Cloudhead Live: The Halfway Point Rankings and Recap!

Cloudhead - September 30, 2017

It's been a relaxing few weeks for Smash. And that's a dang good thing - September is when we need some relaxing. It's when the grind comes cranking back up. School, traffic, the growing awareness that it was definitely cooler this time last year... it can be stressful. So it's time to sit down under the blue sky, marvel at the oncoming autumn leaves, and not have to worry about anything too big happening in the Smash scene. Sure, we had a couple A-tiers to start us off, but after that it was nothing but a few B and C-tier tournaments to keep us satisfied. We even got the first off-week of the year this month - and by golly, we've earned it. After that hectic Summer of Smash? With seven S-tier tournaments? We deserve some time off.

So let's go ahead, check Twitter, and see what silly nonsense is going on today, shall we? Maybe a top player thinks their mid-tier is just a little better than we all think. Maybe Samsora said something incredibly dumb that he just can't be serious about. I wonder if Charliedaking has gotten any more of his fellow Smashers with the classic, tried-and-true "if u read this ur gay" setup? Whatever funny distractions there are in these quiet days, I'll gladly take the rest before I have to update 64 different players' Cloudhead Live Rank for the next S-tier.

...Huh? GameTyrant Expo is this weekend, and it has the entire top 15 PGR attending? And The Big House 7 has more than 500 attendees, plus half of the PGR? And 2GG has a season finale the week after... and then DreamHack is coming to Denver with a huge prize on the line... and then...

Well, I'd better get back to it.

We've hit the halfway point of the season, and that means we've got half of the Cloudhead Live Rank solidified so far. But there's plenty, plenty more to come! Get ready, everyone. Let's take a look at what we've seen this month, who's on top of the Cloudhead Live Rank, and what's on the horizon as we approach an October-Smashfest for the ages!

 

September Recap

Smash Around The World: Six PGR-relevant tournaments were hosted this month across four different countries, with five different winners. ZeRo kept on winning and took both A-tiers, PAX West Invitational and 2GGC: West Side Saga, and followed up his only mishap in bracket with a dominant losers' run. Larry Lurr invaded Canada at DreamHack Montreal 2017 and ran through Ally, Mistake, and ESAM to win from losers' side. Sheik aficionado Mr. R defended the Netherlands at Syndicate 2017, and Aki, a Japanese Sheik main and a less familiar name, won his first tournament in two years to take Sumabato 20. Finally, Fatality finished off Showdown: Battle Royale 2 with a flashy Falcon play, sending Manny to the depths and securing first place in a deceptively stacked bracket. All but Aki will be attending one or more of October's majors, and Aki may show up to the upcoming Japanese national, Umebura 29. Will the winners keep on winning?

Konga Beatdown: ZeRo, Nairo, Salem, Ally, VoiD, and... Konga? Washington's finest Donkey Kong might not always be named in the same breath as those players, but he made sure he was at the PAX West Invitational - I just listed that tournament's top six. In a star-studded round robin pools, he secured a place in losers' side of top 10 by overcoming VoiD and Tweek. When bracket started a few days later, he didn't skip a beat, and he ding-donged his way to 3-1 victories over MkLeo and ANTi, before falling to an unfortunate matchup in Salem and his Bayonetta. Many initially wrote him off as nothing more than an invitation to satisfy the home crowd at Seattle. But despite having never reached PGR status, and being considered only the third best DK player behind HIKARU and Tweek, Konga walked into a superstar setting and proved that he can go coco-nuts with the best of them.

Team Japan Comes Back Strong: Aside from surprise performers like Ke-ya at Smash Con and guest Ryu players like Chanshu at SCR Saga, Japanese Smash talent was surprisingly absent in August. The only two to attend more than one of the three S-tiers were komorikiri and Abadango, who are not-so-coincidentally the only two with North American sponsors. However, Smash 4's arguably favorite region couldn't stay away for long, and an all-star team of Japanese players flew out to West Side Saga and shook up the bracket like they're so accustomed to doing. Superstar Olimar main Shuton set the tone by sending ZeRo to the losers' bracket in winners' quarters, and each of the others invited also made their presence known. T placed 9th after a sizable losers' run, while KEN, Kirihara, and Tsu made top 8 along with Shuton. Tsu, the best Lucario in the world, deserves mention with another down-to-the wire set against ZeRo that had every heart in the venue pumping. While Shuton's 3rd place ended as the highest placing of them all, it was a welcome reminder that Japan's Smash scene is more than ready to take on the world.

