By: Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody
A typical preview focuses on the Top 8 or Top 16 sections of a bracket. An analytical look at a projected Alvin vs. BarkSanchez set or Mariguas vs. Dext3r set would be standard. However, Keystoned’s debut of the Waterfall Tournament Format (WTF) showed the 64 community that almost no one is safe when Double Elimination is taken out of the equation. WTF provides competitors and spectators with a large volume of exciting, closely matched sets, and presents better opportunities for rising talents to prove themselves. Rather than focus on a very small percentage of the event, in honor of this new format and the changes it brings to competitive Smash, this preview will be a showcase of a slate of exciting sets to expect in the first round of the tournament. This is a showcase of some of the only truly guaranteed matches this weekend.
A single set from each Placement Pool has been selected to be featured, ranging from the main headliner match, named “Last Stock”, to the less notable, but still quite interesting, “JV6” section. Each section will have a number of sets relative to the stock count referenced in the title. Being that there are more placement pools (24) than the stock counts add up for, an additional section at the end features a few other interesting matchups.
CTG vs. Mr. Sir
These two began 2016 at Genesis 3, locked in an intense battle. Mr. Sir seemed to have the Samus-Puff matchup on lockdown, when CTG threw him a curveball: a pocket Captain Falcon. A lot has happened since then, with CTG earning himself 50th on the SSB64 League Rankings, while Mr. Sir missed out on a spot on the rankings, despite rapid improvement. CTG followed up his success of 2016 with strong notable wins, including two against the 35th-ranked Shears and one against the 39th-ranked Marbles. Mr. Sir’s 2017 essentially began with an unbelievable dismantling of 24th-ranked Fireblaster at Keystoned, one of the biggest upsets of the year. These two meet yet again, two players with very different styles, both having built strong reputations, playing a fairly unexplored matchup.
While Puff is known to be an explosive character, CTG’s style is more patient, relying on mind games and trickery. Expect CTG to surprise Mr. Sir with unusual tactics, and attempt to pull him out of his comfort zone.
Mr. Sir, on the other hand, has studied Jouske’s legendary Samus, and created his own game plan. A surgical, methodical player, Mr. Sir and his Space Girl will aim to download CTG and expose any bad habits or mistakes from the slippery Puff main.
Will the Pound rise again in Baltimore? Or perhaps the bounty hunter will cash in? Regardless of the outcome, expect this one to go down to The Wire.
Shears vs. Yunque
One of 64’s biggest names, Shears threw the entire community for a loop when he announced in 2016 he was switching from Pikachu to Yoshi. While he will occasionally revisit his pocket Pikachu, Shears’s best wins in 2016 and 2017 have been with Yoshi. Most interestingly, this switch helped Shears become very successful against a character he previously struggled with: Captain Falcon.
Yunque’s 2016 was mostly quiet. However, the seasoned veteran capped off the year big time, double-eliminating Fireblaster on his own turf at the final Grid Games Weekly of 2016. Yunque pulling out a pocket Falcon was completely unexpected, and using it to take down New England’s most dominant player caught everyone by surprise.
Despite being the favorite between these two, Shears has struggled with Jigglypuff in 2017, with a loss against CTG, a player he had previously beaten. Very few would be surprised to see Yunque use that matchup to his advantage, and come out with the upset. However, if Shears is able to take down Yunque’s Puff, he’ll be chomping at the bit if Yunque attempts a counterpick.
HAMMERHEART vs. Infinite OC | The Protagonist
Well known by the Netplay community for years, HAMMERHEART didn’t become a consistent console presence until the very end of 2016. The online Samus main has become one of Philadelphia’s strongest weapons, also packing an intimidating Jigglypuff, as well as a newfound pocket Falcon. HAMMERHEART had a breakout performance at Keystoned, taking down several formidable opponents including Fireblaster, Darkhorse and Mr. Sir.
The Protagonist had a breakout performance of his own the same day, defeating the SSB64 League’s 34th-ranked player, Star King, 59th-ranked Jimmy Joe, as well as Dark Gentleman. This strong performance follows an impressive Genesis 4 placing as well. A veteran of Baltimore’s 64 scene since the beginning of Smash @ Xanadu weeklies, The Protagonist is finally beginning to emerge from the shadows of a stacked region with a newfound game plan in 2017.
HAMMERHEART has a wealth of experience and results against numerous characters, including Pikachu, Kirby, Captain Falcon and even Yoshi. However, he has yet to be tested by a truly adept Fox, a character many would consider problematic for Samus and Puff. The Protagonist is no stranger to Puff, with plenty of experience against Darkhorse. They say the protagonist usually wins, but the Coolblade clan’s star will do whatever he can to antagonize this Baltimore Fox.
