Shine 2017: High Level Smash 64 in Boston

By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

Players from all over the Western Hemisphere will be making their way to another Smash 64 tournament, just weeks after the wild ride that was Super Smash Con 2017. The 64 community has been waiting to return to Boston, following the high-end tournament and community building experience presented by Shine in 2016. With a host of exciting matches from top to bottom, along with premium production value from New England’s local streamers, Great Value Smash, the inaugural edition of this growing tournament series truly set the bar for the Smash 64 experience at multi-game majors. With some familiar faces, along with some formidable additions to the projected top eight, this year’s tournament aims to level up over last year’s competition.

Were it not for the sudden dropping of SuPeRbOoMfAn just days before the event, the spot for first place would be hotly contested. However, Alvin has earned a spot as the clear favorite on paper, although viewers will be closely monitoring the bracket for a chance to see him square up against Wizzrobe. Alvin’s struggles against Yoshi were a big storyline following his North American debut in 2016 and still remain a question despite his dominance in the past year. After a commanding performance over wario at Super Smash Con 2017, his loss to SleepyFox, also known as LD, reignited discussions about his abilities in matchups unfamiliar to the Peruvian Smash scene. If Mariguas and Wizzrobe’s matches play out similarly to their most recent face-off at Don’t Park on the Grass, Alvin will be presented with a much more familiar matchup, as he has dominated Mariguas since their memorable sets at SuperBoomed.

High expectations were placed upon Mariguas following his historic victory over Isai at Get On My Level 2017. Unfortunately, Mariguas fell short in his attempt to build upon his success, losing his SSC 2016 rematch against Prince and running into his kryptonite, Alvin, early in losers bracket. Wizzrobe has outplaced Mariguas at several events since their meeting at Don’t Park on the Grass; however, with the two on a collision course once again, Mariguas will aim to cement his dominance in the head to head matchup and earn another shot at Alvin.

During the first eight months of 2017, Wizzrobe has faced off against SuPeRbOoMfAn seven times, despite only having six different tournament appearances. While he would never turn down another chance to challenge the Canadian great, without Boom in his path, spectators will be watching in anticipation for a rematch with Mariguas and perhaps a long-awaited duel against “The Squirrel” himself, Alvin. Wizzrobe has proven himself incredibly powerful against the field, setting him up quite nicely to display his talents at the highest level.

Top eight at SSC 2017 had an unfamiliar face, as BarkSanchez backed his way onto the main stage. While he scored clutch wins against talented players who typically outperform him, the Baltimore Pika main was at times presented with a fortunate bracket, featuring questionable play from Isai and a familiar regional foe, SleepyFox. Facing the daunting Wizzrobe in top eight, Bark was prepared to face a foe he had most recently defeated, but was promptly tossed out. Bark has shown he can compete with players at the top; however, he would be more closely matched in a possible revival of the eternal rivalry between he and Fireblaster.

Eight months into 2017, Fireblaster had not missed out on a top eight yet. The long-standing Yoshi veteran rolled into Super Smash Con and made a statement with a decisive win over Kort, who had defeated tacos in the same venue a year earlier. While he failed to build upon his victory that day, Fireblaster will have a strong field of players at Shine, both above and below him, to help fuel his momentum and keep him on his toes. While he would surely love the opportunity to show some impressive up and coming talent that they still have much to learn, he may have to settle for several familiar veteran faces, barring a significant bracket shakeup.

Last year, the nickname “Local Legend”, affectionately given to KD3 by his local scene, could have been considered somewhat of a joke by veterans of the Smash 64 community. As the Philly Smash 64 scene has exploded in 2017, KD3 has lived up to this moniker, traveling into the heart of powerful regions such as New York and Florida and coming out victorious. Along the way he has taken sets from ranked players such as BarkSanchez, Fireblaster, Firo and Marbles. The Pennsylvania native will have plenty of opportunities to take down ranked players this weekend and perhaps cement himself a spot on the rankings in 2017.

Year two in the spotlight for CTG has treated him well, as he has taken many successful trips around the country. His most triumphant conquests have been in his frequent trips to Indiana and Florida, where he has scored big wins against players ranked above him, such as $$$ Jim $$$, Marbles and Shears. Texas’s notorious Puff main put in work on his home turf, earning himself a solid 5th place spot at Low Tier City 5. After missing out on Super Smash Con, CTG will be well-rested, and the pound will surely rise again in Boston.

Except for LetsGo! in April, Yunque has mostly been seen at local tournaments in the greater New England area in 2017. The veteran Jigglypuff has provided fierce competition for Fireblaster at several Shattered weeklies in Connecticut with the two trading sets. These rivals are likely to face off yet again in Division 1 pools, which could feature a full arsenal of characters between them. If Yunque should fall, he is projected for a Shine 2016 rematch against Marbles. Yunque could see this as an opportunity to put his Captain Falcon secondary to the test, after his Puff fell short in their previous duel.

