East Meets West: SNOSA III Preview

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.

64 Free For All: SNOSA III

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

The 64 Free For All is a question and answer session with some of the biggest names in Smash 64. 6 questions, 4 top personalities. Today we have three players from the western part of North America and a legendary Japanese player. The mind behind SoCal Smash: Wookiee. A rising star SoCal rallies behind: Heropie. The enigmatic, doubles master JaimeHR. The legendary Kirby master from Japan: Fukurou.

  1. Snosa III will be the first modern North American 64 major to try out a 4 stock ruleset for singles. How do you expect competitors and fans to react to this change?

Alex “Wookiee” Jungsten: I think there will be a very positive reaction. With all of the crazy hype sets that will be at Snosa, I think four stocks is going to make it a really good event. As for the viewers, I hope it also becomes even more enjoyable.

Alex “Heropie” Ornelas: I think overall there will be a positive reaction. Some people are old school and don’t like the 4 stock game, but I think we should try it out considering that 64 has been known to have some pretty long sets.

Jaime “JaimeHR” Hernández Rodríguez: Well I’m personally not a fan of 4 stock matches and Dreamland only (lol) but if that’s what the community wants, I’ll just roll with it. There’s definitely going to be mixed reactions about this change, from the ones that don’t really care at all to those who feel that 1 less stock will force players to play more carefully, thus making matches take longer. There’s also the people that are going to think that we are Melee now or something.

Fukurou: I think it will be very good for the community to do, however fewer stocks means it is easier for the weaker player to win.

  1. The hype surrounding Snosa seems to be significantly less than what we have come to expect from 64 majors. Why do you think this has happened? What can events do to truly bring pre-event excitement?

Wookiee: I think people are going to be very surprised at how hype the tournament is going to be. I am very confident to say I feel bad for the people not attending. This is probably going to be one of, if not the best Smash 64 exclusive majors that has been run to this date.

I personally believe that there has just been too many 64 majors, which made it harder to market since we didn’t want to step on anybodies toes and interfere with their tournaments. It shows we have made significant growth however as a community. I was expecting less entrants due to people having gone to so many majors recently. Although we do have less entrants than what is expected, this tournament is STACKED. Go through the entrants list, even top 70 is going to be well known players. A Lot of good people are going to place lower than we think.   

I don’t think we need to do anything differently for our event. If people want to come, they can. For me as a TO however, I am just focusing on having a very high quality event, which everyone will come to see it is. We have the best venue a 64 major has ever had, the best stream equipment anybody has ever had access to, more set ups than we could ever need, Japan is sending three players, and we are in one of the best cities in the USA. It can’t get much better.

Heropie: I think people are underestimating how hype it will be. I can’t wait to watch the Japanese players play some of our top players. Anytime there is top level competition I think the hype will naturally follow.

JaimeHR: It is because 4 stocks is not popular! Nah, just kidding. It is hard to tell really, I think it has to do with the amount of Smash events that are currently happening throughout the year, there are a lot more tournaments featuring SSB64 than in previous years, back then we had at most 3 events that featured Smash 64 during the whole year and I think that’s what made those few tournaments so hype, because they were rare and everyone wanted to go. Now we have a lot more tournaments but the draw back now, I feel, is that now we are choosing which ones are “worth” going to more than others. Take Smash’N’Splash 3 as an example, that tournament was 2 weeks before Snosa and only got 63 entrants for SSB64, really good players were there that could build enough hype to bring out more participants but it just didn’t work, was it bad marketing? Or maybe people thought, “Oh, Snosa is more important, I should just save for that.”

As for building pre-event excitement, I think 64 majors are doing it great right now by bringing international players, the problem maybe was that there were other 64 events close to Snosa that actually seemed like they were competing for attendance, what needs to be done I think, is gather all the 64 TOs together and agree on which tournament will be labeled as “That Big Major that you must NOT miss” and help market it within their local tournaments and other non-exclusive Smash 64 events such as SSS or Smash’N’Splash 3 for instance.

Fukurou: Take care of the Smash community, and get more people to know about the game.

  1. Not long ago, the Super Smash Bros. 64 League announced an effort to create regional event circuits. Do you believe this is the direction our game should move? Why or why not?

Wookiee: I highly support the regional circuits. It accomplishes three big things that our community needs. It gives us organization, a motivation factor for the region’s players to attend a tournament, and a way for our community to start generating some money. The community is only growing faster and faster, and unlike the other Smash communities, we have a centralized organization that can oversee tournament quality and look for the best interests of the whole community. I think the 64 League is really going to do some amazing things over these next few years.

Heropie: I think it’s a good direction for the game to go considering the growth of the community in the last couple of years. The unity will be good and players now have an incentive to make it out to the tournaments.

JaimeHR: Circuits are definitely the next step into making SSB64 a more serious competitive (eSport?) game, the real question would be, is SSB64 ready? I don’t think it is yet, we are still debating which rulesets are the best for the health of the game, but once it is figured out, we can start talking with ESPN (haha).

Fukurou: No response.

  1. Some still say Isai could win majors if he played seriously with his mains. Some say he is playing seriously when he uses less developed characters. Do you think Isai still has it in him to win a major?

Wookiee: I think with any character at anytime Isai has the potential to win. I really appreciate him using other characters as it displays high level play with all of the cast, which I think this community needs to see. Any character can be good and win.

Heropie: Definitely. I think if he played Pikachu he could, but if he pulls out Luigi or some other joke character, he will get bodied.

