Cloudhead Live: The Super Smash Con 2017 Preview

PS! | Cloudhead 😁✌️ - August 11, 2017

The biggest Super Smash Bros. tournament of the year so far is coming up this weekend, filled with tournaments for all four official Smash games, spots for a handful of indie fighting games, live music, and even panels for the biggest names in the Smash community - and you can thank no one but the Smash community itself for it.

Super Smash Con 2017, the latest edition of the world's biggest Smash-centered convention and tournament series, has made history in being the first tournament since Smash 4's release to surpass the year's EVO in entrants. Lauded for its specific dedication to Nintendo's beloved fighting game series, the SSC series has delivered exactly as much hype in the Smash 4 brackets as you'd expect, with ZeRo and Nairo as past champions and practically every notable name as past attendees, except for a few who may have missed out. Now approaching with the title of biggest tournament in the year, it's even more of a must-watch for everyone who loves Smash, loves excitement and action, and isn't working a double shift at a pizza place during Sunday finals. (Not sure if that's a large demographic, but I'm working on figuring that one out.)

But as is the case for Smash 4, we can't just chalk this one up to "just another hype tournament." You rarely ever get an event for this game that's "just another" anything. There wasn't another prodigy from Mexico breaking through almost all the established top 10 before last December, when MkLeo's ride to #2 on the Panda Global Rankings (PGR) began with first place at 2GGT: ZeRo Saga. There wasn't another solo Captain Falcon and Link making it to top three of the same S-tier tournament before 2GGC: Civil War last March, where we reassessed the character's spots on the tier list, and Fatality and T's skill as players. Surprises, both large and small, always happen in Smash 4, and they happen more and more the bigger the event is. So whatever may happen during Super Smash Con, however large or small the surprise may be, it's safe to assume we're going to see something we never, ever saw coming.

What can we see coming? The big names are coming to fight, the upstarts are coming in to prove themselves, and the players on bad streaks are coming to show what they're really made of. It's time to take a look at what we can (sort of) expect from Super Smash Con 2017!

 

Player Spotlights: Pre-Super Smash Con

All players' rankings denoted "CLR" are based on my in-progress Cloudhead Live Rank as of August 10th, 2017. You can read more in-depth about the CLR in this blog.

Top Threats

MVG Salem, CLR #1: If someone from two months in the future came to you right before the beginning of this season and told you a player hadn't lost a major tournament so far all PGRv4 season, you would probably guess it was ZeRo. That would be your only good guess. No one else goes two months without losing a major tournament, usually because ZeRo is at all of them. He's been the king of Smash 4 ever since Smash 4 has been a game. But so far this season, that dominance hasn't been there - and instead, the story has belonged to Salem. He's put it all together: leading the charge of dominant Bayonetta players in the metagame, solidifying his place among the absolute best players, and even gotten a fresh haircut to match his main's, which can't be understated as a contributor to his success. But all jokes aside, his track record so far is nothing to laugh at. He's won both S-tier tournaments so far this season, EVO 2017 and DreamHack Atlanta 2017, and vaulted himself into the top spot on the rankings so far. He's beaten every single player he's faced at least once, including two wins on ZeRo himself. He's even made set-winning comebacks from almost a full stock behind to make sure his name isn't left off the first place trophy. Expect no less dedication from Salem at Super Smash Con as he goes for gold. (Also expect me to show up to the next weekly trying to gel my hair into the shape of Charizard's horns to see if it works for me, too.)

P1 Tweek, CLR #3: Salem's been so utterly dominant so far this season, it's easy to lose a lot of other storylines in the mix. But one player who simply cannot be ignored heading into Super Smash Con is Tweek, who's quietly been on a tear, and is getting louder and louder. The top Cloud in the Midwest and the U.S. had the best S-tier showings of his life in July, landing in 4th and 3rd place for EVO and DreamHack, respectively. He even defeated Salem at the latter tournament in winners' side; despite losing a hard-fought runback in losers' finals, he remains one of only two people to have taken a set from the world's premier Bayonetta this season. Going into August, he would stand behind his rival no longer, getting his chance to take the spotlight for himself at Low Tier City 5. Tweek won Dallas's largest Smash tournament without dropping a set, and impressively defeated ZeRo 3-1 with his Cloud, despite his opponent's oppressively good track record against the character. He also defeated two very strong up-and-coming Bayonetta players, Mistake and Lima, to get there; he's one of the best players at dealing with the best character in the game. There's virtually no opponent Tweek has not and can not defeat; it's only a matter of if he does. Now heading into Super Smash Con 2017, he's got a chance to take the stage of a supermajor and put the finishing touch on his hot streak with an S-tier win.

