable to dent an angry Fireblaster and Revan duo. The dominance of Boom and tacos extended into Winner’s Finals. Despite Nintendude and Firo putting up a valiant fight in Game 1, the set was one-sided. The top seed felt comfortable enough to switch characters each match, finishing the set with a very strong 4 stock. Losers Quarterfinals gave us an exciting rematch between Revan and Fireblaster and KnitePhox and Combo Blaze. After being upset in the pools round, Fireblaster and Revan looked to earn some measure of revenge, taking the rematch convincingly in a 3-1 win. Each victory was marked by very high finishing stock numbers of five or more. On the other side of the bracket, Barkhorse faced off against Jimmy Joe and th3kuzinator. Despite the 3-0 game count, each game was relatively close. The brothers from Baltimore clutched out the New Yorkers each time, showing strong synergy between their Pikachu/Kirby combo.
As we moved on to Losers Semifinals, we saw that BarkSanchez and Fireblaster were fated to play no matter what format the bracket was; Team Barkhorse was slated to face off with Fireblaster and Revan. This set proved to be the most thrilling of Top 8 as it went the distance. Game 1 was an intense back and forth affair, where Barkhorse barely managed to squeak out a victory in a game in which they trailed until the very end. Game 2 saw Fireblaster and Revan bounce back with a strong 3 stock,capped off with a particularly sweet team combo as Fireblaster’s Yoshi upsmashed Revan’s Kirby as he was on his way down from a forward throw. The third game seemed to show us that momentum was solidly in Fireblaster’s and Revan’s favor, as they dominated with simple yet solid play to earn a 5 stock. However, Barkhorse completely reversed that ending for Game 4 with their own 5 stock, marked by some tricky offstage movement by Bark to force Revan into his final death. Game 5 showed the power of momentum, as Barkhorse managed to take an early lead and never let go. This set truly showed the resolve of these two teams, and we expect to see more of this in the future.
Losers Finals gave us a matchup of risings stars against veterans: Barkhorse versus Nintendude and Firo. This set proved that Ness was very much still viable in a Dreamland only ruleset for doubles. Nintendude and Firo made a statement to the world here, sweeping away Baltimore’s last hope for a doubles champion. The synergy of Nintendude and Firo was evident here, as they weaved in and out of their foes using lower tier characters.
Grand Finals gave us a rematch of Nintendude and Firo against the monstrous opponents of SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos. Once again, SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos continued to swap through random characters, never feeling threatened. However, one moment that stood out was in Game 3. Firo was facing a 2 on 1 situation, and managed to take out both his opponents. Firo displayed his newly upgraded Ness skills all throughout doubles. Despite his heroics, nothing could stop the top seeded beasts, and SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos won the doubles tournaments 3-1.
Singles was ramping up between Doubles Pools and Top 8. The pools round displayed plenty of high level play, though upsets were few and far between. All of the usual suspects advanced to Top 32. However, some upstarts proved their worth as well. In particular, JAMJAR, Rusty, and poobearninja were relatively shocking entrants into the Top 32. JAMJAR made quick work of all of his opponents in winners side until BarkSanchez. Despite losing 2-0 here, the newcomer’s Kirby proved quite an opponent for the mainstay’s Pikachu. Each game was tightly contested, only ending in 2 stocks. This was quite a result for this Smash Writer, as he makes his major debut. Rusty took a similar path to advance out of his pool, sweeping two early rounds before being swept by a Brody. Despite this, Rusty managed to win a close set over Zuko to advance to the Top 32. Poobearninja had a different path to Top 32, as he lost early in his pool. However, this steadfast Captain Falcon main won three losers rounds in a row to make Top 32.
Winners side of Top 32 saw six of our eight top seeds advance in sweeps. However, rivals BarkSanchez and Fireblaster faced some troubles. Bark was against Virginian Clubbadubba, an opponent who had given him trouble recently. Clubba managed to launch a comeback to close out game two, after dropping a lead in the first. Despite this, Bark turned it around and won with a dominating 4 stock in Game 3, nabbing his first win in Virginia against Clubba. Fireblaster was facing off with low tier master Firo, opting with his Mario for a more favorable matchup. After winning Game 1, overwhelming the Ness of Firo, it appeared Fireblaster had the advantage. However, Firo proved to have a few more tricks up his sleeve, reversing the result for Game 2 and dominating with a 3 stock in Game 3, walking away with the upset in the process.
