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 
Advertisements

Getting You on Their Level: A GOML 2017 Preview

After a very successful introduction to the Get On My Level series in 2016, Smash 64 will make its return to Canada’s largest major in 2017. While this year’s iteration may be missing some pieces from the previous year’s captivating story lines, it has more top players, more international talent and more wildcard potential.

Top 8

What’s New

Half of the projected Top 8 for this years Singles tournament are making their debut in Canada.

The Smash community fan-favorite, Isai, will be making his way to Mississauga, and although his results in recent years have fallen, some die-hard fans still believe he has the talent to fill the hole left by the absence of SuPeRbOoMfAn. While his Fox ran into trouble recently at SNOSA, Canada has plenty reason to be terrified of his presence. They surely have not forgotten Beast 7, where Isai’s Link came back from Loser’s bracket, and dissected Revan’s Kirby in Grand Finals with surgical precision. If Revan can fend off a red-hot Zero, and Isai can avoid another early upset, which everyone has become quite familiar with recently, the two may run back the instant classic two-set Grand Finals. If Isai has his way, he’ll find himself up against a contender from the States’ other neighbor.

Mariguas will also make his way into the Greater Toronto Area this weekend, coming off an exhilarating performance at SNOSA III in Santa Ana. Early on it seemed he would be left in the wake of ïXï | Zero’s magnificent run. However, following his loss to Zero, he dominated Gyaki, swept Dext3r and the rematch against Zero, and also reset the bracket on Fukurou in Grand Finals. Mariguas has outplaced Isai at the events they’ve both attended in 2017, yet they have not faced off this year. After narrowly missing out on his first ever major victory at SNOSA III, Mexico’s top talent will be anxious to mow down his competition and vanquish his demons, the biggest of which may lie at the end of his bracket.

This pursuit may be aided by the fact that Mariguas will likely find himself on the opposite side of the bracket from Zero. Although he was unable to finish the job on loser’s side at SNOSA III, Zero surely left his mark, striking fear into the heart of Mexico, showing he can go mano a mano with their finest. Taking his next step towards being a true top level threat, Zero will be looking for any opportunity to build on his unreal resumé. He may even earn himself rematches against Isai and Mariguas, however, he will likely encounter Revan first. In 2017, Zero has tumbled with Fukurou, HandsomeTom, and Mariguas’s Kirby secondary, and while he has struggled against high-level Kirbys, it would be no surprise to see the young Falcon/Pikachu main come back from the lab ready for the challenge.

Also making Mississauga one of his many stops on an international tour is Brazil’s Kort, fresh off of several weeks of practice in the United States’ Midwest. On his most recent trip to North America, Kort scored a big upset against tacos at SSC 2016. In the past year, he has overtaken Banze for #1 in Brazil, and has fully developed his Pikachu, Captain Falcon and Yoshi to complement his notorious Link. Kort also trekked into the heart of the Peruvian Mecca of Smash 64 and most stacked city in the world, Tacna, and earned an impressive 7th place at Tacna All-Stars 2017. Over the past few weeks the outspoken captain of the CAFIL crew has won Masters of Midwest Smash, and placed 2nd at Called Out!, only behind SuPeRbOoMfAn. Kort now has his sights set on the rest of Canada in Boom’s absence.

Returning Threats

SSBMTL | TR3GTheZ made huge waves last year, notoriously bringing back his set against Derek, down 1-2 in games, and 1-4 in stocks against Derek in the Pikachu ditto. His monumental comeback fueled a run of his own, taking down fellow Canadian Revan, earning a rare win over long-time nemesis KeroKeroppi, and showing flashes of next-level potential as Fox against SuPeRbOoMfAn. This year he finds himself faced with a new set of players to overcome if he wants to keep the Cup in Canada. While he has yet to face Isai in bracket, Montreal’s leader has worked his way closer to victory over Mariguas in their recent meetings, coming one stock short of victory in a thrilling, tight set at Genesis 4. If TR3GTheZ can build upon strong performances over the past year, he may stand a chance of defending the homeland.

Last summer, Revan looked poised to ascend to the next level of players, as he made a name for himself taking down top level Yoshis, and earning a Top 8 spot at the largest Smash 64 tournament ever. 2017 has not treated him well, as the cerebral Kirby main from Ottawa struggled in his limited major appearances. The fierce young competitor is fully expected to bounce back to his winning ways, aided by the comfort of his home turf. While he’s gotten closer to defeating his rival, TR3GTheZ, with each set, he’d rather not have to fight a fellow Canadian early in bracket. He’ll likely face Zero early on, but it’s no secret Revan will be eyeing a rematch with Isai, daring him to bring out the Link once more.

Although he started off the year strong, BarkSanchez has tapered off a bit in recent months. In the past he has proven capable of taking sets off of top level players, he has also seen himself surpassed by up and coming players such as Dtan, Zero and Joshi. Bark’s element of volatility could add to an interesting bracket, where he is likely to face unfamiliar opponents, such as Mariguas and Kort in Top 8. Bark has missed Top 8 two of the past three majors, but after being cut short by Derek in bracket last year, he intends to make up the difference with a strong performance deep into bracket this time around.

Although the unexpected presence of Derek cut Fireblaster’s bracket short last year, Connecticut’s father of Smash 64 and resident Yoshi main should have a more clear path to top 8 this year. One of 2016’s most frequent travelers, he has made his appearances less often in 2017 but has had strong major placements this year. Despite being the victim of a few upsets, and has not quite made as much ground on those ahead of him as he’d like, he has strong wins over ranked players sHEERmADNESS and NTA, as well as hot rising talents KD3, HAMMERHEART, and Yobolight. A very driven player, Fire will not pause at the opportunity to break the status quo and shake up the bracket.

The Wildcards

What’s New

While Isai has cemented his status as Smash 64’s ultimate element of unpredictability, ïXï | Fray has taken Derek’s place this year as GOML’s wildcard. With years of netplay experience under his belt, his level of talent is no mystery to followers of the online Smash 64 scene. Fray’s high level Ness play has drawn comparisons to long-time veteran Firo, with some believing the netplay warrior may have even surpassed him. While that has yet to be proven, Fray will have an opportunity to state his case in his first console tournament against a stacked roster of competitors.

Returning Threats

While the Smash 64 community both inside and outside Canada are familiar with Snorlax, most cannot predict what he will do at GOML 2017. In the true spirit of a wildcard, the Kirby/Pikachu main character locked to Donkey Kong at GOML 2016, throwing the entire venue in a loop. A capable player of the entire cast, the Toronto native could potentially sneak into the Top 8 with his most proficient characters, or perhaps snag a few upsets with the bevy of options at his disposal.

The Sleepers

What’s New

Accompanying Kort in his voyage north is fellow CAFIL member, the barefoot Brazilian Lorenzo. Following his breakout performance at Boss Battle 2 where he earned 7th place, the solo-DK main has continued to build his resumé. The nomad from Brazil earned 13th at Tacna All-Stars 2017 and 4th at Called Out!, unfortunately being eliminated by Kort at both events. The first solo-DK main to make Top 8 in a North American Major will be eager to toss around some Canucks this weekend if he can avoid running into his fellow Brazilian yet again.