On the Rise

EMG Mistake, CLR #12: At this point, it might not even be correct to say that this player is still on the rise - he's more than proven his mettle at the top level. Mistake is leading a surge of young Bayonetta players who have been rapidly improving and turning seeding on its head, and it's reflected in his top 24 seeding at Super Smash Con. Currently unranked on the PGR, he first began to turn heads when he won an extremely difficult pool at EVO 2017, knocking two top players in Fatality and Kirihara into the losers' bracket. Since then, his success has followed him to tournaments such as Get On My Level 2017, where he placed 3rd and defeated Larry Lurr; and his most recent showing, Low Tier City 5, where he impressively sent ZeRo into losers. His conversions from simple hits are lauded as some of the most effective of all Bayonetta players, making him a huge threat to face in bracket. If he keeps up his momentum, he could easily challenge for a placing even higher than his seeding suggests. Make no mistake - this player is one to watch for this tournament and all others he attends in the future.

Vinnie, CLR #22: If you're a veteran from the early Smash 4 days of a long, long, only two years ago, you're probably very familiar with this player. Vinnie's accomplishments in the dawn of the game were headlined by several top 16 showings at what then would have been S-tiers, and a win on ZeRo that was even more elusive then than it is now. (For those who might be new, ZeRo lost his fifth set this year on March 19th; he lost his fifth set of 2015 in October and didn't lose a sixth.) And after a brief period of absence, it looks like his penchant for success has never left. 13th place at the A-tier ARMS Saga and 9th place at S-tier DreamHack Atlanta speak volumes, as do his wins on falln, Locus, and MkLeo, three top 30 players, and the last of which being the #2 ranked player worldwide. After entering only doubles at last year's SSC and placing 5th with Abadango, this year Vinnie is ready to take his Sheik and Rosalina skills to the singles bracket and make the longtime viewers proud.

Bouncing Back

FOX MVG MkLeo, CLR #19: As stated before, MkLeo is ranked as the second best player in the world; however, if you started watching in July, it might not look like it. His first tournament of the year, S-tier EVO 2017, ended at a jarringly low 65th place finish with losses to False and MuteAce in pools, both of whom are currently unranked within the PGR top 50 (but enjoy a healthy #33 and #55 on the CLR for these performances). The next week at DreamHack ended in another, very low placement by Leo's standards. While his losses to Vinnie and ZeRo are certainly not bad ones, he would almost always be expected to take victory against the former, and the latter is a result of sheer bad bracket luck, running into the PGR's #1 due to him being upset himself. However, he's begun to look like the Leo we know and love in August; at Smash Factor 6, Mexico's premier Smash tournament, he took a hard-fought first place. After beating NAKAT and his cousin Javi in winners, he was bested by Mr. R in Winners' Finals; he didn't slip up after that, defeating NAKAT once again in losers' and taking two sets of Grand Finals from Mr. R to earn a threepeat at the Smash Factor series. All signs suggest that his showing at SF6 is the real Leo emerging after a simple bad stretch. Whether or not this is true, however, hinges on his return to S-tiers at Super Smash Con. Expect him and his myriad of swordsmen to be extra sharp for this event.

 

Super Smash Con Bracket Preview

It's a celebratory event for Smash Bros. and all its games, including Smash 4. And any fan of the game will tell you that it's not Smash 4 bracket without a multitude of exciting matchups. Nor is it a Smash 4 bracket without a gratuitous upset or two, or - if you're 2GGC: Civil War - three hundred seventy plus. Here are five possible matchups to look out for that either have upset potential, a strong story to tell, or could be just plain exciting to watch.

CaptainZack (CLR #16) vs. WaDi (CLR #20), Phase 2 Pools WSF: CaptainZack is a top ten player on the PGR, top twenty player on the CLR, and the best Bayonetta player in the world behind Salem, all titles which a player of his caliber are worthy of. Meanwhile, WaDi is a player who flies under the radar somewhat. He is ranked #46 on the PGR, but was ranked #21 in versions prior. So far this season he's earned the twentieth best results, not the least of which being a 13th place finish at EVO. In addition, with Abadango's seemingly full on switch to Bayonetta, and Rich Brown's recent string of shaky showings, WaDi is by all accounts the current best Mewtwo player in the world. The two young talents are seeded to meet up in their pools, and while CaptainZack has been ranked higher at most opportunities and is projected to win, the matchup is deeper than just that. WaDi has practice against Bayo that most players would only dream of, facing Pink Fresh regularly in their home region of MD/VA. And he's put it to the test and succeeded against Zack himself, winning in Grand Finals of Glitch 3 last season. If these two hit each other in bracket, it's anybody's game.

ESAM (CLR #8) vs. Mistake (CLR #12), Phase 2 Pools WSF: One is a top 20, seasoned veteran whose resume with Pikachu is miles ahead of all others, and whose command of the neutral and onstage play have dubbed him one of the "Bayo slayers" in the game today. The other is a young gun who's burst onto the scene with an impressive knowledge of his character's inner workings, regarded as among the most dangerous Bayonettas with a knack for converting small hits into death combos. Should ESAM and Mistake follow their projected paths and meet in their pool's winners' semifinals, it may become the classic tale of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. It's important to note that while ESAM has an impressive record versus top Bayonettas, and Mistake has an equally impressive record versus top players period, this would be the first time they met in bracket and pitted their records against one another. Sparks will fly if these two step on stage, and someone will see their perfect score marked down a point.

