Cloudhead Live: The August Smash 4 Rankings and Recap!

Cloudhead - September 3, 2017

The S-tier. A convergence of talent where the most skilled Smash players cross paths under the same roof, fighting tooth and nail to reach the elusive prize waiting at the very end of the bracket. It's where you come to finally test how well your hard work has paid off. It's where dreams come true for the people who want their shot at glory in the game they love; where names that had never been spoken before will begin to flood from the tongues of those who watch, and those who play. And for most of the time, it's a rare occurrence. We may be lucky to see two months in a row that hold these enigmatic events in their short weeks. But for three short months in the summer, when the sun pours down hardest on the surface of the world, it's different. For just three short months, there is no longer anything stopping those who love the game from testing their hard work, making dreams become reality, and creating names for themselves. In the Summer of Smash, all human limitations are no more, and for just a brief moment in our lives, we are truly free - and from that freedom, the S-tiers are born in great numbers, and they flourish.

So basically this summer's been rad as heck for Smash.

With the conclusion of Shine 2017, the days of three S-tiers in three weeks are over, and the Summer of Smash has drawn to a close. Seven S-tiers have come and gone, culminating with three in a row in August - and boy, what a time it was. Each one was its own spectacle, be it by a dramatic losers' run, an intense return to glory, or a completely off-the-books final bracket. Let's take a look back at this spectacular August, and how it impacted the season's Cloudhead Live Rank so far - and see what it means heading into what's sure to be an exciting fall!


August Recap

Tic-Tac-Toe: For the first time in Smash 4 history, three S-tier tournaments were held in back to back to back weeks. Super Smash Con 2017, 2GGC: SCR Saga, and Shine 2017 turned into a massive centerpiece to this month, and several top Smash players flew from Virginia to SoCal to Boston just to make it to all three. Previously, the record was two S-tier tournaments in a row, set just last June with 2GGC: Nairo Saga and CEO 2017 falling next to each other on the calendar. As soon as the third event reached S-tier status, the expectation was for an exceptionally thrilling finish to the summer - and in the eyes of most, the tournaments did not disappoint.

Nairo Mounts a Historic Comeback: One of the most notable upsets of Super Smash Con 2017 took place when Nairo, #3 rank on the Panda Global Rankings, faced Rideae, a Floridian Pikachu main who defied all expectations by defeating his heavyweight opponent 2-1. Now in the losers' bracket, Nairo was faced with a daunting task: fight through a gauntlet of elimination matches against other world-class opponents, or fall as early as 33rd, like many of his top 10 contemporaries did that night. As it turned out, he chose the path to victory. He fought through nine intense sets and won them all to get to Grand Finals, breaking past the likes of WaDi, Mr. R, MkLeo, and more, with his final opponent being his longtime rival, ZeRo. In what may go down as two of the best sets this year, he reset the bracket 3-2 and then finished him off by the same score, securing the 11-set comeback and the repeat Super Smash Con title. Nairo, his final Up-B, the commentary, and the camera work will all be remembered as the cherry on top of perhaps the greatest losers' run in Smash 4 history.

ZeRo Reclaims His Throne: For most people, a string of four 2nd places and a 9th place at national tournaments would be phenomenal, but ZeRo has become famous for being nothing like anyone else in the community - no one wins as much as he does. So after he hit a five tournament winless streak from 2GGC: ARMS Saga to Super Smash Con, alarms sounded in the community - it was the longest such streak of his career. SCR Saga was important, as a chance for ZeRo to rise back to the top at an S-tier. He had to be perfectly on his game for this one - and he didn't falter. Losing only four games all tournament and clutching out a tough 3-2 set against MkLeo in grand finals, he rose to the top once again, and continued his momentum for a win the next week at Shine, silencing those who took his uncharacteristic month as the norm and proving why he's the best player in the world.


Make No Mistake: Once known only as one of Ontario's best players and a promising Bayonetta, Mistake showed flashes of brilliance with a pair of 17ths at 2GGC: Nairo Saga last season and EVO 2017 last month, between which he defeated players like Fatality, Kirihara, Ned, and Javi. This month, however, he took his play to a whole new level. After defeating ZeRo and CaptainZack at Low Tier City 5 en route to a strong 5th place finish, he displayed unprecedented consistency and skill at the season's three S-tiers, placing 5th, 4th, and 9th at Super Smash Con, SCR Saga, and Shine, respectively. It's not unusual at all to see players improve and rise in the rankings, but Mistake's skyrocketing to the top might be the most impressive of them all. He's in the discussion for one of the best Bayonettas, and now perhaps one of the best players in the world right now. To overlook him now would be, simply put, a huge error.

Cloud And Proud: With a team of dual Cloud every time, MkLeo and komorikiri won doubles at Super Smash Con, SCR Saga, and Shine. Previously considered two of the best doubles players in the world, able to compete and often win with many different partners, their team delivered on what anyone would have expected from this all-star team up. The komoLeo team looked more dominant than perhaps any other team we've seen; throughout three S-tier tournaments packed with about every other top doubles team, they lost only a single game, to VoiD and NAKAT at SSC. While this does not have any bearing on the PGR or CLR, their complete dominance of doubles deserves a mention in my eyes.


