Boss Battle 3 Preview: Indy at It Again

By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

One of Smash 64’s largest exclusive tournaments makes its return to Indiana this weekend, as the third edition of the Boss Battle Series kicks off on Friday. Boss Battle 2 had it all, it had food provided, housing included and  crew battles. It even gave birth to some true comedic gems, such as SuPeRbOoMfAn’s notorious walk-up song, and Janitor drowning in pools. Indy64’s Bacorn has kept the Smash 64 community well-informed of everything packed into Boss Battle 3; however, the event has also managed to create a few pleasant surprises along the way.

Indy64’s B33F generated excitement near the end of registration with the announcement of Character Crew Battles, an event never before attempted at a Smash 64 major. A fun and unique addition to the lineup at Boss Battle 3, this event pits full crews of a single character against each other, with a crew representing each character except Pikachu and Kirby. The Fox crew aims to run away with it, featuring an incredibly dangerous one-two punch at the top with TR3GTheZ and Lowww, while hosting some strong depth throughout the roster. Despite losing Tacos and Fireblaster to DK and Mario respectively, Team Yoshi is poised to do some damage as well, with sHEERmADNESS and Shears at the top, along with a similar level of depth. The Falcon crew, with the loss of Boom to the Link team, and the addition of KeroKeroppi, could be the strongest crew led by a player who doesn’t main the character. With some creative balancing efforts and interesting choices by top players, several crews such as Mario, Samus, DK and Link could be dangerous sleepers as well. While traditional crew battles are single elimination, this event will be run as a double elimination bracket. While this is not as appetizing as Waterfall, it allows for more matches than a typical crew battle, while being reasonable with time constraints. A successful running of this bracket could open the door for future events to run character crews, and perhaps even improve upon the concept.

The Single Pikachu Kirby Ruleset (SPK) isn’t anything new for doubles anymore. However, this weekend features the first appearance of Team Luv (Tacos and TR3GTheZ) in an SPK doubles tournament. Team Luv will be the first top-level team to enter a SPK tournament, as well as the strongest team affected by the ruleset. While one of the two players will have to switch off of their doubles main, both are notoriously strong with the entire cast in singles, which could make for some very unpredictable matches. TR3GTheZ came out on top at GoML teaming with Isai where the two played a host of characters, rarely challenged by the competition. However, Team Luv will have to face SuPeRbOoMfAn, who they’ve never beaten before, forming a formidable duo with Dext3r. While Boom’s Pikachu is one of the biggest doubles threats in the world, his strength with the cast could prove invaluable, as Dext3r’s strong singles secondaries may not be ready for top-level doubles. Although these two teams are leagues above the rest of the competition, there is no shortage of strong teams vying for Top 8, or potentially even Top 4. The Bang Bros. from Baltimore, BarkSanchez and Shears have a strong résumé and a solid claim to the #3 spot, but they will have their hands full with the strong pool of talent closing in on them. KeroKeroppi and Czar are both known for their singles prowess rather than doubles, but with the two best friends finally teaming together, they could have the star power and synergy to break into a shaky top 4.  NaCl and CTG have proven to be a force in standard doubles, and in theory SPK should make them even stronger. The two have built a strong reputation in recent years, and have come close to breaking into the next level on several occasions. KD3 and HAMMERHEART are fresh off of a strong performance at MVP vs. MoMS, despite falling just short in Grand Finals, and have shown in 2017 that they’re a tough team to tackle. Fireblaster and $$$ Jim $$$ have a tough path but could build upon their success from CEO Dreamland, while Lowww and Antarctican hope to continue the trend of online teams’ success in SPK doubles. The ruleset shouldn’t have a huge impact on the teams seeded for Top 8 besides the top two teams, however it could shape their paths through the bracket. With a very diverse group of teams, there will be no shortage of interesting matchups to check out.

All eyes for singles will be on KeroKeroppi, seeing how he fares in his return from a long hiatus. In his prime, he would have found himself in the #2 spot at this tournament. However, due to tough losses to Dext3r, tacos and TR3GTheZ, followed by his year away from Smash, he finds himself in the 5th slot. The spots underneath Boom have no guarantees, whether or not Kero works his way up there, as the gap between the next three players is minute at best. Dext3r has had the most success in the past twelve months, although TR3GTheZ and tacos are both still capable of taking him down. BarkSanchez, Fireblaster and Hero Pie have solidified their spots rounding out Top 8, but face some dangerous threats, both familiar and mysterious, that could steal a spot in the final bracket.

KD3 has made a name for himself tearing down regions such as NYC and Florida, but wants nothing more than to finally make a big splash in the major scene. With a plethora of characters at his disposal, he has an answer for anything that gets thrown at him and a surprise for any obstacle in his path. With wins over KeroKeroppi and Firo under his belt, perhaps he’ll add some new names to the list on Sunday.

Finally able to make his way away from the East Coast, Lowww has a shot to dominate outside of Philadelphia and show he’s arrived as a true top threat on console. Boasting an incredible level of matchup knowledge and a strong understanding of the game as a whole, Lowww has the makings of a top player, as consistency is key. While he seems to favor his trusty Fox as of late, his Falcon provides a dangerous backup plan if necessary. He’ll likely find himself with yet another difficult path, although he has the potential to power through and chalk up a few more big wins.

Finding himself in a bracket of out-of-region talent that finally does not match him up against fellow Floridian Loto, sHEERmADNESS can now free the beast and show the level of talent that has allowed him to take sets off of players such as Fireblaster and BarkSanchez. Having managed to fly under the radar in recent years, sHEER could sneak in a few upsets if he’s on his game. With plenty of time to prepare for this event, his notorious grinding could pay off big with plenty of unsuspecting victims still sleeping on the former “legacy fraud.”

Czar has slowly been working his way back in the major Smash 64 scene, potentially encouraged by the return of Kero. With the two becoming regulars at the Nebulous weeklies in NYC, Czar has been able to demonstrate that he is still a strong player, while many would suggest he has room to level up even further. How unfortunate would it be for the rest of the bracket if he found his old form just in time for this weekend?