Even Matchup Gaming’s lone Smash 64 representative, EMG | Darkhorse, will be making his first trip north beyond the wall. Baltimore’s resident Falcon/Puff main, a perennial sleeper, can be a terrifying presence when he finds his zone. Darkhorse is coming fresh off of a dominant performance in bracket at MVP3, with clean sweeps against Yobolight and Robert, and a bracket reset in Grand Finals against BarkSanchez. The bearded Baltimorean will surely be hunting for a soul-crushing Falcon Punch-combo, one that is worthy of his Clip of the Week videos.

Returning Threats

It may seem crazy to call YBOMBB a sleeper, but the veteran puff main needs to pull off an upset if he wants to return to Top 8 again this year. In recent years he has also added a Falcon and Yoshi to his arsenal of characters, which he may need if he hopes to contest Fireblaster or BarkSanchez for a spot in Top 8. Despite his long periods of absence from the major tournament scene, anyone caught sleeping on the Toronto veteran will surely be punished.

A promising young talent from Ottawa, Janco has been steadily improving over the years under the tutelage of Revan. Janco’s best tournament yet unfortunately came at the expense of his mentor, as Janco sent Revan to losers en route to an impressive 9th place finish at Lets Go! Although expecting him to take down Mariguas in winners side might be a bit much, he may see some familiar faces in a potential losers run if he can pick up from where he left off in Baltimore.

The Other Guys

What’s New

Michigan will be making the short trip across the border with a solid core group to visit their neighbors in Toronto. While they are without their captain, Scoback, and their outspoken region representative, Rocket, they aren’t pulling any punches. They will be led by Andykins and EG, both of whom have recently surpassed their captain following years of dominance. Andykins made Division 1 at Lets Go! and scored a big upset against Darkhorse, while EG has steadily made a name for himself as a top threat in the Midwest. Both players are expected to face off against the wildcard, Fray, and with years of Ness experience under their belts, they will take full advantage if he happens to falter. Jsmirk has been gaining ground in the Midwest as well recently, and with Velocity Jones, Cracker Jones and Hack among the crew, Michigan hopes to make a mark in their neighbor’s yard.

Returning Threats

Most of Eastern Canada showed up in force the previous year, and they plan to do so again in 2017.

Fck Vwls was the catalyst for Derek’s losers run in 2016, pulling off the big upset that knocked him out of winners bracket early. Like most of Eastern Canada, he’s maintained a fairly quiet 2017, although he’s made trips to Florida and Michigan to show he’s still dangerous. JOKER, formerly known as B link, has gone on somewhat frequent hiatuses over the past few years. Despite this, he’s still one of the top threats in a stacked Toronto crew, an impressive feat. Preston has been faced with some tough brackets recently, but snagged a strong win against one of the Midwest’s best, Dogs_Johnson, at Called Out!, giving him reason to feel good coming back to his home turf. Sextc and Captain Fabulous, formidable foes from Ottawa and Montreal respectively, could sneak in an upset or two as well if they don’t go down styling.

64 Free For All: Genesis 4

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 who are all ranked on the SSB64 Player Ranking Top 64. A local top player: Kimimaru. One of the top players of the year: Wizzrobe. A man who is unfortunately soon leaving our game: KeroKeroppi. One of the men organizing the event: SotoH.

1. SuPeRbOoMfAn recently received a major sponsorship through Panda Global. This is the first major sponsorship for a solo-64 player in quite some time, if not ever. What immediate impact do you foresee this having on the 64 landscape?

Thomas “Kimimaru” Deeb: I see SuPeRbOoMfAn’s sponsorship with Panda Global causing other sponsors to take a look at the growing 64 community. With more 64 exclusive majors in 2016 than ever before and SSB64’s increasing presence in multi-game tournaments, sponsors can’t help but notice our community and our players.

Justin “Wizzrobe” Hallett: Only positivity, it’s great he got a sponsor and now there’s more room for 64 to grow and likely getting other players sponsors eventually.

Joey “KeroKeroppi” Speziale: I think this is huge for 64. In fact, I think it’s bigger than anybody is really even making it out to be. For starters, there’s now a big company that will be promoting 64. That’s very different from what we’re used to. It also sets a precedent for other esports organizations. Boom will not be the last to get sponsored. I think this is the beginning of something beautiful for 64.

Daniel “SotoH” Soto: Exposure. Immediate exposure. In fact, the very day the announcement was made the mere fact that they coupled Boom’s announcement with Smash 4’s Rich Brown earned us a significant amount of exposure to our fellow Smash communities. This alone serves as evidence that having these renowned organizations and Smash players talking SSB64 only helps us.

Additionally, Panda Global set a great example letting other esport teams know that SSB64 players are worth the investment. Coincidentally enough, not too long after Boom’s announcement, both Zantetsu and Mr. Marbles got picked up by Havov Gaming.

All of this sponsorship activity is motivating folks in the community to step up their game to become more attractive, or in cases like EMG’s Darkhorse, produce more quality content.
So, what immediate impact do I see? Exposure, productive exposure.

2. With KeroKeroppi and Stranded announcing they will be leaving 64 for Melee after Genesis 4, there were a wide variety of reactions in the community ranging from anger to sadness to doubt. What do you take from their actions? Will this leave a sour atmosphere around Genesis 4?

Kimimaru: I think they’re just trying out something different and won’t want to leave 64 for good. As a top player, Kero has always been very approachable to new players and veterans alike, and we will all miss how helpful he has been to many players. Stranded has set a very high bar for technical skill that has inspired many players, and I hope we can follow his lead and see more players implementing his tech.

Wizzrobe: I’m not sure, it seems like a lot of people respected the decision from what I saw so I don’t imagine anyone raging too hard.

KeroKeroppi: I’m leaving because I think that Melee will make me happier. That’s what all this was about for me, my happiness. I’ve stated countless times that I will always be an ally of 64 and that I will always consider the 64 community my family. I’ve tried to leave on very good terms so it sucks to see such negative reactions from the community. I understand if people are sad or doubtful, but I’ve tried to leave as peacefully as possible so it’s a shame to see so much anger and hostility towards me. At the end of the day, some guy quit a video game in an attempt to make him happier. If people get worked up over something that silly, then that’s their own fault I guess.

SotoH: Not much to be frank, as much as I empathize with the folks saying it might’ve been a better idea to not make the announcement in the manner that Kero did, I don’t feel it’ll have a negative effect on the community nor Genesis 4. We were already aware of the points he made that influenced his decision to leave, it’s not news to the community let alone the highly involved community leaders, so stating the obvious in that manner was not necessary especially given the clout he holds. Nevertheless, the announcement may have put us in a bad light to those not involved in the community but we’ll persevere, we always have, this is still the #Yearof64.

3. Genesis 4 once again sees the return of Alvin to North America for a major tournament. In his two results in North America he was double eliminated by Japanese Yoshis and finished with an underwhelming 13th, while at SuperBoomed he dominated the competition and earned 1st along with a double elimination of SuPeRbOoMfAn. What can we expect from this volatile Peruvian at Genesis 4?

Kimimaru: With even more top players in attendance than any previous event and only two majors we’ve seen him in, it’s hard to say how he’ll stack up to the Japanese this time. Peru has had several tournaments since SSC and Alvin himself has said he’s been practicing the Yoshi matchup, so I’m expecting the games to be closer at the very least. I don’t see him placing outside Top 8 this tournament.

