24th April 2016
On Saturday 23rd of April I attended an SSBM and Smash 4 tournament Smashzilla 3 in my hometown of Nottingham, hosted at The National Videogame Arcade. This event was organised by Benjamin ‘Kitton’ Leech and Louise Mossom who also run the sister event Geekzilla that runs weekly in-between tournaments. Assisting Ben and Louise in running the tournament was James ‘Geezaku’ Moon. I entered both singles and doubles for SSBM, pairing with Hao for teams who is a good friend and a top 10 player in the UK known primarily as a Marth main. My aim for this tournament was to finish within the top 3 for singles and to take 1st place in doubles. Looking at the signups on the Facebook event page the only players that I felt would present a challenge for me were Hao and Ahmad, with myself going even with Ahmad in our frequent friendlies and losing respectfully to Hao. Worth noting for this event is the absence of a lot of Midlands talent outside of Nottingham, notably the Leicester players and Bloodbowler who has recently moved out of the area. Smashzilla 3 was hosted on the same day as South Coast Regionals 10, a larger and more highly anticipated event and so a lot of the more dedicated players were traveling there.
My day began at 6AM on the day of the tournament, waking up early to work an awkwardly placed shift at my workplace which luckily ended before the start of Smashzilla 3, allowing me to enter and compete. Arriving at the venue it wasn’t long until a surge of players emerged through the doors, a crowd of players packed themselves into the venue which quickly became hot and overcrowded. Despite SCR10 being hosted on the same date the turnout to Smashzilla 3 was fantastic, dwarfing Smashzilla 2 in terms of entrants. As usual I busied myself with friendlies and pleasantries with the familiar faces before the doubles bracket began and I was called for my first game of the tournament.
As top seed we were given a bye for first round and so first up were Twin 1 and Twin 2 playing as a Marth/Sheik team. I don’t know either of these players on a personal level but I suspect they may be primarily Smash 4 players and I vaguely recognise their tags from past events. Despite Hao being known for his Marth he opted for Fox during this event. Both Twin 1 and Twin 2 seemed unfamiliar with spacie pressure and how to handle being rushed down during the set and I played relatively aggressively because of this. At times when I glanced over at Hao’s side of the stage he was bullying one or both of them with nair shine pressure and forcing them off the stage. As it was simple to get in and begin combos both me and Hao were free to split the stage in two and perform the kind of punishes seen in a singles bracket game. Together we swiftly took the set 2-0.
Next up in winner’s bracket was my crewmate Cravendale | Lactose Lad and Mom, a Fox/Peach team. Before this match I agreed with Hao that I should focus on the Fox and he on the Peach as I’m very confident with punishing fast-falling characters. This set my priorities were to play defensively as to avoid Peach’s downsmash and to also go for low-percent kills on the Fox. There were a few scary moments during this set where I found myself being downsmashed and hit off stage but Hao did an excellent job of shutting down their edgeguard attempts. For Fox a lot of my kills came from edgeguards, forward tilting his side-b attempts and dairing or bairing other recoveries whilst Hao ensured that the slow Peach couldn’t help out. We won 2-0.
Moving on and we are against Pete and Lumos, a Falco/Sheik team. These are both players that attend the Geekzilla weekly events and so I was somewhat aware of their playstyles and capabilities coming into this set. We won this set 3-0 and a big part of this was down to a lack of solid punishes from our opponents. There were times in this set where I felt I had made slight slip-ups in my tech or spacing but I almost always got away with it. Lumos was especially guilty of this, against Sheik I was expecting to get backthrown off the stage and edgeguarded but it didn’t happen. I did a lot of dashdancing this set and waited for good times to pounce and start up a combo. There was good synergy between Hao and I during this set, often we would hit an opponent towards each other and finish them off with a team combo.
Grand finals came and it was Squeechu and AlexTheAnt playing a double Puff team. Before the set began Hao and I agreed that a weakness of this team composition was that we could split them up and focus on one of them, whilst the other slowly tries to make their way over with Puff’s slow movement speed. We did exactly that, I would land a stray bair and displace one of the Puffs whilst the other got bullied. Lasers were nice in this set too, with both of us firing lasers at a far-away Puff the percentage racked up quick. During neutral I felt most comfortable on platforms, dropping with aerials to initiate. We took the set 3-0 and wrapped doubles up.