Marbles has seen his share of struggles outside of Florida in 2017, however he returns to the scene of one of his strongest performances in the past year. At Shine 2016, Marbles took down Yunque and Shears, both of whom he is projected to face off against in bracket this weekend. Before he works his way into the bracket, he will have a shot at revenge against Baltimore, as he is expected to match up against Darkhorse. The Floridian would quickly jump on an opportunity to prove his region is a top contender in the US.
The schedule for Shine 2017 can be found here. Stream duties will be handled by the Great Value Smash team, alongside EMG | Darkhorse.  The stream will be presented on twitch.tv/ssb64 and twitch.tv/ssb64_2 for a wonderful dual-cast setup.

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Taking Stock: NYC at Super Smash Con 2017

By Brendan “Bean” Murray

It has been a short time since Super Smash Con 2017 occurred, and with each passing Shears tweet, I realize that I made a huge mistake by skipping this event. Thankfully, there was a large NYC crew in attendance — and they showed that New York is quickly becoming the region to watch, with many solid performances and a few upsets that helped our local legends make a national impression.

Reptar, NYC’s top Falcon main, made a huge improvement over last year’s SSC, where he went 0-2. This year, he placed second in both his placement pool, losing only to Finio, and his Division 2 pool, dropping a set to KaZ. In Division 1, he upset The Protagonist in a tight 2-1 set, finishing his pool with a 1-3 record, behind Wangera, HAMMERHEART and Cafil | Jason. With a solid 7-5 record, Reptar placed 49th and is looking to climb even higher as the year goes on.

Dark Gentleman, resident Jiggs main, top NYC TO and the co-creator of WTF, also placed well. After going 3-1 in PP, he tore through his D2 bracket, not dropping a single game and beat Darkhorse in D1, finishing at 33rd. After losing to MHJ and Daniel, he is looking to level up his Falcon for the Pika matchup and start taking sets over players of that caliber to prove he belongs at that level. DG was not the only NYC player to place 33rd. Time Machine, an NYC expat, went 4-0 in PP and 2-2 in D1. Horbie, our yellow Kirby main who had his breakout performance at Keystoned, lost only to The Protagonist in PP, then swept his D2 bracket and went 2-2 in D1, beating JAMJAR and R3$T | Dizzle. Korobeniki lost his sole set to BarkSanchez in PP before mimicking Horbie and sweeping his D2 bracket to make D1, where he had to face off against Time Machine, unfortunately coming out on the losing side in the only NYC head-to-head match of the tournament.

Jimmy Joe, the face of NYC Smash 64, had an incredibly difficult bracket. Half of JJ’s initial pool were DQed which allowed him to go 4-0 relatively easily. He then got placed in the same D1 bracket as BarkSanchez, Nintendude, JaimeHR and MadRush, and unfortunately placed in the bottom of his pool, finishing at 33rd. Jonnjonn, our other alliterative-J smasher and rising Ness/Pika main, was placed in D3 after his initial pool. In D3, he went 4-1 (including an incredibly close 2-1 match versus atari) to place second and move on to D2, where he went 1-3.

Firo was the highest placing New Yorker at Super Smash Con 2017. He swept through his PP to reach D1, where he placed second behind Zero, whom he lost to 1-2 — his only dropped games in his pool. He also defeated fellow low-tier hero Mr. Sir and earned a spot in winners’ side of top 32. He then faced off against the Japanese combo king Prince, where he lost a close 2-1 set and was knocked into losers’ bracket. After defeating Daniel 2-0, Firo was finally knocked out of the tournament by BarkSanchez in a 2-1 set that earned him a 17th place finish, further establishing him as the premier low-tier main in the US. He also placed 9th in teams with longtime doubles partner Nintendude.

As always, the real hero of this tournament was the WTF bracket, which allowed talented players like Reptar, Dark Gentleman and Horbie to fight their way through divisions of similarly-skilled players and test their might against some of the best players in America and the world. Instead of drowning in pools and being knocked out after an hour, they — and many other up-and-coming players from various regions — were able to play a huge number of sets (7-15, depending on how well they did) and level up in a way that previous tournament structures would not allow. Next, we turn our eyes to Shine, Boston’s multi-game major that runs from August 25th-27th, to see if New York City can continue to climb and compete with top caliber Smashers.

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: Super Smash Con 2017

By Jamie “JAMJAR” Jacobs

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 contributors to our scene who will all be competing at Super Smash Con 2017. The incredibly technical Red Link from Brazil: Kort. The author of this very article: JAMJAR. The true power behind Team Mejor: JaimeHR. The showrunner of the big event: Justin.

  1. What is the one thing you would want a TO to do to make an event great?

Tommy “CAFIL | Kort” Keselik: I don’t have anything special in mind. I’m very glad with the work of the few people who spend their time growing this community. But for the community in general, I wish people were more kind to international guests. It’s not easy for us to come here to play.