Wizzrobe: No idea, he will probably do good unless he runs into good Yoshis, unless he improved enough in the matchup by a lot since last time.

KeroKeroppi: Everybody knows that the Peruvians are extremely dominant at the top tier match ups. So with less Japanese Yoshis running around, I think Alvin will perform very well. If he doesn’t run into Wizzrobe early on, I can see him making it to Top 3 without a doubt.

SotoH: It’s very difficult to say because of so many factors.

1. Mariguas is a man of discipline, a demigod if you will. He has studied Alvin like you wouldn’t believe, he has studied Alvin’s best matchup, the Rat ditto, and feels fairly confident in the matchup specific to Alvin. Mariguas has only shown to improve as time goes on, the man’s never plateaued for any amount of time, so one can only wonder how much better he’s gotten since SuperBoomed.

2. SuPeRbOoMfAn is not one who takes a loss lightly. I reckon he’s looking to reclaim his record as the undisputed SSB64 champion. Boom covers 100% of his bases, and rest assured he’ll come ready for the fight against Alvin. And one of the most unknown factors is the fact that we haven’t seen Boom lose a major, go to another major and meet with that very person that double eliminated him (with the exception of Isai). He didn’t get his chance with Wario but he might be granted his chance against Alvin. No one has seen a vengeful Boom, the beard holds many surprises, so he’s my main contender to challenge Alvin at Grand Finals.

3.Finally, there’s Isai. The mysterious Isai. With us not knowing the extent of his potential has always caused issues in seeding, ranking, and just plain bracket predictions. For argument’s sake, if we see Isai’s Rat throughout singles bracket I’m sure he’ll be an equal contender for 1st alongside Boom and Alvin.

4. At our last super major, Super Smash Con 2016, four Japanese players attended to great fanfare. However, many have claimed they did not live up to expectations, with only two of them managing to make the Top 8. What can we expect from Genesis 4’s roster of Japanese travelers, which include an incredible strong Kirby in k y s k, the flashy Captain Falcon main Yu-Kun, and a rising Fox main in Taimai?

Kimimaru: Since 2016, players who traveled from Japan have not played any of the characters that we will see at this event. With more character diversity from Japan this tournament, we will likely see new ways of playing them that most players won’t expect from them. Furthermore, all of these characters are significantly different in the J version of the game, so it would be interesting to see how well these players can adapt to the U version. However, I find it hard to not expect all of them to place in top 32 this tournament.

Wizzrobe: I imagine the Kirby doing very well since Japan has good Kirbies. The other 2 could be very good too but I don’t know how good they are personally.

KeroKeroppi: From what I understand, k y s k is the TOP top Japanese player coming this year. So I think we can expect amazing things from him. Having said that, underestimating the Japanese has always been a foolish mistake by the North Americans. In the several years that the Japanese SSB64 players have been coming out, we’ve been disappointed by their performances MAYBE once or twice, while we’ve been blown away in every other instance. I think the Japanese players are going to do great.

SotoH: If history serves as any evidence, k y s k will certainly pose a real threat to Top 6 as a Japanese Kirby. With k y s k’s performance showing a serious threat and both Kikoushi and Moyashi doing exceptionally well at each of their respective North American performances, we can only expect the best from k y s k. As far as Yu-Kun, I believe he’ll shed some new valuable insight on the Falcon meta similar to how Wario did for Pikachu at Genesis 3. Lastly, I certainly hope Taimai will resurrect the interest in investing time and effort in developing the most incredible glass cannon that is Fox.

5. Who will be Top 8?

Kimimaru: In no particular order:

-SuPeRbOoMfAn

-Alvin

-Wizzrobe

-Isai

-Mariguas

-tacos

-k y s k

-Dext3r

However, I foresee either of the other Japanese players, Yu-Kun and Taimai, also making Top 8 as well as KeroKeroppi.

Wizzrobe: Me, Kero, Boom, at least one Japanese or more? Alvin? I don’t know how good the Japanese are. And a lot of people have potential to get upset. Plenty of people have a good shot that I didn’t mention.

KeroKeroppi: In no order,

Wizzrobe
Isai
SuPeRbOoMfAn
Alvin
Mariguas
k y s k
KeroKeroppi
Dexter

(TBH I don’t even think that’s possible with the way the bracket is but oh well lol)

SotoH: 1. Boom

2. Isai (Rat all tourney)

3. Alvin

4. Mariguas

5. k y s k

6. Dext3r

7. tacos

8. TR3GTheZ

6. Will anyone get that ranking defining victory over Shears at Genesis 4?

Kimimaru: Considering the scale of Genesis 4, I predict several upsets will occur, so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Wizzrobe: Insert witty response here.

KeroKeroppi: Ya the kid is garb LOL his mom’s p cute tho.

SotoH: Only Isai will because if you gon’ act like a bitch, you gon’ die like a bitch.

Operation Desert Smash II Preview: Hostility in Havasu

By Jamie “JAMJAR” Jacobs

Operation Desert Smash II (ODSII) has returned to the desert shores of Lake Havasu City, Arizona. In 2015, Cody “Daniels” Daniels made a big move for this small Arizona scene, inviting a number of top players out to his house for a Super Smash Bros. 64 retreat weekend. Daniels flew all attendees out and planned a slew of activities. This groundbreaking event spurred on the massive recent growth of Havasu Smash 64, allowing a paradise of Smash to sprout up in the desert. This year, the event has been expanded greatly, as more than 50 Smashers are congregating on this sprawling lake town for a weekend of both fun and competition. Throughout the weekend, there will be the standard events of a doubles and singles bracket, as well as more interesting side events such as a YOLO bracket, low-tier tournament and Salty Suite.

The Tournament

The amount of talent attending ODSII is absolutely incredible. Among the headlining players are Dan “SuPeRbOoMfAn” Hoyt, Eduardo “Tacos” Tovar, Joey “KeroKeroppi” Speziale and more. Both serious brackets are sure to be filled with high quality Smash. SuPeRbOoMfAn looks to continue an incredible run in 2016. After losing the first major of the year in Genesis 3, the Canadian legend has gone undefeated the rest of the way, including winning the largest Smash 64 tournament of all time: Super Smash Con 2016. Tacos will be looking to finally take him down. People have been questioning his resolve in his sets against the No. 1 player, as he seems to lose his will to play after losing a game. Despite this, he looked strong against SuPeRbOoMfAn at Shine a couple weeks back, though he did end up dropping the set after losing his serious attitude. KeroKeroppi has had a bit of a down year after his meteoric rise, losing sets to multiple players he has defeated in the past. However, he promises to take those losses and learn from them, in order to become a stronger player.

