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.
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.
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.