Jamie “TSW | JAMJAR” Jacobs: Something I wish more TOs would do is not something that can be done on a whim, but would require effort over a decent amount of events. More TOs need to develop working relationships with people who generally volunteer to help out. Let these people who do a good job take on more and more tasks. Eventually, these volunteers can be highly dependable helpers for the TOs. Too often, our TOs are highly frenzied and don’t feel they can depend on people to help them out, leading to a rather hectic atmosphere around the event.

Jaime Hernandez “RG | JaimeHR” Rodriguez: Well I think there isn’t much that TOs (at least for 64) aren’t doing already in order to make events great, Snosa III had an hour break from the tournament and served pizza to everyone, I was very surprised with that and I don’t think any other Smash tournaments have ever done anything like it.

However, the one complaint I always read or hear about at every game tournament is that there’s always next to no setups dedicated to friendlies/free play, I understand that in order to have a tournament to run as smoothly as possible there has to be enough tournament setups, but at the same time those “tournament only” setups tend to stay unused when there’s no matches left to be played on a certain pool or bracket, if someone dares to pick that setup up to play friendlies there’s a big chance that they will be kicked out from it in order to have another tournament match yet to be played. A “free play/salty suite” area, that’s available not only before or after the actual tournament but for the entire duration of the event, would be a very welcome addition to a lot of players that want to warm up or just play casually.

Security is another issue that I would like to address as it has been a hot topic on the last few months, unfortunately we have had people getting their equipment stolen from the venue which is not cool at all. Security is tricky because people want to feel safe by being sure their stuff isn’t going to be snagged by a random person but at the same time they don’t want to feel like they are being treated like potential thieves by checking everyone’s bags before entering or leaving the venue.  Having a secure environment to play our favorite game must be a community effort rather than a TO’s responsibility, now don’t get me wrong here, TOs definitely have to look into taking security measures to prevent theft or any other kind of disaster, but the community itself needs to take responsibility as well.

Last thing would be having 24 hour venues! Haha, they are costly, true, but it is always good to at least try to have them by setting up a compendium like what they did for Genesis 4, where enough money was raised to have a 24 hour open venue for Friday night. It may not work but at least the option is there for those who are willing to spend extra cash to have an SSB all nighter on a bigger place than a hotel room.

Justin “Justin” Wykowski: Having enough setups for extra-friendlies is always a plus.

2. Mariguas finally broke through and won his first major at GOML 2017. Who will be next to achieve that great feat?

Kort: Z or Dext3r. Z deserves more than anyone.

JAMJAR: Wizzrobe seems to be the obvious answer to this. He has shown the ability to play with the top of our game, so no doubt he should be the next one to break through. He has such great instincts for this game, he often does exactly what he needs to do to win, very rarely taking unnecessary risks. He will very soon break into that upper echelon.

JaimeHR: Wizzrobe, without a doubt, he has the potential to break through to win a major, he was close to doing it at last year’s SmashCon, he’s already proved that he is capable of taking out almost anyone at Genesis 4, and just like Doomsday, every time Wizzy’s taken out, he comes back stronger for the next round and you can’t beat him with the same trick twice.

Another candidate is probably Dext3r, the guy loves this game a lot and takes it very seriously, he has worked hard on learning matchups, playstyles and improving his tech skill and decision making in order to make the right move all the time. His best trait is that he never gives up.

The most improved player of the year (for me at least), Zero (not Sm4sh ZeRo, lol) is also someone who I think may eventually win a major, he’s been placing in Top 8 very often after Genesis 4 which, if I’m not wrong, has been his only underperforming tournament of 2017, he’s been getting a lot better after that.

Justin: I think TheZ and Dext3r are both improving VERY quickly and will be knocking on the door soon.


  1. What do you think 64 can do to convince the other games to try out the Waterfall Tournament Format?

Kort: I’m not sure if I like the waterfall bracket yet.

JAMJAR: I don’t know if there is any one specific thing we can do to convince the other games to take the leap. Just keep running efficient brackets, showing that the increased number of games is not a hindrance to a smooth bracket experience. Keep showing and expressing the positive aspects of WTF. Eventually, some other TO will be willing to take a risk and make a splash.

JaimeHR: I think the Waterfall Format or something else based out of it is going to be the future of game tournaments, because it is the closest we can get to a fair tool to measure a player’s skill and it also makes the tournament experience a lot more exciting for the “non-pros” which represent at least 80% of tournament entrants.

The only thing holding the Waterfall Format back from becoming the standard is that many TOs are still skeptical of its good results, as it is still lacking solid numbers. What 64 needs to do, is to keep using this format on as many events as possible, also promote its use on small tournaments by making a few adjustments, for example, have 2 divisions instead of 4 if there aren’t that many players. The point is to try to have as many players as possible to know about the Waterfall Format and experience first hand how much of a difference it is compared to the current format, this way more people would appreciate the new format and eventually ask about it for other games.