Void (CLR #7) vs. Ally (CLR #44), Phase 2 Pools WF: VoiD should be enjoying his season so far. 4th place at ARMS Saga, 7th place at EVO, and 2nd place at DreamHack have him resting comfortably within the top 10, where he has historically been in or near for all of his Smash 4 career. Ally, on the other hand, is having a season a lot like MkLeo's aforementioned one, and he's certainly looking to turn things around. His bid to repeat at EVO came to a shocking stop when he dropped in pools to Chanshu, one of Japan's best two Ryu players, and MVD, Diddy Kong pro and known Lylat Cruise apologist; he would finish in 49th. The next week at DreamHack, he did reach top 16, but didn't get any further than 13th; just like Leo, he dropped somewhat early to a talented Sheik player, and was snuffed out in losers' bracket by none other than his rival, ZeRo. This matchup is one where either VoiD will continue his recent string of success, or Ally will break out of his funk and climb his way back to the top. However, despite the two trading sets back and forth most of the time, note that they've met once and only once this season: the Sheik that threw Ally into the losers' bracket at DreamHack was VoiD himself.

Salem (CLR #1) vs. MkLeo (CLR #19), Winners' Quarters: With MkLeo's Super Smash Con being the story of his rise back to the top of an S-tier tournament, he's got more than a tough opponent to face on the way. He will face Salem in winners' quarters if both make it out of their Round 2 pools on winners side, and to put it lightly, Salem has been no slouch at supermajors lately. While the two have not played in either of this season's S-tiers, they ran into each other in back-to-back ones at the end of last season. Salem narrowly defeated Leo in Losers' Finals of 2GGC: Nairo Saga, and I do mean narrowly - a forward smash attack that could have won the set for Leo whiffed by only a few pixels. At CEO the next week, it looked like Salem was about to win again, as he pushed his opponent's Cloud to the brink with a 2-1 lead. However, Leo responded with a completely unexpected counterpick in Corrin, a character who he'd only ever used in low-stakes tournaments such as weeklies and regionals. Against all odds, he brought it back with two straight games to eliminate Salem and move on in the tournament, where he would ultimately place second. An on-fire Salem versus a resurgent Leo is a set no one will want to miss - not even by a pixel.

Dabuz (CLR #4) vs. ESAM (CLR #8), Winners' Quarters: This matchup is not projected to occur, as it hinges on ESAM upsetting Larry Lurr in their Phase 2 pools finals. However, just because it's not projected doesn't make it unlikely, as the last set between the two aforementioned players ended in ESAM's favor just a week prior, at Low Tier City 5. If the unparalleled Pikachu meets Dabuz's renegade Rosalina in bracket, it's anything goes. Dabuz has had the edge in the player matchup over the course of the years, typically being apt to shut down his opponent's electric attacks at every opportunity. This season, on the other hand, is a different story. ESAM has enjoyed a 3-1 set count over his opponent since the PGRv4 season began, and so far looks like a true competitor against his fellow world-class player. These recent developments make a win by either player unsurprising in this situation, which could lead to ESAM reaching top 8 of a supermajor tournament - something that, despite all his success, he has not done in a considerable amount of time. In the completely possible event that the two of these players are pitted against each other, sit back and enjoy what's sure to be a show of a set.

 

All That Said...

Despite the hype around Super Smash Con, the action in August is far from over. 2GGC: SCR Saga and Shine 2017 follow it in the coming weekends, and with the former's recent rise to S-tier, it makes back-to-back-to-back S-tier tournaments, something which has never happened in Smash 4's history up until now. Make sure to catch those events as well - there's no shortage of exhilarating Smash waiting for us this month.

But as for Super Smash Con, all we can do now is wait and see. At this point, this article should be coming out just about on the dawn of Friday, so if you're reading this, chances are pools are just around the corner. So what are you waiting for? Finish reading so you can see me credit the amazing photographers who allowed me to include their work, and get on twitch.tv/vgbootcamp to see what this tournament has in store! (Spoiler: it's some real cool stuff.)

All that said... enjoy the show, and happy smashing!

Cloudhead :)

Photo Creds

  • Photos of Tweek, VoiD, CaptainZack, and Salem are by the amazing @2GGLakitu
  • Photos of Mistake and ESAM are by the wonderful @princesshyruie

I can't stress it enough! Give them both a follow. They're both super talented photographers and they're the only reason these blogs are prettier than a wall of text! Also, the photo of MkLeo is taken from the website of Echo Fox, his sponsor. Definitely check them out too, they're an outstanding organization!

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