Boss Battle 3 has found itself to be a haven for online talent, and while players such as Lowww and sHEERmADNESS lead the pack outside of Top 8, such as hydra and SKG could find their true breakout performances this weekend. Hydra’s performance at Snosa III, featuring big victories against NaCl and SotoH, put him on the map for Boss Battle 3 with high expectations. SKG’s console debut at CEO Dreamland saw him take down Nintendude and NTA, but the dominant online competitor has much loftier goals in his follow-up performance. While SKG’s path will unfortunately likely lay through fellow online players, he’ll have plenty of chances to beat his seed and land himself on the radar. Hydra’s path will more likely feature a slew of console talent, with well-seasoned veterans such as Marbles and CTG ready to stop him short. If Hy continue their improvement on console, the bracket could become very interesting come Sunday.

These players will have their hands full with other familiar threats such as CTG, Loto and HAMMERHEART. In the modern era of Smash 64, no one is safe.

Singles pools begin at 10 A.M. on Saturday, September 30th and will be streamed on the SSB64  League and Pushblock Gaming Twitch channels.

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The​ ​Prodigal​ ​Son​ ​Returns:​ ​An​ ​Interview​ ​With​ ​Smash​ ​64’s​​ ​KeroKeroppi

By Brendan “Bean” Murray

In 2016, one of the top Smash 64 players announced via Twitlonger that he was quitting the game and moving on to play its sequel. Despite being ranked 10th on the 2016 SSB64 League rankings and earning The 64 Story’s “Best Sportsmanship Award,” he decided to retire, citing his isolation and the game’s meta as the driving forces behind his decision. He would compete in one last tournament, Genesis 4, before hanging up his Hori for good.

Nine months have passed since Genesis 4. In that time, Joey “KeroKeroppi” Speziale has posted about Smash 64 on social media and played friendlies with other players, but has not competed in any tournaments (excluding Let’s Go!, where he competed in doubles). It seemed that Kero was truly set on retirement. Then, in the span of a month, he moved to New York City to work, started coming to locals, and re-entered the competitive Smash 64 scene. Kero was gracious enough to sit down with me and discuss the rollercoaster of a year he has had, as well as his journey to that point, his competitive mentality, and his impressive rise to the top echelon of players.

Note: This article has been lightly edited for continuity.

Brendan:​ ​First​ ​things​ ​first,​ ​where​ ​did​ ​your​ ​tag​ ​come​ ​from?

KeroKeroppi: Yeah, I don’t tell people that. I wouldn’t call it a secret, it’s just not something I go around talking about. There is this Japanese anime frog that, I guess it’s called Kerokeroppi, so I’m not denying that that exists. The thing that I got my tag from very well may have gotten it from that frog — I mean how many fucking things are called Kerokeroppi? So realistically that’s where that came from, but the thing that I got [my tag] from isn’t specifically from the Japanese frog.

B:​ ​So​ ​you’re​ ​not​ ​very​ ​into​ ​Japanese​ ​wildlife?

K: Nah, I actually f*** with Japanese wildlife.

B:​ ​And​ ​where​ ​did​ ​the​ ​“Koroshiyo”​ ​clan​ ​originate?

K: So that’s me, my brother Stranded, Czar, Maliki and Skyfire. Maliki’s my cousin, he lives like 45 minutes away, but we all pretty much live…for all of us to be playing in a room on a weekend, it wasn’t unheard of. And that’s just something we called ourselves.

B:​ ​When​ ​did​ ​you​ ​start​ ​playing​ ​Smash​ ​64,​ ​just​ ​in​ ​general?

K: I mained Yoshi when I was ten, and I would beat one-player mode every day before 4th grade, or whatever grade you’re in when you’re ten. Then I got the game [again] in tenth grade, and me and Skyfire would just dick around and play because we were friends from school. And we both were trying to one-up each other, but we didn’t know about anything, we didn’t know about Z cancelling or short hopping or anything, we were straight scrubs.

And then one day we discovered Z cancel. We just googled ‘Smash 64 techniques’ and found Z cancelling, and we were like, “Yo, apparently people actually play this game.” So I googled “Who is the best Smash 64 player” and Isai’s name came up, and I saw the word Smashboards and I was like, “Oh shit let me check out this Smashboards place,” and I found out there were all these players and there were more techniques that weren’t Z cancelling. It was crazy, I will never forget that day. I will never forget…it was, like, 7 PM on a Tuesday night and I was like, “Yo, this is crazy!”

B:​ ​When​ ​did​ ​you​ ​write​ ​that​ ​Smashboards​ ​post​ ​that​ ​called​ ​Isai​ ​out,​ ​saying​ ​you​ ​could​ ​beat him?​ ​Was​ ​that​ ​post​ ​and​ ​that​ ​day​ ​the​ ​beginning​ ​of​ ​your​ ​competitive​ ​career?

K: That was the same night, 7 o’clock on a school night. I looked up Isai’s YouTube videos, I found Smashboards, and I thought, “This guy Isai doesn’t look that good.” And I was talking to Skyfire and I was like, we can beat this guy. Let me just call him out and we will expose this fraud and we will be the best. And it obviously didn’t happen like that.

Kero Isai Callout.png

B:​ ​So​ ​that​ ​was​ ​when​ ​you​ ​discovered​ ​a​ ​larger​ ​Smash​ ​world.​ ​Did​ ​you​ ​start​ ​going​ ​to tournaments?​ ​Were​ ​there​ ​tournaments​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to?

K: This was in September of 2011. When I called out Isai, people said, dude, you’re probably, no, you’re definitely garbage. But if you are interested there’s this tournament coming up called Apex 2012. You’re gonna get beat down but if you actually care about the game you might stick with it. And nobody thought I would because at that time so many people think they’re the best players in the world, then they show up and they get beat down and they leave. So nobody expected me to turn into this actual player.

So I go to Apex 2012, I get thrashed by literally everybody. Dude, I distinctly remember Clubbadubba 5-stocking me with Jigglypuff over and over, it’s one of my memories from that tournament. And it actually became one of, probably my favorite weekend ever, up to this date, was Apex 2012, because everyone said that I would leave and not play once I found out I sucked, but I knew how much I cared about the game and I knew I was still gonna want to compete.

B:​ ​And​ ​you​ ​were​ ​in​ ​high​ ​school?