SmashCon 2017 is an excellent opportunity to show off and test the Waterfall Format and prove other TOs that it does work as a worthy successor of the double elimination format.

Justin: I guess it really would have to start from the ground up. Get some locals doing it, then a whole region – and then you can start to have the national conversation. But there’s not much of a chance of going the other direction – just too many established systems.

4. What do you do to prepare yourself mentally for a tough set?

Kort: I’m not a strong player in regards to the mental aspect. I just try to have fun. Make some combos, you know.

I don’t want to beat people. I just want to get better at the game. What I actually need to be feeling well for a tournament is to rest well, eat well and stretch every day.

I’m starting to feel hand pain nowadays. I’ve been taking care of that for the past 4 months with acupuncture. Also every night I use a thay balm before sleeping in my hand. I pass it on my hands then put on a medical glove and sleep with it. It gives you a burning sensation on your skin but it’s actually helping your blood circulation to go to your hands. People use this balm for everything in Thailand, even for headaches, it is very popular there. The next day my hands feel totally new. It’s just crazy and overpowered. My acunpunturist told me to use it.

JAMJAR: This is something I have struggled with on and off, but I feel I have recently started to figure it out. I simply go into a set not necessarily looking for a victory, but with a set of goals in mind. I have always tried to approach events with 3 tiers of goals, but recently I have done the same with tough sets. I know I won’t win every set against players around my level, so I have decided to focus on completing tasks in each set, so I feel I gained from my losses as well.

JaimeHR: I actually did not think about this before when I first started going to SSB tournaments in North America, I already had a clear idea about who I could beat and who would definitely take me out, so my first thought was “as long as I don’t play this guy early, I’ll do fine” and if I did get to play that one player, then I would say “that’s it, at least I’ll have fun in this last set”, you can say that I already gave up mentally which it was what I used to do, something I realized over the years is that this was the wrong mentality to have and I should get rid of it.

What I do now is not to worry much about it and try to forget who’s the guy I’m about to play, many people tend to unconsciously defeat themselves mentally just by knowing they are going to play against a top player and get nervous, which cripples their skill to the extent where they will make a lot of simple mistakes like missing really easy edgeguard opportunities to dropping standard combos because they keep thinking more about the guy they are playing rather than their own game plan and lose focus of what’s important, playing the best you can and having fun.

A lot of people also worry too much about losing, they see it as a bad thing, but defeat is actually what makes us improve faster, because it tells us that there are still things we don’t know about the game that the better players know, losing doesn’t mean you are bad, it only means that you still have room for improvement and is also a natural part of the learning curve that everyone should appreciate. Rather than asking yourself “How do I win?” the actual question you should be asking is “Why did I lose?”

Justin: I don’t know who else is answering these questions – but read their responses for this one. I’m what you call an “non-viable character”.

  1. What will be the Top 8?

Kort: Alvin

wario

Mariguas

Isai

Boom

Fukurou

Dext3r

Kurraba

 

JAMJAR: This Top 8 is going to be crazy, I can’t even begin to predict the exact placings. Rather than giving the order, I will just name the 8 I feel have the best shot at making it.

wario

Alvin

Boom

Isai

Mariguas

Fukurou

Wangera

Wizzrobe

 

JaimeHR: Well, based on the current events and the amount of talented players we are going to have this year at SmashCon, deciding for a solid Top 8 prediction is really difficult.

First, we got the Japanese players, perhaps the toughest competition for anyone who gets to play against any of them. Fukurou and wario are the ones that I’m most certain that will make it to Top 8 as both have taken titles from big names already, I personally would not be surprised if we see a Japanese Grand Finals.

Next, is the neutral game mastermind from Canada, SuPeRbOoMfAn. Perhaps the only SSB 64 player that’s gotten more trophies and medals than his room can hold, has won almost everything in North America and is certainly looking forward to get another SmashCon 1st place title.

But there is a saying: “you can’t always win”, and that’s what the unstoppable force that is Alvin from Peru has showed us this year taking victory after victory against the big names of SSB64, despite an underperforming debut at last year’s SmashCon, he now has the chance to define himself as the best ever, Alvin vs. wario is the absolute most anticipated match in the game’s history.

Then we have the ever improving Mexicans: Dext3r and Mariguas, whose talents at adapting and learning from their mistakes will definitely play a big role on their path to Top 8, they both have showed us that they can take on anyone.

With all the strong international competition there seems to be no hope for America making it to Top 8, but Wizzrobe AKA “Wizzy” may have something to say about it, he’s “The Legend Killer” of SSB64, the hero America needs to face against the international titans.

However, the hero America wants is none other than the fan favorite: Isai. They say that if he actually tried he could win anything, he tried at GOML and got close to a perfect run until Grand Finals, Smash Con could be the place where we may witness the return of the legend or its end.