Winners Quarterfinals saw Boom sweep Bark in three close games. This display by Bark was an early indication that his previous poor play in majors may be a thing of the past. Wizzrobe’s Yoshi proved to be too much for Fox, sweeping him easily. Fox seemed to be very shaky thus far at Pound, giving Baltimore some worry for its top player. Tacos and Revan played a very entertaining Pikachu versus Kirby, though tacos proved too strong in the matchup for the Canadian to overcome. In the most entertaining set of Winners Quarterfinals, Firo faced off against KeroKeroppi. Kero won the first two games easily against Firo’s Ness. However, Firo pulled out his secret weapon for the rest of the set: Link. Game 3 proved to be a highlight of the weekend, as Firo managed to neutralize Kero’s Pikachu with another low tier character. Firo kept Kero at bay with a mixture of bombs and boomerangs, dominating the neutral game and forcing it to be played at his speed. As the crowd went wild, Firo pulled off the final kill. Unfortunately for our hero, Kero’s change to Captain Falcon proved to be timely, as he easily maneuvered around Link’s projectiles for a strong victory to advance to Top 8. However, Firo clearly had won the heart of the crowd, as this victory was met with a chorus of light-hearted boos.
The final matches to make Top 8 were set to go. Among them was a matchup we had seen twice before this weekend: BarkSanchez versus Fireblaster. This set ended with the same outcome as the previous two: with Bark the Shark on top. Fire appeared to be slightly on tilt throughout the set, never seeming completely comfortable. This may be because of his extremely tough loss to Firo earlier. Despite this, Fire managed to keep the first three games close, only down 2-1. However, Game 4 proved dominant for Bark, closing the night with a 3 stock. Outside of this match, we had a few other players distinguish themselves in losers. Daniel won two sets to make it to Top 16, losing a close set to lord narwhal. Shears also won two sets in losers, advancing to Top 12. In this round, Shears was swept by Revan. However, the TO of Pound claims he should have won, only losing due to enduring many of his patented suicides. Clubbadubba had a similar course to Top 12, though he lost to the People’s Champ Firo. The stage was set, our Top 8 would be SuPeRbOoMfAn, tacos, KeroKeroppi, Wizzrobe, BarkSanchez, Fox, Revan, and Firo.
Day 3 – Singles Top 8
Top 8 began with the heroic Firo against the Canadian Kirby of Revan. Firo would go Link this entire set, but sadly it would prove to not be enough. As with his set against Kero, Firo earned the love of the people with some incredible bomb set ups and edgeguards. But his tactics and traps would not be enough to defeat the solid Kirby from the north, as Revan masterfully weaved in and out of bombs and boomerangs to set up easy gimps. Much to the dismay of his adoring fans, Firo was eliminated 3-1. However, this placing proved that despite has absence from majors over the past year, he is still a force to be reckoned with. On the other side of the bracket, we saw the two top Baltimoreans face off. Fox and BarkSanchez, two frequent opponents in the Xanadu series, would face off in an elimination round. This set furthered the narrative we had seen earlier in singles and during doubles. Bark was on a mission to shake off his history of poor placings at majors, while Fox looked rather shaky. Bark’s Pikachu seemed to be everywhere this set, earning solid edgeguards against the typically unedgeguardable Fox. In the end, Fox was eliminated 3-1 by his friend Bark.
After the loss of their hero Firo, the people needed someone to cling to, someone to warm their hearts. Winners Semifinals gave them that someone. In possibly the best set of the weekend, Wizzrobe would take favorite SuPeRbOoMfAn to his limit. Wizzy showcased his incredibly optimal Yoshi in Game 1, taking advantage of his superarmor to win many exchanges against Pikachu and win a tight match. Game 2 and 3 were much of the same. Wizzy managed to play the best player in North America very tightly, only just losing the second game while clutching out the third. Facing a 2-1 deficit, Boom made a character switch to Kirby. Game 4 proved his switch was timely, as he won with a solid 2 stock, including a tricky kill using Inhale. The final game was terribly one-sided, as Boom won with a 4 stock. Wizzy was caught too often using his double jump earlier, showing signs of impatience, allowing the favorite to win a tight set.