K: Yeah, I was a senior. So this was after I figured out that Isai was really good, and SuPeRbOoMfAn was a really good player, so I kinda went in [to Apex 2012] accepting my fate.

But at this point, Isai and Boom were kinda my heroes, and they still are, you know, and I remember playing Isai for the first time, playing Boom for the first time, and I remember playing all these people that I looked up to. And the crazy part is that I am better than a lot of them now, but they are still, like…I will never forget meeting JimmyJoe for the first time, or JaimeHR for the first time. It was just a really special weekend.

B:​ ​And​ ​after​ ​that​ ​it​ ​just​ ​took​ ​off?​ ​You​ ​were​ ​practicing,​ ​grinding,​ ​going​ ​to​ ​as​ ​many​ ​events​ ​as you​ ​could?

K: What happened was, I played the tournament, everyone was like, this kid is not gonna come back. I knew I would, but they didn’t. I was going away to [college], Apex [2012] was in January, so that upcoming August I was going away to school and I didn’t go to any tournaments between Apex 2012 and Apex 2013. And I met Czar at school, the first week of freshman year, and we started playing together, and nobody knew I had played, and I showed up at Apex 2013 after grinding super hard for a year, knowing I would come back. And I remember I beat BattleCow in a $50 money match, and I ended up getting like 17th, which was super good considering everybody thought I would suck. And since Apex 2013, that’s when I actively started going to locals and seriously competing.

B:​ ​You’re​ ​from​ ​upstate​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​relatively​ ​isolated​ ​compared​ ​to​ ​some​ ​other regions.​ ​How​ ​did​ ​you​ ​manage​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​if​ ​there​ ​weren’t​ ​that​ ​many​ ​people​ ​to​ ​play​ ​or events​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to?

K: My parents are from upstate but it’s not crazy upstate, so I can still go to Nebulous. My freshman and sophomore years I would come home fairly often, and I would be able to go to tournaments here and there. But during my junior and senior years, I pretty much never came home, for various reasons, so I would only play Czar and Skyfire. Those are really the only people I played, along with my roommate, he played too. I would only play at majors and play my friends. And towards my senior year it started to get really hard, because that’s when this whole revival of 64 happened, and my school was super isolated. To get to my school you have to drive an hour without cell service, that’s how isolated it is. I used to be afraid that my car would break down and I would get eaten by wolves on my way home. So it sucked watching all these people go to locals, it was hard.

B:​ ​So​ ​there​ ​was​ ​a​ ​level​ ​of​ ​competitive​ ​isolation​ ​you​ ​experienced?

K: Completely. And in my apartment at school, playing online wasn’t a thing unless I went out and got my own internet, but I didn’t have the money to do that. I couldn’t play online, couldn’t go to tournaments, the only thing I could do was play my friends. It got hard.

B:​ ​Was​ ​your​ ​brother​ ​there,​ ​getting​ ​good​ ​at​ ​the​ ​same​ ​time​ ​as​ ​you​ ​were?

K: Tommy couldn’t drive at the time so he was in his own sort of isolation, though geographically it wasn’t as bad as mine. He pretty much was doing the same thing I was but he was only playing Maliki. So we were both kind of isolated in our own ways. And we played each other on holidays but me and Stranded would go five or six months without playing [each other], which I think not a lot of people realize. We’re brothers, people assume we came up together, we played and trained, but we didn’t really play that much. I’d come home for Thanksgiving and I’d be like, “Let’s sneak in some Smash before our cousins come over,” but we really couldn’t play that much.

B:​ ​So​ ​since​ ​you​ ​were​ ​so​ ​far​ ​away​ ​from​ ​most​ ​regions,​ ​so​ ​isolated,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​tough​ ​to​ ​stay motivated.​ ​Did​ ​you​ ​know​ ​that​ ​you​ ​were​ ​getting​ ​better​ ​compared​ ​to​ ​everyone​ ​else,​ ​even though​ ​you​ ​were​ ​in​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​remote​ ​location?

K: Well, there was a switch, right? I ended up leaving the game, which you’re probably alluding to. Junior year and senior year were the same, I was extremely isolated, but the mentality was different. Junior year, I knew I was getting better, I didn’t really mind that I was alone since I was doing my own thing. But I could only take so much of that. So senior year, it just became too much for me. I’m extremely competitive, by nature, and it got to the point where I was playing Smash 4 with my roommate over Smash 64 because I was like, “I can’t play level 9’s anymore!” There was one period where I went 4 months without playing a human being, because at this point, the other kids who I would play 64 with, Skyfire was playing Overwatch, Czar was playing Smash 4, and I went 4 months without playing a human. I thought, “This is awful,” so I started playing Smash 4 just to have that competitive feel, and I hated Smash 4.

So that’s when I decided that I was just going to play Melee. One of my good friends at school, coincidentally, actually was a Melee player. We didn’t even meet through Smash, he was just some kid I knew in the math department, then I just started playing Melee with these guys. I loved 64 with all my heart, but the community wasn’t where I needed it to be to fit my needs, and it sucked. I was either going to pick up another game entirely, or…I felt out of options, and it was a really dark place for me.

B:​ ​So​ ​you​ ​decided​ ​that​ ​Genesis​ ​4​ ​would​ ​be​ ​your​ ​last​ ​tournament?

K: Yeah, Genesis 4. That was in January [of 2017], and honestly, in early 2016, March-ish, I’m thinking, that’s when these first thoughts of quitting came. But I was like, “No way, this is Smash 64, I love this game.” And then, after about six months of battling this [loneliness], I thought, “I’m doing this.” Sometimes I would wake up and be like, “F*** this, I’m playing Melee,” but then a week later I would think that I was being immature and salty. And I remember one time, I really was just feeling down about 64, and I woke up the next day expecting to feel guilty for feeling that way, and I didn’t. And I thought, this needs to happen.

So after about six months of battling this whole “quitting 64” thing, I finally said that Genesis would be my last tournament, in January 2017. And I was so nervous going into Genesis. At the time, I thought it was my last 64 event, and I needed to go out with a bang. I got fifth place and I was so pumped. I got fifth place, only losing to Alvin and Boom, who got first and second, and I thought, “I will take that.” I was so happy with that, and I just decided to start playing Melee.