Tldr: my top 8 players would be (in no particular placement/order)

Fukurou

wario

SuPeRbOoMfAn

Alvin

Mariguas

Dext3r

Wizzrobe

Isai

Justin: This has honestly gotta be the toughest Top 8 to predict. I know everyone probably says that before every big tournament, but it just feels impossible to guess. Not only is this the most top-heavy stacked 64 tourney of all time – things like Mariguas beating Isai at GOML really shakes things up. So that said  – gonna go with my gut:

  1. Isai
  2. wario
  3. Boom
  4. Wizzrobe (random gut guess)
  5. Alvin
  6. Mariguas
  7. Fukurou
  8. tacos

  9. Why is Arms the next great esport?

Kort: I don’t know the game.

JAMJAR: Nintendo + wacky new character design = instant win. Also Twintelle.

JaimeHR: ARMS is just genius in every aspect, from its reveal to the gameplay mechanics. Like Steve Jobs revolutionized the phone, Nintendo has now revolutionized the concept of a fighting game and it wasn’t Smash that did this like many would have thought, this is because according to Masahiro Sakurai, the man in charge of its development, clearly stated that Smash Bros. was meant to be a casual party game and he hates competitive Smash and he shows this in every sequel by making it (worse than SSB) radically different than the later, it got faster then slower then shinier, but never with competitive play in mind (for glory in Sm4sh is a joke lol).

But then someone at Nintendo finally stood up and said: “we should make a REAL fighter” and that’s how ARMS was born, who else would name their definitive fighting game with such a generic word that everyone knows it, even if English is not their main language? Nintendo, that’s who! That’s what I call a marketing mastermind.

The key aspect of ARMS to become a serious eSport is that since it was revealed, Nintendo made it really clear that this was their first (true) competitive fighting game, that’s the reason this game has an actual ranking system and is being heavily supported by the developers, and speaking of which, these people are very serious about making the ultimate esports fighting game, so much that their producer Kosuke Yabuki showed us a glimpse of ARMS’ real, complex, depth metagame in an exhibition match against a random guy who happened to be the 2017 ARMS Open Invitational Champion at E3, where he completely obliterated the “champion” and made him look like a scrub. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Yabuki is constantly training in secret to stay unstoppable because he knows where the big money is going to be once ARMS overshadows League of Legends!

Justin: Because Legs are so last year?

The Big One: Super Smash Con 2017 Preview

By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

In 2016, just one year after its inception, Super Smash Con established itself as the “Super Bowl” of Smash 64. The 2017 iteration of this prestigious tournament series has been tasked with the lofty expectations of matching the size and talent of last years roster, as well as generating a level of pure electricity that hasn’t been seen since Genesis 3’s top eight bracket. With the explosion of Smash 64 tournaments over the past year, attendance has become more spread out. However, Super Smash Con 2017 will play host to more top talent than any tournament ever seen, featuring nine of the top ten on the SSB64 League Rankings, along with Fukurou who is expected to be ranked in the top ten for 2017. With unprecedented regional diversity at the top, each clash has added meaning, and every player gives viewers a reason to be excited.

The Former Champion Returns

With the legendary Alvin from Peru attending his first North American, as well as four top-level Japanese players, and Isai himself tagging along, the sophomore year for Northern Virginia’s monstrous convention became the biggest and most stacked Smash 64 tournament of all time. Despite this, the Smash 64 community knew something was missing: their champion. Following the buzz created by his victory at Genesis 3, the community was met with shocking news when it was announced that the champion, Wario, would not be able to attend SSC 2016. One year later, and over a year and a half since he came from Japan to make his mark on American turf, Wario is back. Despite being ranked first on the SSB64 League Rankings in 2016, he has found his spot as the greatest Smash 64 player in the world contested during his absence, as Peru’s Alvin, previously ranked fourth, has dominated the North American scene for the entirety of 2017. Wario captivated the Smash 64 community in a unique way, with awe-inspiring technical prowess and flawless punishes executed with surgical precision, rather than risky, flashy combos. Following his performance at Genesis 3, an event that served as the catalyst for the #yearof64, every Pikachu player in North America was imitating Wario’s style, whether it was his  Up-B ledge cancel “Zip-Zaps”, his seemingly-perfected edgeguarding style, or his devastating kill-confirms. Despite the first set of Grand Finals being a three games-to-zero sweep in SuPeRbOoMfAn’s favor, Wario’s dominance the rest of the tournament, along with a clean record at Kansai 2016 and Japan Smash Cup 2016 led many to believe he was untouchable. While a portion of the Smash 64 community believed he still had something to prove, the rest saw Wario as the pinnacle of Smash 64. To them, he was Pikachu at his finest.

