Shuffle VIII Preview: Buckeye Beatdown

By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

Shuffle VIII is the eighth installment (no way!) of the well-regarded series of Ohio regionals. The colossal announcement here is that Shuffle VIII will mark the first time the series has hosted the original Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. The announcement has drawn players from ten different states, from the east coast all the way across the Midwest. Shuffle has attracted some of the best players in the country such as KeroKeroppi, Fireblaster, BarkSanchez, and Shears.

The inaugural Smash 64 bracket at Shuffle is another step in the ever expanding Midwest Smash 64 scene. This follows Indiana breaking into the scene with Boss Battle 1 two months ago. Ever since the 64 community’s popularity exploded in recent years, the Midwest had remained relatively quiet. They have lacked the necessary amount of events and exposure to put them on the map and draw consistent talent.

The clear-cut number one seed, KeroKeroppi, will be looking to leave a Pikachu-shaped mark on the Midwest. The best player in the country not named Isai will be joined by Fireblaster, a top level Yoshi player from the Tristate area (North Atlantic). Representing the Baltimore region are BarkSanchez and Shears, two high-level Pikachu mains.

Last weekend, these players all met at Nebulous in New York City, followed by Shots Fired 2 the next day. At Nebulous, KeroKeroppi’s Falcon alt proved to be enough to win, defeating BarkSanchez and Fireblaster on the winner’s side of the bracket. BarkSanchez 3-0’d Fireblaster in Loser’s Finals just to fall short against KeroKeroppi once more in Grand Finals. However, at Shots Fired 2 KeroKeroppi did not enter the tournament. This allowed Fireblaster to turn the tables against BarkSanchez, responding with his own 3-0 victory in Loser’s Semis. Shears also looks to seek revenge for Shots Fired 2, after suffering losses at the hands of Fireblaster and BarkSanchez. Shears may also get his first chance to play KeroKeroppi in tournament this weekend, which could spark an even more intense rivalry between these four competitors.

Shuffle will also be a great opportunity for Ohio to showcase their talent. This will give us a clearer picture of how they stack up against the other regions in the Midwest. Two of Ohio’s top players, Rizner and Fumbles, have already proven themselves against out-of-state talent, as both advanced to the top 32 bracket at Super Smash Con. Rizner also made it to the second round of pools at Genesis 3, the largest and most stacked 64 tournament ever held in North America. JosephZander, Dr Combos, Thrillhouse, Monte, and Pugs all made bracket at Boss Battle in January as well. Box surprisingly drowned in pools at Boss Battle 1, but look for the scrappy Mario main to reverse that outcome this weekend. Local favorites Vinsanity and Cyoonit will have their hands full with in-state talent alone.

Amida is a Kirby/Pikachu main from Kentucky who has consistently placed well at national events, such as Apex 2014, Apex 2015, and Super Smash Con. Andykinz, a technical Fox/Kirby main from Michigan and winner of Youmacon 2015’s Smash 64 tournament, hopes to create a few upsets as he bursts onto the scene. Kirbstomper from Georgia and CTG from Dallas are up-and-coming players with tournament experience on the national level, both of whom are easily capable of a few surprises.

Other notable players include Mr. Sir, founder of ENKKO, and Ice King, who are both disciples of one of MDVA’s top players: Clubbadubba. The fairly new Indy64 crew, responsible for Boss Battle 1, will have a few of their core players in attendance as well. Bacorn and Dasit Mane have been quite active in the community over recent months. They are hoping their intense training will help them and fellow Indy smasher Blahguy make a splash.

Shuffle is the next in line of many events lately that have been featuring round robin pools, which means plenty of Smash and less johns. Be sure to tune in and catch these matches live, as Shuffle VIII will be streamed on http://twitch.tv/thatsadarkhorse, one of the premiere Smash 64 streams in North America, starting around 12:30PM on Saturday 12th March.

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