B:​ ​It’s​ ​interesting​ ​that​ ​you​ ​had​ ​those​ ​feelings​ ​of​ ​frustration​ ​and​ ​isolation​ ​while​ ​still​ ​being​ ​a top​ ​player​ ​in​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States.

K: Yeah, Isai wasn’t playing and I was consistently beating Wizzrobe at the time, so I was one of the top players from the United States. But honestly — and I never really thought about this — I never realized that despite me being better than all these other people, I was really unhappy. A lot of people said, “Why would you quit, you’re so good,” but I was miserable. I was so miserable.

B:​ ​Right,​ ​because​ ​for​ ​every​ ​tournament​ ​where​ ​you​ ​beat​ ​all​ ​these​ ​top​ ​players,​ ​you​ ​would​ ​go months​ ​without​ ​playing​ ​anybody?

K: Dude, before Super Smash Con 2016 and Genesis 4, I think I played another human once, in that six month period. That’s insane, this is crazy. And I ended up getting so angry, I started regretting [so many things]. At this point, I’m in my senior year, and I’m thinking, “I shouldn’t have gone to this school, I should have gone to school in New York City.” I was so angry, and it ended up pushing me to leave the game, like I said. It was tough.

B:​ ​But​ ​now​ ​you’re​ ​back!​ ​You’re​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York,​ ​you​ ​are​ ​in​ ​New​ ​York​ ​City.

K: Yeah, so what happened was, I won’t go into the backstory, but I found myself living in the city. All those years for me in Oneonta, thinking that I should have lived in New York, wishing I could go back and change what school I went to, and now I was finally at the place I wanted to be.

So at first, I lived here for like a month before coming back, and I was playing Melee. And one day I was like, “What am I doing?” For so many years I wanted [to live in New York City]. The only thing stopping me from coming back at this point is pride. I would be lying if it was anything other than that. I told people I wouldn’t come back, and I wanted to stay true to my word, but this is such a good opportunity to pursue something I’m passionate about, and I would be a fool not to do it. And I knew I’d get shit, because I said I would leave and then I came back and everyone knew it. But despite the trolls and people telling me that they told me so, this was a golden opportunity and something that I wanted for so many years. And now I have good internet and I can play online and it’s the fuckin’ best.

B:​ ​And​ ​at​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​day,​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​make​ ​decisions​ ​based​ ​on​ ​your​ ​own​ ​feelings,​ ​not what​ ​other​ ​people​ ​may​ ​think​ ​of​ ​you.

K: Honestly, that was half of it, and another thing too. When I was playing Melee, I never had a goal, which I think is a dangerous mentality. Ever since I started playing 64 and found out I was’t the best, I wanted to be the best, that was the thing driving me. But I would play Melee, and I would go to a tournament, I would get bodied, I wouldn’t care. I’d go to my friend’s place, get bodied, I wouldn’t care. I didn’t want anything out of the game.

And it all hit me one day. I thought, “What am I doing, dude?” When I was battling whether or not I should come back [to 64], I realized that I would rather take a set off Boom than win Evo five years in a row for Melee. It wouldn’t mean anything to me if I won Evo for Melee, it would mean nothing. Taking a game off Boom is the greatest feeling in the world, let alone taking a set. I feel like I would actually cry. And I thought that on paper, Melee was always the better option. I should have played Melee, but I was passionate about 64. And I was finally in a city where I could do it, so I would have been foolish not to pursue it.

B: There’s​ ​an​ ​emotional​ ​investment​ ​that​ ​has​ ​to​ ​be​ ​there.

K: Yeah, I wasn’t caring about Melee. It felt like a chore, and when I lost, it didn’t drive me. I didn’t care. I didn’t lose sleep about going 0-2 at a tournament.

B:​ ​Now​ ​that​ ​you’re​ ​back,​ ​what​ ​are​ ​your​ ​thoughts​ ​on​ ​the​ ​state​ ​of​ ​competitive​ ​Smash?​ ​What do​ ​you​ ​think​ ​about​ ​how​ ​much​ ​it’s​ ​grown​ ​in​ ​the​ ​past​ ​few​ ​years,​ ​what​ ​it​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​do​ ​to​ ​keep growing​ ​and​ ​be​ ​sustainable?

K: To be honest, the state of the community meant nothing in my decision to come back and I hadn’t even thought about it until this moment. I thought Smash Con 2017 was a complete success, and I think it was really good for the community. It was one of the best Top 8’s we’ve had. But [the state of the community] wasn’t in the back of my mind. One of the reasons I hadn’t thought about [the community], and I’m not sure how this will come out, is I think one of the things that drove me to unhappiness was [that] when I was in my isolation I used to argue a lot. Because I couldn’t play the game, I was like, “why don’t I just go [online] and argue with people about four stocks, single Pika-Kirby, whatever,” and the game became political to me, it was too much. So I told myself when I came back that I wouldn’t care about rulesets, which characters are good, which characters are bad, y’know, Shears could tell us we are playing 7 stocks with items on, I’m not going to argue. I am just playing the game because I love it at this point. I am not trying to be, I’m not going to make ruleset posts or anything like that. I’m just playing the game because I love it. And I think that will bring me a lot more happiness. Although I’ll still argue with people about matchups all day. Some people have no idea.

B:​ ​Do​ ​you​ ​have​ ​any​ ​personal​ ​plans​ ​for​ ​the​ ​future?

K: I am actually super pumped moving forward. I gotta say, I am at the best possible place I can be in my Smash career. In terms of how I’m playing, I’m not playing great, because I haven’t seriously put time into the game in nine months. So my actual play is not the best. But everything else — and this will eventually make me play better — everything else is the best it can be. I’m finally in the city I wanted to be [in], I can go to weeklies every week, I can play online, like I said, I stopped caring about this whole political section of Smash, like rulesets and stuff, I can play console with people, I’ve honestly been working on, I’ve been putting a lot of time into a certain character that I’ve kinda wanted to play for a long time. And it’s been bringing me a lot of happiness, too.

B:​ ​Is​ ​it​ ​Samus?