The Current Champion Defends His Title

Although he didn’t emerge victorious from his North American debut, Alvin has dominated the scene in the year since then. Looking to prove himself following his disappointing premiere, Alvin returned to the states for SuperBoomed, in New York City. Alvin came in as the fourth seed, and left the entire venue shocked as he double eliminated SuPeRbOoMfAn, and won Grand Finals in two sets over Mariguas. That tournament came to define Alvin as a smasher. As Mariguas defeated him in Winner’s Finals, and had him pushed to the brink in set one of Grand Finals, Alvin completely downloaded his opponent, completely shutting him down. Alvin gave his opponent an inch, and then took a mile himself. Contrary to Wario’s calculating, opportunistic style, Alvin plays with aggression and brute force, exerting pressure until his opponents crumble. The Peruvian Falcon/Pika main’s near-flawless performances at Genesis 4, CEO Dreamland, and LetsGo!, along with Wario’s surprisingly disappointing performance at Kanto 2017, have earned Alvin the one seed at SSC 2017, and perhaps the distinction of the strongest Smash 64 player in the world.

North America’s Hero Strikes Back

In the two years following Apex 2014, PG|SuPeRbOoMfAn was the man to beat, making victories against top players such as Mariguas and Kerokeroppi look routine. Although the Canadian conqueror was not flawless, falling short in a best-of-one character-locked tournament in Japan, and a Hyrule-legal tournament in Peru, Boom was the king of the north. Boom not only beat his opponents, he made sure they never stood a chance. But then, everything changed when Wario arrived. Following his defeat at Genesis 3, everyone was anticipating an exciting rematch at Super Smash Con, which never came. Boom continued to defeat everyone in his path, once again demonstrating his power. Before he could even earn another shot at Wario, Boom found another obstacle in his path: Alvin. Following three tough losses to Alvin, Boom has spent most of 2017 returning to his roots, as he has played exclusively Captain Falcon at the top level excluding one set against Revan’s Kirby. Despite a seemingly limited number of appearances in 2017, he appears completely revitalized, handling his previous toughest opponent in North America, Wizzrobe, on numerous occasions. While he maintains a solid stable of characters, Panda Global’s star 64 player has sharpened the tool that made him notorious, a Falcon capable of going toe to toe with the best players in the world. Despite being the third seed at the tournament, Boom may be the most well-rounded player competing, and perhaps when all is said and done, SuPeRbOoMfAn will hold the distinction of the best in the world.

The SNOSA Slayer Goes Global

Fukurou has long been known as the strongest Kirby player in the world. Being the second strongest active player in Japan is no small feat, especially considering he is contending with the likes of Wario, Wangera, and K Y S K, all of whom have had impeccable performances in North America. Fukurou’s first trip into the United States was fairly recent, being flown out to SNOSA III in June to contend with the likes of Isai, Mariguas, and Dext3r. While he was given some close games from Dext3r, Mariguas proved to be the only one capable of taking games, pushing him to a second set in Grand Finals. With Isai falling short of his expectations of being in the upper echelon of players, Fukurou missed an opportunity to prove he could contend at the very top, although his performances against Mariguas and Dext3r suggest he is more than capable. Super Smash Con will likely give Fukurou a chance to contend against one of the true titans of Smash, as he is expected to face off against Alvin. Before he can worry about the Peruvian, however, he will need to contend with Mariguas yet again, without the comfort of an extra set to keep him afloat.

Enter The Ring

After years of grinding, turmoil, and heartbreak, Mariguas found himself in Toronto, and it once again seemed as if he would fall short of his destiny. Despite coming within a hair’s length of victory on several occasions, it seemed at Get On My Level 2017, Mariguas would suffer yet another soul-crushing defeat. Mexico’s greatest weapon was quickly dispatched by Isai’s fabled Pikachu, and was currently being pushed to the brink by The Z’s Fox, sometimes looking lost in the matchup. Powering through a tense game five, Mariguas eyed a familiar scenario: only two sets stood between him and victory. Mariguas would seemingly take the most difficult route possible to earn his first major victory, sweeping Isai’s Pikachu in set one of Grand Finals, vanquishing one of his demons, and clutching out an intense set two in five games. The first player to ever defeat Isai’s Pikachu in a full set, let alone two, showed off his championship ring with pride, and looked onward to Super Smash Con. With all of the momentum one could ask for, Mariguas will likely be faced with haunting memories of past opportunities that slipped away, as he is on a collision course with Fukurou, and Alvin. He has proven capable of taking sets off these players in the past, and with his recent victory fueling the fire within, the odds may find themselves in his favor this time around.

The Dragon Slayer

One year ago, Frys|Wizzrobe found himself in Grand Finals against SuPeRbOoMfAn, above all of the Japanese talent, above Isai, and above the rest of North America. The young Yoshi expert was the true storyline of the tournament, demonstrating his expertise against players who before then could have been considered the best Yoshis in the world. Since then, Wizzrobe has had his ups and downs, featuring his first set win against SuPeRbOoMfAn, as well as several disappointing upsets. Despite a few roadblocks, he has continued his rise to the top level at a breakneck pace, taking Boom to several game five multiple times in recent months. With this familiar opponent projected to stand in his way earlier than usual in bracket, Wizzy has a chance to turn those game five situations into an upset victory. Wizzy would enjoy nothing more than to force Alvin into a familiar, haunting scenario: facing off against another top-level Yoshi.

