By Josh Brody
The rise of the Philadelphia Smash 64 scene from late 2016 through early 2017 also brought about the rise of a new Smash 64 annual event: Keystoned. The inaugural Keystoned event in 2017 was the first large-scale tournament to run the Waterfall Tournament Format, a system conceived by New York’s Dark Gentleman and optimized by Baltimore’s Shears, which has since become the standard for Smash 64 majors. With an entire year to adjust to the format and a lineup that features 20 of the 64 League’s Top 64 ranked players, Keystoned II expects to live up to the unpredictability and excitement of the first.
Following the trend set by Keystoned in 2017, the 2018 iteration features massive placement pools, all stacked from top to bottom. There are many exciting matchups, some familiar and some new, scattered throughout these pools.
Josh Brody vs. Loto
Florida’s veteran Captain Falcon main, Loto, has thrust himself back into notoriety in recent years, earning himself a spot on the 64 League Rankings in 2017. Faced with a matchup he’s very familiar with, he could give Brody a run for his money. In theory, all he needs is four grabs.
Czar vs. KD3
Philadelphia’s rising star, KD3, has a chance to build upon his ever-expanding résumé with a big win against a formidable veteran. His recent trajectory suggests he should be more than capable of dispatching the Mario/Luigi main in his path. However, he could be caught off guard in his first high-stakes matchup against the “Bros”.
Stevie G vs. Yobo
Penn State’s Stevie G returns to the scene of his best performance yet, where he made Top 8 at Keystoned 2017 with wins over Star King, Finio, and MasterHandJob. Yobo will have a chance to relive his own success, as he also attempts to repeat a Top 8 performance, which featured victories over Shears, Jimmy Joe and The Protagonist. An unpredictable matchup between two evenly skilled players, which will likely end with a globally ranked player finishing third in their Placement Pool, is almost unthinkable.
The Protagonist vs. Yunque
An uncommon character and player matchup, a well-traveled solo Fox main from Baltimore, versus a more reclusive mostly-solo Jigglypuff main from New England, may be the most unique set amongst the higher seeds. Traditionally considered to be a disastrous matchup for Jigglypuff, recent years have seen the scales tip back into Jigglypuff’s favor. The impact of Yunque’s 2:00 AM showdown with Nintendude at Shine 2017 may be seen in this set, when the time comes.
D1 / Top 8
With the level of closely-matched talent below SuPeRbOoMfAn, the flow of Division 1 and Top 8 is anyone’s guess. Every player brings excitement to the bracket in their own way, however, there are a few unusual suspects that add a uniqueness to Keystoned II’s top phases.
Zero, a surprise entrant making his way from Texas, proved himself to be a threat to some of the strongest players in the world in 2017, taking sets off of Wizzrobe, Mariguas, and Isai. Although a win over Boom may still be out of reach for him, a victory over Sleepy Fox, more commonly known as LD, would speak volumes for his matchup knowledge. Perhaps he even has new strategies to test out against Boom’s Kirby this time around.
Sleepy Fox sightings are rare in recent years, but they always leave an impact. Long considered to be a Falcon slayer, he is expected to face several high-level Falcons, which could put his skills to the test like never before. Although SuPeRbOoMfAn opts for Pikachu against Sleepy Fox, Zero and Lowww’s Falcons are dangerous to any Fox main.
Lord narwhal is a well-established and perhaps consistently underrated talent. Despite a tough loss to Madrush in Placement Pools at Let’s Go!, which he quickly avenged in Division 1, the North Carolina scene’s father and top player maintained a very clean résumé in 2017. His close set against Alvin at SSC 2017 hangs over him, however opportunities against Lowww, Robert, and Fireblaster could prove big for his status as a top player.
Robert had a quiet 2017, although he had his best tournament yet at SSC 17, featuring wins over Fireblaster and KD3, and a close set against Wizzrobe. The young netplayer should be anxious for opportunities to challenge new foes, such as lord narwhal, Czar, and Zero, but he may also appreciate another opportunity against Fireblaster. Robert will have plenty of chances to continue his upward trend into 2018, with an absurd amount of close competition to contend with.
Near the end of 2017, Hitstun 5 in Texas introduced a “Zero Pikachu Kirby” (ZPK) Ruleset for doubles, the first usage of full character bans in a tournament of its caliber. An experimental ruleset with the goal of encouraging players to branch away from Pikachu and Kirby, to create a more diverse field of characters. For its first run, ZPK offered some interesting teams, although there were clear favorites from the get-go. With seven Luigis and six Marios, more than half of Top 6 was comprised of Mario/Luigi teams.
Following up on the usage of the “Single Pikachu Kirby” (SPK) ruleset at Keystoned (2017), Keystoned II has gone one step further, running their own ZPK doubles event. With a roster of players approaching “major” status in both size and skill level, Keystoned II will offer an even deeper look at the trends and consequences of banning Pikachu and Kirby.
SuPeRbOoMfAn has once again joined forces with the strongest available player, Fireblaster, and is once again a heavy favorite for first place. The two other teams which filled out Hitstun 5’s Top 3, Josh Brody/Darkhorse and Shears/Loto, will face a deeper and more established talent pool if they want to repeat their performances. The inclusion of proven teams such as KD3/HAMMERHEART and Czar/KeroKeroppi, along with dangerous sleeper teams such as Lowww/SKG and MasterHandJob/Sleepy Fox, makes this tournament tough sledding for top 3 hopefuls. Spectators should be excited to see how several strong Fox players perform in a meta without Pikachu or Kirby.