Also attending are fan favorites Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody, Thomas “Revan” Dykes and Derek “Derek” Bancarz. BarkSanchez is perhaps the most traveled player in Smash 64 this year, making frequent trips all across the country and to Canada. His voyages have even taken him to Havasu for a weekend tournament, funded by Daniels in order to allow his scene to train and learn from a high-level player. Bark has had some trouble against a few of the top players attending ODSII and needs to rebound from a couple of disappointing finishes at majors. Revan has been on the rise recently, earning a Top 8 finish at Super Smash Con 2016. This Canadian Kirby main has been working tirelessly to prove the little puff ball is still a force to be reckoned with, as many in the community have been claiming Kirby is on the decline. Derek looks to have another impressive performance at his second major ever. At GOML 2016, the formerly online-exclusive player made a legendary losers bracket run. After falling early in the pools round, Derek tore a path through the losers bracket, defeating such players as Michael “Nintendude” Brancato, Javier “Fireblaster” Romero and BarkSanchez. This performance has earned him much praise in the scene, though some are hesitant to crown him before he proves it at a second major.

The Fun

ODSII will also include many side events, some planned and others improvised. One such planned event is the Smash 64 favorite: the YOLO bracket. In a YOLO tournament, all stages are legal and items are turned on high. The players choose random characters and stage, then proceed to play a one stock, one game set. This form of bracket has long been popular at Smash 64 events, as the moments created in them are completely unique to this format. Another event that should be happening is the low-tier tournament. In this format, the players that are seeded highly for the standard tournament are required to use one of the five lower tier characters. Other than this caveat, this bracket runs normally, though it is fun for lower seeded players to have a chance against their elite opponents. The Salty Suite, occurring Saturday night, will include many salty clashes. A couple of these highly anticipated matchups are Derek vs. BarkSanchez and Daniels vs. Eric “Smurf” Clapp. Derek and Bark will be having a rematch of their epic set at GOML, a set which Bark is sure he should have won. Keep an eye on this one, as Pikachu dittos are often the most nerve-wracking matchup in Smash 64. Daniels and Clapp have long had a beef on the internet, as Smurf has talked down about Daniels’s Havasu scene. This score was supposed to be settled at SNOSA II in June, but due to mitigating circumstances, they rescheduled for this weekend. On the line will be $500 and Daniels’s prized white fedora. Other matches will surely be streamed, as rumor has it David “Shears” Shears will be challenging all comers to Luigi dittos.

ODSII is more than just a Smash 64 tournament. This is great opportunity for new and upcoming players to learn from the best in a more intimate environment. Without the time constraints and hectic venue of a major, players can more easily discuss and learn the intricacies of the game. Make sure to tune-in to twitch.tv/havasusmash all weekend long, as the stream will be running practically 24/7.

64 Free For All: Operation Desert Smash II

By: Jamie “JAMJAR” Jacobs and Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

The 64 Free For All is a question session with some of the biggest names in Smash 64, plus a bonus section for our own BarkSanchez to voice his thoughts. 6 questions, 4 top personalities. Today we have four players from regions, all famous for their different contributions. The legend from GOML: Derek. Leader of the growing NorCal scene: Duncs. Top Mexican player: Dext3r. The man who organized the whole tournament: Daniels.

1. A weekend like ODS is unique for the 64 community, allowing players of various skill levels to have greatly increased access to each other. What do you look forward to most with such an opportunity?

Derek “Derek” Bancarz: I’m really looking forward to being able to play all of the people I have been watching for so long. I’m an online player so I’ve never had exposure to playing these guys, so I am looking forward to meeting everyone and playing everyone, rather than just watching them play from a computer screen on YouTube or Twitch at home. That and also looking forward to being surrounded by people that love Smash, it’s a very welcoming community. Oh, and to challenging people on Saffron of course.

Riley “Duncs” Robinson: ODS has been described by many as a Smash “Retreat”, a place where players journey, from great lengths, to have a stress-free environment to be around their friends and counterparts whom are all there for love of the game. With very little notoriety as a “sought after destination”, Lake Havasu City, Arizona has become a must-see-must-do event for new players and veterans alike. I think what Cody “Daniels” Daniels has done for his regional scene, the community in general and dedication sets a nice bar of attainment for what players are capable of in creating such an event in great demand! Not having been to the first ODS in 2015, I look forward to going this year to what looks to have the potential of being better than the first, given the AMAZING international roster of attendees. Meeting the higher-level players on a more personal basis (compared to say, a multi-game, hectic major) will definitely give the attending players plenty of chance to interact, party and train amongst each other. I personally look forward to hanging with the players I’ve interacted with in the SSB64 Community Page and all the memelords in 64 Hell but have yet to personally meet. This game has some pretty interesting personalities, and that’s going to be exciting to be among them.

Yoshua “Dext3r” Peral Castillo: I’m looking to talking more with everyone since it’s pretty hard in majors, everyone just wants to play alot.

Cody “Daniels” Daniels: I look forward to spending my birthday weekend with a hugely diverse group of talented minds and partying like an animal. I look forward to finally playing Smurf for $500 and my fedora at the Salty Suite on Saturday night. Most of all, I’m looking forward to teaming with Kero and having some fun in doubles.

2. ODS represents a growing trend of individual 64 scenes hosting large and stacked 64 exclusive events, including such tournaments as SNOSA II and Boss Battle 2. Do you foresee this trend increasing in the future or will we continue to be largely stationed at multi-game majors?

Derek: I totally see this growing. SSB64 has basically been brought up from the grave over the past year or two. We’ve now had a tournament like SSC, with over 300 people and things like combo contests, with commentators from Melee/Smash 4 judging. This is the exposure that we needed and it’s happening. It’s not just people that go from 64 to Melee, people are going from Melee to 64 now. With the way the game is taking off I see tons of 64 exclusive events in the future.

Duncs: Havasu Smash and Indiana Smash, just a few names off the top of my head, have done an EXCEPTIONAL job bringing in top talent any chance they get! I’m sure more scenes will follow suit as it generates hype for the viewers at home, and the players physically there playing them. It has the potential to expose newer players, and new viewers, to the top level of Smash that can be watched or played. Personally, I’ve reached out to a few top level players for iterations of The End is Nair tourney series I founded in San Francisco, CA, where some have been able to make it up and grace us with their presence already, while some are still in the works and pending a confirmation from my end or theirs, but there are talks! Point being, our regional scenes are growing at an exponential rate, and I doubt the majors or supermajors like SSC, Genesis, Apex, etc will be the only places we can see the highest level play for much longer!

Dext3r: I think this is just the beginning, SNOSA and ODS are just the first ones,
this is just getting bigger and bigger; it’s just a matter of time to see more exclusive 64 tourneys
honestly, game dosent have 17 years for me, the game started 1 Janurary 2016.

Daniels: I foresee this continuing for only a short time. We’re still in this fragile, grassroots era like Melee was when they had their rebirth. Although, if and when we keep growing, tournaments like these will happen less and less as we get included in more majors. ODS is unique in the sense that the tournament is not the main focus. It’s a party, it’s a Smash retreat with a group of all the best players. With a tournament basically as a side event.

3. Havasu Smash is one of the fastest growing scenes in 64 due to a variety of reasons. What lessons can other scenes take from Havasu to promote their own growth?

Derek: Not sure what Havasu is unfortunately, so not too sure haha.

Duncs: Cody “Daniels” Daniels puts a lot of effort into recruiting new players, at a rate of nearly 2-3 steady players a month, if not more. He presents their scene’s appearance well, streams weekly, collects data for their PR and remains dedicated to his creation, it’s something to be proud of for sure! All of our scenes are doing great jobs to promote the game itself, but where most lies Havasu Smash’s success is the dependable stream for the viewers, and his commitment to making the regional scene grow larger.