Isai

Although revered by the greater smash community, Isai comes into Super Smash Con 2017 without a major tournament victory since his return last January. Diehard fans would blame his constant character switching, with the expectation of his Pikachu earning victory if it ever was given the chance. Traveling to Toronto with every intention of freeing the beast, Isai’s Pikachu would finally be displayed at full power during Get On My Level. After cruising to Grand Finals without dropping a game, the unthinkable was happening: a full-powered Isai was about to get swept, six games to zero, by Mariguas. Despite mounting a monstrous comeback to bring the final set to game five, a three game comeback proved to be too much for the notorious Northern Californian. A few rough performances in 2017 have placed Isai as a fringe top eight seed, although few would be surprised to see him return as a rejuvenated top threat with more Pikachu practice under his belt. The projected matchup against Wario could bring back memories to many of the exhibition matches between the two at Genesis 3, where they seemed near evenly matched.

No Rest for the Wicked

Wangera’s appearance at Genesis 3 inspired a new generation of Puff players, some of whom were losing hope in the character. Taking down Isai’s Fox and Pikachu, two challenging matchups for Jigglypuff, Wangera changed the way many played the game, showing puff is capable of long combos offstage, and unique defensive maneuvers. The Japanese socialite returns to the scene of his somewhat disappointing follow-up to Genesis 3, where he fell in a close five game set against TR3GTheZ, and lost the rematch against Isai. Despite this, most will remember Wangera’s Super Smash Con performance for the tense, last second hit against Dext3r for the come-from-behind timeout victory which earned him a spot in top eight. The joyous Jiggly is expected to square off against Alvin, which would provide a unique matchup, as Peru has yet to contend with a top-level Jigglypuff. However, if Wangera has any hope of earning the opportunity, he’ll likely have to relive his exciting set against Dext3r.

Japan’s Dragons Return

Last year saw the debut of three highly anticipated Japanese Yoshi mains in North America. While Bonobono and Prince were the favorites, they both fell early. Prince earned a ninth place spot, which while disappointing, was still a respectable placing in such a stacked tournament. Kurabba came in as the underdog of the three, however he powered through his bracket, taking down the likes of Alvin and KeroKeroppi before facing off against his comrade from Japan, Wangera. Kurabba’s recent victories against Wario also offer a compelling argument for him as a sleeper pick to sneak into top eight. Prince returns to improve on his performance one year ago, facing an even tougher field than before. If he hopes to prove he just scratched the surface of his abilities the previous year, he’ll likely have to exact his revenge in a rematch against Mariguas, who kept him out of top eight in 2016. It may be a tall task to face such a red-hot player so early, however, no one would travel across the globe looking for a free pass.

Home Improvement

One could make a case for two of the most improved players over the past year to make waves this weekend, as Dext3r and Zero could rise up once again as new threats. Mexico’s Dext3r has proven over the course of 2017 that his title as “2016’s Most-Improved” was no fluke. At Genesis 4 he made a triumphant return to top eight at a Super Major to chants of “No more ninth!”, earning himself a fourth place finish. Victories over Wizzrobe, Isai, and Tacos have solidified his status as a top contender, and Dext3r will be hungrier than ever for a shot at payback against the Japanese Puff that haunts his nightmares. Texas’s Zero, on the other hand, likely has more fond memories of Super Smash Con 2016. His breakout performance featured victories against Firo and Bonobono, along with a close three game set against Prince, before being taken out by Dext3r. He has since established himself as a true top eight threat, with victories over Mariguas, Isai, and Revan. Although he’s had rough outings against Yoshi recently, falling to TR3GTheZ’s Yoshi at Get On My Level 2017, and Wizzrobe’s Yoshi at Low Tier City 5, perhaps a return to the scene where he upset Bonobono can provide him the inspiration needed in a projected rematch against Wizzrobe.

A Loaded Field

Earning the distinction of the most stacked tournament of all time leaves much room for shakeups, as demonstrated by the completely unpredictable top 32 bracket seen in Chantilly just one year ago. While there’s too many noteworthy players to fit in a small preview, for possibly the first time in Smash 64 history, an entire top 16 bracket holds no certainties and few likelihoods. No seed is solid, and no players are safe. From top to bottom anything goes this year.

Wizarding 101: Volume II. Preference, Audience and Finding Your “Style”

By Jeremy “Professor_wizard” Davis

Hey everyone, Professor_wizard here, back again to write some more about commentary. This time I have some topics I am really excited to talk about. They include the more individualistic aspects of commentary, the ways commentators can be different and how to achieve this.

Let’s get into it!