JaimeHR: He has the means to win majors. Think about this, of all the strong NA players, Isai has the biggest character diversity, he can do well with almost the entire roster, potentially giving him an edge on matchup knowledge. His Link can’t take your C. Falcon? Then maybe his Jigglypuff can, probably Mario, Fox, whatever he feels like playing. We already saw him take Beast 7 with his Link against Revan, a top Kirby main, and that’s a matchup many consider in favor of Kirby.

Fukurou: I think Isai as stronger characters will win in tournament, but weaker character Isai will not.

  1. Who will be Top 8 at Snosa III?

Wookiee: 1. Fukurou
2. Isai
3. Mariguas
4. Dext3r
5. Hiyo
5. Gyaki
7. Dtan
7. BarkSanchez

Heropie: 1. Heropie
2.fukurou
3. Mariguas
4. Isai
5. Gyaki
5. Hiyo
7. Barksanchez
7. Dtan

JaimeHR: Isai, Fukuroi, Gyaki, Hiyo, Mariguas and Dexter will definitely get there unless they eliminate themselves early, then there’s 2 remaining spots that will be disputed between Bark, Heropie, DTan and Janitor, if TheZ and tacos don’t show up. (I’m not sure if Z and tacos are coming, lol)

Fukurou: I do not know anything about overseas players, but believe Isai will win if he plays his strong characters.

  1. Does Kirby beat Captain Falcon?

Wookiee: Kirby gets rekt. Falcon is too fast and his punishes are too solid.

Heropie: I think Kirby still beats Falcon. I do think the matchup isn’t as lost for Falcon as people thought because of his heavy punish game. He just can’t get up tilted. I’d say it’s close to even but in Kirby’s favor.

JaimeHR: Kirby destroys C. Falcon, it is a matter of who has an easier time landing hits, C. Falcon needs to win the neutral game then setup for a grab or upsmash to 0 to death Kirby, while the latter has an easier time landing any hit into pain (uptilt) and there’s not much C. Falcon can actually do even with good DI, you will probably destroy your stick first before even hoping to get out of that safely, most of the time he’ll end up off stage.

Alvin has proved C. Falcon can beat a good Kirby, but most C. Falcons will avoid that matchup in tournament and play someone else against Kirby and I’ve seen that happen many times so that should give us a clue of who wins the matchup overall.

In short, C. Falcon has to work harder and play flawlessly​, while Kirby can just avoid getting grabbed floating on top plat until Falcon loses his cool and starts making mistakes which Kirby loves to capitalize on.

Fukurou: I wonder if it is hard for Kirby to win consistently. But I think he is better.

Free Barking with BarkSanchez

One year later, new venue, new tournament format, new Fireblaster beef that sadly won’t be played out here. This summer has been tough on attendance due to flight prices, but I’m confident Snosa will build upon its past two years in bringing more energy and entertainment than ever.

The absence of SuPeRbOoMfAn and Alvin is very disappointing, however, it blows this tournament wide open. Many consider Fukurou the heavy favorite to win, but what if Isai “finds him worthy”? Many still believe his Pikachu would power him past any opponent. Perhaps Mariguas, not ready to be embarrassed by another Japanese Kirby, comes back ascended in the matchup and defends North America? Dext3r has not been quiet about his desire to play Fukurou, and seems very confident. Snosa III feels like the first Smash 64 tournament where the top three or four players could be arranged in almost any order, with only minimal surprise.

It’s interesting to note that while Fukurou comes from the land of four stocks, he acknowledges the volatility it adds. Perhaps there are players in Japan that wish to adopt five stock rulesets? It appears he struggled with most of the other questions. It’s great to see more Japanese players come out, but the odds seem stacked against Gyaki and Hiyo. At Super Smash Con 2016, the “Three Dragons” had pretty varied results, so there should be hope, as well as tempered expectations for Hiyo. Gyaki has a less forgiving path, although if he can adjust to the differences in versions he can perhaps mimic some of Isai’s success with Link.

Regional circuits are good, characterbans are bad, and 5 stock Dreamland-only with a 10 minute timer and No Whispy is the future. Thank you and #LoveSnosa.

Nothing good in life is free, except Wookiee’s Pika as Fox.

The Path of the Desert Wanderer

Things are happening down in Lake Havasu. Havasu Smash has been going at it with their weekly tournaments for over a year now and the top dogs have mostly remained the same. Over 50 weekly tournaments have happened and until recently, there’s only been one player to win those tournaments. Daniels. Well now, things might be changing. Other players are now challenging him for the throne.

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In 2009, 3 of the leaders of what would today become Havasu Smash lined up for first period freshman PE Class. Daniels, Dusttin and Aces all met in that first class of their high school years. All of which were there when the Nintendo 64 was brought out of the closet in 2014. They all played on an HD TV for a year before they discovered the competitive scene. At the start of 2015 Havasu Smash as we know it, was born.

Dusttin, friends with Cody Daniels, became one of the top players in Havasu as a Fox player. Back in 2015, Dusttin’s Fox quickly became king in the Havasu community. Daniels and Dusttin would battle for supremacy with Green and Purple Foxes on the HD TV. As more players became involved in the scene, Dusttin took a short hiatus but he then returned stronger. He began teaming with his long time friend Daniels at tournaments such as ODS I and Snosa. Following ODS I and Genesis 3, Havasu started their weekly tournaments and began the local competitive drive Dusttin and other players needed to get better.   