Cloudhead Live Rank

If you're just tuning in to my Cloudhead Live series, the Cloudhead Live Rank (CLR) is my way to list the top players in the season so far, based on their placements and wins. It's our way to get to see definitive standings for the season without having to wait 6 months for the PGR to do it a million times better than I do. So here's the top 50 players for the season so far, aka for everything between SMASHADELPHIA 2017 and Shine 2017! All +/- values are in relation to the July rankings. Click each player's name to go to their SSBWorld profile, and click here to go to the full CLR!

1 TSM ZeRo (+1) 26 RvL Mr. E (-1)
2 MVG Salem (-1) 27 CLG NAKAT (-13)
3 NRG Nairo (+1) 28 YP Fatality (+5)
4 P1 Tweek (+1) 29 SHIG 9B (+1)
5 MSF Larry Lurr (+1) 30 Mischief tyroy (+9)
6 CLG VoiD (+1) 31 LH Charliedaking (-8)
7 FOX MVG MkLeo (+46) 32 DNG Kameme (+15)
8 EMG Mistake (+11) 33 Locus (+7)
9 RNG Dabuz (-6) 34 Luhtie (+22)
10 PG ESAM (+1) 35 Tsu- (-17)
11 KEN (-3) 36 Light (+92)
12 P1 CaptainZack (+4) 37 EG Zinoto (-1)
13 bc Mr. R (+4) 38 Vinnie (-18)
14 IMT ANTi (-4) 39 Edge (+7)
15 2GG komorikiri (-2) 40 DMG Shoyo James (+121)
16 LG Abadango (-7) 41 PG Rich Brown (+11)
17 EMP WaDi (-2) 42 Ranai (-8)
18 C9 Ally (+24) 43 DMG Ryuga (-2)
19 Yatta JK (+7) 44 eM Zenyou (+14)
20 Cosmos (+2) 45 MF LH K9sbruce (-7)
21 SWG Lima (SAME) 46 Raito (-17)
22 StDx falln (+5) 47 DMG MattyG (NEW)
23 PG MVD (+5) 48 Wrath (-17)
24 Noble Manny (-12) 49 False (-17)
25 Samsora (-1) 50 BSD Elegant (-15)


Seven players from the top 10 in July remain there this month, those being ZeRo, Salem, Nairo, Tweek, Larry Lurr, VoiD, and Dabuz. All have kept up strong play throughout the month, and are maintaining what they hope to be their status quo this season. But even though it feels like we've been playing in S-tiers and complaining about Leo and komo's Clouds in doubles for ages, the season is still young, and that means there's going to be a lot of turmoil within the ranks past that. MkLeo (CLR 7), Mistake (CLR 8), and ESAM (CLR 10) break into top 10 in August at 7th, 8th, and 10th. Leo has proved that his shaky July was a fluke, scoring 3rd, 2nd, and 5th at the three S-tiers of the month. Mistake rode his aforementioned, similarly great month to the top 10, jumping 11 spots and cementing his status as a player to beat going into this fall. ESAM, while lacking flashy placements like the other two, has moved up one spot into the upper echelon with consistently solid results. His 13th at both Super Smash Con and Shine, coupled with wins on players like Larry Lurr and ANTi, make him one of the quieter threats so far.

The rest of the top 25 looks more or less reasonable, but a few players have been good enough to raise eyebrows. Ally (CLR 18) took some time to regain his footing, starting things off with 33rd at SSC, but improved each time after that, finishing with 9th and 5th at the other two S-tiers. He's rewarded with a much-needed return to top 20. JK (CLR 19) and Cosmos (CLR 20) also enter the top 20 thanks to consistency across the board, headlined by the latter's 9th place finish at Shine. The movement on the latter half of top 50 are slightly more noticeable. Light (CLR 36) jumps more than ninety spots thanks to an incredible run at Shine; backed by his home New England crowd, he defeated Mr. E, JK, and VoiD in quick succession and reached 9th place. Shoyo James (CLR 40) went through a run of his own at Super Smash Con, turning heads with a top 8 showing and shooting up more than 120 spots on the rankings. Luhtie (CLR 34), Zenyou (CLR 44) and MattyG (CLR 47) are among the other names whose impressive August results broke them into top 50.

While the table above is already pretty stacked in and of itself, there are more than a few heavyweights still on the outside looking in. Rideae (CLR 51) stands just outside the top 50, but has the talent to be there, as displayed by his Super Smash Con triumph over Nairo. 6WX (CLR 52) got off to a late start for his first PGR result, but it's better to be late than to never place 9th at SSC and take sets off of Ally and ESAM. Kirihara (CLR 56) and Choco (CLR 63) are Japanese powerhouses who didn't get a chance to come to any S-tiers, but proved that they're as good as ever at C-tier Umebura 28, hitting 4th and 3rd, respectively. One of the best players omitted, Marss (CLR 88), got his first chance to play on the PGR at Shine. He reached a solid 13th place with MVD as his sole PGR win. It may still be shocking to see him so low, seeing as he's ranked 14th on the PGR, and many consider him to be the world's best Zero Suit Samus after Nairo himself. However, he is currently unsponsored, so for the time being, Marss will repeat performances like Shine whenever he can. His next S-tier showing at the moment comes at the beginning of October at the GameTyrant Expo, so look to Utah for Marss to resume his high-octane rampages through bracket.