For singles bracket my first game in pools was against a Doc player called PG. PG seemed to be a newer player judging from his play, he was not going for upthrow combos or attempting wavedash downsmashes. PG was also distinctly unfamiliar with Falco pressure or otherwise didn’t know how to handle it. My neutral in this set consisted of dash dancing and aggressive nairs, using uptilt and bair to combo and get quick kills. This set went 2-0 to myself.
Next was Cookie who played Falco in game 1 and Fox in game 2. I’d played Cookie during my Smashzilla 2 pools so I had an idea of what to expect. Cookie’s punish game was a lot weaker than my own and so the stock differential quickly shifted into my favour for both games. Like a lot of players I face in this phase of tournaments Cookie had trouble with my lasers and shield pressure. Should he have shine out of shield as an escape tool I’d have been forced to play more carefully and if he was able to respond to my lasers with wavedash out of shield or using platforms I may not have been able to steamroll quite in the manner that I did. 2-0 to me.
I faced Squeechu next who played Marth in game 1 and Puff in game 2. Squeechu was also in my pool for Smashzilla 2 so I was acquainted with his Marth before our set started. Squeechu seemed to have a competent control of his character and displayed some good reaction times but his weakness was in his strategy and decision making. Playing his Marth I sensed a desperation to close out each stock, an over-eagerness to get the kill. I abused this as I did the last time we faced, I spaced myself in his fsmash/fair range and shielded to which he would always fsmash. From there I just wavedashed forward and began the combos and stage control that carried me to a comfortable win. I’d have really liked to see a calmer neutral from Squeechu, dashdance grab was not a threat nor was wavedash backwards grab in response to my pounces. Game 2 Squeechu chose Puff and played a pretty standard game. On FD I would switch between hyper-defensive laser spam and all-out aggression whenever I sensed Squeechu was in ‘approach mode’ as opposed to ‘wall of pain’ mode. I took the set 2-0.
I played Pete next who I know to be a Falco main. In this set my punish game hit much harder, my kills being swifter and more efficient than his own. I was often looking for Pete to fall from platforms or from the air with a dair and so several times I waited for this and then initiated my combo. I was getting a lot of mileage from my shine out of shields too, Pete wasn’t going for shinegrabs in this set or fadeaway nairs after his shield pressure and so I was able to set combos up with this. I won 2-0 but saw a lot of promise in Pete, I know him from the Geekzilla weeklies and have seen his tech skill explode in recent weeks. I hope to see a good performance from him at Smashzilla 4.
Pools over and it’s time for me to play my first bracket game against Hy, a Marth main. Going into this set I didn’t know who Hy was or anything about him and so I had to figure him out quickly. Hy played pretty competently, seeming to have decent control over his character and an awareness of Marth’s strengths. One large problem I saw in Hy’s play was his over fondness of grabs, particularly upthrow. As I reached higher percentages I would shield and he would upthrow me, unable to follow up due to the percentage. Forward throws would have placed me more favourably for him, or even the forbidden Marth move backthrow. My neutral was all about baiting out a move from Hy with my movement and then pouncing and starting a combo. I took the set 2-0.
I now had to play my milky brethren Cravendale | Lactose Lad who played Fox in game 1 and Ice Climbers in game 2. I play Lactose Lad often and so we both new each others playstyle and had a good idea of how the set would transpire. Lactose Lad started out really strongly in game 1, almost 0 to deathing me but flubbed whilst off stage and died to my singular dair. As we play regularly he was the first opponent I faced in bracket that was confident in playing around my lasers and had a developed neutral against Falco. I was able to dance around his approaches to start my combos and was also free to pressure his shield without the threat of a fast shine out of shield. Against Lactose Lad’s Ice Climbers I lasered heavily and did some crossover dairs when I saw him advancing. I used shine to split Nana and Popo up and used bairs to prevent Popo rejoining Nana. I took advantage of Nana’s AI when possible, fsmashing her predictable movements. I took this set 2-0.
