By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody
SNOSA returns for a third year, and while it sports similar numbers to the previous year, the tournament has taken on almost an entirely different look from the previous iterations. The original Smash 64 exclusive series has adopted the fairly new Waterfall Tournament Format and a sparkling new venue at Santa Ana’s Esports Arena, while also earning the distinction of being the first 64-exclusive tournament to host traveling competitors from Japan. While the Western Hemisphere has reigned supreme at each event since Wario’s victory at Genesis 3, Fukurou could change that in the absence of SuPeRbOoMfAn and Alvin.
The Smash 64 community has worked together once again to help Fukurou, Hiyo, and Gyaki attend Snosa III. While Fukurou has staked his claim over the past few years as perhaps the strongest Kirby main in the world, Gyaki and Hiyo emerged into the spotlight following impressive performances at Kanto 2017. Hiyo’s explosive Yoshi combos powered him past Prince, Japan’s strongest Yoshi player, and into a 9th place finish. Gyaki shocked the community by defeating Kurabba, Taimai, Wangera, and taking a set off of k y s k, finishing in 2nd place with Link. Super Smash Con 2016 saw three Yoshi players travel from Japan, with some unexpected results. Bonobono was upset early, and fell at 17th place, while Kurabba vastly exceeded expectations and earned a 7th place finish. The notorious combo machine, Prince, had a strong 9th place finish as well. However, after seeing the least technical of the three yoshi players have the most success in a North American tournament, many in the Smash 64 community questioned what role the differences in versions may have played. Gyaki, on the other hand, faces a transition in which his character is considered to be vastly weaker. After taking down some of the strongest Japanese players to venture into American territory, Gyaki is believed to have the talent to overcome these changes and compete with the Pikachus, Kirbys, and Falcons of North America. Fukurou leads the Japanese entourage with an imposing Kirby, potentially the best in the world. Fukurou has dominated high level Japanese players like Wangera, k y s k, and Maha, and shown the ability to compete with Wario as well. While Fukurou may be seen by some as a favorite to take the tournament, Gyaki and Hiyo may be sleeper picks to make Top 8, or perhaps even Top 4.
Also part of the compendium to bring out Japan, Mariguas and Dext3r will also travel to compete in Santa Ana. JaimeHR will be joining the Mexican crew as well, along with SOMRERO and Weedlypuff, two fairly new players first seen at Smashenada. Without Boom to defend North America, Mariguas stands as the West’s strongest competitor. Mariguas has dismantled the Canadian Kirbys Revan and Handsometom, but appeared lost against k y s k at Genesis 4. With Fukurou offering an even tougher challenge than k y s k, Mariguas may be faced with an impossible task, unless the past five months of training have been rigorous enough to match up with the daunting Kirby main. None of this will matter if Dext3r has his way and takes down Fukurou first. 2016’s most improved player has kept on rolling through 2017, and has been very vocal about his desire to face and defeat the Japanese Kirby king. While on paper this matchup wouldn’t seem in his favor, the passionate Pika player has proven to be very dangerous when he can gather momentum. With wins over Wizzrobe, Tacos, and TR3GTheZ in 2017, Dext3r would love nothing more than to keep the wins rolling and overwhelm the Japanese invaders. JaimeHR in recent tournaments has shown the threat of a Pikachu, which has proven to be a dangerous addition to his arsenal after taking out Stranded at Genesis 4, and taking games against Mariguas. With some of his infamous “Turbo Mode” magic, Jaime could definitely cause a shakeup in the top of the bracket if he finds his groove. Japan is often seen as the pinnacle of Smash mastery, but Mexico might be too strong for them this time around.
Norcal’s crew features a solid core, such as their formidable veteran Shihman, and recently recruited free agents from Socal, Blondekid and Bard. While these guys, along with most of Norcal’s Power Rankings, will be showing up in force at Snosa III, the most intriguing story out of the region will feature the Mario Twins: Kimimaru and Hydra. Since his breakout console debut at Genesis 3, Kimimaru has been atop the Norcal power rankings and a consistent threat at majors. His identical twin brother Hydra made his console debut a year later at Genesis 4, and is expected to have made significant strides towards matching his brother. The two made waves at Genesis 4 with an unheard of double Mario team, taking out Jimmyjoe and Smash Jesus, breaking into Top 16. Kimimaru is already a threat to break into Top 8, but hasn’t yet snagged a win against a top North American player. Keeping a red-hot pace of improvement with the Red plumber, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see Kimimaru pull off an upset or two and break into the next tier of competitors. Hydra also turned some heads at Genesis 4, and if the twins truly are identical, he may be only a weak up air into up smash away from Top 16 as well.
While Southern California’s resident celebrity, Kyletree, will not be present to defend home turf, the rest of their top players will be ready and willing to take up arms against a crowd of invaders. Los Angeles natives Heropie and Janitor are well-known as lurking threats in the city of angels, however, they have recently recruited another ranked threat from the east coast, Cobr. Despite a slow start from the New Jersey nomad, he’s coming fresh off of his biggest win yet against Kyletree. He might not run into the matchup at the top end of this tournament, but his expertise will certainly be useful in powering him to Top 16. Janitor has yet to score a major performance that can earn him top level recognition, but he’s shown flashes of his potential, most notably taking a set off of JaimeHR. Heropie on the other hand has been a threat as one of the best in the United States for over a year now, with victories over JaimeHR and Isai. Socal’s top crew is stronger than ever, as it sets its sights on Mexico, and perhaps Japan as well.
Rounding out the Top 8 threats are some familiar, yet still fresh names in the United States. Zero, BarkSanchez, and Dtan. Since his breakout performance at Super Smash Con 2016, Zero has been a consistent threat at the top, looking especially powerful against Falcons and Yoshis. He is chomping at the bit for a shot against Hiyo, another Japanese Yoshi to add to his list. BarkSanchez has had his ups and downs in 2017, however, wins against Tacos, Wizzrobe, and Alvin have given him top level consideration. After nearly defeating Dext3r in the Pikachu ditto at Smash N’ Splash 3, it would be no surprise if he finished the job at Snosa III. Dtan has rivaled BarkSanchez for the greatest rookie year in Smash 64 history, with huge wins against Kerokeroppi, BarkSanchez, and Kimimaru. Although he wasn’t projected to make top 8, it would almost be more of a surprise to not see him there on Sunday.