19184408_1415938795119565_209521318_nAfter the weeklies started, the birth of the Power Rankings were soon to follow. The top 4 on the list consisted of Daniels, Dusttin, Aces and SonicFuzz. Daniels and Dusttin battled it out in Fox dittos for many games of their sets in the early days of the weeklies. Until around Havasu Smash 10, when Dusttin picked up and quickly learned the way of the Rat, Pikachu. Daniels believed Dusttin started going Pikachu in their matches, instead of their tradition of going Fox dittos week after week, because he now believed he had what it took to take Daniels down. Dusttin, Aces and Sonicfuzz battled it out for their spots in the top 4. Many tournaments and months had passed and nobody had yet taken a set off of Daniels. Until July 16, 2016. Havasu Smash 19 was going as expected when Dusttin pulled out Pika to face Daniels in winners finals. He made history upsetting Daniels 3-2 and advancing to Grand Finals where he fell just short of winning the whole tournament. Dusttin made history by taking the first set, but was not satisfied as he wanted to be the one to take the first tournament. Sonicfuzz followed by making his mark on history by taking his first set off of Daniels. It seemed that Daniels was getting closer than ever to losing his first tournament. Come Havasu Smash 28, the day had come when Dusttin and Daniels battled it out for 3 sets before Dusttin won and made a lasting impression on Havasu Smash. To this day Dusttin has been the only one to take a tournament off of Daniels. He’s taken a total of two tournaments off of him with more than 10 sets as well. The only other player to take a set of Daniels is Sonicfuzz.

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Dusttin (Left Center) and Aces (Right Center) face off with the Havasu Crew.

Dusttin has attended multiple majors including both ODSs, Snosa and Genesis 4. He teamed with Stranded at ODS 2 and they made a run to 9th place before being eliminated by team CodyKeroppi. Dusttin has slowly been climbing his way up through the ranks of the Smash Bros. community and was on the cusp of making bracket at Genesis 4 and Snosa. He’s leveled up in the months since Genesis 4. We expect a great showing when he and the Havasu scene travel out to Snosa 3 on June 16. Daniels and Dusttin will once again team at Snosa 3. Tune in to  the Super Smash Bros 64 League Twitch to see how Dusttin and the Havasu Smash Scene perform at Snosa 3.

Wizarding 101: A Practical Guide to Commentating Smash, Volume I

By Jeremy “Professor_wizard” Davis

Hey 64 community!

I’m Professor_wizard, a player from the ND64 scene, and here is the start of what I hope can be a community guide for commentators, one that will hopefully help aspiring mic jockeys of all experience levels improve their craft.

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Professor_wizard commentating at Super Smash Con.

A brief disclaimer before I begin: I’m not the best or most experienced commentator out there, but I do have solid experience and have spent lots of time studying others. The point of this series isn’t to be the definitive guide to becoming the top in the country – instead it is meant as a set of guidelines and tips that will hopefully appeal to commentators at all levels to help them focus on and improve their craft.

Without any more blabber, let’s dig in.

Volume I: Basics and Essential Do’s and Don’ts

The very, very basics a new commentator should focus on are to adequately portray the match, avoid common pitfalls and things that many are critical of, and finally – most importantly – add something to the match.

DO:
– Refer to the players by their tag, not by their character.

– Bring energy (not volume, energy) to the game. Get excited for exciting bits of the game, nervous at scary parts, and drive the narrative with the cadence and pitch of your voice, instead of getting loud for the sake of getting loud (of course, there are always moments for volume as well).

– Point out something neat about an interaction/play.

– Point out matchup nuances that people often miss. Don’t gloss over them.

– Give player background. This is HUGE, people love to hear more about the match rather than what they see. History and rivalries drive viewership and interest, cater to that.

– Put the effort in to try and learn something about who is playing and where they might be from.

– Drink water. DO NOT SKIP THIS ONE. You will lose your voice otherwise.

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JimmyJoe (Left) and BarkSanchez (Right) commentating at ODSII.


– Create some phrases or cool word play for things. Don’t force being catchy, but if you like to call Puff Uair “the salsa dance” (shoutout to Saltsizzle) lay it on the viewers! People love original humor.

-Notice TRENDS. See one player always tech one way? Make the same mistake? Point it out!

-Talk to your co-caster prior to your block if possible. It’s always so much better to have a set of basic hand signals you can use behind the scenes to help you from running into each other, and to improve synergy. (More on this in Volume III).

-Promote the event and sponsors. This can’t be overstated. You are the voice of the whole event, and it’s your job to build the scene up and support what the TOs are working towards. Shoutout sponsors, humans and social media presences in between sets.

 

-Dress appropriately. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean you should always dress in a nice shirt and tie, but you definitely need to a) adhere to what the TO wants for the tourney, and b) take what you wear seriously and fit the event. (think leis at Smash ‘N’ Splash).

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Clubbadubba and Maliki Commentating at Let’s Go! Baltimore. 

DON’T:
– Eat on stream. For the love of God.
INSTEAD: It’s understandable that in many situations you are stuck in long blocks and need food. At minimum, push your mic up and just don’t speak for a time.

– Over-meme or over-joke. Jokes are great, memes are even great, and saying something catchy or viral is always a plus, but be careful not to go overboard and center your commentary on quips or memes. The result is people cringing and just wanting you to take your role a bit more seriously.
INSTEAD: Use a joke or meme when the moment is golden and let er rip! Then chill on it and let it cook for a bit to call back to it later.  

– Refer to the players by their characters. “The Yoshi seems…”.
INSTEAD: Use player tags. Smash is about the players and their struggle against one another, the characters are their tools.