Star King vs. hipstur
One of two matchups between SSB64 League ranked players, this would have seemed to be a lopsided match at the beginning of the year. With Star King making a nearly complete switch off of Kirby and Yoshi to Fox, he is coming off of a shaky performance at Keystoned. Despite this, a veteran with his level of experience as a top player is never to be slept on.
With hours of experience against 16th-ranked LD, a.k.a “Fox”, hipstur is no stranger to the Fox ditto. Originally known for his style, and precise usage of shine incorporated into combos, hipstur has developed an advanced neutral game capable of competing with his newly Fox’d counterpart.
Two old school players in a rarely seen high-level Fox ditto with plenty of flash from hipstur, and Star King’s impeccable combo game, will definitely be a sight to behold. Hipstur won’t hesitate for a chance to snag a big upset in a very familiar matchup and show Star King that “Fox is Fox.”
Shalaka vs. Dogs_Johnson
Shalaka, the Chilean Ambassador of Smash, is a rare sighting in North America, especially outside of a Super Major Tournament. The Pikachu main did damage during his visits last year, taking down 54th-ranked Dajjal, 40th-ranked NTA and 22nd-ranked BarkSanchez. After earning a 28th place on the SSB64 League Rankings in 2016, Shalaka makes his return to the States to a tournament experience offering a volume of sets well worth the trip.
Anyone in Indiana will tell you Dogs_Johnson’s Falcon defeated Banze’s Pikachu in a money match at Super Smash Con 2016. As impressive as this may be, bracket matches are a whole different animal. In the past year, Dogs_Johnson has overtaken veteran Saltsizzle as the best in Indiana, and has become a top threat in the Midwest. However, he is still hunting for a statement win at a major tournament.
In a matchup of new age vs. old school, Dogs_Johnson has shown he can stand up to South American Pikachus, but can he make it happen in bracket? Shalaka’s strong punish game is unlike anything Dogs_Johnson is used to, and will likely make or break this unforgiving matchup.
KD3 vs. Horbie
In 2017, KD3 has turned his nickname of “Local Legend” from somewhat of a light-hearted joke to a prophetic vision of things to come. He made waves at Keystoned, taking sets off of Fireblaster, NTA and HAMMERHEART. Following a strong performance on his home turf, KD3 traveled to take down Horbie in enemy territory at Nebulous in NYC, nearly taking down hidden boss Lowww as well.
Horbie also had a great performance at Keystoned, taking down one of Philadelphia’s top players, Finio, as well as exacting revenge against Darkhorse, who defeated him a week earlier at New Jersey’s 4th Quarterly Rapport. An incredibly adaptive player, Horbie will look for similar revenge against KD3 early on at Le’ts Go!
A classic East Coast rivalry between New York and Philadelphia, this salty rematch featuring a prodigy with a diverse cast and a studious Kirby main out for revenge could also be a look into two players ready to step up to the next tier of players.
K | $$$ Jim $$$ vs. EMG | Darkhorse
At New Jersey’s 2nd Quarterly Rapport, these two had a close set, with Darkhorse clutching it out with his rarely used Kirby. One of two matches between nationally ranked players in Placement Pools, this rematch would be ranked much higher, if not for Potassium’s 64 representative claiming he switched mains to Pikachu. A character switch from Jim would play right into Darkhorse’s hand. Or is it all an act? The amount of trash talk between these two makes this rivalry fun. Perhaps Jim’s new Pikachu knows a trick or two to catch Darkhorse off-guard, or is his talk of downgrading characters all just a smokescreen?
SKG vs. Yobolight
Making his major debut at CEO Dreamland, SKG earned convincing wins against 37th-ranked Nintendude and NTA. However, he felt uncomfortable opting for the characters that have earned him success online, instead pulling out his Pikachu and Kirby. Yobolight is no stranger to Pikachu, taking down Jimmy Joe at Keystoned and Shears’s Pikachu at several events. Yobolight has a variety of characters to counter SKG’s high tiers, but will we perhaps see a curveball thrown from the online warrior? SKG has been waiting to bust out the Jigglypuff, will he be ready to at Let’s Go!?