 

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 tangible standings for the season without having to wait 6 months for the official Panda Global Rankings to do it a million times better than I do. So here's the top 50 players for the season so far, or for everything between SMASHADELPHIA 2017 and Showdown: Battle Royale 2! (All +/- values are in relation to the August rankings. Click each player's name to go to their SSBWorld profile, and click the big bold heading right above to go to the full CLR!)

1 TSM ZeRo (SAME) 26 FStep Mr. E (SAME)
2 NRG Nairo (+1) 27 E2C tyroy (+3)
3 MVG Salem (-1) 28 PG MVD (-5)
4 P1 Tweek (SAME) 29 LH Charliedaking (+2)
5 MSF Larry Lurr (SAME) 30 CLG NAKAT (-3)
6 EMG Mistake (+2) 31 Tsu- (+5)
7 CLG VoiD (-1) 32 SHIG 9B (-3)
8 FOX MVG MkLeo (-1) 33 Locus (SAME)
9 KEN (+2) 34 EG Zinoto (+3)
10 PG ESAM (SAME) 35 DMG Shoyo James (+5)
11 RNG Dabuz (-2) 36 Luhtie (-2)
12 bc Mr. R (+1) 37 Edge (+2)
13 P1 CaptainZack (-1) 38 DNG Kameme (-6)
14 IMT ANTi (SAME) 39 Kirihara (+17)
15 2GG komorikiri (SAME) 40 PG Rich Brown (+1)
16 LG Abadango (SAME) 41 Light (-5)
17 EMP WaDi (SAME) 42 Vinnie (-4)
18 C9 Ally (SAME) 43 eM Zenyou (+1)
19 Manny (+5) 44 DMG Ryuga (-1)
20 Cosmos (SAME) 45 6WX (+7)
21 YP Fatality (+7) 46 BSD Elegant (+4)
22 SWG Lima (-1) 47 Konga (+26)
23 Yatta JK (-4) 48 Ranai (-6)
24 StDx falln (-2) 49 Eon (+5)
25 Samsora (SAME) 50 MF LH K9sbruce (-7)

 

September was a much smaller month, with no S-tiers to its name. Couple that with the fact that points are adding up and gaps are getting a little bit bigger, and that means there was much less movement this month than the last; half of the top 20 are exactly where they started this month. Most notably, ZeRo, Nairo, Salem, and Tweek (CLR 1, 2, 3, & 4) have made themselves into a top 4 that seems nearly unshakable, with the gap between Tweek and 5th place Larry Lurr a sizable one. But that doesn't mean there weren't some interesting goings-on at the top this month, either. KEN (CLR 9) is the sole new face in the top 10. If you know KEN, this probably isn't surprising - he's a model of consistency, held back only by a difficulty coming to majors from Japan, and that hasn't been an issue this season. What may be more of a shock is who he dethroned to get there: Dabuz (CLR 11), who went quietly this month with only a 4th place at the B-tier DreamHack to his name. Coupled with a far from impressive record at majors last month, the player who once was the world's most consistent is now the one on the hot seat.

Lower down on the ladder, a few players are using their solid results in an otherwise quiet month to rise up in the standings. Fatality (CLR 21) and Manny (CLR 19) placed 1st and 2nd at Showdown: Battle Royale 2, and that 1-2 punch gave them both considerable benefit to finish off the first half of the season. Fatality started the season off slowly, but the world's best and flashiest Captain Falcon has risen steadily each month, and now finds himself just shy of the top 20 status he holds on last season's PGR. Manny is a world-class sonic who's flown under the radar a lot this season, but he's reached 1st place at a C-tier Florida regional and top 32 at two S-tier tournaments. This nice second place changes nothing but perhaps the minds of those who didn't see why he's been top 25 all season long. Kirihara (CLR 37), normally a top 20 mainstay, found his CLR footing with a 5th place at West Side Saga that single-handedly drove him up 17 spots and into the top 50, where he'll aim to climb even higher. 6WX (CLR 45), Konga (CLR 47), and Eon (CLR 49) also join him in reaching the top 50 this month.

Even with all the names above, however, there's no shortage of talent in the top 50. Marss (CLR 95) has been the most interesting name below the top 50 threshold all season. Perpetually a top 15 talent, he's been held back for the first time by a lack of sponsorship that's resulted in him attending only one PGR tournament all year. While that resulted in a more than acceptable 13th place at Shine, that alone won't keep him afloat - and that's why he'll be at both of October's confirmed S-tiers, GameTyrant Expo and The Big House 7, to add on to it. Raito (CLR 51) may have dropped just outside the table in September, but like Marss, he's a top talent who will be at GT-X and TBH7. Barring a major upset that sends one flying to a record low placing, both of them will be well in the mix for top 50 after October is all said and done. dyr (CLR 52), DarkShad (CLR 57), and Javi (CLR 71) are among the other top outsiders attending both S-tiers. With all this talent packed into the schedule, it's anybody's game once again heading into the second half. Keep track of the Cloudhead Live Rank to see just where the year takes us!