Dext3r: I think the word is “Determination”, other communities should follow Havasu scene’s steps; just look at ODS, hard work looks awesome.

Daniels: Other scenes can learn that you have to stop waiting for a scene to come to you. It’s really not that difficult. As cliché as it sounds, it starts with you. Get a friend and start playing. Start turning other people and friends on to 64 and then start hosting 4 person round robins if you have to. Get SOME sort of organization and host a round robin once a month. Don’t worry about skill, you need numbers and entrants. Skill will come and Havasu is a great example of that. Get yourself and at least one other person so passionate about the game, and the rest will take care of itself.

4. What player attending ODS do you think you could learn the most from, both for your main and for your general gameplay?

Derek: As far as learning goes I think Mariguas, Tacos and Boom. Tacos is pretty offensive, which my game is lacking, so playing with him I may learn new approaches. Boom is pretty defensive and very careful with his attacks, so I can situationally learn from Boom, like what to do when the characters are at X and Y on the screen and how to capitalize on certain situations. Mariguas is a super smooth blend of the two from what I have seen. He’s becoming amazingly optimal and I could learn how to balance different playstyles through Mariguas, especially with rat. I generally goof around when I play and only really use rat when I feel the need for a win or if I’m close to a tournament now. So for my general gameplay I would say Boom because he’s at a very high level, and when we would play online we would use most of the characters which makes it fun and helps your overall gameplay and ability to play with the whole cast.

Duncs: Being a Jigglypuff player, who I feel like a lot of top-level players have a good handle on, despite being a main of Puff or not, are fully capable of showing me a few things with her that I can add to my neutral and option-select game. I’m really looking forward to playing lots of Luigi and seeing new things with him as well, he’s just too fun and SO underdeveloped in my opinion, so I’m looking forward to seeing other Weegies, specifically Phoenix’s Freean and New York’s Jimmy Joe (no offense Shears, you don’t know how to d-tilt, so you’re not always right).

Dext3r: SuPeRbOoMfAn definitely.

Daniels: Revan. I can’t wait to get a sesh in with him again. I’m gonna have a private set up on my side of the house so I can have 1 on 1 sessions with players without playing in rotation. And Revan, Revan’s at the top of my list.

5. What will be the Top 8?

Derek: Top 8? Derek and Boom in Grand Finals, that’s all I know, it will be a good Yoshi ditto.

Duncs: Two Canadians, two Mexicans, two East Coast, two West Coast.

Dext3r: My Top 8 Predictions:

1-SuPeRbOoMfAn

2-Dext3r

3-Tacos

4-Kero

5-Revan

5-Stranded

7-HeroPie

7-JaimeHR

Daniels: It’s so hard because there are SO many top 8 worthy players and it’s tough to predict but my list would be:

Boom

Tacos

Kero

Revan

Stranded

Dexter

Bark

Fireblaster

Derek and HeroPie as the wild cards.

6. Now for the most important question: could you beat Shears in a boxing match?

Derek: If he boxes like he plays Luigi it would be an easy W.

Duncs: Will a money match with a tall, lanky set of janitors in white gloves count as a “boxing match?”

And yes Shears, that’s a call-out.

Dext3r: I think he will beat me with 1 hand while playing Smash with the other lol.

Daniels: Could I beat Shears in a boxing match?! Boy, nobody can take this left hand shot, these are fundamentals.

Free Barking with BarkSanchez

So we’re boxing now, huh? I’d love to see any Smash community try to pull that off. ODS was an absolute blast last year, and as much as I love seeing all of the international players and the Titans of Smash 64, the natural feel of the 64 community is what makes this event. Whether it’s watching SotoH and Wookiee getting heavily inebriated as they play doubles, fun laid back commentary with Daniels and Revan as Boom 5 stocks everyone in the room or Madrush being everyone’s favorite Drunkrush, this event had a wholly different feel than any of the other events I’ve been to. It’s a Smash retreat, a Smash party, that just happens to have a stacked bracket.  This year it had to have a cap to keep it manageable as it is a house party, but despite a stacked summer slate of events, this was not the trip to miss out on.

Derek should be seeded below Stranded and Dext3r, one tournament is not enough results to place him that highly, but he could pose a serious threat to everyone above him. It should be interesting to see how other top players handle this fairly new (to console) challenger.

If JimmyJoe tries to spend 2 hours getting groceries before our doubles match again this year I’ll have a bit of a fit. Ditto for Socal and trying to drag us to Chili’s for four hours.

There are four ways to die this weekend: Boxing, putting pasty smashers in 120 degree weather, going up against Wookiee in Pool Basketball or alcohol poisoning. Regardless of the method, ODS makes sure everyone has a blast doing it.

Pound 2016 Recap

By Jamie “JAMJAR” Jacobs

Pound 2016 has come and gone. As the #yearof64 rolls on, we were able to experience another exhilarating major. Competitors journeyed from far off places such as Florida and Canada to convene upon McLean, Virginia for the much delayed sixth iteration of this storied series. As 107 Smashers gathered in Tysons Corner, many questions were on their minds. Would the Fireblaster and BarkSanches rivalry be renewed in bracket? Will Virginia pull off an upset against Maryland in the Salty Suite? Will Losers Quarterfinals be streamed? But the number one question everyone was pondering: would a new champion be crowned or would SuPeRbOoMfAn reign supreme?

Day 1 – Salty Suite

The weekend of Smash started off very early for this Smash Writer. The team arrived at the venue as the first 64 players, eager to take in the sights of our first major. Jason “Nardwell” Mani eagerly snapped pictures of the major effort being undertaken to get the tournament underway. We were stoked to meet some Smashers, and soon enough the Canadian Captain Falcon main, Fck Vwls, arrived at the venue. As I sat down to play some friendlies, other 64 players slowly started to stream in and overtake our designated station. While it was exciting meeting other Smashers and playing against so many esoteric styles, I was eager to see some real competition. Luckily, the Salty Suite brought the hype I desired.

DSC_5135.JPG
Clubbadubba (Middle) reacts to a dirty combo.

As I arrived at The Cave Gaming Center, the venue was already packed. All I had to do was look at each setup to see some of the legendary names of 64. The likes of SuPeRbOoMfAn, tacos, and KeroKeroppi were playing friendlies to warm up for the main event the next day. On the most impressive set-up, a hoard of players surrounded two gaming chairs. Here is where the Salty Suite matches would be contested.

Virginian IceKing and Baltimorean Moonshoes faced off in a battle for N64 games and regional pride. These two young players were looking to make a name for themselves by putting up some rare Nintendo 64 cartridges, worth a total of 270 dollars. In a tight battle, Moonshoes emerged victorious after being pushed to the limit in a five game set. Also on display was a crew battle between Q! and two Indy64 members. Bacorn and Dogs_johnson looked to defend their region’s name against a strong opponent. This set was entirely composed of Captain Falcon dittos and displayed some flashy combos. In the end, Q! handily defeated the two man crew, establishing Pennsylvania’s dominance over Indiana.

DSC_5195.JPG
The BarkSanchez (Left) vs. Fireblaster (Right) rivalry lives on at the Salty Suite.