– Talk over your co-caster. This is hard if you have something to say about the match or your co-caster is rambling (I am very guilty of this).
INSTEAD: Do your best to use signals to let them know and not just barrel forward.

– Quote frame data or technical data if you don’t know it. No one is perfect, everyone makes errors, but the worst thing as a commentator you can do is be unsure about frame data on something and just go ahead and say it. Don’t be that guy, you’ll get shredded by viewers and players and frame nerds (shudders).
INSTEAD: Say you aren’t sure but “this” may be the case, or better yet just keep up with the match and let someone do match analysis later.

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– Call that someone loses a stock or is going to use a move before it happens. The best case here is you get it right and one guy on Twitch slow claps, the worst case is you are wrong and Twitch chat calls you a fraud.
INSTEAD: I’ve heard Jimmy Joe (among others) say something to the effect of “will that do it??” This is great because it builds suspense but doesn’t set you up for failure.

-Talk to chat. I’ve gone back and forth on this one a lot, but the truth of this is that focusing on chat takes you out of the match and makes you interact with something that will not be there for the vods. Remember that more than half of the people to watch your casting will be watching the vod.
(This rule is not true of locals or more informal events that are designed for Twitch viewer experience. Salty suites are a decent example).

– Give advice to the players. They can’t hear you and the stream doesn’t care.

Some parting notes:


I wrote a lot here to digest and to think about, and I’ve tried to distill it down to the basics. My best advice, however, is just two things: try to think about the vods and what you are adding to the finished project, and have fun! Commentators are crucial members of our scene. They add depth and marketability to players, sets, tourneys and the scene as a whole, and we need more of them! I hope I’ve helped guide players who may be apprehensive to avoid some common fears and pitfalls. Look for more in this series about commentators!

Jeremy Davis is Puff/Kirby main from the Indy64 scene. Much better known for his commentary than his play, he also helps run /r/ssb64, and is a PhD candidate on the side. You can find him on twitter @Prof_wizard.

The Smash Writers Get a Logo!

SMASH WRITERS FINAL

By Jason ” Nardwell” Mani

The Smash Writers are happy to announce that we have finally gotten an official logo! Created by the wonderfully talented Sandy Tang, we believe our logo will give us a unique identity that people can identify with. You will start seeing the logo wherever you find The Smash Writers, such as on our blog, Facebook or Twitter. The idea for the logo came naturally from our two passions: Super Smash Bros. and writing. Therefore, Master Hand penning our name seemed obvious.

To kick off our new logo we are launching a Tee Republic campaign where you will be able to purchase official Smash Writers tee shirts to help support us in our quest to bring you the highest quality Smash 64 content.

We hope you like our new look and feel. Look out for a full store coming soon to our blog where you will be able to buy all sorts of official Smash Writers gear to help support our dream of making Smash 64 as great as it can be!

 

64 Origins: Dave “Firo” Eisenberg

By Brendan “Bean” Murray

In the basement of Nebulous Gaming NYC, the location of New York City’s weekly Super Smash Bros. 64 tournaments, I sat down on a stiff couch next to a thin, freckled 24-year-old man with a shock of red hair and a close-cropped beard to match. His name is Dave “Firo” Eisenberg. By day, he is a computer programmer for a company called “Google,” but by night, he is the best Super Smash Bros. 64 player in New York City — no small feat, for the largest city in the USA. He was ranked the 25th best player of 2016 on the Super Smash Bros. 64 League Rankings, as well as the low-tier player of the year by The 64 Story, and has graciously agreed to be the subject of a Player Profile for The Smash Writers.

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for the sake of continuity/comprehension. By that I mean I interrupted way too often and had to cut that shit out.

Brendan:​ First of all, where does the tag “Firo” come from, if you don’t mind me asking?

Firo: ​Yeah, of course! I made it when I was 12 or 13. My first usage of Firo was — did you ever play Paper Mario for the Gamecube? Thousand Year Door? You hatch a little Yoshi egg in the third chapter, and mine was red, and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll think of a name, maybe related to fire. Firo, that sounds cool.’

B: ​Speaking of being thirteen years old, when did you first get started in Smash? I know you’ve been playing for a really long time.

F: ​When [Smash 64] first came out, in 1999, I saw a commercial for it, and I was like, ‘This is so cool.’ I was 8, just on the cusp [of being able to remember the ad], and I was super into games at the time. So I saw the commercial, I was like, ‘Oh man, this rocks,’ and then played it at a friend’s place before getting it myself. For a little while, I only played casually with friends. Then Melee came out, I was like, ‘This is great,’ and I tried to get seriously into Melee, started following all the top guys. It was 2001, 2002, and I was a huge fan of Ken. I was also a Marth main, so, you know. I really wanted to go to tournaments so I could test my skills, but I was 12, 13, so that was on the sidelines for a little while. Then a friend was talking about how you can play 64 online, and I thought that sounded really cool.

B: ​Were you aware that there was a competitive scene? Was there a competitive scene?

F:​ There was one online, but there wasn’t a console scene at all. Online, you would log on and there would be about a hundred people playing, so pretty popular. Some of the same guys as today, like Fireblaster, SuPeRbOoMfAn, and some other guys who aren’t around anymore, and that’s how I got really into [competitive 64].

B: ​And Melee just fell by the wayside?

F:​ Yeah, some of the first 64 tournaments I entered, I also entered Melee, and I just got destroyed, and I figured I should focus my efforts on one thing, so I decided to go with 64.

B:​ And when did a console scene for 64 show up?