K: [Laughs] Dude I’m just in a really happy place. I think about how I think about the game now versus how I thought about the game my senior year of college and they are so different, dude. I, I just can’t wait for the future. It finally feels like everything is where it needs to be, and I think I’m going to see more growth now than I ever have. I’m really happy about the future.

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: Boss Battle 3

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 players in our scene with interesting stories to their 64 career. The rising PA Smash star: KD3. The legend returning from the unholy game: KeroKeroppi. The flashy boss of this very event: SSBMTL | TR3GTheZ. One of the showrunners of the weekend: Professor_wizard.

1. Boss Battle 2 was the first Smash 64 tournament (and likely the first Smash tournament in general) to use the all-inclusive model. What do you think could be the next big thing done to make tournaments more attractive for potential attendees?

Kyle “KD3” DiFrank: I think the community needs to continue pushing the implementation of the WTF bracket. I think it’s very appealing to most new players once they understand it. Also, I think local scenes should run more Arcadian events, to attract both new players and players from other Smash games.

Joey “KeroKeroppi” Speziale: I think as far as tournament formatting goes, (WTF, all inclusive, etc.) 64 is on a really great track. I think having a lot of side events is really great, but of course there’s only so much time to allow for things like that. One thing I would like to see more of is very professional promotion when it comes to stream, commentary, etc. I think this is something that Snosa did really well that I would like to see more of.

Marco “SSBMTL | TR3GTheZ” Jardak: By making our scene more attractive, more competitive. People getting better means more hype matches and more interest to watch and play our game.

Jeremy “Professor_wizard” Davis: This is a good question. It is hard to beat a tournament that offers a meal, a hotel and WTF format where most players are playing a lot.

I think the evolution of this, that was sort of accomplished at Let’s Go! but with some limitations, is to provide food/bar/party amenities to be purchased or provided and a 24 hour venue all in the same place.

I think a consistent part of many tournaments that is still not optimized is hosting the party area where people can play Smash or hang out at a location that is walkable or connected to the hotel venue. Think like a house party but hotel rooms and way more people.

It’s ambitious but possible with the right venue.

2. 64 tournaments have been held in some interesting places. Smash’N’Splash is held at a water park. Boss Battle events are held in the Boss Battle Games arcade. With a large assortment of retro and not-so-retro arcade cabinets, it offers some unique activities for tournament goers. What is another cool place you would like to see host a major?

KD3: Shears has talked before about an event hosted on a cruise ship. I’d imagine that would be pretty difficult to plan and put together, but it would be incredible.

KeroKeroppi: Idk what the official name for one of these venues is called (the one in my town is called “The Castle”) but I would like to see a tournament held at one of those fun centers that has laser tag, go karts, bumper cars, bowling, etc. Honestly, those places are litty titty and I’d love to beat some ass in laser tag.

TR3GTheZ: A rave. Let’s ensure our older players stay young at heart.

Proffssor_wizard: My never-gonna-happen suggestion is to have it at a theme park.

My real suggestion is to do it similar to smash-n-splash but have the pool and hotel area all rented out, with the stream and everything outside.

3. Boss Battle 3 features the first real effort to have a character crew battle at a 64 major. With Pikachu and Kirby excluded, many of the lower tier characters could have a chance to shine. Which character crew do you expect to put on the best show?

KD3: I expect the Falcon and Fox crews to be extremely strong. Yoshi, Luigi and Samus should be pretty strong as well. I expect Yoshi to do well with Tacos, Fireblaster and sHEERmADNESS. But if Boom ends up going Falcon, that squad might be too strong.

KeroKeroppi: I’m actually hella pumped for this event. I think that there are a lot of good Fox players going to this event and with the exclusion of a Pika team I think Fox has a chance to SHINE. I’m actually looking forward to this as Fox is typically such a garbage character in the traditional format. Lmfao what a useless character.

TR3GTheZ: Fox is gonna kill it.

Professor_wizard: This is B33F and my brain child, and we have tried to have it so that people get to play who they want to play, but also balance the teams a bit. Everything should be competitive buuuuut…

The Fox team is really talented, and really deep. On paper they will be the team to beat no doubt. And what a fitting storyline for TheZ’s boss battle?

Dark horses are Falcon and Mario.

4. Boss Battle 3 will see the return of KeroKeroppi after a relatively short 8 month retirement. What expectations do you have for the former Melee player in his return?

KD3: I fully expect to see a sharp Kero come [to] Boss Battle 3. I also expect to see more Kirby from him rather than the usual solo Pika.

KeroKeroppi: Honestly who the f*** knows LOL. I think right now I’m probably at like 8.5 which is a lot better than where I was when I first came back but still not where I want to be. I’m hoping to be full power by BB but we’ll see what happens. I plan on going f***ing ham this next week so I think it’s possible. Regardless, I plan on winning Boss Battle. I just have to be on my A game. F*** bitches get money.

TR3GTheZ: I’ve recently played Joey on netplay, he shook off the rust pretty well. I’d still expect Dex or tacos to do better.

Professor_wizard: Let’s go Kero! I’m really excited to see him back and playing, and once we saw his announcement, we knew we had to get him out to the tourney.

I expect no worse than 5th in singles, and for him to quickly establish himself in the upper echelon once more.

5. Who will be Top 8?

KD3: I don’t see many mix ups happening in the Top 4, I expect to see Boom, TR3GTheZ, Dext3r and Tacos. The rest of Top 8 may be up for grabs. It’s really hard to say who gets in, but I can see BarkSanchez, Kero, Lowww, Czar, Fireblaster and Heropie all making some really strong runs.

KeroKeroppi: In no order, Kero, Boom ,Tacos, Z, Dex, Lowww, Czar, Bark

TR3GTheZ: 1-Boom

2-tacos

3-zucchinigod

4-dex

5-bark/kero

7-fireblaster/heropie

Professor_wizard: 1. Boom

2. Dext3r

3. TheZ

4. tacos

5. Kero

5. Bark

7. Fireblaster

7. Heropie

Don’t sleep on Czar tho. Seeding will matter.

6. Why is TR3GTheZ the boss?

KD3: TR3GTheZ is the boss because he’s easily one of the most technical players in the world and he can produce incredible results with many different characters.

KeroKeroppi: Z has a lot of fan boys lol idk kid’s a b**** tho i’m gonna f*** him (both in game and out of game) WHAT’S GOOD?!?!?!