The Hard Truth

Before I give any advice on finding your style and catering to your audience, I have to talk about a truism of viewership and commentary that is sometimes hard to hear: there are ALWAYS going to be people who are not fans of your commentary.

It is just a fact that viewers have different preferences. Especially in the world of gaming viewership there is no established expectation on how to approach commentary (more on this later). The fact is that not everybody wants the same things. In fact, there are many viewers out there who are not fans of commentary at all, and would prefer to just watch with game sounds.

Now, in a lot of scenarios this is an “embrace the haters” kind of moment, but I will offer some slightly different advice: you cannot please everyone. Say it with me: you cannot please everyone. That does not mean you should ignore criticism, but instead you should be able to identify what is helpful criticism and what is a difference in preference. This is crucial for improving your commentary.

The key to filtering through critical feedback to find points for improvement is to try to consider who is watching and what your goals are for adding to the match for those viewers. Which leads me to my next topic.

Audience: From Supermajor Pools to Basement Grands

Audience matters a LOT. Are you commentating R1 of your twelve person biweekly or Grand Finals of Genesis 5? It does not take too much experience to see that commentating is going to be different between these two.

But there are times it can be a bit more subtle than that. Even commentating bracket of a 64 exclusive is different from commentating a multi-game supermajor. Are most of the viewers new to the scene and the game? Or are they familiar with the characters and players? If you are trying to take my advice from the previous section and appeal to the largest audience you can, thinking about who that audience might be is something commentators need to consider and prep for prior to hopping on the mic. So how do you prep for different audiences? I don’t have the space here to go over every circumstance you might commentate for, but instead I will go over two main dichotomies to keep in mind while considering how to proceed.

The first axis of dichotomy is: how new or experienced is your audience? This is something that is often discussed in Melee and Smash 4, as they often have events with lots of new viewers. If you are catering to newer viewers, it is important to point out things that may be a bit more obvious to experienced players, but are crucial to understanding how the game works. For instance: Kirby’s up tilt or Falcon’s grab can start really easy combos, and are therefore big threats the opponent has to work around when playing against them. This is something that may be a bit too obvious to say to someone really familiar with the 64 scene, but to a newer player,  explaining that it is a reason why not to approach Kirby from above actually has value to those viewers. For more exclusive events where there may be high level play going on, and more of the viewers are long time 64 watchers, they want to hear about the small adjustments being made to limit advantages like a strong command of top platform.

The second major dichotomy revolves around the stakes of the match. And this goes back to the most important ideal of commentary: what are you adding to the match? What I really mean here is that high level matches hold the attention of the audience and the job of the commentator is to accentuate the play with insights and energy. But what about games that are extremely one-sided? Or games that are low level? These are matches that may become a bit boring for the viewers, which leads to them being bored with the commentators as well. How do you add to the match? The general rule of thumb is when the match is close, follow the action closer, when it is not, talk about the bigger trends and narratives. If the matches are one-sided, commenting on how one player is making mistakes repeatedly is not very exciting, taking a step back to discuss a narrative may be more interesting.

How each caster pair approaches each of these scenarios depends on their strengths and weaknesses. Which leads me to my last section…

What is “style” and where do I get one?

The most important thing I can stress in this article is that not all casters are going to approach things the same way, and that’s not only OK, it’s a good thing. I have so far spent a few thousand words in the last two articles telling commentators what I think they should and should not be doing. But the real secret of commentary is that there are usually some wrong answers, but probably no “right” answers when it comes to the most basic question: “What should I be saying?”

If you want a good rundown of what NOT to say, and some hints on what to say if you are at a loss, you should check out Volume I. More or less everything else falls under the purview of “style”.

Now unfortunately, it feels impossible to tell someone how to cast in a specific style. The advice I can offer is 1) listen to other casters and try to absorb parts of commentary that most resonate with you, and 2) experiment with things you want to try. The only way to know if a commentary idea you have will be successful or not is to try it out, listen to how it sounds later, and ask for feedback on how it went.

The last thing I will say on style is to bring it full circle: not everyone will like every style, and you cannot please them all. Try not to take it too hard if someone in twitch chat would rather mute the stream, but also do not be stubborn and ignore all criticism citing “I just have a different style”.

Parting Thoughts and Feedback

The final takeaway that applies to all the above is that feedback is really important, but how you take it is just as critical. The best thing to do to improve on commentary is to keep an open mind when hearing criticism, and then make some decisions yourself on how best to internalize them.

I hope this volume has been helpful in trying to highlight some of the more individualistic aspects of commentary. Commentating is really important for the 64 scene, and there is always room for more commentators out there. Look out for another article in this series in the future, and let me know what you think on twitter.

Jeremy Davis is Puff/Kirby main from the Indy64 scene. Much better known for his commentary than his play, he also helps run /r/ssb64, and is a PhD candidate on the side. You can find him on twitter @Prof_wizard.