The Salty Suite also gave us another edition of the classic Fireblaster versus BarkSanchez rivalry. On the line: the competitors’ pride and twenty dollars. As has been the pattern lately, this set was a classic. Bark managed to bring the set back from a 2-1 deficit. Bark switched it up after the early deficit, using some different edgeguard patterns than he has used in the past. This proved useful, as he earned a relatively strong 2 stock in Game 4. The fifth and final game proved to be as epic as predicted. Fireblaster was down a stock the entire match, but never let it get out of reach. Unfortunately, the small deficit proved enough for his opponent, as Bark continued his recent dominance of the rivalry.

 

The main event of Maryland versus Virginia went about as expected. These two raucous groups were hyping up the crew battle, though it ended up looking like a bit of a mismatch. While the Virginians had a lot of heart, the Maryland crew proved that talent trumps all. LD’s Fox took 14 stocks from his opponents with his patented combos. This momentum rolled into Shears, as he dominated with the Mario Bros., taking 10 stocks with his pocket Luigi and 8 with a Mario no one knew he had. Moonshoes also had a decent showing with his Yoshi, nearly finishing the crew battle off. After the dust settled, Maryland had annihilated their opponents, finishing with a 13 stock lead. However, it is doubtful that this has quieted the interstate rivalry, as the Virginians are expected to keep challenging their neighbors at future majors.

DSC_5123
Moonshoes (Right) helps to propel Maryland to victory during the Crew Battle.

Day 2 – Doubles Tournament and Singles Pools until Top 8

After a night of salty matchups, the real show was set to begin. Pool A of Doubles provided us with three expected results and one underdog advancing. The powerhouse teams of SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos, as well as Bark The Shark and Darkhorse, known as Barkhorse, easily swept through their bracket to emerge on Winner’s side of Top 8. The New York duo of Jimmy Joe and th3kuzinator were knocked to losers by the top seed, but made quick work of rising Virginia duo, Rusty and Mustard Tiger, to advance. On the other hand, the second half of Baltimore’s BDSM crew, Shears and Daniel had to fight for their lives to earn their shot at Top 8. They were knocked out of the Winners side early by Jimmy Joe and th3kuzinator, but advanced through two rounds to face off against fellow Maryland team Fox, also known as LD, and The Protagonist. This duo was surprisingly swept by Barkhorse, showing some shaky play, despite previously dismantling them in a strong showing at Super Smash Con. Shears and Daniel managed to pull the upset 2-1, knocking out a strong contender from the bracket. This disappointing showing by Fox boded poorly for his chances in singles.

DSC_5323.JPG
From left to right: Fireblaster and Revan face off against KoRoBeNiKi and Fck Vwls in doubles.

Pool B provided very little surprise, as the top 4 teams advanced to the bracket round. However, the debut of the online warriors, KnitePhox and Combo Blaze, proved troubling for the top seed of the pool, as they managed to defeat Revan and Fireblaster to advance. On the opposite side, the classic team of Nintendude and Firo faced a tough fight against the brotherly team of Dr. lampy and lord narwhal, though they squeaked out a 2-1 victory. From here, the two fallen squads easily swept their opponents in losers to make the bracket. Our eight victorious doubles teams were set, and the bracket was ready.

DSC_5528.JPG
Darkhorse (Left) and Kerokeroppi (Right) battle it out.

The first round of Top 8 proved rather unbalanced, as sweeps were produced in all of the sets. The monstrous team of SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos showed why they were the prohibitive favorites, dismantling the brothers Barkhorse whilst using randomly selected characters. Nintendude and Firo disrobed the surprise online warriors Combo Blaze and Knitephox, while the new New York duo, JimmyJoe and th3kuzinator, shocked lord narwhal and Dr. lampy. Daniel and Shears had their impressive run terminated, as they were unable to dent an angry Fireblaster and Revan duo. The dominance of Boom and tacos extended into Winner’s Finals. Despite Nintendude and Firo putting up a valiant fight in Game 1, the set was one-sided. The top seed felt comfortable enough to switch characters each match, finishing the set with a very strong 4 stock. Losers Quarterfinals gave us an exciting rematch between Revan and Fireblaster and KnitePhox and Combo Blaze. After being upset in the pools round, Fireblaster and Revan looked to earn some measure of revenge, taking the rematch convincingly in a 3-1 win. Each victory was marked by very high finishing stock numbers of five or more. On the other side of the bracket, Barkhorse faced off against Jimmy Joe and th3kuzinator. Despite the 3-0 game count, each game was relatively close. The brothers from Baltimore clutched out the New Yorkers each time, showing strong synergy between their Pikachu/Kirby combo.

DSC_5268.JPG
Moonshoes and MasterHandjob square off against Rusty and Mustard Tiger.

As we moved on to Losers Semifinals, we saw that BarkSanchez and Fireblaster were fated to play no matter what format the bracket was; Team Barkhorse was slated to face off with Fireblaster and Revan. This set proved to be the most thrilling of Top 8 as it went the distance. Game 1 was an intense back and forth affair, where Barkhorse barely managed to squeak out a victory in a game in which they trailed until the very end. Game 2 saw Fireblaster and Revan bounce back with a strong 3 stock,capped off with a particularly sweet team combo as Fireblaster’s Yoshi upsmashed Revan’s Kirby as he was on his way down from a forward throw. The third game seemed to show us that momentum was solidly in Fireblaster’s and Revan’s favor, as they dominated with simple yet solid play to earn a 5 stock. However, Barkhorse completely reversed that ending for Game 4 with their own 5 stock, marked by some tricky offstage movement by Bark to force Revan into his final death. Game 5 showed the power of momentum, as Barkhorse managed to take an early lead and never let go. This set truly showed the resolve of these two teams, and we expect to see more of this in the future.

Losers Finals gave us a matchup of risings stars against veterans: Barkhorse versus Nintendude and Firo. This set proved that Ness was very much still viable in a Dreamland only ruleset for doubles. Nintendude and Firo made a statement to the world here, sweeping away Baltimore’s last hope for a doubles champion. The synergy of Nintendude and Firo was evident here, as they weaved in and out of their foes using lower tier characters.

Grand Finals gave us a rematch of Nintendude and Firo against the monstrous opponents of SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos. Once again, SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos continued to swap through random characters, never feeling threatened. However, one moment that stood out was in Game 3. Firo was facing a 2 on 1 situation, and managed to take out both his opponents. Firo displayed his newly upgraded Ness skills all throughout doubles. Despite his heroics, nothing could stop the top seeded beasts, and SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos won the doubles tournaments 3-1.

DSC_5478.JPG
BarkSanchez observing the results of a clash between Bacorn (Bottom Left) and Daniel (Bottom Right).

Singles was ramping up between Doubles Pools and Top 8. The pools round displayed plenty of high level play, though upsets were few and far between. All of the usual suspects advanced to Top 32. However, some upstarts proved their worth as well. In particular, JAMJAR, Rusty, and poobearninja were relatively shocking entrants into the Top 32. JAMJAR made quick work of all of his opponents in winners side until BarkSanchez. Despite losing 2-0 here, the newcomer’s Kirby proved quite an opponent for the mainstay’s Pikachu. Each game was tightly contested, only ending in 2 stocks. This was quite a result for this Smash Writer, as he makes his major debut. Rusty took a similar path to advance out of his pool, sweeping two early rounds before being swept by a Brody. Despite this, Rusty managed to win a close set over Zuko to advance to the Top 32. Poobearninja had a different path to Top 32, as he lost early in his pool. However, this steadfast Captain Falcon main won three losers rounds in a row to make Top 32.