TR3GTheZ: I’m not sure. He sucks.

Professor_wizard: We figured we would invite a boss who could actually win their own event this time.

Free Barking with BarkSanchez

There are so many reasons to be excited for this tournament. Obviously the all-inclusive model and Waterfall Tournament Format (WTF) are very alluring as a competitor or spectator, but these have been done before. However, there are a few new elements being thrown into Boss Battle, along with the potential for some big new matchups to occur.

Character Crews, if ran well, could be the highlight of the tournament. While a lot of characters will be played by competitors who do not main them, there are some stacked teams lined up with a great distribution of skill amongst the cast. While spectators will see some matchups they have seen many times before, such as Falcon/Fox/Yoshi vs. x, or any low tier vs. low tier matchups, they will potentially be treated to some less common pairings between the mid and low tiers. The Fox crew is the favorite going into the event with arguably the best matchup spread, along with the presence of a few killers atop their lineup.

Doubles gives us the long awaited debut of TR3GTheZ and Tacos, also known as Team Luv, teaming together at a tournament with the Single Pikachu Kirby Ruleset. After winning their first major together at Lets Go!, they are the favorites to win their first doubles tournament over SuPeRbOoMfAn and Dext3r, in the absence of his trusty teammate JaimeHR. However, Team Luv, as well as Boom and Dext3r will have to have at least one of their players switch off of their doubles main. Pikachu and Donkey Kong had success at Get On My Level 2017, and Team Luv’s synergy could make the combination incredibly deadly. Their knack for team combos with the power and ease of a Donkey Punch set up could take many quick stocks. Boom, Tacos and TR3GTheZ all have a deep cast, and Dext3r has very strong secondaries and could perhaps surprise us with a new addition to his roster.

Kero’s return to singles is a pretty big storyline; however, I’m more interested in who cracks Top 8. Fireblaster, Heropie and I would be the favorites to fill out the last three spots, but any of us could be upset by some of the strong sleeper talents. Lowww has established himself as a high level threat and could finally do some significant damage outside of the Philadelphia and New York areas. Making a rare trip away from Florida, sHEERmADNESS is a not-so-secret sleeper, poised to re-emerge as one of the finest in the US. Czar looked strong at Lets Go!, but ‘90s kids know if he plays in peak form he’ll cause some serious upsets. Hydra’s most recent performance at Snosa IIII solidified him as a threat, showing he is improving at a breakneck pace. KD3 has had his ups-and-downs playing against fellow MVP talents, yet has made a mess of NYC Smash on several occasions. He’s also coming off of an absolutely unreal double-elimination of KeroKeroppi; can anyone stop this kid?

As usual, with WTF anything goes, so this should be another wild tournament.

-Nothing good in life is free except Kero after a year-long hiatus

Changing the Game: Cultivating the Landscape of Super Smash Bros.

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Image by Robert Paul
By David “Shears” Shears

How big is Smash? That depends on which area of Super Smash you look at. Super Smash Bros. the community is very small. Super Smash Bros. the series by Nintendo is massive. Throughout its history, Nintendo has sold over 39 million copies of the Smash Bros. franchise: 5 million copies of 64, 7 million copies of Melee, over 13 million copies of Brawl and nearly 14 million copies of Smash 4 so far. However, the r/smashbros subreddit, likely the biggest collection of Smashers online, doesn’t even have 250,000 subscribers. This is a drop in the bucket, potentially only 0.6% of people who own a Super Smash Bros. game are aware of the competitive Smash Bros. community. There are more people who love and play Smash and have never seen the Smash Brothers documentary than there are people on the planet who know of Mang0 or Isai.

I often meet people at bars, on Tinder or running into an old friend and catching up on life, and nearly everyone I talk to loves and remembers or plays at least one version of Super Smash Bros. When in conversation with these strangers or old acquaintances, I tell them about how much of my free time is spent traveling the world and competitively playing one of the most popular video games ever made. Nearly every single person is convinced they are gods at these games, but none of them know of any advanced techniques, top players or even events that happen in the cities they have lived in for years. In college you could go down the hall and run into any random dorm room and there was likely a Nintendo 64 or GameCube along with a copy of Smash. I often played people in college, destroying them with ease; it was a good way to hustle beer money. But these people who love the game exist everywhere, are part of all demographics and are thirsty to play people they know they are better than. The problem is the community is niche and inaccessible. When we look at attendance, we see numbers even worse than on reddit. The biggest events cannot break 5,000 attendees despite having over 100,000 viewers at home. These events are virtually nonexistent to Nintendo compared to its tens of millions of customers worldwide. This is why Nintendo does not care much about competitive Smash, because it fails to add any significant growth or profit margins. The entire Smash community is an obscure, small and negligible fraction of its customers.

Shears Chart I

Shears Chart II

Does size matter? For sustainability, not too much. At both Genesis 3 and Genesis 4, the convention center was shared with other events the same weekend. For G3 it was FurCon, for G4 it was NeedleArts. One is a known but very niche community, often seen as a strange fetish, and the other is a hobby I never knew existed until I got to G4. What is most interesting about both of these events is that their attendance was about the same as the number of entrants at both G3 and G4. There are two sides to this coin. These hobbies and communities exist all over the world and their biggest yearly conventions take place with comparable numbers and have been growing for years. With Smash in the same ballpark as far as numbers go this is very encouraging for sustainability. NeedleArts does not need tens of thousands of fans and neither does FurCon. They get 0 viewers on Twitch, they do not need YouTube ad revenue and with conventional advertisement, sponsorship and a loyal fan base, both of these communities thrive and stay sustainable.

In a way our Smash community is like this, but the big difference is we should not be. We should not be as small or as niche. This is one of the most popular game series in the world with loads of income sources via Twitch, YouTube, merchandise, sponsors, loyal customers, etc. and yet its competitive community cannot beat out people who like dressing in animal costumes or stitching a Christmas stocking. This is not because daddy Nintendo refuses to tweet us out or give us money, it is because we are doing something wrong and these much smaller communities are doing something right to compete with us in size. Is Smash sustainable? Yes. Is Smash significant? No. Go out to any public event whether it is a bar, carnival, music festival or whatever and ask people if they are a furry. More often than not they will say, “no,” or ask, “what is a furry?” Do the same with NeedleArts and you will be hard pressed to find a single person that has ever heard of that convention. Now compare these results to asking people if they love Super Smash Bros. and you will find just about every person you meet knows of the game and an overwhelming majority love it. So how does this change?