 

October Outlook

GameTyrant Expo 2017 (S-tier): Sept. 29 - Oct. 1 @ Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; ft. ZeRo, Nairo, MkLeo, Salem, Ally, Tweek, komorikiri, Marss. Get ready for Smash to be taken to the next level. More than $30,000 is on the line at the inaugural GameTyrant Expo, where Smash pros from all over will fill an NBA arena and see action on the jumbotron like they've never seen before. The entire top 15 on the PGR and many, many more are here to stake a claim to the title at one of the highest-stakes tournament this year, so don't miss a minute. It's gonna be dope.

The Big House 7 (S-tier): October 6th-8th @ Detroit, Michigan, USA; ft. ZeRo, Nairo, MkLeo, Salem, Ally, Abadango, VoiD, Zinoto. One of Smash's staple tournament series is getting an even bigger house this year, and Detroit's Cobo Convention Center is going to be jam-packed with even bigger names and even more excitement. Can ZeRo continue his streak as the only Smash 4 player to win a Big House title, or will someone finish the job and rise to the challenge of dethroning him? Only one way to find out - come watch this grassroots-turned-grand spectacle event for yourself.

2GGC: Fire Emblem Saga (B-tier): October 14th-15th @ Santa Ana, California, USA; ft. MkLeo, Salem, Tweek, CaptainZack, Abadango, komorikiri, Cosmos, Charliedaking. The 2GGC Championship Series's final season finale draws its blade, and it brought backup. The world's best Fire Emblem fighters are coming to 2GGC: Fire Emblem Saga this weekend, headlined by MkLeo and his always masterful Marth and Corrin, in an event that's sure to go up a tier or two before it begins. Leo and his army must defend their Saga against the onslaught of enemies coming to SoCal, but it won't be easy. They're led by a mysterious masked swordsman whose skill with the weapon is said to be unparalleled... he is known only as PersistentBlade.

Umebura 29 (B-Tier): October 29th @ Tokyo, Japan; ft. 10 Japanese PGR Members & More. It's a little wrapped in mystery who exactly is going to show for this Umebura, considering I don't have the connections that PGStats does to get their data. But here's a rough idea: this is Japan's second highest tier event this year. 256 entrants, 10 of which are on the PGR top 50, and several more of which could be those talented ones just on the cusp. And it's not just any B-tier tournament - this is Umebura, where upsets are the norm, the unexpected is expected, and literally anyone can make a run for it. Don't shy away from the unknown this Umebura. Embrace it.

Too Hot To Handle (C-Tier): October 28th-29th @ Miami, Florida, USA; ft. Salem, ESAM, Dabuz, Manny, MVD, MuteAce, Xaltis, Blank. Are you tired of this chilly October weather? Want something a bit... hotter? Look no further than Panda Global and TGL's Too Hot To Handle at the end of the month. Florida's hottest Smashers, like Salem, ESAM, and MVD, are coming in droves to get this bracket warmed up. And they're not about to turn down some other party people, either - out of state talent is coming down too, led by the hottest Rosalina of them all, Dabuz. Complete with a 24-hour venue and a Halloween afterparty on Miami freakin' Beach, you just can't beat this heat! Come on down to Miami for this one. It's what Pitbull would want you to do.

 

All That Said...

The Cloudhead Live Rank is about to get shaken up again, big time. The top 18, from ZeRo to Ally, is separated by a wide margin from the rest of the ranks, so they'll be fighting among each other for the best spots in the standings. But look at the names under them - you think Fatality, Tsu-, Locus, and Kirihara are gonna just stay put? It's still war out here, and these S-tiers are the battlegrounds. I'm not even going to try to predict the results here. I just record them. So don't stray too far from Twitch - the fun's not going anywhere!

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

 

Photo Creds: ZeRo, Konga, Shuton, Raito, and Fatality are from 2GGaming's amazing @2GGLakitu; and Tweek and Dabuz are thanks to the outstanding @SpectreFGC! Go have a look at Lakitu's and Spectre's other photos, and if you haven't after five of these dang articles, give them a follow on their Twitters! You've got 280 characters to shout them out now, too!

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