DSC_5399.JPG
David Shears tactfully managing a well organized bracket.

Winners side of Top 32 saw six of our eight top seeds advance in sweeps. However, rivals BarkSanchez and Fireblaster faced some troubles. Bark was against Virginian Clubbadubba, an opponent who had given him trouble recently. Clubba managed to launch a comeback to close out  game two, after dropping a lead in the first. Despite this, Bark turned it around and won with a dominating 4 stock in Game 3, nabbing his first win in Virginia against Clubba. Fireblaster was facing off with low tier master Firo, opting with his Mario for a more favorable matchup. After winning Game 1, overwhelming the Ness of Firo, it appeared Fireblaster had the advantage. However, Firo proved to have a few more tricks up his sleeve, reversing the result for Game 2 and dominating with a 3 stock in Game 3, walking away with the upset in the process.

DSC_5402.JPG

Winners Quarterfinals saw Boom sweep Bark in three close games. This display by Bark was an early indication that his previous poor play in majors may be a thing of the past. Wizzrobe’s Yoshi proved to be too much for Fox, sweeping him easily. Fox seemed to be very shaky thus far at Pound, giving Baltimore some worry for its top player. Tacos and Revan played a very entertaining Pikachu versus Kirby, though tacos proved too strong in the matchup for the Canadian to overcome. In the most entertaining set of Winners Quarterfinals, Firo faced off against KeroKeroppi. Kero won the first two games easily against Firo’s Ness. However, Firo pulled out his secret weapon for the rest of the set: Link. Game 3 proved to be a highlight of the weekend, as Firo managed to neutralize Kero’s Pikachu with another low tier character. Firo kept Kero at bay with a mixture of bombs and boomerangs, dominating the neutral game and forcing it to be played at his speed. As the crowd went wild, Firo pulled off the final kill. Unfortunately for our hero, Kero’s change to Captain Falcon proved to be timely, as he easily maneuvered around Link’s projectiles for a strong victory to advance to Top 8. However, Firo clearly had won the heart of the crowd, as this victory was met with a chorus of light-hearted boos.

The final matches to make Top 8 were set to go. Among them was a matchup we had seen twice before this weekend: BarkSanchez versus Fireblaster. This set ended with the same outcome as the previous two: with Bark the Shark on top. Fire appeared to be slightly on tilt throughout the set, never seeming completely comfortable. This may be because of his extremely tough loss to Firo earlier. Despite this, Fire managed to keep the first three games close, only down 2-1. However, Game 4 proved dominant for Bark, closing the night with a 3 stock. Outside of this match, we had a few other players distinguish themselves in losers. Daniel won two sets to make it to Top 16, losing a close set to lord narwhal. Shears also won two sets in losers, advancing to Top 12. In this round, Shears was swept by Revan. However, the TO of Pound claims he should have won, only losing due to enduring many of his patented suicides. Clubbadubba had a similar course to Top 12, though he lost to the People’s Champ Firo. The stage was set, our Top 8 would be SuPeRbOoMfAn, tacos, KeroKeroppi, Wizzrobe, BarkSanchez, Fox, Revan, and Firo.

Day 3 – Singles Top 8

Top 8 began with the heroic Firo against the Canadian Kirby of Revan. Firo would go Link this entire set, but sadly it would prove to not be enough. As with his set against Kero, Firo earned the love of the people with some incredible bomb set ups and edgeguards. But his tactics and traps would not be enough to defeat the solid Kirby from the north, as Revan masterfully weaved in and out of bombs and boomerangs to set up easy gimps. Much to the dismay of his adoring fans, Firo was eliminated 3-1. However, this placing proved that despite has absence from majors over the past year, he is still a force to be reckoned with. On the other side of the bracket, we saw the two top Baltimoreans face off. Fox and BarkSanchez, two frequent opponents in the Xanadu series, would face off in an elimination round. This set furthered the narrative we had seen earlier in singles and during doubles. Bark was on a mission to shake off his history of poor placings at majors, while Fox looked rather shaky. Bark’s Pikachu seemed to be everywhere this set, earning solid edgeguards against the typically unedgeguardable Fox. In the end, Fox was eliminated 3-1 by his friend Bark.

DSC_5530.JPG
Fireblaster (Left) and BarkSacnchez (Right) meet again in Losers Bracket.

After the loss of their hero Firo, the people needed someone to cling to, someone to warm their hearts. Winners Semifinals gave them that someone. In possibly the best set of the weekend, Wizzrobe would take favorite SuPeRbOoMfAn to his limit. Wizzy showcased his incredibly optimal Yoshi in Game 1, taking advantage of his superarmor to win many exchanges against Pikachu and win a tight match. Game 2 and 3 were much of the same. Wizzy managed to play the best player in North America very tightly, only just losing the second game while clutching out the third. Facing a 2-1 deficit, Boom made a character switch to Kirby. Game 4 proved his switch was timely, as he won with a solid 2 stock, including a tricky kill using Inhale. The final game was terribly one-sided, as Boom won with a 4 stock. Wizzy was caught too often using his double jump earlier, showing signs of impatience, allowing the favorite to win a tight set.

The other side of Winners Semifinals pitted KeroKeroppi against tacos. Tacos showed complete control of this set early on, as he won a dominant Game 1 with his Captain Falcon over Kero’s Pikachu. Game 2 saw tacos switch to Yoshi, trying to avoid a bad matchup against Kirby. However, Kero seemed intent on going Pikachu the entire set. The second and third games showcased very even play, with Kero managing to win a game against the best Yoshi in the world. Feeling confident, tacos decided to break out his Donkey Kong for Game 4, a truly crowd pleasing decision. Despite losing, tacos showed a very positive mindset throughout the game. He justified his confidence in Game 5, going back to Falcon and dominating with a stylish 4 stock, punctuated by frequent taunt cancels. Perhaps KeroKeroppi has another hurdle to jump before he can supplant Boom himself.

DSC_5543.JPG
Titans SuPeRbOoMfAn (Left) and tacos (Right) square off in Grand Finals.

Winners Finals saw Boom’s Kirby against a trio of tacos’s characters. However, nothing tacos did was enough to take down the top player. In each game, Boom displayed complete control of the matchup, winning with 3 stocks in Games 1 and 3 and a 4 stock in Game 2. This was truly a statement from the Canadian beast, letting us know that his close set against Wizzrobe was a fluke. Unfortunately, some controversy occurred not allowing Losers Quarterfinals to be played on stream. Despite this, the show had to go on, and go on it did. This pair of sets saw some dominant performances, as Kero swept BarkSanchez 3-0, ending the Baltimorean’s first great major. Recently, Bark has faced some troubles in the Pikachu ditto against Kero, with this set signifying the debut of Bark’s Falcon in big tournament play. Wizzrobe was also beaten soundly this round, losing 3-1 to Revan. Unfortunately for the Yoshi, he was double eliminated by Canadian Kirbys, despite putting on quite a show against Boom.