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Credit: Ronan Lynam.com

I have a million and one ideas on what is needed for growth in Smash and much of it has to do with local traditional advertising, viral marketing, social media ads, new event structures, better fan and competitive experiences, traditional sponsorships and more. All these ideas focus on tapping into the already indoctrinated fans of Smash, the ones who played it as children when it first came out or are still playing it but unaware of the competitive community. The random scrubs who can beat all their friends and so they must be gods. There are millions of these people out there and Smash has been struggling to bring them in. The 100k viewers on Twitch watching G4 or the 250k on reddit that saw the event page and announcements knew of G4, they knew who was going, they knew how much the trip would cost them, they knew how much fun people have at these events and they KNEW that they did not want to attend.

The current strategy in Smash is to try and convince people who know of an event and do not want to go to change their mind and attend anyway. It is shouting into the echo chamber of reddit, Twitter and Smash Facebook groups. It is like asking a girl out, her saying no and then asking again as if her mind has changed. You are not going to draw someone away from their high school sweetheart. They picked Melee as their first love, or League of Legends, or Marvel vs. Capcom. Players rarely switch to entirely new Smash games and top players from other games rarely have any interest in even competing in Smash. Instead of asking the same girl out we need to ask out the fans of Smash who have no other hobby, the ones who are not married to other games or know of the competitive scene and deliberately choose not to attend. Remember, 39 million copies sold yet Smash routinely panders and markets to the 0.6%. While these are growth opportunities, they cannot be long term efforts and reliable systems to continue bringing new players in. Influx of Smash fans depends on Nintendo’s release of the next game. There is no system in place to morph casual people into new community members and this kind of player source is what I believe to be a very important step in the sustainability and growth of the Smash community as a whole.

This past weekend I organized and played in an event that was unlike any event I have seen or been to. Many members of my region, MVP (Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania), drove out to face off against our neighboring rival region, MOMS (Masters Of Midwest Smash), meeting at a halfway point for the two scenes. Instead of a standard tournament with winners taking home cash, mid-level players attending with the hopes of just doing a little bit better than last time and low-level players having basically no hope at anything but a sad 0-2, we ran the event similar to a track and field meet. This regional dual meet was exclusive, we wanted to hit home the rivalry and really give attention to the players from each region. Instead of first place going home with 50 percent of the prize pool, they instead earned points for the team along with a handful of side events, bonus scoring categories and points via money matches and social media. The team with the most points at the end of the weekend took home a majority share of the prize pool to be divided amongst everyone.

Instead of one player taking all the money, everyone who attended and competed truly helped support the event and their region and went home a winner. It wasn’t about a top player, it was about the region and the team and everyone who helped contribute to that. Every single person who attended helped their team in some way, whether it was winning a MM versus another low skilled player from the rivalry region or outperforming their seed. The little guys were important contributors to the team just like the PR players that normally dominate regional events. Individual winners still got awards as we had ribbons for Top 8 of each event and in the end it built strong regional pride and camaraderie. We also used a portion of the budget to get pizza and soda for all attendees to socialize and get to know each other for true sportsmanship and a respectable rivalry. This new event helps build a team and a team brings people together to keep coming out and fall in love with their community and the game.

The reception of this event and how it felt for me has inspired me to start running this style event more often and push it to the rest of the community, but I started thinking about how much further this can go. The entirety of it stemmed from my own personal experiences running track in high school, being on a team, contributing to that team’s performance and traveling to face off against other nearby teams to decide who was the best. I was not in it for money, I did want victory, I did want the plaques, awards and trophies, but I did want my hometown to be respected, my school to be feared and my teammates to do well. It was about school spirit and building inward support for your team. But it was not only about my performances, it was about the team as a whole. When we won our meets and victory came down to one of the little guys outperforming their time and upsetting another runner to steal a point here or there, it became a special moment. Everyone went home a winner and people that were not the best still mattered and became a part of something. This is what I wanted to capture with MVP vs. MOMS and I believe we succeeded.

The venue for MVP vs. MOMS was offered to us for free with the agreement that our attendees would like and subscribe to their social media as well as watch and like a couple of their YouTube videos. Coincidentally, one of the videos they specified for us to watch was about getting esports into high schools. With our event being modeled after high school competitions and meets, this video really matched up with what had been on my mind. It delivers the idea that if you can have teams of players in sports going to other high schools to compete, then the same can be done for esports. It is no different when you think about it. A singles and doubles tournament combining for a total team score and a team victory is like a track meet where individuals run to score points for their team and have a relay race with a few of their teammates to maximize their team’s points. Our event model translates perfectly to esports clubs for high school and is a tried and true system that has proven to work.

For me, I never had video games as a kid, never played them as my mom did not believe in them. I did not own any Smash Bros. games or consoles until the very end of 2014 when I bought an N64 and SSB64 off craigslist. My life as an adolescent was spent mostly playing sports, being in different rec leagues and subsequently on middle school and high school sports teams. These systems are simple, especially since they are mostly designed as after school programs. Every parent wants to get their kid into these so they stay away from less savory activities. I see no reason Smash cannot become a part of this. Many schools already have video game clubs or Lego robotics clubs, but instead they run them as hobbies instead of competitive programs. With minimal effort, these can be turned into after school programs where students play and practice, and on weekends a bus is rented to meet at other schools and the kids spend their days playing each other and earning victories for their teams.

Leagues and divisions are created locally and competitions held much like our events already, the same way our major tournaments are held. MVP, rookie of the year, best sportsmanship and many other awards can be easily created and distributed to these high school esports athletes. Most schools get public funding, especially for their athletic departments, and so these events and programs do not even need the overhead and dependant entrant support that our current majors do. On top of creating organizations for Smash we create an avenue for growth. Younger fans of the games have an easy way into the game, stepping in at their youth through these programs and then pursuing either careers in Smash or becoming lifetime fans like we see for football, basketball, and other traditional sports. These kids begin playing at young ages, practicing and becoming the best. The floor of competition rises across the community as well as the ceiling and the pros of today are the scrubs of tomorrow.