My next game was against my other Cravendale crew member, Cravendale | Ahmad. At this point in the tournament I was extremely fatigued, doubles had overrun massively with many people waiting for two, even three hours in-between their doubles games. The singles bracket was also struggling to advance smoothly and I found myself running other pools to help organise people and get things rolling. With Melee singles and doubles running alongside Smash 4 singles and doubles, the players who had entered all events were in high demand and it was difficult to manage players in a way that all brackets could move forwards. Late sign-ups added to the problem, holding up pools even further.
Nevertheless I went ahead and played Ahmad and sleepwalked into a 0-2 defeat. I’m very unhappy with my performance in this set, I was losing in the neutral to patterns that I was dancing around earlier in the day during friendlies and was making errors in my shield pressure to which Ahmad happily abused with his developed punish game. My recoveries were also poor, I was unable to sweetspot and avoid Ahmad’s dtilts and I was getting fsmashed from my up-b despite there being angles available that could have avoided getting hit.
I was in loser’s now and was to face AlexTheAnt, the Puff player. My tiredness had reached it’s peak now to the point that I did not want to play any more Melee for the day and I would like to personally apologise to AlexTheAnt for my lack of enthusiasm during our set. My plan was as usual in this matchup to switch back and forth from very defensive to very aggressive depending on how my opponent was playing. AlexTheAnt did a good job of edgeguarding during our first game, capitalising on his backthrows as a good Puff should. I found myself on 1 stock whilst AlexTheAnt had 3 and thought I had lost game 1. The thought of dropping a game to someone that I was beating comfortably earlier in the day didn’t sit right with me and so despite fatigue I pushed myself into try-hard mode and cleaned up my movements and pressure. AlexTheAnt couldn’t handle my burst and I took game 1 and 2 by mixing up my playstyle and relying on autocancel bairs and laser fsmash traps to secure kills at midrange percents. AlexTheAnt also missed several rests during this set which was unfortunate, one of which being from an upthrow that I neglected to DI. I took this set 2-0.
Next up was a rematch between myself and Cravendale | Lactose Lad. Before our match I decided to leave briefly and get some coffee, if I had sat down in a particularly comfortable manner there is a good chance I’d have fallen asleep right there at the venue. I sat with Lactose Lad before the game and he gave me time to drink my coffee because he’s an absolute gent. Feeling more human after some caffeine Lactose Lad revealed he was going all Ice Climbers in this set which I think was a wise choice for him as my win rate against his Fox is so high. I played in a similar manner to how I did earlier in the tournament but I see the reason for me 3-0’ing him being two things: Firstly, Lactose Lad was not wobbling consistently, I mashed out of several grabs this set. Secondly is that I was adapting faster than he was, the first game was kind of close, second not so much and then the third game I won comfortably as I picked up on habits and patterns in neutral. I’m looking forward to seeing how his Ice Climbers develop in the future.
Next up was yet another Cravendale rematch against Ahmad, with all three of us representing our sponsor in the top 4. I was much happier with my performance in this set than I was about the set we played earlier in the bracket, my pressure was there and I was moving much more deliberately and playing a more complicated neutral against Ahmad. I was playing decently but so was he and so the set came down to the last game on Pokemon Stadium with the score tied at 2-2. The set actually came down to a last stock situation but Ahmad closed it out and took the set, he did a great job with his spacing with a lot of his combos ending in tippered fsmashes. I also found it hard to recover from the ledge and feel that I would have stood a better chance should I have had invincible ledge dash as an option to get around his edge pressure and force him to respect my space. Despite the loss I was happy to be done with Melee after a long day and also happy to see my crewmate advance to grand finals, well played Ahmad.
And so my tournament run was over! I took 3rd place in singles and 1st place in doubles. This was a fun event and the high turnout despite SCR10 makes me think that Nottingham could become a real hub for Midlands’ Smash community in the future. The downsides to this event would be that it could have been organised more wisely as there were hours between doubles games, pools that were overrunning badly and a hectic atmosphere of players not sure who they had to play or what was happening. I had a lot of fun at Smashzilla 3 and feel that Smashzilla 4 has the potential to be a great event that I’ll very much be looking forward to. I’m happy with my placements in both singles in doubles and also about all three players under the Cravendale sponsorship being in top 4. Congratulations to Hao on first place!