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 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.
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.