Smash is already one of the most popular games of all time, kids are already playing it, and a model and system already exist to take Smash to an entirely new level; we just need to take the next step and begin pushing it into these new domains. People are Hungrybox fans, they are not Liquid fans. If Hungrybox leaves Liquid for another team most fans will follow the next team; these “teams” are just a label and fail to truly capture what a high school or professional sports team are. When Peyton Manning left the Colts, people in Indianapolis were still Colts fans. Sure they still love Manning and follow him but they did not divorce the team they followed because it is a part of their home. A high school team is a part of a person’s home, it is where they grew up, where their family and friends are and something they root for for the rest of their lives.

With this system in place it becomes easy to institute the same system for club and rec levels locally, much like we have done for MVP and MOMS regions. There is a hometown regional pride that is synonymous with local sports team pride; whatever brand or sponsor is thrown onto that, whichever players come and go, it does not change the pride a person has for the place they call home. It stimulates more love for Smash, more commitment to it and it creates a stream of new players in every generation to become part of our competitive community. Our youth is the future and if we fail to create an accessible community and system for them Smash retires when we do.

Featured Image by Robert Paul

Taking Stock: Dog Days of NYC Smash

By Brendan “Bean” Murray

Shine 2017

Shine 2017, New England’s premier Smash event, took place August 25th – 27th. Inside
Boston’s gigantic Seaport World Trade Center, amidst fellow Smash games which drew hundreds more competitors, it would have been easy to miss Smash 64, sequestered away in a small corner of the venue. However, for those of us who were paying attention, that small corner brought forth some amazing Smash including incredible matches, upsets, runs and character switches. At the center of it all was the New York City crew, having made the journey north from the Big Apple to show why it is never a good idea to sleep on Smashers from the city that never sleeps.

Capos, New York’s most enthusiastic and well-traveled smasher (he hails from New Jersey), started strong in his Placement Pool. Only dropping sets to Mariguas and Bread, capos went 4-2 and moved on to Division 3. Once in D3, capos beat JAG but lost to Andykins 0-2 and Baby Legs in a close 1-2 set to finish at 49th. ScrAtch, who recently left NYC for Boston, though I’m counting him as New York anyway, also placed 3rd in his PP, dropping sets to Dajjal and Jay_mute$. Once in D3, scrAtch tore through his pool, beating RusselSprouts 2-0, Nanagens 2-0 and Esid 2-1, on his way to 1st place and a spot in Division 2. Unfortunately, once there, scrAtch went 0-3 against WaxyJoe, Greeno and Natendo to close out his run at a solid 41st.

Continuing the trend, Bean placed 3rd in his PP as well, behind Fireblaster (0-2) and
Rocket (1-2). In D3, he beat Razz 2-1 and OhB-NoA 2-0, and got absolutely embarrassed by JXC on stream, including a 4-stock in game 2. Despite that pounding, he placed second in his pool and made it to D2. Once there, he lost to Stew and GT but beat icactusdog to place 3rd, ending his run at 33rd. On a much more exciting note (for me), he was the highest placing Samus and second-highest placing low-tier main, behind Raychu and his Ness. I have done no research to confirm either of these claims and you can feel free to call me out on Twitter at @ssbshears, which is definitely my Twitter account.

Our highest placing player was Horbie, who reached an impressive 13th. He went 5-0 in
his PP and 2-1 in D1, placing second behind Bark Sanchez and beating out KaZ and Purtle. Once in top 16, Horbie’s first match was against Alvin, who is pretty good at Smash. Dropping into losers bracket after an 0-3, Horbie was knocked out of the tournament by Marbles in another 0-3 rout. With a second solid national performance under his belt and a nominated clip in the EMG Play of the Week video for Shine, Horbie is proving that his recent placings are not just a flash in the pan and that he is a top contender no matter who else is in attendance.

The fifth player from NYC who attended Shine was Kelvinheit, and I saved the best run for last. Criminally underseeded, Kelvinheit placed 4th in his PP, behind Darkhorse, KaZ and JXC. Once in D4, Kelvinheit went on a tear that lasted all the way to D1. He went 5-0 in D4, not dropping a game, 3-0 in D3, again without losing a single game and was placed in a D2 pool with Rocket, KaZ, and GooseWithSocks. Rocket, KaZ and Kelvinheit all went 2-1 with a 5-3 game count and had to play tiebreaker sets against each other. Kelvinheit placed second, behind KaZ, and barely inched into D1. Once in D1, he lost 0-2 to Alvin and beat Spongy 2-0. In a nail-biting set against Raychu, Kelvinheit was up in stocks during game 3 before Raychu mounted a comeback to take the set 2-1, ending Kelvinheit’s Cinderella run at 17th. With a 14-6 record across 20 sets, Kelvinheit proved that he is a player to watch as 2017 comes to a close, and that whomever is placed in his pool will need to bring their A-game or risk being left behind in another incredible run.

Big Apple Smash 8

The Wednesday after Shine 2017, New York had its 8th iteration in our monthly series:
Big Apple Smash. While not nearly as stacked as Shine, BAS8 did include strong out-of-region talent and old school players showing up to make it an interesting and exciting Top 8. KD3 and Mr. Sir came to New York from Pennsylvania and NOVA, respectively. Mr. Sir beat out Horbie to place 5th, while KD3 took his second NYC monthly, beating out Firo and double eliminating KeroKeroppi. Speaking of Kero…Kero’s back! He beat Razz, Firo and Czar to place second. Speaking of Czar…Czar’s been coming around more! The Mario Bros. main, who was inactive for over a year before attending Let’s Go!, has been coming around to Nebulous more often and is showing no signs of rust, beating Jimmy Joe and Mr. Sir to place 4th behind Firo.

As NYC’s monthlies draw larger and larger crowds, more and more top talent from up and down the East Coast are making efforts to come by, which in turn creates even larger crowds. It is an exciting time to be a Smash 64 player in New York City, and I am enthusiastic to see how our scene grows as the year progresses.

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 

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.

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