The other side of Winners Semifinals pitted KeroKeroppi against tacos. Tacos showed complete control of this set early on, as he won a dominant Game 1 with his Captain Falcon over Kero’s Pikachu. Game 2 saw tacos switch to Yoshi, trying to avoid a bad matchup against Kirby. However, Kero seemed intent on going Pikachu the entire set. The second and third games showcased very even play, with Kero managing to win a game against the best Yoshi in the world. Feeling confident, tacos decided to break out his Donkey Kong for Game 4, a truly crowd pleasing decision. Despite losing, tacos showed a very positive mindset throughout the game. He justified his confidence in Game 5, going back to Falcon and dominating with a stylish 4 stock, punctuated by frequent taunt cancels. Perhaps KeroKeroppi has another hurdle to jump before he can supplant Boom himself.
Winners Finals saw Boom’s Kirby against a trio of tacos’s characters. However, nothing tacos did was enough to take down the top player. In each game, Boom displayed complete control of the matchup, winning with 3 stocks in Games 1 and 3 and a 4 stock in Game 2. This was truly a statement from the Canadian beast, letting us know that his close set against Wizzrobe was a fluke. Unfortunately, some controversy occurred not allowing Losers Quarterfinals to be played on stream. Despite this, the show had to go on, and go on it did. This pair of sets saw some dominant performances, as Kero swept BarkSanchez 3-0, ending the Baltimorean’s first great major. Recently, Bark has faced some troubles in the Pikachu ditto against Kero, with this set signifying the debut of Bark’s Falcon in big tournament play. Wizzrobe was also beaten soundly this round, losing 3-1 to Revan. Unfortunately for the Yoshi, he was double eliminated by Canadian Kirbys, despite putting on quite a show against Boom.
Losers Semifinals had Revan facing off with KeroKeroppi. This set is the prime example of why the Kirby versus Pikachu matchup is so difficult. Despite masterful play by Revan, he had so much difficulty consistently getting in. Kero’s Pikachu abused Revan when he got the change, leading to a 3-0 sweep. Loser Finals would give Kero his shot at revenge against tacos. Unfortunately for him, it was not meant to be. Tacos started the set with an easy win as Captain Falcon over Kero’s Pikachu. This was very reminiscent of their earlier set. Game 2 was extremely heartbreaking for the man from New York. Tacos initiated a Pikachu ditto here, which played out extremely evenly, down to a last hit situation. As Kero was attempting to get back on stage he chose the wrong angle. He went straight down with Quick Attack for an SD. Frustration began to show on the face of Mr. Speziale, as Game 3 began. Here we saw Kero’s Kirby obliterate tacos’s Captain Falcon in a 4 stock. Kero completely abused the matchup with his blue Kirby, earning easy gimps and stylish uptilt combos. However, it was not meant to be, as his momentum slowed to a halt against tacos’s Pikachu. Despite fighting back to even the stocks in the end, Kero did not have enough left in the tank, as tacos won with a typical Pikachu gimp. Kero showed some level of frustration throughout this set. He has a lot to think about after not living up to his seeding, though this Smash Writer believes he still has a lot to give.
Grand Finals gave us a rematch between SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos. Game 1 showed us why Boom was the favorite to win the whole thing, as his Kirby dominated tacos’s Captain Falcon with a 4 stock. This game is a perfect example for why Kirby wins this matchup, as Boom dominated the neutral game and showed how easily Kirby edgeguards Captain Falcon. The second game showed that perhaps tacos still had some fight in him, as he fought back to tie the game late with his Pikachu. Despite this, Boom was able to clutch out a victory with a hard-read forward smash. Facing a 2-0 deficit, tacos seemed to throw in the towel, as the two competitors switched to a Donkey Kong ditto. Tacos managed a tight victory in the first game, as the crowd was going wild over the rarely seen matchup. Boom showed his displeasure at losing a matchup, as he had set out to prove he was the master of all matchups. They initiated a Donkey Kong ditto for Game 4, which Boom won showing off some slick edgecancels and combos. After a long weekend of Smash, our champion of Pound 2016 had been crowned. Despite the best efforts of his rivals, the favorite answered the question: SuPeRbOoMfAn reigns supreme.