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F: ​One of the first big tournaments for 64 was Apex 2012 or 2013. People were like, ‘Apex is having 64, this is huge.’ There were people like Sensei, Jimmy Joe was there — I didn’t know Jimmy Joe at the time — and I got ninth place at the tournament. I lost to Sensei in a close Ness vs Fox match on Hyrule*. That was when I was in college, and I started playing with some of the Chicago people — I went to college in central Illinois — people like Bloodpeach, Han Solo, BattleCow​, and we played on console a lot. Then Apex happened again, and the console scene exploded after that.

*This happened at Apex 2013.

B:​ And then you moved to New York City and started coming to Nebulous?

F:​ I’m originally from Westchester, but when I first moved to New York City, there was no 64 scene, it was just getting started. A lot of the time it was just me and Jimmy Joe playing, we would do ‘Jimmy Joe and Firo Mondays,’ we would just be at his place and play, which was a lot of fun. And then KillaHertz started getting into 64, he wanted to start some 64 weeklies, and next thing you know, Nebs starts up. I haven’t done too much [for the scene], not as much as people like Dark Gentleman, KillaHertz, or Jimmy Joe, but it was pretty nice timing to be around for that, maybe about two and a half years ago.

B:​ Earlier, you were talking about a close Ness vs Fox match you had with Sensei. When did you choose to main low tiers, and why?

F:​ It’s only sort of after the fact that I was known for maining low tiers. At [Apex 2013] I played Falcon in the earlier rounds. I started off as a Samus main, on keyboard, then I moved to an XBox 360 controller, still with Samus, still online, and I played some Falcon and Fox. Then once I started playing with a 64 controller I started messing around with Ness, and I just happened to be good with him so I just rolled with it. There weren’t many Ness players, even back then, and I found out that I had pretty good technique with him, since I hold the controller in a pretty weird way, which is horrible for your hands. I do get hand pains if I don’t take breaks, and I’ve had pretty bad cramping at tournaments before, which is freaky.

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But yeah, Ness seemed fun, he fit my aggressive, in-your-face style, he’s got cool ‘boes [combos], and 64 is all about the ‘boes, that’s what I come for. Come for the ‘boes, stay for the ‘boes, that’s the motto. I do like playing everybody, though, except Pikachu and Kirby. And I don’t really have much desire to play them, I don’t find their ‘boes very interesting. They’re not very technical, I like technical characters, where I get to press a lot of buttons, and characters with a good sense of flow.

B: ​We may have already covered this, but why 64 specifically?

F: ​I play 64 for the ‘boes — the combos, to clarify. The ‘boes in 64 are so cool, watching some sick Japanese [players], like, Prince ‘boes or Ricky, RickySSB, whose account got deleted off YouTube which was the most horrible thing. That was a pretty dark spot in Smash 64 history. I just love seeing sick ‘boes, I get so much satisfaction out of a good ‘bo.

B:​ Did you ever try Brawl or Smash 4?

F:​ I tried to get into Brawl when it came out, my freshman year of high school. I was like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna get into it, I’m gonna be good,’ and I played for about a month and just didn’t like it at all so I just went back to 64. The online experience wasn’t good, 64 online was much better, no ‘boes, so I just didn’t like it. I played a little bit of Smash 4, it’s a little bit better, there are some ‘boes but there’s no creativity, it’s just the same strings over and over again. Not really interested in that.

B:​ What are your thoughts on the 64 scene recently? What does the community need to do to keep it sustainable?

F: ​It’s definitely growing, which is good. I think, because people are mostly playing in tournaments, there is tendency for people to not experiment or do fun stuff. Back in the online days, everyone played everybody, not many people stuck with one character. Now Top 8s are mostly just Pikachu, which isn’t surprising but, to me, it’s not that fun. But the fact that people are playing on console is great, that’s always better than playing on an emulator. It’s great to see the scene growing, especially at a place like [Nebulous], which is super convenient for people to play every week. I’m excited for the growth, I think it’s a game that shouldn’t just disappear. It’s a ton of fun, so I’m super glad that more and more people are playing.

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B:​ If you’re not at Nebulous, how do you play or practice? Do you still play online?

F:​ Nowadays, I don’t really play outside of Nebs, but the real way to get good, at least for me, was to play online. For a while in high school I was playing pretty much every day, at least a couple of hours every day. I’ve played a lot of top players, you play SuPeRbOoMfAn for a couple of hours, or Fireblaster or Jaime or even Isai, you get exposed to a ton of different playstyles. If you’re trying to get better and you’re willing to get your ass kicked, then I think you can do it pretty fast [online].

Another thing I would do when I was trying to get better was watch a lot of videos. I would watch videos of myself playing and every time I got hit, you stop the video and think, ‘What did I do wrong? Why did I get hit?’ Also watch videos of really good players and then right before they do something, try and predict what they’re gonna do. If you got it right, that’s great, if you got it wrong, and they did something better, ask yourself why, why did I not think of that. And then a lot of messing around in Training Mode. So much of the game, in terms of getting better is being able to move quickly, understanding something like how high to jump in certain scenarios, a lot of these things that you don’t really focus on in the middle of the match. You gotta go into Training Mode and keep making sure your combos connect, that’s something you can really practice. If you’re on an emulator it’s much easier since you can use save states right before you want to try a combo and get it down, watch that combo meter and make sure it’s actually connecting.

B:​ When you play in tournaments like Apex, are you more focused on winning, getting the best placing possible, or are you okay with not doing as well if it means you stuck to your character and your playstyle?