Robert vs. Loto
One of several notable netplayers at Let’s Go!, Robert made the leap in 2016 from average to nationally ranked player, earning 47th on the SSB64 League Rankings. Loto has been experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in Florida, momentarily surpassing Marbles on their PR. Loto’s Falcon has had much success against the Pikachus, Kirbys and Yoshis of Florida, but will it be enough to take down this rapidly-improving Pikachu main? If Robert opts to pull out his Kirby, look for Loto to counter with a dangerous Fox as well.
bp vs. Joshi
Bp burst back onto the scene with big wins against Star King, Shears and Mr. Sir at Keystoned. Originally from Peru, Joshi has quickly become one of the strongest in NorCal, with a Kirby that rivals 53rd-ranked SotoH and a storied PIkachu capable of serious damage, although he is reluctant to bring it out. Will this Peruvian newcomer be able to handle a high level Yoshi? If his Kirby is too much for bp to handle, bp may meet him in the ditto, for a thrilling conclusion.
Lowww vs. Freean
Freean’s dedication to Luigi following a switch off of Captain Falcon has rewarded him with solid performances, including an upset of SotoH at Genesis 4, and he looks to continue that trend at Let’s Go! On the other hand, Lowww has shown himself to be quite adept at low tier matchups, dismantling Firo at the Big Apple Smash monthly in January. A skilled Luigi player against a talented Fox, Falcon and Pikachu player should be a very refreshing matchup to watch.
Clubbadubba vs. Supa
At first glance, Clubbadubba’s switch to Donkey Kong would make most consider this matchup to be a slaughter. However, Clubba has a great opportunity to use matchup knowledge to his advantage and punish Supa. Supa’s Fox, Falcon and Pikachu have the potential to overwhelm Clubba, but any mistakes made will be quickly exploited by the NoVA DK. Another unexplored matchup with quick stocks and plenty of fun, cheesy tactics.
Marbles vs. Daniel
The veteran Marbles is no stranger to the Falcon matchup, punishing his opponents with surprising platform movement and quick shield drop approaches, as well as devastating combos. He will be hungry for Baltimore revenge, after being upset by GT at CEO Dreamland. Daniel is fresh off of claiming a $200 bounty on fellow Baltimore smasher BarkSanchez, showing he has what it takes to tangle with high level Pikachu players. Can Daniel “The Instructor” school Florida in a mutually familiar matchup, or will Marbles roll over him?
Fireblaster vs. MasterHandJob
Fireblaster struggled in placement pools at Keystoned, but after a strong performance in bracket, as well as at CEO Dreamland, his Yoshi will be prepared for any challenges early on at Let’s Go! While MasterHandJob has done well against local Yoshis, Shears and Yobolight, Fireblaster is on a completely different level. MasterHandJob’s unique style of Pikachu makes for a very fun watch, but most will be looking to this one to see just how destructive an expert Yoshi can be even against a very talented Pikachu.
Czar vs. Everyone
After an incredibly long hiatus, Czar has made his way back to the competitive scene, with high hopes and expectations. If his performances at Super Smash Con 2015 and Old Fish in 2016 are any indicator of his current level of play, he should overwhelm his pool-mates with the Bang Bros. If his hiatus has slowed him down, there are several sleeper threats in his pool that won’t let him get away with a sloppy win. The East Coast metagame has missed the presence of such a powerful Mario and Luigi, and even his secret Pikachu could add a surprise this weekend.
Preston vs. Razz
A smart, consistently underrated Kirby from Toronto against a volatile Falcon, Yoshi and Luigi main from Philadelphia with a dangerous punish game.
GT vs. Andykinz
A salty rematch from Shine 2016 where GT notched a 4-1 stock comeback against Andykinz to come out on top.
Time Machine vs. Maliki
Maliki returns after a significant hiatus, aiming to fulfill his Koroshiyo destiny, against the ever-improving second year player, Time Machine, a.k.a. DFX.
V vs. ty. | tyhiggz
A flashy and excitable Baltimore native coming off a very impressive performance against Fireblaster at Keystoned, faced with the Ohio Yoshi main fresh off a big regional victory at MoMS 6.
Dark Gentleman vs. Grahamaglam
A new age Puff mastermind with experience against high level Link play, faces off against Georgia’s beloved Link main who happens to bear the title of North American Reverse-Main Champion.
iXi | antarctican vs. Jay_mute$ the legend
An inconsistent but dangerous old school Falcon main up against a new star who upset Time Machine, Captain Fabulous and Yobolight before nearly taking down Jimmy Joe at SuperBoomed.
Others of Note
lord_narwhal vs. Madrush21
Old school Falcon dittos between two veteran players.
Captain Fabulous vs. DROC
A model of Montreal flash vs. a hidden Pennsylvania talent.
Box765 vs. Sedda
Ohioan Mario main with plenty of Fox experience takes on a long-time online Fox veteran.