What's Up In September?

PAX Arena @ PAX West 2017 (A-tier*): September 1st-4th @ Seattle, Washington, USA, ft. ZeRo, Salem, Nairo, MkLeo, Ally, VoiD, Konga, TPFKA DEHF. The PAX Arena Smash 4 Invitational comes to Seattle this Labor Day. 12 top Smashers will duke it out in round robin pools on Friday, and the survivors will hit the stage for a top 10 on Monday. Top players like ZeRo, Salem, and Nairo are in the fray, as well as Washington locals Konga and KOSSismoss seeking to defend their home turf. But who's this TPKFA DEHF person? (*Note: Due to the fact that this is an invitational, the official decision on whether this tournament counts for the PGR is pending.)

2GGC: West Side Saga (B-tier): September 9th @ Santa Ana, California, USA, ft. Tweek, Abadango, KEN, Kirihara, Tsu-, T, JK, Konga. The sun may set in the west, but the West Coast's Smash scene never sleeps. The 2GG Championship series' latest entry will showcase Western talent like Vegas's JK and Washington's Konga. Many more of the West's most skilled players, like FOW and Luhtie, are on the compendium, where players can donate to get them to the Saga and show their stuff. Can the West break the Saga curse and defeat PGR giants like Tweek, Abadango, and the fan-favorite Team Japan?

DreamHack Montreal 2017 (B-tier): September 8th-10th @ Montreal, Quebec, Canada, ft. Ally, Mistake, TPFKA DEHF, ESAM, ANTi, MVD, SuperGirlKels, Deathorse. After DreamHack Austin and Atlanta, where ZeRo and Salem each took home pieces of the $10,000 prize pool, the biggest LAN event series in the world heads north. Will Ally, Mistake, Kels, and the rest of Canada be the next to hit the jackpot, or will they be usurped by ESAM, ANTi, and the mysterious TPKFA DEHF? I'd say to mark your calendars and check out the exciting Smash action in Canada, but I wouldn't want to be poutine words in your mouth.

Smash The Record 2017 (Unranked): September 14th-17th @ Ontario, California, USA, ft. ESAM, Aarvark, TLTC, HazMatt, K0rean, & more. This tournament, unlike many others, isn't for fame, glory, or a prize pot - it's for charity. ESAM, Aarvark, and TLTC headline STR's first venture into SoCal, and if Smash 4 brackets aren't your thing, this event showcases insanely skilled speedrunners as well. Registration is still open for the fourth iteration of this amazingly run event - attend if you can, donate on stream if you can't, and enjoy an experience unlike any other in Smash.

Syndicate 2017 (C-tier): September 23rd-24th @ Jaarbeurs, Utrecht, Netherlands, ft. Mr. R, KEN, iStudying, SuperGirlKels, quiK, cyve, & more. The biggest Dutch tournament of the year is coming up for you to watch, if Europe for it. Mr. R, the reigning Syndicate champ, is prepared to unleash needles, fairs, and Bouncing Fishes galore, but KEN and SuperGirlKels are spin-dashing in to stop him and take the crown for their own. Get ready to see European talent like you've never seen before when Syndicate rolls around later this month.

Showdown Battle Royale II (C-tier): September 23rd-24th @ Farmington Hills, Michigan, USA, ft. Fatality, WaDi, Mr. E, Ned, Shoyo James, DarkShad, JJROCKETS, Ryuga. And here we have a tournament that's guaranteed to be far, far higher quality than this image I found. The Midwest's best are coming to contend with PGR talents from all around the U.S. at one of the best tournament series in the region. The talent here is complemented by Midwest greats who have yet to attend, as well as potential international returnees from last season. Whether or not we see them add on to the all-star cast, this will be one Showdown you won't want to miss.


All That Said...

The Summer of Smash may be over, but the regular schedule of top level Smash action is not. As seen above, September is chock-full of exciting tournaments with room to become bigger yet, and that only rounds off the first half of the season. With supermajors on the horizon such as the GameTyrant Expo, The Big House 7, and potentially 2GG's yet to be announced October Saga, we very well could see another two or even three consecutive S-tiers in October. The weather might get cooler soon, but the forecast shows that the Smash schedule is staying hot through the fall. Keep some tabs on what's going on this month and the next, and of course, check on the CLR to see how the standings shift as we sift through swaths of super scintillating supermajors!

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

Cloudhead :)


Photo Creds: Nairo, ZeRo, Mistake, MkLeo/komorikiri, Ally, and Marss are from 2GGaming's @2GGLakitu. ESAM is thanks to @princesshyruie. As always, give them some love and follow them on Twitter to keep up with their excellent photography! All tournament banners are from their respective pages, which are linked in the names!

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