F:​ I don’t really have much desire to be the best. If I wanted to be the best, I would play Pikachu or Kirby. I like the idea of pushing a character to their limits, and I think there’s a lot to be said for having character diversity, to me that’s just more fun. I don’t really enjoy watching a Top 8 set that is two Kirbys that goes for seven minutes. To me, it’s a nice tactical spacing battle but I don’t really find it that exciting. If being the best means playing like that then no, I don’t want to be the best. It is always nice to do better, though. I will go to a tournament and want to do well, but I don’t play enough to really get to the next level, like people who are at the SuPeRbOoMfAn level. In order for someone like me to catch up to them, I would have to play much more than them, and that’s a lot. At some point it becomes asymptotic. And stuff like school, work, other social stuff gets in the way. Trying to come [to Nebulous] once a week has been a good balance of doing this and doing other stuff. The days of coming home from school and playing until dinner are over, which is okay.

B:​ Do you have any players that you look forward to playing against in bracket? Players that you’ve cultivated a rivalry with over the years?

F:​ There are people I play who continually beat me, people like Revan, who I’ve lost to a few times. There’s people that are fun to play that are around my level, like Fireblaster, he’s always a fun person to play against. We have had a long history. Last time we played was at SuperBoomed and I took that match, but before that I have lost, and every time I was counterpicked to Peach’s Castle, and someone like Ness is just horrible there. But for a long time, up until a couple of years ago, you had these levels, Kongo Jungle and Peach’s Castle, and I would get counterpicked there quite a bit, which was unfortunate.

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B:​ Why is Kongo Jungle bad for Ness?

F:​ Ness can’t really get up to the top side platforms, the only way he can get up is if he goes onthe little rotating platform then jumps over again. He can use his double jump but then he has touse his full circular jump. It’s just a very bad stage. The edges mess up his double jump cancel so he can’t really DJC [double-jump cancel]. It’s nice to not have those stages anymore, and I think my tournament performances have improved since that’s been the case.

Anyways, people like Nintendude and I used to have a nice rivalry back in the day. He beat me at one of the Apex’s, and also at Zenith one year. Those players are not necessarily rivals but it’s always fun to play them.

B:​ You and Nintendude team together, right?

F: ​Yeah, Nintendude and I think about the game very similarly, so it’s fun to team with him and I always cheer for him in Melee.

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B:​ Who does he main in 64?

F:​ He mains Mario and Pikachu. Ness-Mario is usually our team, which is a fun team. I can get healed, got that action in there. Ness is a lot better in doubles than he is in singles, that’s for sure. I like doubles a lot too, I think it’s kinda nice that we have the OC [overclocked] consoles now, so doubles on console is a real possibility, even though there is still some lag, even with the OC. Before OC, doubles online was just a better experience, it didn’t have lag. It’s nice to see that we can do a lot of doubles in person. I think doubles is a really underdeveloped area of the game, it’s hard to get double the amount of people at the same time to play. It still doesn’t get much stream time [as singles], but it’s growing.

B: ​Ban Pika/Kirby?

F: ​Well, I think there’s a couple different answers to the question based on what you want. Do you want to see the best possible way you can play Smash 64? If the answer is yes, then you shouldn’t ban them. Do you want to have the most fun? If the answer is yes, then I think you should ban them. Personally, I don’t find them fun to play or fun to watch. A lot of people disagree with that, they have every right to, but if it was me, I would encourage aggressive play as much as possible. I think this game suffers — at a high level, it has the potential to be very campy, very slow. It’s not as fun to watch or to play, personally, as opposed to a battle that’s very explosive, aggressive, people doing sick ‘boes everywhere. You have to be much better than your opponent to get away with something like that [aggression], but when two people are evenly matched, it’s going to be this slow, slow campfest.

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Luckily now, we have a timer. One of the matches that forced us towards a timer was my match with Wizzrobe at Apex 2015*, or something like that, which was the 13 minute Kongo match. And it was just ridiculous, I just got really frustrated after that match. So he wins the first match, it was an 8 minute match on Dreamland, he’s playing Yoshi — and this was when Wizzrobe was not known as being good at 64. So, it’s my Ness versus his Yoshi, and that match was very campy. He just stayed under the side platforms, and it’s really hard for Ness to approach a Yoshi like that, because his back-air beats everything Ness has. Then we went to the second match and that was around a 10 minute match on Dreamland, I did win that one, and then he counterpicked me to Kongo and that was a 13 minute match.

So the three-set match took forty minutes, and it was a complete endurance match. I found it to be one of the most un-fun matches I had played in a long time. And at that point there was no Everdrives, and that’s another big thing that has really changed the scene is availability of the Everdrives and timed stock matches. Once we had the ability to do timed matches, a lot of that has gotten better, and then we banned some of these more campy stages, which is good. I like that we have a timer now, though sometimes I think it could be even shorter to force people to be aggressive and go for the kill.”

*This match happened at Apex 2014.

B: ​You also have an experimental ruleset, don’t you?

F:​ [Laughs] I do, I proposed it right after that long-ass match. I only brought it back up since Dark Gentleman was talking about how we can experiment with different rulesets. Part of the reason that ruleset existed is because the assumption was that we could never have a timed stock match on console. The idea was to move to a time instead of stock.

The ruleset is: three five-minute rounds, the person with the least deaths wins out of those total three rounds. In that ruleset, I did allow for multiple stages, it was Dream Land and Hyrule, and whoever played the character lower on the tier list got to choose the first stage. That was pretty controversial, because people were like, ‘you’re using the tier list to decide who picks the stage’ [Ness is third from the bottom on the current Smash 64 tier list].