DSC_5120.JPG
BarkSanchez enjoying an awesome weekend of Smash 64.

Losers Semifinals had Revan facing off with KeroKeroppi. This set is the prime example of why the Kirby versus Pikachu matchup is so difficult. Despite masterful play by Revan, he had so much difficulty consistently getting in. Kero’s Pikachu abused Revan when he got the change, leading to a 3-0 sweep. Loser Finals would give Kero his shot at revenge against tacos. Unfortunately for him, it was not meant to be. Tacos started the set with an easy win as Captain Falcon over Kero’s Pikachu. This was very reminiscent of their earlier set. Game 2 was extremely heartbreaking for the man from New York. Tacos initiated a Pikachu ditto here, which played out extremely evenly, down to a last hit situation. As Kero was attempting to get back on stage he chose the wrong angle. He went straight down with Quick Attack for an SD. Frustration began to show on the face of Mr. Speziale, as Game 3 began. Here we saw Kero’s Kirby obliterate tacos’s Captain Falcon in a 4 stock. Kero completely abused the matchup with his blue Kirby, earning easy gimps and stylish uptilt combos. However, it was not meant to be, as his momentum slowed to a halt against tacos’s Pikachu. Despite fighting back to even the stocks in the end, Kero did not have enough left in the tank, as tacos won with a typical Pikachu gimp. Kero showed some level of frustration throughout this set. He has a lot to think about after not living up to his seeding, though this Smash Writer believes he still has a lot to give.

DSC_5553.JPG
SuPeRbOoMfAn relishing the spoils of his triumph.

Grand Finals gave us a rematch between SuPeRbOoMfAn and tacos. Game 1 showed us why Boom was the favorite to win the whole thing, as his Kirby dominated tacos’s Captain Falcon with a 4 stock. This game is a perfect example for why Kirby wins this matchup, as Boom dominated the neutral game and showed how easily Kirby edgeguards Captain Falcon. The second game showed that perhaps tacos still had some fight in him, as he fought back to tie the game late with his Pikachu. Despite this, Boom was able to clutch out a victory with a hard-read forward smash. Facing a 2-0 deficit, tacos seemed to throw in the towel, as the two competitors switched to a Donkey Kong ditto. Tacos managed a tight victory in the first game, as the crowd was going wild over the rarely seen matchup. Boom showed his displeasure at losing a matchup, as he had set out to prove he was the master of all matchups. They initiated a Donkey Kong ditto for Game 4, which Boom won showing off some slick edgecancels and combos. After a long weekend of Smash, our champion of Pound 2016 had been crowned. Despite the best efforts of his rivals, the favorite answered the question: SuPeRbOoMfAn reigns supreme.

The Way of the Smasher

By Jamie “JAMJAR” Jacobs

Anyone who has ever attempted to break into the Super Smash Bros. tournament scene has experienced the journey I am on right now. I have just finished my second Smash 64 tournament. This experience has lit a fire in my stomach which is urging me to compete more and to get better. My day is marked by periods of thinking about nothing but my matches. When I get home from work, I intend to do homework or read a book or play piano. In the end, I cannot help but to gravitate towards Smash. I wonder to myself, “Has everyone else gone through this same thing? How similar are these experiences to the beginnings of our greatest players?” This search for answers may be better explained by looking back at how my own obsession began.

In the summer of 2014 my company was rapidly expanding. We were moving out of our prior shared location to a warehouse all our own. However, this new location was pretty far from the homes of all four of the employees, so we decided to rent a house together. One of my coworkers was my brother. This is important because for years he had been bragging about his skill in Smash 64. In a drunken moment, we had agreed that we would someday play a set for 30 dollars. When we moved into the new house, I knew that I must purchase Smash 64 and play this set. The price was oddly high, but I had a feeling we would get a lot of entertainment out of it so I made the purchase.

The first thing we did when we got the cartridge was play our money match. I won easily, claiming my first victory in competition. Over the course of a year, thousands of intense matches were played in that house. My brother and I developed a vicious rivalry. I was very confident in my skills and declared I could beat him in a ditto with his main. Prior to this declaration I was solely a Samus main, so you can imagine how annoyed he would get at this comment. If I won I would take his color: the coveted blue Kirby. I won this set easily and despite his best efforts, my brother could never take his color back. We played thousands of Kirby dittos in this time, leading me to leave behind my prior main and pick up Kirby seriously.

bluekirby
Blue Kirby, my main and color of choice currently.

As my three roommates and I played and improved we began to discover the early tech skills. We learned to z-cancel consistently and tech out of tumbles. We developed some of the most basic combos for characters such as Kirby’s down-air into up-tilts or Luigi’s up-air into up-B. This was such an exciting time for us as our skills were rapidly increasing. However, the good times eventually came to an end. Our business hit a rough spot and we ended up moving back to our old location. My brother had fallen in love with Colorado, and so my best playing partner left me for that marijuana-filled state. Not only that, because the business moved again, the rest of the house decided we should move away. I ended up back at my parents’ house with no consistent playing partner.

However, this would not be the demise of my Smash 64 career. Prior to this move, I had been doing some research to find a local scene. I made a call out to Reddit and Cobr responded. He told me of a small tournament merely twenty minutes from my house called A Video Game Con. After deciding I would be attending, I began practicing online to gain match-up knowledge and grinding in training mode to increase my tech skill. At this tournament I met my first professional smasher in person. Cobr played friendlies with me for two hours, giving me many tips for how to improve. In tournament I ended up placing fourth and had a great time. I played with many other smashers, including a few that were right around my skill level.

12045659_1683420758540825_2384191517694841880_o
Volunteers commentate a match at A Video Game Con. Photo Cred: A Video Game Con

After AVGC I had trouble finding time to attend more tournaments. I was working full-time and going back to college. This in no way stymied my desire to improve though, as I made it a point to play 64 online a few hours a week. When Shears’ post that Shots Fired 2 had expanded to include Smash 64 came across my feed on Reddit, I knew I needed to attend. In the weeks prior to this tournament I practiced harder than ever before. I attempted to get an hour of online play in every day. More importantly, I made it a point to practice my tech skill and combos in training mode. As my dedication improved, so did my play. I could finally semi-consistently pivot up-tilt on command and had learned how to combo harder out of Kirby’s up-tilt.

Shots Fired 2 arrived and was truly an incredible experience. I played with some of the most skilled people in North America, even managing to defeat some of their secondary characters in friendlies. In pools I got obliterated by Stranded and Shears but managed to not get five stocked. My other sets were much more competitive, including a particularly intense set against XOR which was streamed. In the end I went 1-4 in pools but was very happy with how I had performed. Despite having a worse showing than at AVGC, I felt I had played much better.

Looking back at my journey to this moment, where I am on the cusp of being fully engrossed in the Smash 64 scene, I cannot help but think this journey has been experienced by everyone before me. From the first feelings of the joy of competition with a rival to the exhilarating experience of discovering the first tech. From grinding hundreds of hours when the obsession first takes hold to feeling the rush of tournament pressure for the first time. All these moments have culminated in this moment in a Smasher’s life: the point where he or she must decide if they will give it their all or stay on the fringes of the scene. As all of the great players of this scene decided before me, I am intent on going all in. Smash 64 has not seen the last of me.