My counter to that was, I really think character diversity is a huge thing, so if we give the lower characters an advantage by having stage choice I think that is a way to make up for them. The ruleset never caught on, probably for the best, but it was an interesting way to get rid of the campiness. But I was also a bit bitter after that super-long loss.

B:​ What tournaments are you going to next?

F: ​I’ll probably be at Smash Con, but I haven’t registered yet0vo_1sys_400x400. Unfortunately, I’m gonna miss Let’s Go, but that also looks to be a good one. I’m excited for Smash Con, last year was really fun, playing people like Kort, we did a lot of Link matches. It’ll be cool to see all the international people, should be a fun tournament.

B:​ What other games do you play?

F:​ I play a lot of other N64 games. Mario Tennis, on N64, I think I’m better at that than I am at Smash. There’s not that big of a scene for that game, and you can’t play it online, up until recently, since the graphics will get all fucked up. I saw some people with tier lists of characters that were completely wrong. Mario is the best character. He’s got no flaws. He’s powerful enough to hit winners from the back, he’s got enough finesse to handle drop shots, he’s pretty fast, and he’s got a good serve. He’s got everything.

B:​ So who do you play Mario Tennis against?

F: ​Junior and senior year of college I played every day, I lived with three other guys and we played 2-v-2. 2-v-2 Mario Tennis is amazingly fun, and recently I’ve been getting my older brother into it. We’ve found Mario Tennis to be a great way to compete against each other. He’s never been able to beat me but he’s come pretty close, he’s getting pretty good. Besides that, there’s Mario Kart 64, I’m pretty good at it. For me, I’ll play people after telling them I’m good at Mario Kart and I’ll see them miss a mini-turbo, I’ll tell them and they’ll say, ‘that’s not a big deal,’ dude you gotta know exactly how many turbos you gotta do around the entire lap. Or you have the people who play Koopa Troopa Beach and they don’t go the other way to get the extra turbo, that’s just, come on, you’re gonna lose. So that’s really fun.

I’ll play some newer games too. I don’t really play too many single player games, I mostly like multiplayer, competitive stuff. I played some other fighting games for a little while, in college I played Street Fighter, some Marvel, which was fun, but nothing really to the same level as Smash. Also Mario Party, on the N64, Mario Party 2, some Rocket League, which is fun, has a very Smash-esque feel to it. But nothing really to the same level as Smash, Smash is definitely a different league.

B:​ Any other thoughts?

F:​ The game is just super fun, I wouldn’t be playing it for this long if I didn’t think it was incredibly fun. I’m gonna be playing it forever. Smash will go on — the ‘boes never die. The game might end but the ‘boes will live on. There’s one thing I don’t like about this game. I think DI [Directional Influence] — I like it as a concept, but it’s horribly implemented. If I could change stuff about this game, that would be number one. It should be, you have a standard amount of DI, maybe you can just hold it, you don’t have to mash. I don’t like mashing as a skill, don’t think that’s a good skill to learn. Having said that, so many people just don’t DI in the right way. When you’re in a combo, you have to know, every combo, every move, which way you’re DI-ing. One way to get good, if you’re in a combo, somebody combos you, and they ask you, ‘tell me which way you DI-ed every move of that combo,’ you should have an answer. Even a simple case, like Falcon’s up-air, up-air, up-air, up-B, if you’re near a platform, you try to DI to the platform, if you’re a heavier character, you want to start DI-ing down, but if it looks like they’re keeping up with you then you want to start DI-ing up — especially on their last hit, before they try to do their up-B, you want to DI up as much as possible because then you have a chance of being too high up. In general, DI up is the way. If you want to get good, DI up. That’s my advice. It completely shuts down characters. A character like Ness, if you DI up, he’s half as good. Every combo I got at [Big Apple Smash], I would not have been able to get if the person DI-ed up. So know which way to DI. Unfortunately, you have to be good at DI to be good at this game. And you’re not going to see that from watching a video, you don’t really notice the way they DI. It’s an important part of the game that you need to actually be playing to figure that out.

I also highly encourage people to try new characters, I find it so much more fun when you play other characters besides the top guys. And you can win by playing anybody. You might not be the best in the world but you can make Top 8s, you can make a name for yourself. You could either say, ‘I’m a really good Pikachu player,’ or ‘I’m the best Samus player.’ To me, that’s much cooler, you get known for it. There’s, like, three competitive Ness players in the world that actually main Ness, and you wonder why. I think a lot of people could play really well with Ness or these other [low-tier] characters. And these new players, they don’t know how to play against characters that aren’t at the top, so you pull out a Ness and you can just tell they don’t know the matchup at all, which really works to your advantage, especially with all these new players coming in. I don’t think I’ve gotten much better than when I played in 2010, 2011, but I think the new players coming in just aren’t used to [low-tiers]. A lot of these players that play online, like Lowww Power, we’ll play and it’ll be super close, or he’ll win. I’ve started playing Link against him and he’s like, ‘okay, I play against Link all the time.’ Experiment with new characters, do some sick ‘boes, that’s what the game’s all about.

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

Smash N’ Splash 3: Return to the Oasis

By Josh “BarkSanchez” Brody

Smash N’ Splash returns for the third iteration of the annual June series, featuring Smash 64 for the second year in a row. Moving from the Greater Chicago Area to the Wisconsin Dells, this year looks to be bigger and more stacked, as many skilled players from all over North America have traveled out, presumably for the water park. Amongst that group are competitors from 13 U.S. states, Canada, and Mexico, including 4 of the SSB64 League’s Top 10 ranked players. The revolutionary Waterfall Tournament Format (WTF) will also make its way to the Midwest’s premier water park, exclusively for Smash 64. There will be no shortage of matches for players of all skill levels, as well as viewers.

Leading the pack of competitors is the Canadian titan, SuPeRbOoMfAn, splashing back onto the scene following a brief but noticeable absence from North American tournaments. Since Genesis 4, it appears Boom has switched back to maining Captain Falcon, the character he is most well-known for, and arguably most dangerous with. Despite a rough start to 2017, Boom has looked like his old self since returning to Falcon, with dominant victories over Wizzrobe, BarkSanchez, and all of Australia.

Wizzrobe, on the other hand, looked poised to take that next step into the top tier of players, following a swift 3-0 victory over SuPeRbOoMfAn in Top 16 of Genesis 4. However, he lost his next match to KYSK, and in Top 6 he was defeated by Dext3r, who he had sent to Loser’s bracket the day before. Going into Florida’s Frame Perfect Series 2 with the expectation to repeat his big upset from Genesis 4, he instead looked lost on his home turf in a matchup he normally dominates, against Boom’s Falcon. He then fell prey to one of 64’s biggest upsets, falling apart in a set he had in his hands against BarkSanchez, who he had utterly dominated on Winner’s Side just hours before. Wizzrobe has shown the potential to take down the best in North America, but he will likely have 2016’s Most Improved Player, Dext3r, standing in his way. The young Yoshi prodigy comes into Smash N’ Splash 3 with recent losses against three of the top five, yet Wizzrobe is known for hitting the lab and coming back stronger than ever.

Dext3r continues his red-hot pace to finish 2016, with a fourth place finish at Genesis 4, and a third place finish at Let’s Go! With these impressive finishes also come a pair of victories against Tacos, and a win against BarkSanchez. The fiery Pikachu main has an opportunity to show his victory against Wizzrobe wasn’t a fluke, however, he’ll likely have to fend off Shears’s Yoshi first. If he can handle a mini-Yoshi gauntlet, can this monster from Mexico channel his incredible momentum into the unthinkable, and challenge SuPeRbOoMfAn? If Boom sticks with his signature Falcon, it creates an unfamiliar character matchup between these two. While Dext3r has a chance to continue his fervorous pace, there is no chance Boom is content with sitting back and letting the world think Peru’s Alvin is the king of the Falcon vs. Pikachu matchup.

Accompanying Dext3r from Mexico is a man of endless surprises, Tacos. Following a rough end to 2016, Tacos has bounced back from a brief hiatus with solid performances at both major’s he’s attended in 2017. At both Genesis 4 and Let’s Go!, Tacos’s only losses were against Alvin and Dext3r. With Alvin absent this time around, a window of opportunity may present itself for Tacos to catch the top three off guard. Over time he has shown himself capable and dangerous with Yoshi, Pikachu, Captain Falcon, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and even Jigglypuff. Although he is likely itching for a chance to launch himself into another contest against Dext3r, he’ll find himself on the opposite side of the bracket, which definitely holds meaning in a tournament SuPeRbOoMfAn is attending. It’s been almost two years since Tacos has faced Wizzrobe; a matchup very likely to work its way into the Wisconsin Dells this weekend. None of this matters if Tacos can’t tackle the elephant in the room this weekend.

BarkSanchez has been arguably the most volatile player in 2017, with huge wins against three of the top ten ranked SSB64 players, but he has suffered losses against unranked players, been the victim two reverse 3-0s, and has looked lost in several high level sets. Bark likely to play Tacos in top 16 in a rematch from NJ’s 4th Quarterly Rapport, where Tacos handled him in Winner’s Finals, yet fell victim to Baltimore’s dynamo in a two set Grand Finals featuring a flurry of character swaps between the two players. With wins against all of Taco’s top characters, and a milestone victory over Wizzrobe, Bark presents an element of surprise in a bracket that features an already unstable top 8.


Baltimore rarely travels alone, and Smash N’ Splash is no different. Shears, 64’s outspoken mastermind, has made claims of earning top 8 as Fox. More likely than not, Shears will stick to his Yoshi, as he has had the most success with the dirty dinosaur since switching mains a year previous. While Shears has built his reputation on feasting on Falcons, he earned arguably his biggest win so far by taking down the Pikachu of UK’s Jam at Beast 7. Shears is expected to clash against Dext3r, who has not faced yet Shears’s Yoshi. Baltimore’s prehistoric predator is not to be slept on, however, Dext3r has shown top-level dominance in the matchup by taking down Wizzrobe and Tacos on the grandest stage.

Combo Blaze and Dogs_Johnson are both expected to represent the Midwest in top 8. Combo Blaze has played very close against BarkSanchez, but has yet to unravel the mystery of Shears. He is expected to get another opportunity in a rematch from Pound 2016, however, Shears’s Yoshi may present a whole new enigma. Dogs Johnson is fresh off of a big win against Shears at Michigan’s Called Out tournament, where he shocked the audience by pulling out a last resort Jigglypuff to take down Shears’s Yoshi. This time he will likely face another Baltimore challenger in BarkSanchez. If these two meet in bracket for the first time, Dogs will be ready to take on a PIkachu, with plenty of experience against his teammate and sparring partner, B33F.

 

Follow along with the bracket on Smash.gg and head over to the Smash 64 League Twitch to cheer on your favorite players. Division play of the Waterfall Tournament Format will be held Saturday June 3rd starting at 1pm and Top Eight will be held on Sunday June 4th at 11am.